My mother is a chardonnay drinker but is tired of the oaky chardonnays that she keeps buying. She is looking for a full-bodied, fruit forward, dry white wine (doesn't have to be chardonnay). Something under 20-25 would be great. Thanks!
there are lots of unoaked chards out there right now. I think the Spago sommelier has one. Liouco or something like that? very very good. Razor's Edge Aussie unwooded chard is good and only $12 or so. Au Bon Climat makes a nice Pinot Blanc/Pinot Gris blend. And then there are great Galician whites which are more Chablis-like in their minerality and cool climate flavor profiles and mouthfeel, not too buttery or oaky.
OAK is something that a lot of domestic winemakers abuse.... the proper use of oak is a means to either simply store and age, or to allow proper oxygen exchange. Most who understand this are the old world producers. Look to reigons such as the maconnais in burgundy for good value chardonnay. producers such as michel chevau, monciat poncet, comtes lafon, thevenet are always good bets.
for other wines your mom may want to try would be chenin blanc... wines from savenierres(can be dominated by minerality.) or vouvray (try domaine foreau or huet) will be richer bodied wines without the heavy oak influence
you may also want to try some gruner veltliner; an austrian grape that makes some substantial wines. look at some producers from wachau such as alzinger, pichler, jamek, nikolaihof and hirtzberger
Hm-m-m. "full-bodied, non-oak, fruit-forward... " Sounds like a perfect case for a well-crafted Kabinett, or Spätlese German Riesling. Too many grosslagen to mention, as well as producers, but a good, QmP will fill the bill, plus they are very, very food-friendly, as well. Just a hint: the wines' body/harvest ranks from Kabinett (earliest harvest) to Auslese (until you get to some LH rankings). Depending on the year and producer, I'd look to the Spätlese level for your mum.
Varner has oak, but uses it judiciously. Particularly check out their Amphitheater bottling. Mount Eden (not Villa St. Eden) and Stony Hill also are lighter on the oak. I don't think any of those are less than $30.
Storrs has oak young, but it integrates as it ages.
Oh, I just remembered. Varner has a second label called Foxglove. It's usually $12 or less. Buy one of those. Could be the end of your hunt for a chardonnay with little oak.
Australia has a lot of unoaked chardonnay which they call unwooded. The best I ever had was Chapel Hill, which I see a couple of stores in Chapel Hill, N.C., carry. Makes sense.
Check out Savoie wine imported from France, particularly those from Hand Picked Selections and Kermit Lynch. The 2005s are outstanding. They're almost all under $20.
In fact, check out most whites imported by Kermit Lynch and Louis/Dressner. Very little oak used in those wines.