On a hunt for my fave Chardonnays from the California Wine Institute


My goal: To find a well- balanced yet personality filled Californian Chardonnay which would not break the bank. 

Out of the 42 Chardonnays, I tasted 34 and my initial thoughts are below.

As my video explains (LINKED HERE & EMBEDDED BELOW), taste is completely subjective, but I hope that by breaking the wines down into price brackets and mood, it should narrow the chance of disappointment.

Would love to know your thoughts!

The Under £20 Option

Kendall Jackson Vintners Reserve Chardonnay 2020, £19.07Paul Adams Fine Wines

I had to include a wine from the under £20 group and this was the best example by far! Plenty of tropical summer fruit supported by judicious acidity. The vanilla oak is present but this is a solid example of Californian fruit albeit with a toffee popcorn finish!

The £20 – £30 option – things get more interesting!

Vinous California: Cambria Katherine’s Vineyard 2021, £20.99, Majestic

I really think this wine overly delivers for the price/ quality ratio. Made from 1971 vines, this single vineyard delivers intense, golden baked apple and pineapple fruit, sprinkle of vanilla spice and a deliciously succulent texture. Fantastic crowd pleaser for taste, price and availability. 

The Lighter Crowd pleaser: Camp Hobo Wine Company 2021, £23.00Nekter Wines, Bottle Apostle

Chardonnay with 1.5% Viognier for extra aromatics! Stainless steel and neutral oak was used here to create a pulpy, fresh, green apple led Chard with a whisper of creamy underbelly. 

The £30 – £40 option – definitely the sweet spot now in the UK 

Revved up Chablis: Baxter Chardonnay 2019, £34.00, Wanderlust Wine

This neutral barrel aged wine exudes with pure, juicy golden apple fruit. Gorgeously elegant with citrus lift and stony minerality. Great example of the cool climate from Anderson Valley. 

Discerning Hedonism: Sanford Chardonnay 2019, £39.00, Great Wines Direct

Couldn’t stop smiling tasting this wine. Rich peachy frangipane balanced with salted toasted hazelnut notes and a super long length. Elegantly luxuriant.

£40 – £50 option – Not many examples were on offer

Interesting Aged option: Copain Voisins Chardonnay 2017, £40.25, Ellis Wines

Complex with tangy almost chewy texture! Apple fruit combines with savoury apple skin notes, cindered nuts and hint of toffee. Definitely the oldest Chardonnay here and yet full of life and interesting nuances.

The Coquette: The Hilt Estate Chardonnay 2018, £49.50, Tanners Wine Merchants

Restrained at first and yet there is plenty of white peach and golden apple fruit. Swirl for a while to appreciate croissant aromas and saline acidity. This is an extremely classy and well poised wine.

£50 – £65 option ( my spending limit!!)

The Soulful one: Cuvee Number 5 Alma de Cattleya, £55.00, Jeroboams

Lifted chamomile and white floral perfume, baked apple fruit , zesty acidity and slight hint of butter really makes this wine stand out. Stunned fellow tasters.

Super Serious Burgundy Alternative: Golden Slope Chardonnay Liquid Farm Winery, £65.00, Bordeaux Index, Stannary

Have been a huge fan of this winery for years. Solid, rich golden fruit core, skillfully toasted nutty layers, sensuous texture with a flinty minerality. Would love to put this wine in a blind tasting line up of Burgundy