Go-To Chardonnay Zones
Oregon’s Willamette Valley is home to Chehalem, one of the first American wineries to focus on an oakless style of Chardonnay with its Inox bottling (the name comes from the French term for rustproof, inoxydable). Now, other Oregon producers are following suit. Try wines like the zesty 2007 Chehalem Inox ($19) or the lemony 2008 Phelps Creek Columbia Gorge Unoaked ($19).
Gisborne, on New Zealand’s North Island, is one of the country’s top Chardonnay regions and a source for terrific, affordable oakless bottlings. Look for wines such as the apricot-inflected 2007 Coopers Creek Unoaked Chardonnay ($16) and the spicy 2007 Millton Riverpoint Vineyard Chardonnay ($16).
Western Australia’s ocean-cooled climate makes it ideal for Chardonnay vineyards, and more and more producers here are heading toward the unoaked style. Two good examples of this are the citrus-edged 2008 Wishing Tree Unoaked ($13) and the minerally 2008 Alkoomi White Label Unwooded ($15).