Finding a budget-priced ($15 or less) Chardonnay that is palatable is an especially difficult endeavor when compared with most other white wines. For example, Pacific Northwest Rieslings are easy to find for under $15, and most are more than just palatable – they’re almost always pretty good, in fact.
The goal with the following list is to introduce three Chardonnays that are well under the $15 price point, yet stand as quality wines in spite of the fact.
Before moving on to a list of palatable wines for $15 or less, please take a moment to examine the wine scoring guide used to evaluate them. Note: even a high-scoring and more expensive wine will rarely exceed 15 stars with this system; anything above 10 stars is a decent score. Prices listed are current within the author’s region.
Wine Scoring Guide (Maximum Score = 20 Stars)
smell (5 stars available)
taste (10 stars available)
finish (5 stars available)
Wine #1: Chateau Ste Michelle Chardonnay, 2011, $8.99, (11 stars)
Smell (2 stars): The bouquet for this wine is unremarkable. The only prevalent aromas are a bit of butter, and an even smaller bit of pineapple.
Taste (7 stars): What this wine lacks in bouquet, it more than makes up for with taste. Instant notes of butter and vanilla, along with some tropical accents. It has almost a mineral quality as it coats the tongue, which is reminiscent of a dry or off-dry Riesling varietal.
Finish (2 stars): The finish with this wine is disappointing. It goes down the throat rather harshly, and leaves a bitter, stem-like aftertaste.
Wine #2: Kendall Jackson Vintner’s Reserve Chardonnay, 2010, 9.99 at Walmart, (14 stars)
Smell (4 stars): Many strong aromas, all of which are pleasant. The most prevalent are lemon, lime, and white pepper.
Taste (8 stars): This wine’s taste is lush and elegant, especially for its price point. It contains instant notes of butter and vanilla, along with some tropical accents from the lemon and lime bouquet. It has almost a mineral quality as it coats the tongue, which is reminiscent of a dry or off-dry Riesling varietal.
Finish (2 stars): The finish with this wine is not bad for most wines, but is slightly disappointing after the appeals to smell and taste is provides. It finishes smoothly, and but leaves a watery aftertaste that seems out of place for such a fine tasting wine.
Wine #3: Cupcake Chardonnay, $11.99, (12 stars)
Smell (3 stars): This wine’s bouquet is promising. Most strongly, it smells of oak and vanilla, though it does not particularly look like a typical oaked Chardonnay.
Taste (7 stars): It tastes okay for the price point. That is not exactly ringing praise, but the taste is still fine. It has more of an oaked taste than expected, and is a bit astringent. It would pair well with pretty much any seafood.
Finish (2 stars): As with the Kendall Jackson Vintner’s Reserve listed above, the finish is slightly watery. On the plus side, it does not leave an unpleasant aftertaste, it simply disappears immediately.