Wine that doesn’t Suck (a series!): Not Your Mother’s Chardonnay

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Welcome to “wine that doesn’t suck” (a series)…

I’m super excited about this series because other than creating great EXPERIENCES for people, the thing I love best is sharing discoveries (wines, food, recipes, restaurants, books, products, blogs…oh my!) with people and hearing how they enjoy them. As one of my most favorite things to share is wine, I wanted to create a specific series. Welcome to “wine that doesn’t suck”. I hope you will try these wines and share your thoughts (good, not so much, in between) and make recommendations of your own!

The first featured grape in the “wine that doesn’t suck” series is {drum roll please} CHARDONNAY. There is SO much controversy around this grape, at least that I’ve found, that I just had to start with it….so, here we go.

This is NOT your Mother’s Chardonnay, lovelies….

Quick story:

I love good conversation as much as wine and food and travel. I like to hear what gets people excited, worked up, jazzed….

People that I meet, at restaurants or parties or through friends, have such STRONG opinions about chardonnay and I love hearing them and starting a good discussion on the topic.

Tell me you “don’t drink white wine”….I love it!!

I just had this happen at a party I went to last weekend. The conversation turned to wine, and I had brought a couple of different bottles to share, bubbles and a Muscadet. One of the ladies I had just met said, “I don’t really drink white wine.” I LOVE this! I asked her why? And her answer? “Because I don’t like Chardonnay.” Ermehgad…I love that answer! Because then we can talk about so many different things such as other white wines and, more importantly for this piece, what specifically she doesn’t LIKE about chardonnay….

Buttery, Fat, Heavy…

Asking the question of someone what they don’t like about chardonnays, I find (most of the time, really) the answer includes the words above. They don’t like the “heavy, buttery, oily, FAT” taste of chardonnay. This is both sad and exciting for me. Sad because I find that chardonnays are thought of, across the board, like that (and it’s just not the case) and exciting because I have an opportunity to turn that frown upside down by recommending some chardonnays whose profiles are anything BUT those adjectives.

Bright, steely, creamy, nutty, textured, opulent….

I like these words.

However, first I would like to say, if you ENJOY a big, buttery chardonnay, there is nothing wrong with that! Drink what you like is always my first word of advice in choosing/drinking wine (even though, if “two buck chuck” is your preference, we need to talk. Seriously.). But if you avoid white wine and/or chardonnay altogether because of those profiles then it’s time to try a different KIND of chardonnay.

Chardonnay (as defined by Sotheby’s Wine Encyclopedia): This is the greatest nonaromatic dry white wine grape in the world, despite the proliferation of cheap, identikit Chardonnay wines that are churned out around the world. This classic variety is responsible for producing the greatest white Burgundies and is one of the three major grape types used in the production of Champagne. Um, yes please!

So, here in the spirit of “wine that doesn’t suck” are 6 wines that are:

Most DEFINTELY NOT your Mother’s Chardonnay

{these are all American producers, as France will get a post of its own soon}

(in order by price)


Hedges HIP Chardonnay – $14 – this is a fun, tasty, easy drinking Chardonnay that was classified with a little tag that said “The Party Wine” in the wine shop that I originally found it in. I wrote about it during my “What’s in my Glass” weekly feature a few weeks ago and you can read about the wine & it’s makers in-depth HERE (scroll to bottom of page when connected please!)


2011 Soter North Valley Chardonnay – $30 – this is my #1 recommendation of all the wines listed here. I love Soter wines (and the Soter family). I will do a whole post on the bubbles from Soter soon, I promise. But this 2011 Chardonnay, which is their debut into Chardonnay, just knocked my socks off. So incredibly delicious, you can most definitely drink this on its own, without food, and realize that the bottle has quickly disappeared. Or drink while enjoying some tasty proscuitto and cheeses or a simple baguette, French butter and some Maldon salt….An incredibly reasonable price for such a lovely, elegant wine I would highly recommend ordering some before its all gone. Read more about Soter and, specifically, their stunning Chardonnay HERE


2010 Chateau Montelena Chardonnay – $50 – a visit to the Chateau Montelena estate and a private library tasting made me a keen fan of the property and it’s famed Chardonnay, in particular. It’s everything it is cracked up to be and is consistently pretty and yummy from vintage to vintage. Read the famed history HERE and learn how Montelena bested the French in the 1976 tasting that landed them in Time Magazine and made California a major player in the wine world.

2011 Chard

2011 Hirsch Vineyards Chardonnay – $55 – I really enjoy Hirsch wines across the board. They make some fantastic Pinot Noirs, as well as this tasty Chardonnay. Notes from owner, David Hirsch, say that 2011 vintage resulted in a small crop of Chardonnay but produced what they think is “the best Chardonnay they have ever produced.” Read more about Hirsch HERE


2010 Domaine Serene ‘Evenstad Reserve’ Chardonnay – $55 – it was at Domaine Serene that I had my “Chardonnay epiphany”. I was the one on the side saying “I don’t like Chardonnay”…and then I had my first glass of the 2002 Domaine Serene Cote Sud Chardonnay out of a Jeroboam and was hooked. I had no idea a domestic Chardonnay could taste so delicious. And age so well. Yummy & opinion-transforming! The Evenstad Reserve Chardonnay, the first blended Chardonnay for the label is equally yummy. Drink with some smoked salmon on a crispy potato galette with crème fraiche…Learn more about Domaine Serene wines HERE

2011 Sigrid Chardonnay shopping cart3

2011 Bergstrom “Sigrid” Chardonnay – $80 – yes. It’s expensive. But if you’re looking for a special dinner wine to start with…well, I don’t think you can go wrong here. I had the delight of tasting this wine at this years World of Pinot Noir in Shell Beach, CA. Ridiculously tasty. I’ve been well acquainted with Bergstrom’s Pinot Noirs but had never had the Sigrid. I’m a bit sad because it hurts my wallet but I think it’s worth it. Super tasty and the 2011 vintage in Willamette Valley, especially for white wines, was outstanding. Order some of this delish wine from their web-site HERE

There you have it.

My list of Chards that don’t suck. I can’t wait for you to try one of these and/or share with me a Chardonnay that you just love! I would love to hear what Chardonnays you just love…let’s share!

Coming soon in the “wine that doesn’t suck” series: All White Wines Are Not Created Equal….refreshing white wines that are not chardonnay.

Cheers to something delish in your glass tonight, friends!

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