Chardonnay is the world’s most popular white wine. No other variety of white wine sells more bottles.
From it’s birthplace in France’s Burgundy region this green-skinned grape has travelled the globe and put down vines in every wine grape growing region. California, Chile, Australia and South Africa all offer a wide range of affordable Chardonnays.
Founded in 1986, Chile’s Emiliana Vineyards farms 2,812 acres in the regions of Maipo, Colchagua, Casablanca, Bío-Bío, Cachapoal and Limarí. Collectively, these vineyards are the single largest source of estate-grown organic wines in the world.
Grown in the cool, coastal vineyards of the Casablanca Valley, Emiliana Adobe Reserva Organic Chardonnay $14.49 is full of bright, fresh citrus notes up front – lemon, lime and grapefruit – with wisps of apple and peach and subtle mango and pineapple rising as the wine warms in the glass. This un-oaked style of Chardonnay was first made popular in the cool Chablis region of northern Burgundy.
Established in 1934 by Croatian immigrant Marino Selak, Selaks Wines has a special focus on affordability. Clearly aimed at everyday wine lovers Selaks Buttery Chardonnay $14.99 is upfront about its attributes: “We’ve called this Chardonnay Buttery because it is smooth, creamy and simply melts in your mouth. The beautifully integrated toasty oak results in flavours of brioche and vanilla, while still enabling the delightful ripe stone fruit characters to shine through.”
Elsewhere in numerous ‘New World’ wineries, the same price-conscious principles are being applied to premium Chardonnays. Inexpensive, affordable wines dominate the selections we routinely see from South Africa but starting around $20 retail, exceptionally tasty wines are guaranteed.
Boschendal Farm lies between the Simonsberg and Drakenstein mountains, an hour’s drive east of Cape Town. A blend of blend consisted of 70 percent oak-fermented and matured and 30 percent stainless steel fermented grapes, Boschendal 1685 Chardonnay $21.99 opens with citrus and peach aromas and notes of cinammon and nutmeg. On the tongue, those same flavours dominate, underscored by the richly creamy, buttery texture the oak adds to the fermentation.
Finding affordable Chardonnay from France’s Burgundy is challenging. Look for wines from the southernmost regions – Côte Chalonnaise and Côte Maconnaise.