Feature

French-style Chardonnay from California

A new wave of artisan California winemakers is making unoaked Chardonnays.

The myth about Chardonnay is that it lacks the character to age well, said Steve Heimoff in Wine Enthusiast. Most American vintages are aged in oak, meant to lend them substance. Yet some French Chardonnays, such as Chablis, are either unoaked or only lightly oaked. Now a new wave of artisan California winemakers is also challenging the idea that Chardonnay needs to be oaked.

These Chardonnays come from the narrow coastal area extending from Anderson Valley in the north to the Santa Rita Hills—“a ribbon perhaps 30 miles at its widest.” These are some of the best we tasted, on a 100-point scale.

Mer Soleil 2006 Silver Unoaked Chardonnay (Santa Lucia Highlands) (92, $42) “Stunning.” Bright acids and a laser-like purity, with a dry finish.

Riverbench 2006 Bedrock Chardonnay (Santa Maria Valley) (88, $24) “So rich and forward in fruit” you may not notice its smoky edge.

Valley of the Moon 2007 Unoaked Chardonnay (Russian River Valley) (88, $16) Bracing with shellfish. Very dry and elegant, with a flavor of crisp green apples.

Recommended

The Week contest: Boss tickets
Bruce Springsteen.
Feature

The Week contest: Boss tickets

6 desirable homes in Detroit
House
Feature

6 desirable homes in Detroit

The Week contest: Body window
The human body.
Feature

The Week contest: Body window

Japanese fashion designer Issey Miyake dead at 84
Issey Miyake Dies at age 84
RIP

Japanese fashion designer Issey Miyake dead at 84

Most Popular

The debate over the Catholicism 'trend'
rosary beads
Opinion

The debate over the Catholicism 'trend'

Elon Musk urges Grimes not to get 'elf ear surgery'
Elon Musk and Grimes
lend me your ears

Elon Musk urges Grimes not to get 'elf ear surgery'

Starbucks accuses labor board of unfairly helping pro-union workers
Starbucks
union blues

Starbucks accuses labor board of unfairly helping pro-union workers