Do you ever wonder how to know if a California chardonnay is oaked or unoaked? While wineries are not required to tell you, some producers bottle unoaked chardonnay with labeling that states the wine is unwooded and has been fermented and aged only in stainless steel tanks. Because of the latter, these unoaked chardonnay wines sometime have silver labels. Other good choices for inexpensive chardonnay wines that have little to no oak aging are those from the French appellation of Mâcon-Villages and other denominations within the Mâconnais region of southern Burgundy. And if you’re willing to splurge on a special unoaked chardonnay, it’s hard to beat the elegant, steely whites from Chablis.
Albert Bichot 2017 Mâcon-Villages, FranceBought • Schnucks, 10275 Clayton Road, in August for $13.99
Description • This lively and delicious chardonnay comes from the family-owned Bichot winery, which was established in 1831. Although 20 percent of the wine was aged in oak barrels, it’s difficult to detect any presence of oak in this lovely white. A well-balanced wine with refreshing acidity and minerality, it has an inviting floral aroma and tastes of crisp green apples and zesty citrus. It’s a great match for shellfish, seafood and poultry.
Chamisal Vineyards 2017 Stainless Chardonnay, Central Coast, California Bought • Schnucks, 10275 Clayton Road, in August for $12.99
Description • This unoaked chardonnay comes from Chamisal Vineyards, which specializes in sustainably produced chardonnay and pinot noir grown in vineyards located between Monterey and Santa Barbara. Pure and fruity, it’s made from chardonnay that was fermented and aged only in stainless steel tanks. While not quite as zesty as the Macon-Villages, it’s a soft, clean, easy-to-drink white that would also go well with fish and white meat.