This week we celebrate International Chardonnay Day (Thursday 26 May) and to mark the occasion, we gathered 40 affordable chardonnays from around the world to pick out the best under £15.
Originating from Burgundy, this grape takes its name from the village of Chardonnay near Uchizy in the Maconnais, where DNA analysis shows that chardonnay was originally created from a cross between pinot and gouais blanc grapes.
As an easy grape to grow, make and sell, chardonnay has proved popular with growers, makers and winery accountants alike, however there are a lot of poor ones on the shelves which have been over-cropped and over-oaked.
In our tasting, we found that many of the culprits were New World chardonnays – some were just too oaky, too sweet, too hefty or out of balance.
Elgin, South Africa: Sutherland Chardonnay 2012 Thelema - STAR BUY
Very popular with tasters who praised its elegance and balance. Elgin, an apple growing area, is on a high plateau which is proving ideal for cool climate grapes. Made by Rudi Schultz, this is creamy with citrus, appley flavours and smoky hints from ten months in French oak.
Burgundy, France: Bourgogne Chardonnay 2012 Olivier Leflaive
This is a well-made, focused, well-structured, minerally, nutty white Burgundy with a touch of bottle age.
£12.49 each for 12 bts; £13.99 bt, Majestic Wine
Yarra Valley, Australia: Innocent Bystander Chardonnay 2014
Yarra Valley, east of Melbourne, is known for its ripe, stylish chardonnay – and this did not disappoint. Layers of flavours; peach, stone fruit, hints of orange with a creamy, lemon meringue pie caress the palate. What Innocent Bystander achieves is ripeness without too much of the sickly sweetness found in many cheap Aussie chardonnays.
£14.99, Drinkmonger, Edinburgh & Pitlochry; Fine Wine Company; Whole Foods Market, Giffnock; Luvians, Cupar/St Andrews; WoodWinters, Edinburgh/ Bridge of Allan; Oddbins
Hemel-en-Aarde, South Africa: Newton Johnson Southend Chardonnay 2014
Another Cape gem – a very stylish effort from the new generation at Newton Johnson in Walker Bay, near Hermanus. It might be a bit brash, but its lovely texture, butteriness and subtle oak from very careful winemaking won over our tasters.
£14.49, Laithwaites, www.laithwaites.co.uk
Limoux, France: Exquisite Collection Limoux Chardonnay 2014 Paul Mas - STAR BUY
Easily the best value oaked chardonnay we tasted – it manages to combine a rich, buttery, plump, citric fruit palate with toasty oak. I love Limoux chardonnay as it has ripe fruit, textural richness alongside a delicious vibrant acidity to freshen the palate.
Sicily: I Corleonesi Chardonnay 2015
At under a tenner this is a terrific buy for those who like their chardonnay bold and buxom. Made by Leonardo Urso, who straw dries some of his chardonnay to enhance flavour and texture. Very full, very ripe, creamy with a tinned pineapple and toffee apple flavour.
£9.99 each for 12 bts or £12.99 bt, Laithwaites, www.laithwaites.co.uk
North Island, New Zealand: The Society’s Exhibition New Zealand Chardonnay 2014 - STAR BUY
New Zealand’s first Master of Wine, Michael Brajkovich cleverly combines beautifully balanced oak with Kiwi zestiness and freshness. Brilliant for the price.
£13.50, The Wine Society, www.thewinesociety.com
Mendoza, Argentina: Finca Del Sur Chardonnay 2015
A surprise find from Argentina. Tasters enjoyed its full nutty flavours, hints of spice and rich creamy palate.
£12.99, Virgin Wines, www.virginwines.co.uk
Burgundy, France: Macon Solutre Le Clos 2014 Domaine des Gerbeaux
Beatrice and Jean-Michel Drouin have made an attractively fresh, floral, refined chardonnay – a Pouilly-Fuisse lookalike.
£11.95, Berry Bros & Rudd, www.bbr.com
Tasmania, Australia: Pure South Chardonnay 2014 Josef Chromy - STAR BUY
Very popular with tasters this is made by one of Tasmania’s chardonnay specialists, Josef Chromy winery. This is a superb, sleek, minerally elegant Australian chardonnay proving that the cooler, windier vineyards of Tasmania produce beautifully balanced chardonnay with ripe fruit and vibrant acidity.
£14, Marks & Spencer
Aude, France: Haut Vallée De L’aude Chardonnay 2014 Domaine d’Antugnac
With high altitude planting at 500 metres, the chardonnays here have a vibrancy, natural high acid and minerality combined with light textural richness.
£11.95, Berry Bros & Rudd, www.bbr.com
• Join Glasgow’s wine festival on Saturday 11 June, £20, www.festival-of-wine.com