Happy International Chardonnay Day! As if I needed an excuse to drink Chardonnay. This particular varietal is kind of special to me because it’s what sparked my fascination with wine during my first tour of Napa Valley wineries back when I was freshly 21 years young.
I remember chatting with the guy pouring in the tasting room and I was asking A LOT of questions. He could tell I was genuinely interested so he decided to have me have side-by-side tastings of Chardonnays that were from the same vintage (harvest year) and same exact vineyard. The only difference between them were what they were aged in; one was aged in French oak, one in American oak and the other in stainless steel. My mind was blown at how different they all tasted and my love of wine really became official.
Another thing to love about Chardonnay is that it’s the varietal that put Napa Valley on the map! You might already know this story, but in the early 1970’s, Napa Valley wineries weren’t given the recognition so many of them deserved. It wasn’t until May 24, 1976 at the Paris Wine Tasting (aka Judgment of Paris), where a Napa Valley Chardonnay beat every French competitor during a blind tasting. That event led Napa Valley to become the wine powerhouse it is today, but it also paved the way for everyone else. The myth that quality wine can only be made in France was busted, therefore opening doors for so many other regions to produce wine. This event also encouraged collaboration among French and California wine makers, which was something that hadn’t been done before! So Cheers to Chardonnay!
Sharing some of my favorites below. It was hard to pick because I’ve tried too many to list here! What are your favorite Chardonnays?
You fancy, huh
Grgich Hills Estate Winery (Napa Valley) Chardonnay $37
Rombauer Vineyards (Napa Valley) Chardonnay $38
Frank Family Vineyards (Napa Valley) Chardonnay $32
Jordan Vineyards (Russian River Valley) Chardonnay $30
J Vineyards (Russian River Valley) Chardonnay $25
Straddling the fence
Rutherford Ranch (Napa Valley) Chardonnay $20ish
Bogle Vineyards (Clarksburg, CA) Phantom Chardonnay $18
Oakridge Winery (Lodi, CA) Old Soul Chardonnay $16
Lava Cap (Sierra Foothills) Chardonnay Reserve $15
JaM Cellars (downtown Napa) Butter Chardonnay $14
Bogle Vineyards (Clarksburg, CA) Chardonnay $8
Cupcake Vineyards (Livermore, CA) Chardonnay $8
Rebuttal Chardonnay, exclusively sold at Trader Joes for $6.99