Are you having trouble finding a good California Chardonnay at a reasonable price on your retailers’ shelves? Join the crowd. We turned to Chardonnay from Washington State but those appear to be in dwindling numbers as well. The drought in California had a negative impact on the 2014 and 2015 harvest. Both were very small down 50 to 90% per WineSpectator in some locations.
The 2016s are not on the shelves but coming soon. The rains in 2016 improved the harvest both in terms of volume and quality. These wines will start to show up in a few months. “The 2016 California winegrape harvest was early, with a mostly normal yield of exceptional quality fruit throughout the state. A relatively even growing season followed welcome winter rains that helped to alleviate the drought. “It’s been a good season so far—the grapes are in great condition, showcasing spectacular flavors,” said Randy Ullom, winemaster at Kendall-Jackson Wines” (WineSpectator)
So what can we do in the meantime in finding descent Chardonnay at a reasonable price? We have tried Chardonnay from Chile, Argentina, and whites from Spain and France. Based upon the strong harvest from France in 2014 and 2015 the whites from France can prove to be a great alternative. You will not find a list as most are produced in smaller lots so try some and enjoy.
Below is a list of California Chardonnay you may find on your retailers’ shelves. All had large productions and good scores from WineSpectator.
HESS SELECT Chardonnay Monterey County 2015 Score: 90 | $12
Exuberantly spicy, with plenty of cream and tropical notes to the ripe pear, apple compote and dried apricot flavors. Smoky details linger on the fat finish. Drink now through 2020. 175,000 cases made.—K.M.
LA CREMA Chardonnay Monterey 2015 Score: 90 | $20
Balanced and fruity, with juicy apricot, pear and guava flavors, accented by spice hints. Creamy notes linger on the pastry-filled finish. Drink now through 2021. 50,000 cases made.—K.M.
KENDALL-JACKSON Chardonnay California Vintner’s Reserve 2015 Score: 91 | $17
Plush, with loads of richness to the well-honed flavors of beeswax, baked pear and lemon tart. Minerally midpalate, presenting a fresh and zesty finish that finishes with pastry notes. Drink now through 2020. 50,000 cases made.
Fetzer Chardonnay California Sundial rated 88 @ 10
Well done in a fruit-driven style, built around zesty peach, nectarine and tangerine flavors. Offers nervy acidity and not much oak, delivering purity. Drink now. 208,000 cases made.
Edna Valley Chardonnay Central Coast rated 87 @ 15
Straddles the line between grapefruit and tangerine citrus flavors in a clean, refreshing manner. Drink now. 205,597 cases made
William Hill Chardonnay North Coast rated 87 17
Clean and refreshing, centered on honeydew, apple and light citrus shadings. Drink now. 138,708 cases made
JaM Chardonnay California Butter rated 87 @ 17
Casts Chardonnay in a pleasing fruit cocktail essence. Pure, moderately rich and persistent, if somewhat cloying on the aftertaste. Drink now. 470,000 cases made
Smoking Loon Chardonnay California Steelbird Unoaked rated 87 @ 9
This clean, refreshing and complex white features a vibrant core of lemon-lime and green apple flavors, showing shades of light wood. Drinks easy. Drink now. 60,882 cases made.