Tastings - Wine & Spirits Magazine


92             Joseph Jewell     $39     2020 Humboldt County Phelps Vineyard Chardonnay
A native of Humboldt County, Adrian Manspeaker has been exploring viticulture on his home turf. You can feel the cold Pacific in this chardonnay’s green pear and silken nectarine fruit—the vineyard is ten miles inland, at an elevation of 1,700 feet. It grows an earthy and savory chardonnay, to take on the mild funk of fish sauce in a green curry chicken. —J.G. (150 cases) 

85             Precision     $12     2020 North Coast Fly By Chardonnay (Best Buy)
High toned spice carries through this wine’s quince and green apple fruit, turning toward some alcohol burn in the end. Chill it for a party. —J.G. (4,750 cases) 
94             Domaine Anderson     $40     2020 Anderson Valley Estate Chardonnay (Best Buy)
Darrin Low blends this organically farmed fruit from three estate vineyards—Walraven in the hills above Boonville (46 percent), Dach, surrounding the winery in Philo (42 percent), and the balance from Navarro-Fairhills. The wine ferments without added yeasts in barrels (10 percent new), then ages in them for 10 months, where the flavors concentrate into an earthy, airy, long and graceful chardonnay at 12.5 percent alcohol. The fruit has a range of citrus notes, from orange zest to lime pith and light, dusty tannins carrying notes of lemon meringue, giving a sweet and savory end. Pour it with roast wild mushrooms, like chicken of the woods. —J.G. (360 cases) 

92             Bravium     $25     2021 Anderson Valley Chardonnay
There’s brisk coastal freshness to this wine, as if capturing the Pacific wines in cool, honeyed pear flavors. And while there’s also a showy oak note of nutmeg spice, it leaves my mouth feeling fresh. It’s a gracious and simple white for sand dabs. —J.G. 

91             Minus Tide     $42     2020 Mendocino Ridge Manchester Ridge Vineyard Chardonnay
Sweet, sour and bold, this chardonnay is bursting at the seams, like a pineapple grenade. Somehow it holds in all that exuberance, in a way that Tastings Editor Corey Warren found “stylized and confident.’” (60 cases) 

91             Radio-Coteau     $74     2021 Anderson Valley Savoy Chardonnay
From a cool apple blossom scent to apple butter flavors, this wine has a lush earthiness. The tannins have a touch of iodine, but the wine remains translucent, suited to char siu. —J.G. (251 cases) 

90             Carpe Diem     $23     2020 Anderson Valley Chardonnay (Best Buy)
This chardonnay is apricot ripe, a broad wine that contrasts buttered toast flavors and the cool feel of tingly acidity. Golden and chewy. For a lobster roll. —J.G. (1,150 cases) 

90             Kosta Browne     $170     2020 Anderson Valley Cerise Chardonnay
Displaying a lavish oak presence at the moment, this offers sweet pear flavors under all the butter, vanilla and nutty almond richness of a candy store. —J.G. (406 cases) 

88             Trail Marker     $48     2020 Mendocino Ridge Manchester Ridge Vineyard Chardonnay
Oak takes this wine’s leesy scents of mushrooms toward smoked pork hocks. Tastings editor Corey Warren found the lemon syrup note keeps it balanced, as if blended into a cocktail, and suggested pouring it with Midwest Sushi—cream cheese and dill pickle wrapped in ham. —J.G. (64 cases) 
94             MacRostie     $38     2021 Russian River Valley Chardonnay (Best Buy)
A big, complex chardonnay blended from four vineyards, this keeps fresh, bright fruit as the central mission, surrounding ripe apple flavors with scents of white roses and almond paste. It’s powerful without being sweet—”Intense in all the right ways,” said Alex Mares of NYC’s *Eleven Madison Park. —J.G. (625 cases) 

94             V. Sattui     $52     2021 Russian River Valley Collina d'Oro Chardonnay
Elegant and super long, with fresh corn silk and huitlacoche flavors giving it a wild savor. The texture is sleek and sumptuous, the smoke of the oak finely integrated into vibrant peach-scented fruit. Complex and arresting. —J.G. (569 cases) 

94             Williams Selyem     $65     2021 Russian River Valley Allen Chardonnay
This chardonnay’s tangy orange citrus is layered over buttery oak in a way that creates tension, the wine bright and lasting on acidity. That’s well knit with the oak structure, on a parallel track, the wine finishing with grace and presence. —J.G. (398 cases) 

94             Williams Selyem     $65     2021 Russian River Valley Williams Selyem Estate Chardonnay
This is a big wine with yellow plum, lemon confit and apple pie flavors, yet there’s plenty of lively acidity to hold it all together, lending sandy abrasion to the fruit and a harvest-time sting of a bee. The nuanced finish is airy after all that richness, hinting at preserved lemon. —J.G. (276 cases) 

93             DuMol     $90     2021 Russian River Valley Estate Vineyard Chardonnay
Clean and fragrant, with a leesy mineral lift to its peach-scented fruit, this has an elastic snap to the acidity. The peach flavor lasts, edgy and firm, and the flavors continue to open with air, developing what feels like a briny undertow, dragging seashell notes in its wake. —J.G. (720 cases) 

93             Dutton Estate     $51     2021 Russian River Valley Dutton Palms Vineyard Chardonnay
Marcona almond, orange, honey and sea breeze scents combine in this refreshing chardonnay. It feels like there is a spark of life in it, that spritz of orange oil from the zest of the fresh fruit, that springtime note of peach blossoms. The flavors are golden but the wine is not overtly sweet. —J.G. (157 cases) 

93             Marimar Estate     $42     2021 Russian River Valley La Masía Don Miguel Vineyard Chardonnay
Scents of red apple skin and cool lemon zest ride over this wine’s judicious oak, which adds an undertone of toastiness rather than any blunt vanilla flavor. Very long, the wine leaves a fresh feel. —J.G. (1,931 cases) 

92             Bravium     $25     2021 Russian River Valley Chardonnay
Citrus comes first—lime and lemon, the yellow fruit of Buddha’s hand. Then there’s an intriguing salty savor, like a mouthwatering veal stock. A savory and fresh white, this will contribute its depth of flavor to a roast chicken. 

92             La Crema     $50     2021 Russian River Valley Saralee's Vineyard Chardonnay
With its scents of chamomile over mint and creamy lees, this feels integrated and finely grown. Alex Mares of Eleven Madison Park found it to be a picture perfect Russian River Valley chardonnay: “Yellow stone fruit, yellow tree fruit, with oak and acidity to balance it. The brown spices of the oak color the fruit.” (2,000 cases) 

91             DeLoach     $52     2020 Russian River Valley Middle Reach Ritchie Chardonnay
A big and burly Russian River chardonnay, this is super floral, delivering fruit with the scent of apricot and loquat leather. The flavor intensity lasts. —J.G. (50 cases) 

91             Gary Farrell     $70     2020 Russian River Valley Rochioli Chardonnay
A vinous chardonnay with notes of jasmine tea and a leesy grip in the end, this is still youthfully closed—or that is how I would interpret the wine being tough and clean, given its vineyard provenance. Cellar it for several years. —J.G. (372 cases) 

90             Williams Selyem     $65     2021 Russian River Valley Olivet Lane Vineyard Chardonnay
Fresh mushroom and bright orange citrus contrast lees tones and fruit. Then layers of pineapple and stone fruit come on in an airy finish, even as oak scents carry on the breath. This needs a few years for all those elements to integrate. —J.G. (254 cases) 

89             Gary Farrell     $60     2020 Russian River Valley Bacigalupi Chardonnay
Tropical in its ripe pineapple flavor, restrained in its structure, this has energy and drive, though it feels a bit hollow in the end. Give it time to lengthen out. —J.G. (250 cases) 

89             J Vineyards     $38     2021 Russian River Valley Chardonnay (Best Buy)
This is warm up front, with some sulphur that needs bottle age to melt away. Once you get past the funky scent, the wine turns a corner toward sweet fruit and lasting savory leesiness. Give it a year in the cellar. 

89             MacRostie     $56     2021 Russian River Valley Olivet Lane Chardonnay
This earthy chardonnay focuses on the fresh mushroom richness of its lees aging. That brings a brothy savor and bitter almond warmth to meet the tart citrus fruit. Give it cellar time to meld. —J.G. (104 cases) 

88             Foppiano     $32     2021 Russian River Valley Estate Grown Chardonnay
There’s plenty of richness in this wine, whether you define it as beurre blanc and white pepper spice, or, as panelist Alex Mares suggested, “schmaltz and chicken broth.” There’s also a savory note, like Scottish oat cake. It will add richness to roast game-fish. —J.G. 

88             Williams Selyem     $42     2021 Russian River Valley Unoaked Chardonnay
Without the integration encouraged by time in barrel, this wine’s elements stand apart: Butter and citrus in contrast, lean and clean, the wine’s volume youthfully withheld. A year in the cellar will help it come together. —J.G. (1,304 cases) 

87             Balletto     $42     2020 Russian River Valley Sexton Hill Vineyard Chardonnay
A clean and savory chardonnay with notes of apple cider, this wine’s touches of oxidation bring to mind toasted sesame. Tasted at room temperature, the alcohol adds a harsh edge in the finish, needing a chill. —J.G. (301 cases) 

87             Dutton-Goldfield     $39     2020 Russian River Valley Dutton Ranch Chardonnay
This is a warm and buttery chardonnay with scents of orange blossoms sustaining freshness against the oxidative, salted nut flavors. Even with that hint of oxidation, it finishes clean. —J.G. (2,950 cases) 

87             Marimar Estate     $34     2022 Russian River Valley Acero Don Miguel Vineyard Chardonnay
This is a clean, simple chardonnay vinified in stainless steel, so it’s vinous rather than oaky. The sweet citrus fruit is a little grapey, with scents of white flowers in the end. —J.G. (648 cases) 

87             Tongue Dancer     $50     2020 Russian River Valley Bacigalupi Vineyard Chardonnay
This is a warm and simple chardonnay with copper-orange fruit notes to parallel the scents of ginger, mustard seed and almond skin. —J.G. (104 cases) 

85             Frei Brothers     $20     2021 Russian River Valley Sonoma Reserve Chardonnay
Here’s a simple chardonnay for those with a sweet tooth, with toasted lees scents and broad oak spice. —J.G. 
94             Flowers     $55     2021 Sonoma Coast Chardonnay
Oak plays a structural role in this chardonnay, framing the wine’s white plum and litchi richness in an edge of nutmeg spice. The fruit in the middle of the frame is soft, the edges savory, with leesy bitterness that holds a scent of white flowers. Intriguing and integrated. 

93             La Crema     $55     2020 Sonoma Coast Tidal Break Vineyard Chardonnay
A chardonnay with intriguing earthiness: Yes, there is some heat to the white rose petal and butternut squash flavors, the green papaya notes and the ambitious oak grain. But the alcohol, the oak and the fruit all work in harmony, finely integrated and interwoven. It has some tannins in the end to take on grilled fish, like a crisp-skinned salmon steak. —J.G. (500 cases) 

93             Patz & Hall     $35     2021 Sonoma Coast Chardonnay (Best Buy)
Blended as a mosaic of small, family-owned vineyards in Western Sonoma County, this is gingery with a pollen-like spice. The fruit has the tight feel of a nectarine just coming into ripeness, the wine intentionally reductive and flinty fresh. This is leesy-spicy, floral and cool. 

93             Sangiacomo     $40     2020 Sonoma Coast Eden Dale Chardonnay (Best Buy)
A complex wine with momentum to its flavors, this builds from a brisk place, through savory elements of smoke and pastry dough, toward sweet apricot fruit that weaves in and out at the end. —J.G. (521 cases) 

93             Sangiacomo     $58     2021 Sonoma Coast Chardonnay
Round and supple, this is plump with enough yellow-peach flavor to balance its dry, earthy savor. Sandstone-cool in the middle, it warms up in the end where oak lends a Christmas-cookie spice. Meaty enough for a veal roast. —J.G. (990 cases) 

92             Migration     $58     2021 Sonoma Coast Keefer Ranch Chardonnay
This is a creamy chardonnay with flavors of lemon custard and pear compote. The aroma is more mineral, with citrus pith notes adding fragrance. For roast fish served over a creamy wild-mushroom sauce. —J.G. (362 cases) 

92             Three Sticks     $70     2021 Sonoma Coast Durell Vineyard Chardonnay
Fresh lemon and chamomile flavors win out over the pastry dough scents of oak, helped along by a sea spray aspect. This feels creamy and welcoming. —J.G. (340 cases) 

91             Flowers     $90     2021 Sonoma Coast Camp Meeting Ridge Chardonnay
Balanced in its sweet ripeness, this golden-toned chardonnay has some Mandarin orange richness to the fruit and firm, lasting spice. “It’s brassy,” said NYC sommelier Chris Dooley, “as if Ethel Merman were a wine.” 

91             Three Sticks     $70     2020 Sonoma Coast Durell Vineyard Chardonnay
“Chardonnay in bold letters,” said one panelist, describing the creamy nectarine flavors and tart lemon edges of acidity. It finishes clean as the oak recedes in the end. —J.G. (610 cases) 

90             DuMol     $85     2021 Sonoma Coast Isobel Charles Heintz Vineyard Chardonnay
Green strawberry notes come through in the white fruit of this wine. Its warm with a plush satin drape to the texture, lasting with a phenolic character under honey and nut scents. —J.G. (1,000 cases) 

90             La Follette     $60     2020 Sonoma Coast Zephyr Farms Chardonnay
Soft, cushioned, open and airy, this has a chicken stock umami richness while leaving the mouth clean, in search of food. —J.G. (172 cases) 

89             Juggernaut     $20     2021 Sonoma Coast Chardonnay (Best Buy)
Packed with citrus, from orange to pink grapefruit, this has springtime scents of fruit blossoms and some supple alcohol. Chill it for a beach picnic. 

88             County Line     $36     2021 Sonoma Coast Chardonnay (Best Buy)
Sunny and generous in its warmth, this wine focuses on nut meat flavors, with almond skin notes that last in the end. —J.G. (335 cases) 

87             Hartford Court     $65     2021 Sonoma Coast Stone Côte Vineyard Chardonnay
A plus-size chardonnay with plenty of flashy oak to contain its buttery lemon fruit and circus peanut flavors. —J.G. (389 cases) 

86             Merriam     $30     2022 Sonoma Coast Chardonnay
This is a mild white with scents of lemon and toast. The texture is a little glassy and thick, the wine heady rather than flavorful, with some acidity to focus the ending. —J.G. (200 cases) 
93             Covenant     $42     2021 Sonoma Mountain Lavan Chardonnay
There’s purity to this lemon-yellow chardonnay, fat in the middle, reined in by oak in the end. Tightened up by acidity, the wine lasts with a bright, youthful energy. —J.G. (250 cases) 

93             Hartford Court     $75     2021 West Sonoma Coast Far Coast Vineyard Chardonnay
This smells savory, with a leesiness up front and mild grape-skin flavor that follows along a crisp coastal line. It feels shady and cool, while the orange-citrus fruit holds lasting acidity. —J.G. (270 cases) 

92             Iron Horse     $57     2020 Green Valley Native Yeast Chardonnay
The relatively slow start of a spontaneous fermentation may have helped sustain this wine’s energy. In any case, it’s savory, with scents of white roses and oats, and it leaves my mouth tasting fresh and cool. —J.G. (270 cases) 

91             Hartford Court     $75     2021 West Sonoma Coast Seascape Vineyard Chardonnay
This is a flashy style, its ripeness revealed in some heat and butter, but overall it’s finely integrated within an oak frame. There’s gingery spice, mineral notes from the lees, as well as a green chamomile character that keeps it refreshing in the end. —J.G. (269 cases) 

90             DeLoach     $52     2020 Green Valley Heintz Chardonnay
With its savory notes of Brazil nuts and chamomile, this shows some gentle oxidation from its time in oak. The acidity is slightly sour and, together with the savory tone, would meld with roast veal. —J.G. (138 cases) 

89             Fort Ross Vineyard     $30     2021 Fort Ross-Seaview Sea Slopes Chardonnay (Best Buy)
Broad chamomile flavors give this an intriguing pale leafiness, integrated with toasty oak in the finish, leesy and smooth. —J.G. (1,800 cases) 

88             Hartford Court     $70     2021 Marin County Chardonnay
This chardonnay has cool coastal power, even as its clean, sweet pear and lime flavors give it taste of a margarita—salty, candied, lasting on sweetness. —J.G. (60 cases) 

87             MacRostie     $52     2021 Petaluma Gap Sonoma County Nightwing Vineyard Chardonnay
This wine’s caramelized lemon and almond paste flavors are not overly concentrated. Chill it for a roast turkey dinner. —J.G. (666 cases) 

86             Three Sticks     $70     2021 Sonoma Mountain One Sky Chardonnay
Savory and creamy in its simple richness, this wine shares Meyer lemon flavors and some oxidative nutty tones. A cocktail hour chardonnay. —J.G. (438 cases) 

85             Dutton-Goldfield     $50     2020 Green Valley Walker Hill Vineyard Chardonnay
Straightforward green grape flavors are at the core of this wine, with notes of creamery butter and some volatile flamed orange zest in the end. —J.G. (338 cases) 
94             Newton     $60     2021 Napa Valley Unfiltered Chardonnay
Fresh and pretty, this chardonnay’s ripe apple fruit combines with unctuous richness, like salmon oil, to deliver a plush white pleasure. Peach skin flavors tighten up the end. It’s a wine that will reward patience. “Not loud,” said Chris Dooley of (CK) “but it has things to say if you are listening.” 

92             Grgich HIlls     $60     2021 Napa Valley Miljenko's Selection Chardonnay
Zesty reduction gives the meatier aspects of this wine a run for their money. This is generous, dynamic and cool, needing some bottle age to shed the reductive scallion notes and reveal more of its underlying complexities. —J.G. (974 cases) 

92             Hendry     $38     2021 Napa Valley Barrel Fermented Chardonnay (Best Buy)
Napa Valley chardonnay takes a turn toward Chassagne in the flavors of an almond, macadamia and pear pastry, with some orange zest and bitter pith to add layers. It’s intriguing and finely made. —J.G. (660 cases) 

92             J. McClelland     $40     2020 Oak Knoll District Chardonnay (Best Buy)
Quiet and substantial, this needs bottle age to show its best. There’s a menthol and citrus coolness to the fruit and a toasted nut depth of flavor. There’s nothing buttery about it; instead, it’s limey and plenty rich. —J.G. (200 cases) 

92             V. Sattui     $48     2021 Napa Valley Carsi Chardonnay
Yellow apple flesh fills this youthful chardonnay, tight and a little sweaty, with notes of buttered almond and pear. One taster described it as ambitious, and said it “smells like money,” though, in the end, $50 isn’t a lot of money to spend for a Napa Valley chardonnay of this class. —J.G. (653 cases) 

91             Calera     $60     2021 Mt. Harlan Chardonnay
Starting off savory and nutty, this leads with scents of toasted hominy, polenta and pear. It's on the rich side with lemon curd overlaying caramel apple flavors, framed by leesy savor. Those flavors have impressive length. For roast chicken. —P.J.C. (490 cases)  

91             Patz & Hall     $60     2021 Carneros Napa Valley Hyde Vineyard Chardonnay
A mild mannered chardonnay with notes of pumpkin seeds and popcorn, this is lime-leaf-dark and a little phenolic. The vegetal aspects of the wine would make it interesting to pair with food, like a savory mushroom pasta. —J.G. (204 cases) 

91             Quattro Theory     $40     2022 Napa Valley Chardonnay
Buttered peach and ginger flavors give this wine a yellow fruit profile. It ends bitter with a firm, almost tannic feel, lasting on that peachy fruit. 

90             Beringer     $48     2021 Napa Valley Private Reserve Chardonnay
A pushmi-pullyu blend of top vineyard sites, this chardonnay sets out to define Napa Valley in a contrast of brisk acidity and fatty richness. It delivers notes of bruised apple, cider doughnut and leesy tannins that come across as both peppery and chalky. This needs bottle age to fill out is structure and for the flavors to lengthen. —J.G. (4,135 cases) 

90             Grgich HIlls     $46     2021 Napa Valley Chardonnay
Musky and meaty, this is a funky chardonnay that split the panel. There’s a pear-like purity to the end that cleans it up, leaving a rich and intriguing impression. Decant it for braised rabbit with parsnip cream. 

90             Hendry     $55     2020 Napa Valley Hendry Vineyard Reserve Chardonnay
Slick and buttery, warm and welcoming, this has a chalky profile and a bitterness that lasts. It’s a little leesy, a little crunchy, needing bottle age to mellow into something more elegant. —J.G. (167 cases) 

90             Trefethen     $40     2021 Oak Knoll District Chardonnay (Best Buy)
Apple and white cranberry notes give this a brisk and zesty feel. It lasts on nutty lees and salty notes of brine. For fish tacos with a salty peach salsa. 

88             Hartford Court     $70     2021 Carneros Seven's Bench Vineyard Chardonnay
With bitterness on top and florals underneath, this is a softball of a chardonnay, wrapping its alcohol with scents of buttery puff pastry, white plum and nectarine. Leafy and simple. —J.G. (313 cases) 

88             Precision     $20     2021 Napa Valley Gait Chardonnay (Best Buy)
This wine’s floral bitterness might bring to mind daisies and buttercups, then the flavors dive into a warm caramel undertone, firm and integrated. —J.G. (2,600 cases) 

87             Hendry     $26     2022 Napa Valley Unoaked Chardonnay
This wine’s orange blossom and bruised kumquat flavor show some heat, but they also show some freshness when first poured. Give it a chill and drink it right now. —J.G. (844 cases) 

87             V. Sattui     $45     2021 Los Carneros Napa Valley Chardonnay
A simple white wine with flavors of apple cider complete with the skins and sweet pineapple tepache, this is lean with a rasp of alcohol. Serve chilled as an aperitif. —J.G. (653 cases) 

86             Rombauer     $75     2021 Carneros Napa Valley Buchli Station Chardonnay
With its flavors of pineapple upside-down cake and earthy, lemony acidity, this is a sweet and candied chardonnay to chill for drinking on its own. —J.G. (652 cases) 

86             Scotto     $35     2019 Carneros Napa Valley Anthony + Dominic Castellucci Vineyards Reserve Chardonnay
Broad and thick in its flavors of honey and chamomile, pineapple and toasted wheat, this is warm, with an earthy bitterness in the end. Pour it with honey-glazed grilled chicken. —J.G. (300 cases) 
94             Chanin     $50     2021 Santa Barbara County Los Alamos Vineyard Chardonnay
This cool vineyard close to the coast always yields an elegant, savory wine. This latest release starts off with scents of nutmeg, cinnamon and sea spray salinity, and it doesn’t disappoint. There’s an amber-caramel frame for the savor, becoming breezy and relaxed after a day, with a supple texture and delicious succulence. It’s length of flavor suggests it’s a wine for the cellar, to hold for a year at least.  

93             Babcock     $58     2021 Santa Barbara County Dream Field Chardonnay
Beneath this chardonnay’s bright lemon and toasted lees notes, there’s a scent of pure pear. The flavors are bright and lifted—lemon, vanillin, bosc pear and apple—simple and luminous, like a spring day in southern Central Coast. —P.J.C. (300 cases)  

92             Coquelicot     $32     2021 Los Olivos District Estate Chardonnay (Best Buy)
Tense and nutty, this mineral-inflected chardonnay expresses the coolness of Los Olivos and its foggy Pacific heath. Leading with scents of wheat, lemon and lime, it broadens with air toward flavors of apple and caramel. A stylish and energetic chardonnay for roast haddock. —P.J.C. (175 cases)  

92             Deovlet     $35     2020 Santa Barbara County Chardonnay (Best Buy)
Scents of nougat and caramel toffee hint at a rich wine, but the flavors are lean and racy, all yuzu and lime. These two ends need to meld a bit, but the wine is compelling all the same. Decant and serve with miso black cod. —P.J.C. (315 cases)  

92             Dovecote     $45     2021 Alisos Canyon Thompson Vineyard Chardonnay
Aged in steel, this is lively and lemony, with scents of green apple and white dusty minerals. This wine’s cool-weather flavors remain crisp, rippling with acidity, and showing plenty of character without oak.  

91             Babcock     $58     2021 Santa Barbara County Top Cream Chardonnay
Splendidly nutty and rich in its caramelly aromatics, this wine’s flavors are much crisper than the aromas would suggest, with good length and concentration. —P.J.C. (300 cases)  

90             Pali     $85     2019 Santa Barbara County Reserve Pali Vineyard Chardonnay
Creamy and flavorful, with nutty scents and caramel apple flavors, this is rich and tinged with oak, lending it a soft chewy texture. For mussels. —P.J.C. (100 cases)  

90             Presqu'ile     $24     2022 Santa Barbara County Chardonnay (Best Buy)
Bright with a fresh apple scent and hints of pineapple, this is crisp and lightly oaked in a Mâconnais style.  

90             Tread     $35     2021 Santa Barbara County Chardonnay (Best Buy)
This leads with a mouthwatering tartness, lemony and bright, lasting on a spice note and clean mineral flavors. One note, filled with tension, for prawns. —P.J.C. (410 cases)  

89             Peake Ranch     $40     2020 Santa Barbara County Chardonnay
Bright and crisp, with the scent of unripe pear and flavors that are lean and salty, this has a finish that’s salty and caramelly for sand dabs.  
94             Au Bon Climat     $50     2020 Santa Maria Valley Hindsight Nuits-Blanches au Bouge Chardonnay
Drawn from Le Bon Climat and Bien Nacido vineyards, this ample chardonnay is as savory as it is rich, with umami mushroom scents, golden apple sweetness and plenty of nutty lees. The savor comes from an almost grain-like toastiness, the texture creamy and generous.  

94             Fess Parker     $48     2021 Santa Maria Valley Bien Nacido Vineyard Chardonnay
Fess Parker's Bien Nacido chardonnay bottling always manages a generosity of style within the rigors of a cool place. It's posh in its spicy nutmeg, cinnamon-apple and pear flavors that are juicy and just so flavorful, with an appealing richness that fills the mid-palate with sumptuous flavor, plush and round. The finish lasts for thirty seconds or more. —P.J.C. (483 cases)  

93             Au Bon Climat     $35     2020 Santa Maria Valley Historic Vineyards Collection Bien Nacido Vyd. Chardonnay (Best Buy)
This wine leads with stylish scents of smoke and toasted lees, even a bit of fusil and sawdust, all of it holding together dramatically, with a structure that’s firm and focused, remaining controlled even with substantial weight. All there for the cellaring, for a decade or more and a steal for the price.  

93             Au Bon Climat     $40     2020 Santa Ynez Valley Historic Vineyards Collection Sanford & Benedict Vyd. Chardonnay
Sanford & Benedict is cool enough to maximize hang time, something the Au Bon Climat team has always managed well. This 2020 chardonnay gives a first impression that’s broad-shouldered and fleshy, with a dusty lees scent and showy fruit flavors of honeyed apple and pear. It lasts with a golden toasted-nut expression of lees. You have to marvel at its girth, remaining sizable but not overreaching.  

93             Cambria     $60     2020 Santa Maria Valley Katherine's Signature Chardonnay
This is straightforward, simple, and delightful—as happy-making as pineapple upside-down cake in its rich succulence. It starts off smoky, and leesy, the fruit coming forward with air and conveying a sumptuous texture, with brown-sugar accents and fleshy, nutty flavors that seem to go on forever. —P.J.C. (100 cases)  

93             Rancho Viñedo     $55     2019 Santa Maria Valley Doña Martina Chardonnay
An old school bottling with the weighty, oak-tinged stylings of chardonnay made in the early nineties, it has a richness that stays on the rails, tethered to brisk breezy acidity and a saline mineral tang. It leads with scents of celery and apple, bright and a bit dusty. The flavors are burnished, caramelized and deep, with background notes of thyme and lemon lime on the finish. —P.J.C. (250 cases)  

92             Bien Nacido Estate     $65     2020 Santa Maria Valley Chardonnay
Scents of pineapple and butterscotch give way to a golden apple intensity with a lemon-oil bite. Nutty lees frames the fruit, a mineral foundation that brings the wine into high focus. It has astonishing lift for all the moving parts.  

92             Clendenen Family     $50     2019 Santa Maria Valley Le Bon Climat Chardonnay
This posh chardonnay leads with scents of sawdust and hazelnuts. There’s a strong impression of nutty lees in the attack, followed by cinnamon, yellow pear, golden-hued vanillin and caramel in the finish. —P.J.C. (150 cases)  

92             Lindquist     $0     2021 Santa Maria Valley Bien Nacido Vineyard Chardonnay
Lindquist has drawn from Bien Nacido, his ‘home’ vineyard, for three decades. This 2021 has the scent of pear and nutty lees in equal measure, becoming more sumptuous and savory with air. The flavors are broad and generous, with a honeydew coolness and dusty, seashell mineral contour. For clams.  

92             Peake Ranch     $60     2020 Santa Maria Valley Sierra Madre Vineyard Chardonnay
Bright and a touch leesy, with toasted-nut savor and caramel, this wine's richness is tethered to a rush of saline minerality that leaves the lasting impression. —P.J.C. (297 cases)  

92             Presqu'ile     $48     2020 Santa Maria Valley Presqu'ile Vineyard Chardonnay
From Presqu'ile’s home vineyard on the western end of the Santa Maria Valley, this is smoky and a touch reticent when first poured, showing a pineapple and apple scent marked by a saline tang. Its flavors start off rich but tuck in quickly, that mineral edge turning silken and firm. —P.J.C. (800 cases)  

92             Rusack     $40     2019 Santa Maria Valley Bien Nacido Vineyard Chardonnay (Best Buy)
This is quite exotic, with scents of anise and mace, cinnamon and vanilla. That's a lot going on, but it remains light and malic, with a green apple freshness that lasts. —P.J.C. (600 cases)  

92             Solomon Hills     $50     2020 Santa Maria Valley Chardonnay
This wine’s scents of cornmeal and golden apple are tinged with a caramel richness. Its pleasingly warm blanket of flavor mirrors the aromatics, with tangy apple acidity leaving an elegant impression.  

91             Cambria     $22     2021 Santa Maria Valley Katherine's Vineyard Chardonnay (Best Buy)
Rich and succulent, this leads with golden pear and matchstick aromas. The flavors are just as rich, pineapple and pear, but it’s elegant for all that, overdelivering for the price. Serve it with oven-roast clams.  

91             Foxen     $36     2020 Santa Maria Valley Block UU Bien Nacido Vineyard Chardonnay
This feels rich in its lees and caramel scents. The flavors have some pineapple depth, with a tense lemony edge, the finish clean and citrusy after that creamy textural heft in the middle.  

91             Lumen     $40     2021 Santa Maria Valley Chardonnay (Best Buy)
Fleshy and bright at once, this has scents of apple and pear, the wine’s flavors drawn into focus by a saline tension and mineral crispness. It's low in alcohol (12.5 percent) with high acidity that lends focus and intensity. —P.J.C. (680 cases)  

91             Presqu'ile     $45     2020 Santa Maria Valley Bien Nacido Vineyard Chardonnay (Best Buy)
Lean and smoky, this opens beautifully with emergent flavors of lemon and green apple, delivered with a delicate florality. The palate is defined by a firm, mineral density that gives it shape and staying power. —P.J.C. (500 cases)  

90             J. Wilkes     $25     2021 Santa Maria Valley Chardonnay (Best Buy)
Smoky and slightly nutty when first poured, this feels broad in its ripe apple flavors, then grainy acids rein it in, lasting on a brown butter finish. For roast chicken. —P.J.C. 
95             The Joy Fantastic     $55     2021 Sta. Rita Hills Chardonnay
From one of the westernmost vineyards in the Sta. Rita Hills, this is remarkably savory, all smoky lees notes and salinity. With air, a lemon-lime top note emerges. The attack is rich despite the smoke and the savor, the flavors powerful and deep, with a phenolic thrust and grip that’s commanding in its energy. After a day, golden fruit and lemon curd come through as the texture grows more refined and shapely, with tremendous length and breadth. A tour de force for decanting or cellaring.  

94             Chanin     $60     2021 Sta. Rita Hills Sanford & Benedict Chardonnay
A savory wine from the outset, this leads with scents of nutmeg and lees, along with a dusting of minerals. The flavors follow that persistent savor, though there’s a cinnamon apple note with a brown butter, slightly caramelized edge. The develop a fresh lemon tension that creeps into the wine like an afternoon fogline, lean and cooling. For a seafood platter.  

94             Chanin     $55     2021 Sta. Rita Hills Zotovich Vineyard Chardonnay
It’s as if you can taste fine grains of sand from this sandy site along Highway 246, this wine offers up scents of dust and windblown salt, cinnamon and nutmeg and soil. The flavors are grainy as a crisp apple with a pear-like breadth and a chewy density. For oven-roasted salmon.  

94             Colluvial     $55     2021 Sta. Rita Hills Las Nenas La Rinconada Vineyard Chardonnay
This is a live wire, as electric as the snap of telephone line on western reaches of Santa Rosa Road, where La Rinconada is home to breezes and fog. Captured in chardonnay, this starts out smoky and dense, becoming lemony and mouthwatering with air, the tension bearing a subtle grip and impressive length. It’s mouth filling but not heavy, ready for duck confit. —P.J.C. (108 cases)  

94             Sandhi     $65     2021 Sta. Rita Hills Rinconada Chardonnay
Sashi Moorman’s interpretation of La Rinconada vineyard is super smoky when first poured, leading with scents of lime pith and lemon zest. With air, a pure apple-like fruit emerges. For all the fruit expression there’s mineral intensity here, pithy and electric, which broadens the texture and provides lift and length. (128 cases)  

94             Testarossa     $45     2021 Sta. Rita Hills Chardonnay (Best Buy)
Lean, quiet and reserved, this has a leesy, nutty scent that broadens out and frames its tree fruit flavors, like quince drizzled with yuzu. That yuzu note may just be the zingy acidity that courses through the wine, projecting elegance and a firm mineral imprint on the finish, the oak component measured and reserved. —P.J.C. (175 cases)  

93             Donnachadh     $40     2021 Sta. Rita Hills Chardonnay (Best Buy)
Smoky and lees scented, this wine has a yellow apple burst of flavor expressed in a juicy expanse and cool linear energy. Just a touch of creaminess on the finish makes it ideal for roast chicken and tortellini. —P.J.C. (800 cases)  

93             Dragonette     $95     2020 Sta. Rita Hills Black Label Chardonnay
Scents of coconut oil and honey give this wine an exotic feel. Its flavors are sumptuous— cinnamon apple and apple cake. All of this suggests a big wine but it's cut, lean, chalky and assertive, the richness leavened by dusty acidity. —P.J.C. (100 cases)  

93             Hartford Court     $70     2021 Sta. Rita Hills Radian Vineyard Chardonnay
Sumptuous but with clean lines, Hartford Court’s interpretation of the cool Radian site leads with scents of nutmeg and cinnamon, apple and pear, a kind of horchata savor and richness. Its golden-pear flavors are fresh and lively, brought to a close with rippling acidity. —P.J.C. (150 cases)  

93             Presqu'ile     $38     2021 Sta. Rita Hills Sanford & Benedict Chardonnay (Best Buy)
Wonderfully tense and lean, this wavers in its aromatics of hazelnuts, apple pie and salt air. Its flavors are breezy and savory, lemon and juicy apple kissed by oak, with a saline leesy richness that lends elegance on the finish. —P.J.C. (800 cases)  

93             Sandhi     $85     2021 Sta. Rita Hills Bentrock Chardonnay
Bentrock is made in a severely reductive style, but built on a base of very expressive wine. The result is a dramatic combination of reduction notes—matchstick, smoky lees, nutty savor—with a richness of fruit, purely expressed, delivered with a creamy intensity before turning tart and smoky. Fascinating, and needing time. —P.J.C. (37 cases)  

93             Testarossa     $55     2021 Sta. Rita Hills La Rinconada Chardonnay
Rich and smoky, with scents of caramel and pear, this chardonnay’s flavors are all custard and juicy apple, a weighty wine with sumptuous oak framing that should tuck in with some cellar time. —P.J.C. (504 cases)  

92             Barden     $82     2020 Sta. Rita Hills Sanford & Benedict Chardonnay
This vineyard designate from Doug Margerum’s Sta. Rita Hills project starts off smoky and flinty, leading with honeysuckle and sandalwood, butter and caramel. It’s quiet and composed, with a breezy energy that courses through the wine. —P.J.C. (90 cases)  

92             Colluvial     $50     2019 Sta. Rita Hills Las Nenas La Rinconada Vineyard Chardonnay (Best Buy)
Scents of cinnamon and creosote overlay a tropical fruit core of peach and dried apricot. The flavors, however, are juicy and fresh, lined with a mineral or wind-inflected edge, with the tension for white sausages. —P.J.C. (48 cases)  

92             Dragonette     $65     2020 Sta. Rita Hills Rita's Crown Vineyard Chardonnay
Grown at a very cool vineyard on the southern edge of the Sta. Rita Hills, this tense wine starts off very dry with cinnamon dust notes adorning apple and pear scents. With air, a spice cake richness emerges, fleshy but balanced, with a drive and acidity for pork. —P.J.C. (235 cases)  

92             Evan's Ranch     $40     2021 Sta. Rita Hills Las Brisas Chardonnay (Best Buy)
Scents of honeycomb and cereal introduce this wine. Its pineapple acidity gives way to a texture that’s generous, with great lift and a salty crunchy mouthfeel. Crisp and on point for oysters. —P.J.C. (224 cases)  

92             Fess Parker     $48     2021 Sta. Rita Hills Ashley's Chardonnay (Best Buy)
This leads with scents of biscuit crumb, nutty and honey sweet. Its caramelized pear and apple flavors have a nutty back note, yet despite those assertive flavors, the wine feels reserved, settled, firm. Layered and well-composed, this is ready for pork loin. —P.J.C. (901 cases)  

92             Fess Parker     $48     2021 Sta. Rita Hills Parker West Chardonnay (Best Buy)
This is a generous white, leading with scents of vanilla, apple and pear. The attack is pleasingly creamy, dense with chewy and sweet flavors, with a citrus lift at the back end that frames the wine nicely. —P.J.C. (202 cases)  

92             Ken Brown     $50     2021 Sta. Rita Hills Sanford & Benedict Chardonnay (Best Buy)
Rich with pretty golden fruit and caramelized pear scents, this is mildly smoky at first. There’s a brown sugar sweetness on the palate with a fleshy apple character that makes it a satisfying, voluptuous pleasure, firming up nicely on the finish. —P.J.C. (131 cases)  

92             Peake Ranch     $60     2020 Sta. Rita Hills Peake Ranch Vineyard Chardonnay
Fresh and creamy, with a caramel-apple scent and ripe fruit, this wine’s richness is held in check by a dusty mineral note. Almond scented and lemony on the back end, this is bright and savory at once. —P.J.C. (297 cases)  

92             Strange Family     $58     2021 Sta. Rita Hills Estate Chardonnay
This starts off very leesy, with scents of honeysuckle and maple adorning honeyed apple flavors. It has a velvety richness, a luxurious texture with the nuttiness for a pasta with alfredo sauce. —P.J.C. (217 cases)  

92             Strange Family     $48     2021 Sta. Rita Hills SRH Chardonnay (Best Buy)
This has a nutty top note overlaying warm apple flavors. It’s generous and full bodied, with an apple-skin crispness that frames the finish. —P.J.C. (252 cases)  

91             Tread     $46     2021 Sta. Rita Hills Chardonnay (Best Buy)
This starts off tart and salty, with scents of cinnamon, horchata and vanillin. The flavors have a pineapple depth, warm on the attack, tart on the finish. —P.J.C. (237 cases)  

90             Alma Rosa     $52     2021 Sta. Rita Hills El Jabali Chardonnay
Exceedingly generous and rich, this has round fruit notes framed by cinnamon stick and caramel scents. It’s roasted-apple rich, touched by a vanilla sweetness, generous and round. —P.J.C. (423 cases)  

90             Barden     $52     2020 Sta. Rita Hills Chardonnay
This generous chardonnay has a buttery, honey-scented lees character overlaid by oak and golden-apple fruit. It's creamy and balanced, for a mushroom risotto. —P.J.C. (232 cases)  

90             Mail Road     $52     2021 Sta. Rita Hills Chardonnay
Scents of golden raisin hint at a richness that completely disappears on the palate, revealing a dusty salinity that'll make you think of Chablis. —P.J.C. (112 cases)  
95             Domaine Eden     $35     2020 Santa Cruz Mountains Chardonnay (Best Buy)
Some people love Montrachet. I love this. A blend of fruit from two ridgetop vineyards, this gives mineral intensity from Mount Eden’s vines grown in Franciscan shale soils buffered by the fruit depths of Domaine Eden’s chardonnay grown in loam. It brings on green lime freshness and the richness of porky ramen broth? In this era of climate change, this wine is like a time capsule of mountain-grown chardonnay coolness. —J.G. (1,335 cases) 

94             Mount Eden     $70     2020 Santa Cruz Mountains Chardonnay
Texturally beautiful, this is all about touch, with a flower petal note of chamomile, and the earthiness of citrus and stone. Mount Eden Chardonnays have a strong track record for aging, this this one is structured to last. Pale and zesty, if you open it now, the lime flavors take it to Mexican or Native American foods. —J.G. (975 cases) 

93             Ridge     $70     2021 Santa Cruz Mountains Estate Chardonnay
So meaty, this wine has the umami savor of dry-aged veal. There a hint of sweetness in its juicy apple flavors and lemon blossom scents, but it’s mostly about that meaty savor. It has the feel of a funky, artisanal chardonnay, with welcome lightness to the wine’s intensity. Built to cellar. —J.G. (2,100 cases) 

93             Trail Marker     $48     2020 Santa Cruz Mountains Chapel Vineyard Chardonnay
A foresty chardonnay with notes of green apple, green almond and green olive, this is potent and muscular. The cool, underripe pineapple flavors have an intriguing saturation, framed by leesy tannins. For braised rabbit or other white meats. —J.G. (64 cases) 

92             Eden Rift     $54     2019 Cienega Valley Terraces Chardonnay
Round and rich, this wine’s assertive lees impression provides focus for its ripeness. It’s smoky and elegant, the leesy savor grounding sumptuous baked-pineapple flavors, with lemony acidity giving it lift and energy. —P.J.C. (593 cases)  

92             Talley     $0     2021 San Luis Obispo Coast Chardonnay
Scents of apple and tropical notes of mango meet this wine’s round, sweetcorn sweetness. The flavors are taut and well-balanced, with a pleasing tartness that makes those tropical notes sing. Ready to pour for prawns. —P.J.C. 

91             Calera     $38     2020 Cienega Valley Eden Rift Chardonnay (Best Buy)
This leads with matchstick notes, followed by a green attack of lime pith and citrus. Jumpy, lively, leesy, there’s good wine in here but it needs to settle. Cellar. 

91             Eden Rift     $42     2019 Cienega Valley Estate Chardonnay (Best Buy)
Fleshy and overtly creamy, this fills out with air into caramel, nutty, buttery (diacetyl) notes. It’s an amber wine with lemon-curd and lees flavors, oak driven but not overly so. —P.J.C. (1,692 cases) 

91             Talley     $75     2021 Arroyo Grande Valley Rosemary's Chardonnay
Crisp as a chilled apple, this chardonnay is silky and bright, with a hint of lees and lactic notes; the flavor is as lean as a Mâconnais chardonnay, with a firm finish for prawns. —P.J.C. 

90             McIntyre     $28     2021 Santa Lucia Highlands Chardonnay (Best Buy)
This has the rich aroma of a baked apple tart, but despite the baked scents it's crisp and juicy, with pineapple juice richness and mild phenolic grip. —P.J.C. (968 cases)  

90             Scheid     $50     2019 Santa Lucia Highlands Escolle Road Chardonnay
Flinty and reductive, this wine’s golden apple sweetness in the middle palate is marked by a lean savory edge of lees, lending complexity and firmness, offsetting the sweetness. —P.J.C. (200 cases)  

89             Baileyana     $28     2021 Edna Valley Chardonnay
Scents of meringue and bruised apple take on a grainy savor after some air. It’s got a mellow golden fruit vibe with a firm oaky frame, needing time for the oak to integrate. 

89             Hahn     $50     2021 Santa Lucia Highlands Smith Vineyard Chardonnay
This starts off smoky from oak, rich and lush in the attack; and there’s plenty of minerality to underpin the yellow apple flavors, with plenty of energy for fish and chips. 

89             Hearst Ranch     $32     2022 Paso Robles Glacier Ridge Chardonnay (Best Buy)
This simple white leads with tropical fruit and a crisp apple thread of acidity; devoid of oak, it’s fresher for it, with lean acids for a roast chicken dinner. —P.J.C. (3,000 cases)  

88             Cupcake     $11     2021 Monterey County Chardonnay (Best Buy)
Brown sugar and golden apple notes lead in this ripe wine. It’s supple and a bit blowsy. Pair its bitter note with fried chicken. —P.J.C. 

88             Morgan     $46     2021 Santa Lucia Highlands Double L Vineyard Chardonnay
Nutty and tart at first pass, this leads with a scent of nuts and salted melon. The flavors are crisp and a touch tart, with a salty grip for sand dabs. 

88             Seghesio     $22     2021 Monterey County/Sonoma County Chardonnay (Best Buy)
Oak supports this wine’s pineapple flavors without dominating them. The fruit, mostly from Sonoma County, delivers what you might hope to find in a $20 California chardonnay. It’s bright in the end, with a sweet energy buzz. 

86             Matthew Fritz     $14     2022 Monterey County Chardonnay (Best Buy)
Floral as a scented candle, there's a pleasing lemon lime and apple pulp flavor, clean and correct. For calamari. —P.J.C. (2,500 cases)  
89             J Vineyards     $26     2021 Monterey Sonoma Napa Chardonnay
Scents of pear and lemon curd lead in this three-county blend. It tastes of California sunshine, broad and rich, remaining supple and a touch sweet for paprika dusted prawns. 

88             Rodney Strong     $18     2021 California Chardonnay (Best Buy)
Scents of caramel and golden apple take on a modest spritz of lemon balancing off richer, caramel pear flavors.  

87             Knotty Vines     $15     2020 California Chardonnay (Best Buy)
Creamy and soft, this has scents of vanilla and apple, and flavors of white frosting. Chill it ice cold for an aperitif. —P.J.C. 

Patrick J. Comiskey covers US wines for Wine & Spirits magazine, focusing on the Pacific Northwest, California’s Central Coast and New York’s Finger Lakes.

Joshua Greene is the editor and publisher of Wine & Spirits magazine.

This is a W&S web exclusive. Get access to all of our feature stories by signing up today.