Whether you love it or hate it (the chic thing to do a few years back) chardonnay is easily the world's best known white wine grape and one of the most widely planted. Originating in Burgundy, where it consistently produces exceptional wines, this time around we decided to explore examples from other regions. As this tasting proved, chardonnay can thrive in a diverse variety of locations. Here are the top three:
2013 Bergstrom Sigrid Chardonnay, $88
Sigrid is this Oregon winery's top white and it's priced accordingly, but, if you can afford the tariff, it's an amazing wine. The aromas are a complex mix, with sweet pear, melon and lemon custard leading off, followed by ginger, crisp apple, mineral and a hint of spice. The flavors are an elegant combo of creamy citrus and baked apple, while the perfect kiss of racy acidity comes through on the lingering finish.
2011 Chalone Estate Chardonnay, $25
Opens with opulent aromas of ripe apple, mango and honeyed peach with notes of creme brulee and mineral. There's a nice richness to the palate where smooth oak backs the stone and tropical fruit flavors. Bright acidity lends balance on the long finish. This is classic California chardonnay.
2014 Kumeu Village Chardonnay, $22
Master of Wine Michael Brajkovich makes arguably the best chardonnays in New Zealand—they are world class and priced accordingly. This intro level label benefits from that pedigree. Apple, peach and pear mingle with touches of flint on the nose. In the mouth, ripe white peach flavors are balanced by crisp lime with a mineral note on the finish. This is a definite bargain you don't want to miss out on.