Chardonnay: Oaked or Unoaked?


Chardonnay is the most diverse – and most planted – white wine grape in the world. It’s used for everything from rich Sonoma Chardonnay to the light-and-zesty ‘Blanc de Blancs’ Champagne. But so often you here wine drinkers exclaim, “I like anything but Chardonnay.”

For a long time I was one of those people. Always acquainting the big, buttery California Chardonnay, to the whole category, I am so glad a few years ago, that some one pointed me towards all that this noble grape can be. One of the bigger flavor differentiators is how the wine is aged, stainless steel unoaked wines versus oaked Chardonnay. 

Unoaked Chardonnay is far closer to the zesty style of Pinot Gris or Sauvignon Blanc. Chardonnay wine tends to have less ‘green flavors’ than Sauvignon Blanc. Depending on how ripe the grapes were when picked, the flavor ranges from lemon and green apple (less ripe) to pineapple and figs (very ripe).
Most unoaked Chardonnay is from cooler climate wine regions, like: Sonoma Coast, California, Western Australia, Loire and Chablis, France, and Oregon.
 
Oaked Chardonnays are rich, full-bodied and have additional flavors of vanilla, butter and even caramel from oak barrels or barrel alternatives (things like oak chips or staves). A cool climate, buttery Chardonnay will have more citrus flavors versus a warm climate Chardonnay, which will have more tropical fruit flavors.
What Regions Make Oaked Chardonnay? Many oaked Chardonnays come from warmer climate wine regions, such as: Southern & Eastern Australia, Napa Valley, Paso Robles and Lake County in California, Mendoza Argentina, and Burgundy, France.

Whether you are a Chardonnay lover or not, maybe take a look at of the options from this one grape. Ask any of our Wine Partners for a suggestion next time you are in the store.
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