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Chardonnay, Please, But Hold the Oak

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Chardonnay is arguably the most popular white wine in the world, with oaked versions leading the charge. You'll find examples from most every wine region around the globe, and it's a grape that lends itself to a variety of styles, making it a winemaker's favorite. But what happens when you hold the oak, and let the varietal characteristics shine? Here are three very different Chardonnay, all without any oak influence:

2016 Alois Lageder Chardonnay, $14.99

German is the language of choice at this family owned winery located in the Alto Adige, Italy's northernmost wine region. Their Chard opens with apple blossom and green apple aromas. There's a definite richness to the sweet pear and peach fruit flavors, while a light hit of herb (thyme?) comes through on the creamy finish.

2016 La Mision Reserva Chardonnay, $9.99

This Chilean winery has a French connection. It is the newest project of famed Chablis winemaker William Fevre. The aromas are a lively mix of lemon, lime and quince. The gingered citrus and racy stone fruit flavors are colored by touches of mineral and spice. Zingy acidity comes through on the finish. This is an exceptional bargain.

2017 Schild Estate Unwooded Chardonnay, $15.99

Restrained is not an adjective typically used to describe the wines from Barossa, but this Aussie Chard from that region has outstanding balance and elegance. The richly floral nose offers honeyed apple and a touch of ginger. The creamy, complex palate is filled with bright peach and melon flavors, while an intriguing ocean mist salinity and minerality comes through on the long, crisp finish.