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Chardonnay wine from Terroir and not Oak

Hi Wine Lovers,

As a big Chardonnay fan from France, Australia or the USA, I am always looking for wine reflected the terroir and not the oak.

We know that chardonnay isn’t the most aromatic grape and the winemaking process and ageing can really impact the final result.

Do you guys know any wine region in the northern part of the US, where there is a nice bargain in term of quality/value Chardonnay representing the terroir?

Cheers and good week end to everyone

no but do try Kumea River wines from NZ - they are excellent.

Not sure about ‘a bargain’ - but this Oregon Chardonnay is stunning, and its use if oak is very restrained:

This is all about the terroir!


I know what you mean about the oak. But I’m not sure how well chardonnay speaks of its terroir outside of the more extreme climates (of which Chablis and BdeB Champagne would be the classic examples) without having seen some oxygen in its elevage, typically involving oak barrels.

In a sense, I think the warmer you get, the less aristocratic the chardonnay grape becomes. I know that not everyone will agree with this, but I find warm-climate chardonnay tends towards the heavy and vulgar. To a degree, the oxygenating elevage deals with aspects of this, though only up to a point.

So - to me - there seems to be a sweet-spot climatically where you can avoid crassness whilst producing a wine from genuinely ripe grapes. Though that ripeness itself will vary in nature depending on environmental/climatic conditions.

I’m sure some sites in N. America may offer this, though sadly my experience has been with overblown Californian examples, so looking a lot further north sounds like the way to go. Sorry not to have examples to quote!

Kumeu’s named vineyard chardonnays do fit the bill though, and the society regularly offers them, or has done.


Has anyone tried this ? It’s on my “to buy list” but not pulled the trigger yet.

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Yes! Had it a couple of times now. A very pleasant example of a Californian Chardonnay, but oak is very much evident. Having said that, there is nothing naff or overdone about it - there is good primary fruit flavour too, and a decent amount of acidity - which makes it an excellent value for money, for this sort if style.

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Thank you Inbar . I’ve wanted to try the Bergstrom for a while - is it quite “minerally”?

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I wouldn’t necessarily say ‘minerally’, but it has a delicate balance between fruit and secondary flavours, and the texture/mouthfeel was great. Here are my notes from May, if it helps :blush:

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:+1:t2: That’s me sold on it!

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Don’t know how much further north you can go than this:

Not tried it myself, but am very curious and it’s on my wish list.


Not really answering your region specific question on Chardonnays but I have found some delightful wines from the Elgin region of South Africa. Having tried a Paserene Chardonnay in a restaurant I went on the hunt for it. I found a vintner in Oxford that stocks their red blend and they were able to secure me a case of the Chardonnay from all allocation of around 200 bottles for the UK. One of the finest non Burgundy Chardonnays I have ever tried and at £38 per bottle delivered incredible value in my opinion.

Thank you very much Inbar, I use to serve it in my previous restaurant and loved it.

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