California Wine: Chardonnay’s Third Wave
In the 1980s and ’90s, California Chardonnay was instantly identifiable: It was big and buttery, so rich it was almost unctuous. But over time, people started to get sick of that style. In the early 2000s, wineries started to react by releasing unoaked Chardonnays, often with austere-sounding names like Metallico or Steel Cut. But austerity can get tiresome, too, so now the focus is on using just enough oak to frame the wine’s other flavors.
2010 Noble Vines 446 Chardonnay ($13)
If it weren’t for its bright acidity, this juicy, citrus-and-pineapple Chardonnay would seem flabby; instead, it’s sprightly and appealing.
- California Cabernet Sauvignon Wine
- Next Great California Wine Regions
- More from California Wine Country
- California Wine Guide: Napa
- What to Eat, Drink and Do in Sonoma County
- California Wine Guide: Santa Barbara
- The Future of California Wine
- 5 Fail-Safe California Wine Values
- Northern California Wine Country Recipes & Value Wines
- Best New California Chardonnays
- Best Pairings for California Wines
- Where to Go Next: Southern California
2010 Husch Vineyards Mendocino Chardonnay ($15)
Husch ages only 15 percent of this Chardonnay in new oak barrels, which helps give its crisp, intense flavors remarkable clarity.