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White Wine Reviews, Cheap Chardonnay
Cheap White Wine Reviews
We've spoken with experts and wine vendors, read reviews, and held tastings to assemble our list of top picks and fleshed them out with more than a dozen other good white wine suggestions. While inexpensive white wines are often panned by professional tasters and consumer reviewers, many are embraced as light, well-rounded, drinker-friendly wines with just the right amount of floral and fruity undertones in the nose and on the palate and a finish that pleases.
The wines mentioned below are good values and should be enjoyed while still relatively young; low-cost white wines don't benefit from aging. Do note that the quality of a given wine varies from year to year, and the reviews we read sometimes refer to different vintages (the year of production); sometimes there's no vintage noted on the label at all. The wines are discussed below in alphabetical order by grape variety.
Cheap Chardonnay Wines.Chardonnay is the most popular wine in the U.S. in terms of market share, where it claims the plurality with 21 percent, according to the Wine Institute. Chardonnay typically possesses the flavors and aromas of melon, citrus, apple, nuts, and a hint of grass. Chardonnay grapes are often used in blends -- to make Chablis, for example, or white Burgundy -- but they also stand alone. These varietal Chardonnays are relatively complex, with medium to high acidity, and capable of presenting with taste and texture that take on characteristics of the grapes' growing region as well as the vinification process; in other words, it pays to know where the grape is from.
Chardonnay is routinely aged in oak barrels, but a French Chardonnay differs from a Columbia Valley (Washington) Chardonnay -- the former is likely to be lean and crisp and the latter fruity, oaky, and velvety in the mouth. Chardonnay is a nice accompaniment for fish, poultry, mushrooms, cheese, and Asian and spicy foods.
It's a safe bet that for less than $10 you can enjoy a rounded, full-flavored Chardonnay. Our pick for best cheap Chardonnay, and one of our favorites overall, is J. Lohr Estates Riverstone Chardonnay 2012 (starting at $9, Wine.com), which hails from California. Made almost completely from Chardonnay grapes, the 2012 was a top year in California for whites. Our tasters thought it was delightful, finding it fruity and oaky, and reviewers at Cellar Tracker agreed. Several Chardonnay wine reviewers also consider it buttery, and the two at Thumbs Up Wine say it has as much complexity as a $40 bottle and extol the notes of apple, guava, and peach. Oak Grove Reserve 2012, another California entry (starting at $7, Wine-Searcher.com) is a good value and scores 86 points from Wine Enthusiast based on the ripeness of flavors that echo apricot, honey, and buttered toast. Chardonnay wine reviews consider it smooth for the price. Another white well-liked by our tasting panel was the super cheap Crane Lake Chardonnay 2012 (starting at $4, Wine-Searcher.com). This wine is very light in color, with the taste to match, but also crisp and light and slightly floral, with no sour aftertaste. Tasters concluded that well-chilled, it would make a good everyday wine, particularly for the price.
Still, budget Chardonnay wines can be less than exemplary. The no-vintage Tisdale Chardonnay (starting at $3, Wine-Searcher.com) is a case in point. Naysayers deem this California wine barely drinkable, with an acidic finish, unpleasant aftertaste, and off-putting smell. Save your money, caution most Chardonnay reviews at Snooth. Others, however, argue that if it's cold enough, it's quite refreshing.
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