Hello, wine lovers! I’m Joseph Kim, a sommelier and a writer who loves to explore the world of wine with a sense of humor and a dash of flair. Today, I’m going to talk about one of my favorite styles of wine: buttery Chardonnay.
Buttery Chardonnay is a style of Chardonnay that is characterized by its signature buttery flavor. This buttery flavor comes from the process of malolactic fermentation, which is when bacteria convert the wine’s natural malic acid into lactic acid. Lactic acid is what gives butter its characteristic rich and creamy flavor.
Buttery Chardonnay is not for everyone. Some people find it too heavy, too oaky, or too boring. But for those who love it, it’s a decadent treat that pairs well with rich dishes like lobster, chicken in cream sauce, or macaroni and cheese.
In this article, I’m going to share with you some of the best buttery Chardonnays under $20 that you can find at your local wine store or online. I’ll also give you some tips on how to enjoy them and what to look for when buying them.
Here’s a quick summary of what you’ll learn:
|What is buttery Chardonnay?||A style of Chardonnay that has a buttery flavor and texture due to malolactic fermentation|
|Where does buttery Chardonnay come from?||Mostly from California, but also from other regions like France, Australia, and Chile|
|How to enjoy buttery Chardonnay?||Serve it chilled but not too cold, pair it with rich foods, or sip it on its own|
|What to look for when buying buttery Chardonnay?||Look for clues on the label like “oaked”, “reserve”, or “barrel fermented”|
|The best buttery Chardonnays under $20||A list of 11 wines that I recommend, with tasting notes and links|
Ready to dive into the world of buttery Chardonnay? Let’s go!
What is Buttery Chardonnay?
Chardonnay is one of the most popular and versatile white grape varieties in the world. It can produce wines that range from crisp and refreshing to rich and complex, depending on where it’s grown and how it’s made.
One of the factors that influences the style of Chardonnay is malolactic fermentation (MLF). This is a process that happens after the primary fermentation (when yeast converts sugar into alcohol) and involves bacteria converting malic acid (the same acid found in green apples) into lactic acid (the same acid found in milk).
MLF has two main effects on the wine:
- It lowers the acidity and makes the wine smoother and softer
- It adds buttery aromas and flavors due to a compound called diacetyl
Not all Chardonnays undergo MLF. Some winemakers prefer to keep their wines crisp and fruity by preventing or limiting MLF. Others embrace MLF and use it to create wines that are rich and creamy.
Buttery Chardonnay is a term that describes wines that have undergone full or partial MLF and have a noticeable buttery character. These wines often also have other flavors like vanilla, toast, caramel, coconut, or nutmeg that come from oak aging.
Buttery Chardonnay is not an official category or designation. It’s more of a subjective description that depends on personal taste and preference. Some people may find a wine buttery while others may not.
Where Does Buttery Chardonnay Come From?
Buttery Chardonnay can come from anywhere in the world where Chardonnay is grown and made with MLF and oak aging. However, some regions are more famous for producing this style than others.
The most well-known region for buttery Chardonnay is California, especially areas like Napa Valley, Sonoma County, Carneros, Santa Barbara County, and Monterey County. These regions have warm climates that allow the grapes to ripen fully and develop rich flavors. The winemakers often use MLF and new oak barrels to create wines that are opulent and expressive.
Another region that produces buttery Chardonnay is Burgundy in France, especially the sub-regions of Côte de Beaune and Côte de Nuits. These regions have cooler climates that give the wines more acidity and minerality, but they also use MLF and oak aging to create wines that are balanced and elegant. Some of the most famous and expensive wines in the world come from these regions, such as Meursault, Puligny-Montrachet, and Chassagne-Montrachet.
Other regions that produce buttery Chardonnay include Australia (especially Margaret River and Yarra Valley), Chile (especially Casablanca Valley and Limari Valley), and South Africa (especially Stellenbosch and Walker Bay).
How to Enjoy Buttery Chardonnay?
Buttery Chardonnay is a wine that can be enjoyed in different ways, depending on your mood and occasion. Here are some tips on how to get the most out of your buttery Chardonnay experience:
- Serve it chilled but not too cold. The ideal temperature for buttery Chardonnay is around 50°F (10°C). If the wine is too cold, you’ll miss out on the aromas and flavors. If the wine is too warm, it’ll taste flat and flabby. You can use a wine fridge, an ice bucket, or a wine chiller to achieve the right temperature.
- Pair it with rich foods. Buttery Chardonnay is a wine that can stand up to dishes that have a lot of fat, cream, cheese, or butter. Some examples of food pairings are lobster with butter sauce, chicken with mushroom cream sauce, macaroni and cheese, roasted turkey with gravy, or grilled cheese sandwich. The wine will complement the richness of the food and cut through the heaviness with its acidity.
- Sip it on its own. Buttery Chardonnay is also a wine that can be enjoyed by itself, especially if you like wines that are full-bodied and flavorful. You can sip it as an aperitif before a meal, as a nightcap after a meal, or as a treat anytime you feel like indulging yourself. The wine will coat your mouth with its creamy texture and buttery taste.
What to Look for When Buying Buttery Chardonnay?
Buttery Chardonnay is not a term that you’ll find on the label of a wine bottle. So how do you know if a wine is buttery or not? Here are some clues that can help you:
- Look for words like “oaked”, “reserve”, or “barrel fermented” on the label. These words indicate that the wine has been aged in oak barrels, which can impart buttery flavors to the wine. However, not all oaked wines are buttery, so you’ll have to rely on other clues as well.
- Look for regions that are known for producing buttery Chardonnay. As mentioned above, some regions have a reputation for making this style of wine, such as California, Burgundy, Australia, Chile, and South Africa. However, not all wines from these regions are buttery, so you’ll have to rely on other clues as well.
- Look for reviews or ratings from experts or other consumers. You can use online resources like Wine Spectator[https://www.winespectator.com/], Wine Enthusiast[https://www.winemag.com/], Vivino[https://www.vivino.com/], or CellarTracker[https://www.cellartracker.com/] to find out what other people think of a wine. You can look for words like “buttery”, “creamy”, “rich”, or “oaky” in the descriptions or comments. However, keep in mind that taste is subjective and everyone has different preferences.
- Look for recommendations from your local wine store or online retailer. You can ask the staff at your local wine store or contact the customer service of your online retailer for suggestions on buttery Chardonnay. They may have some insider tips or personal favorites that they can share with you.
The Best Buttery Chardonnays Under $20
Now that you know what buttery Chardonnay is, where it comes from, how to enjoy it, and what to look for when buying it, it’s time to discover some of the best examples of this style that won’t break the bank.
Here are 1 buttery Chardonnays under $20 that I recommend:
- Buttercream Chardonnay (/en/wines/buttercream-chardonnay) - This wine lives up to its name with its decadent notes of pear and golden apple with hints of baking spice and cream. It’s luscious, luxurious, and buttery smooth.