Chardonnay is grown worldwide. Styles differ, quality varies, but it’s the grape that for many imbibers is synonymous with a glass of white wine. The next time you see one of these on the shelf or in the rack, give in.
In the less-than-$20 range, look for the citrusy, fragrant 2012 Joseph Drouhin Laforêt Bourgogne Chardonnay ($14.50); appley, peachy, easygoing 2013 Silver Palm Chardonnay ($15); balanced 2013 Robert Mondavi Napa Valley Chardonnay ($19); and a delightful wine from a producer revered for sauvignon blanc, the 2014 Kim Crawford Unoaked Chardonnay East Coast, New Zealand ($18).
A bit higher: the crisp, fruity 2013 Cambria Estate Katherine’s Vineyard Chardonnay ($22); the bright, peachy 2013 La Crema Sonoma Coast Chardonnay ($23); and the floral, toasty, citrusy 2013 Davis Bynum River West Vineyard Russian River Valley Sonoma Chardonnay ($25).
Lemon, apple and jasmine come across in the creamy, excellent 2012 Gary Farrell Russian River Selection Chardonnay ($35) from Russian River Valley. The lemony 2012 Lost Canyon Buxton Vineyard Russian River Valley Chardonnay ($35) is lush, versatile, very appealing.
The outstanding 2013 Shafer Red Shoulder Ranch Chardonnay ($52) delivers tropical and citrus fruits, spirited acidity and typical depth. The rich, fruity, complex 2012 Patz & Hall Zio Tony Ranch Chardonnay ($65) would have pleased my Uncle Tony, too. And enjoy the layered, lively, focused, buttery 2012 Paul Hobbs Edward James Estate Russian River Valley Chardonnay ($75), with notes of pear and vanilla.