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Chardonnay--no oak

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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!

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  1. 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.

    1. 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

      1. You may find this older post on white wines interesting and helpful.

        1. Hm-m-m. "full-bodied, non-oak, fruit-forward... " Sounds like a perfect case for a well-crafted Kabinett, or Sp├Ątlese 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 Sp├Ątlese level for your mum.


          1. 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.

            1. A to Z makes a gorgeous non-oaked chard, as does Four Vines (which they call "Naked"). Both are definitely inexpensive, and well made.

              1. My favorite wine at the moment is the Kim Crawford Unoaked Chardonnay (Aus).

                1. I had a nice unoaked chard at a Slovenian tasting the other day: Kogl 2005 Solo, list $14.95.


                  Another nice unoaked one I had recently was Three Families, $12 direct.


                  1. Thanks so much for your recommendations. As always, CH is the best!

                    1. There are so many possibilities but Alsace might be a good place to start. Pinot Blanc, Pinot Gris, Riesling and Gewurztraminer are the big four grapes, all of which are made into varietal wines. Several houses also make affordable, easy-drinking blends (Hugel's Gentil is a fine example). Lots of good producers but my favourites include Trimbach, Hugel, Beyer, Albrecht and Josmeyer, all of whose dry wines are very dry (but still fruity). Many of the "dry" wines from Zind-Humbrecht, Pierre Blanck, Weinbach and Schlumberger are excellent but rounder due to higher levels of residual sugar.

                      1. One more comes to mind thats probably just a little above your price range. The Landmark Chardonnay Damaris Reserve is very nice with little oak. Landmark makes several bottling of chardonnay. Some are complete oak bombs. But the Damaris isn't.

                        2 Replies
                        1. re: SteveTimko

                          I don't know if you can find it, but the Marimar Torres Acero Chard is unoaked and delicious!

                          1. re: Missmoo

                            Any wine with "acero" or "inox" in the name is presumably unoaked, since those mean steel in Spanish and Italian.

                        2. If it's not too late, I would highly recommend Groth's '05 Chardonnay. It's around at $25-$29 or so (a little higher than your target, but what I'd call a special wine). Groth has done a really good job of integrating the oak into what is a surprisingly fruit-dominated palate for a Napa Chard. I've only had a little exposure to French White Burgundy, but this wine is strikingly like a Chevalier Montrachet I had the pleasure of tasting a while back.

                          1. Norman Vineyards Chardonnay Reserve 2005. Very full bodied, creamy, no oak, fantastic wine and only $18. I am going through my second case now.

                            1. I like Trevor Jones Virgin Chardonnay from Australia. Unoaked, but lots of lees stirring to create full flavor and mouthfeel without the need for heavy oak. Also definitely fruit forward.

                              Retails for just under $20.

                              1. Tolosa Winery has a great No Oak Chardonnay that is under $20! It's refreshing with citrus flavors and aromas and is great for a sunny afternoon!

                                1. I second the Four Vines "Naked". It's good and less than $15.

                                  1 Reply
                                  1. re: pasoguy

                                    Forgeron Cellars is about the only winery that I know of that sells out of their Chardonnay and with each new vintage they increase production. The reason is the winemaker is from France and apprenticed in the Burgundy region. She has the right touch on white Burgundies. She uses a bit of oak, but usually over 60% old oak. It is a wine that is very fruit forward and aromatic. I have never seen a Chardonnay like this that could convince people who swear they hate white wines, who end up being fans of this Chardonnay. In fact, we had a bottle of it this evening.

                                  2. I'd like to also cast a vote for Four Vines. It was the first wine recommended to me when I specifically asked for an unoaked chard. It was very refreshing, and was only $12.00.

                                    2 Replies
                                    1. re: TiaRaye

                                      I have to chime in here for 4 Vines as well. My local package store has just established a "naked chardonnay" section and one of the wines he recommended was 4 Vines. I can't remember what the price was in CT.

                                      1. re: NE_Elaine

                                        It seems that for a while lots of people wanted over oaked chards. They didn't like it unless they were getting smashed in the mouth with a log. Try something like pine ridge chenin blanc viogner. It's a lot less than 20 bucks, so if you don't like it you are not out much.

                                    2. Old topic come back to life, but in the interim I discovered a really wonderful totally unoaked Chardonnay called Bocage. It's from Sansaba Vineyards in Monterey, California.

                                      You can really taste the Chardonnay fruit without any of the oak finish. It seems to run around $13 or $14 in our area of SoCal.