Chardonnay Wines for the Summer

Beer and Wine, Drinks, How-To, Wine 101
on June 7, 2011
Glen Ellen Chardonnay

Chardonnay wines comes in a range of styles, from crisp and lively sips to toasty, creamy big-flavored pours. While each style has its time and place, the bright, vibrant Chardonnays often pair best with the foods of patio season. Look for these spring- and summer-worthy bottles:

Weeknight Bargains: These bottles are easy to find, easy to enjoy and admirably good for the price:

  • Glen Ellen Chardonnay (California; $6): This tried-and-true label offers a smooth and refreshing sip with a touch of spice on the finish.
  • Barefoot Chardonnay (California; $7): A fresh and lively wine with vanilla-toned orchard-fruit flavors.

Moderately Priced Weekenders: Some Chards are all about pineapple and mango, while others lean toward the apple and pear end of the fruit spectrum. Here’s one of each:

  • Kendall Jackson Vintner’s Reserve Chardonnay (California; $12): Enjoy both brightness and body in this tropically fruity, nicely rounded wine.
  • Ruffino Libaio Chardonnay (Tuscany; $12): Crisp apple flavors and a lively beam of citrus bring refreshment to this bottle.

Burgundy Splurges for Special Occasions: Though the bottles don’t always say so on the label, white wines from France’s Burgundy region are almost always made exclusively from Chardonnay. Most bottles reveal an elegantly understated side of this grape—soft and lemony with a hard-to-pinpoint character often described as “minerally” (think of wet stones after a fresh spring rain). And while this may sound strange in print, it brings complexity and finesse to the glass.

White Burgundies are sometimes labeled by subregion, such as Chablis, Mâcon, and Meursault. Many are imported in small quantities, so you may have to head to a specialty wine shop to find a bottle. Recommend labels from the 2007 vintage include Joseph Faiveley Mâcon-Villages ($20); William Fèvre Chablis Champs Royaux ($25); and Joseph Drouhin Chablis Premier Cru ($36).

By Wini Moranville,Relish wine columnist. This article appeared originally in the May 2010 issue of Relish.