Which Type of Chardonnay Drinker Are You?

Butter your style of Chardonnay?

Is Butter your style of Chardonnay?

Types of Chardonnay

Which type of Chardonnay drinker Are you? What’s your style of Chardonnay? Are you a no-oak, no- butter Chardonnay wine lover or are you a fan of big buttery, creamy, oaky Chardonnay?  Or, somewhere in between these two?  For winemakers, the Chardonnay grape offers the most latitude in creating a wide range of flavor profiles. Chardonnay can be fermented and aged in stainless steel, neutral oak barrels, and French or American oak. In a sense, the winemaker has an open canvas for creating a Chardonnay.

We have some excellent choices in three categories of Chardonnay ranging from light to robust.  All the recommended wines are under $20

No oak, stainless steel, or “Naked” Chardonnay

No oak is the Chardonnay grape in its purest form. The juice never sees an oak barrel and does not undergo Malolactic fermentation. Many winemakers will allow the grape juice to sit in the stainless tank on the lees, known as Sur lie aging. The result is a more complex wine with a higher texture or mouthfeel.  No oak Chardonnay wines tend to be less expensive than barrel aged Chardonnay. New oak barrels are expensive, especially French oak barrels, costing around $1000 a barrel. Trending now are wineries producing an unoaked Chardonnay.

Some picks for no oak Chardonnay

  • Pellegrini No Oak Chardonnay – Costco $15.99*
  • Joel Gott Monterey Chardonnay – Safeway, sometimes Costco – Around $13 to $14
  • McFadden Blue Quail Chardonnay – $16 online at Blue Quail
Pellegrini unoaked Chardonnay

Pellegrini unoaked Chardonnay – a beautiful wine

Moderately Oaked

These are Chardonnay wines that have spent time in oak, but not enough new oak or length of time in oak to create a rich Chardonnay with a predominance of oaky flavors, butter, and a creamy mouthfeel. These are lighter-style Chardonnays that still have some oomph to them. The aging in oak adds complexity and flavors to the wine. Sometimes winemakers will blend Chardonnay from no malolactic fermentation with barrels of Chardonnay with malolactic fermentation.

Some picks for moderate Chardonnay

Dreyer Chardonnay Sonoma County

Delicious Chardonnay for an unheard of price – Dreyer Chardonnay Sonoma County

Big Oaky Buttery Chardonnay

When it comes to California Chardonnay, especially Napa Valley, the rest of the wine world sees as our stereotypical Chardonnay a big, oaky and buttery wine. In Burgundy, they criticize California for this style. “It is not how to make a Chardonnay wine.” Nonetheless, there are plenty of consumers who love a robust Chardonnay. Getting on the bandwagon to appeal to this consumer are producers of Chardonnay whose labels read “Popcorn,” “Butter” or “Butternut.”  To produce a quality oaky, buttery Chardonnay, the wines are aged longer in oak barrels, many in a mix of new barrels and old barrels. The juice goes through malolactic fermentation which gives the flavors of rich butter or butterscotch characteristics. The extra aging and the barrel treatment bring up the price of the oaky, buttery Chardonnays.

Some picks for buttery Chardonnay

  • Kendall Jackson Grand Reserve Chardonnay – Safeway $16
  • Maldonado “Farm Worker” Napa Valley Chardonnay – KL Wines $17.99

Chardonnay Challenge

Gather some family or friends and purchase one of each style of Chardonnay. Get three glasses each and compare and contrast the differences in each Chardonnay. It’s a fantastic way to learn more about Chardonnay wine. If you want to expand the Chardonnay lesson, throw in a Chardonnay from Chablis. Costco has a Chablis right now on the shelves. It is the Kirkland Signature Chablis Premier Cru, and it sells for $14.99

* The Pelligrini No Oak Chardonnay is a fantastic wine. It normally sells for $20, $25 at the Pelligrini online wine shop.  My local Costco has a good supply of this fresh and delicious 100% Chardonnay wine at $15.99. I rate it at 90 Points.

Video on Unoaked Chardonnay and Oaky Chardonnay


  1. Thanks for the chardonnay profile and, for adding that CostCo has a great price on a premier cru chablis. I have not seen a premier cru even close to this price anywhere else. I’ve had several bottles of this chablis and find it a very good value and nice alternative to CA chardonnays. It may be informative to provide a profile of Chablis that explains the labelling (grand cru, premier cru, chablis and petite.

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