20 Best Chardonnays Under $20 [Essential Wine in 2023]
Whether it's a Blanc de Blancs or a blended variety, the hearty crispness of a great Chardonnay is unbeatable.
Fresh tannins and moderate acidity make Chardonnay the perfect wine for seafood, vegetables, salads, and light dishes.
However, there is a marked difference between a good and an average bottle, but as you'll find below, a good Chardonnay doesn't need to be expensive.
Today, we reveal our favorite Chardonnays for under $20.
Our Recommended Cheap Chardonnays for Less Than $20
These are the inexpensive Chardonnays that have the kind of depth of character that belie their price tag.
Well-balanced and flavorful, we have no problem recommending all twenty of them.
20. 'The Vincent' Board Track Racer Chardonnay 2019
Produced with Chardonnay grapes from Columbia Valley, Washington, 'The Vincent' is a pure expression of Chardonnay with aromas of green apple, kiwi, stone fruit, and hints of Bosc pear with a whiff of minerality.
The acidic, medium-bodied palate delivers an explosion of flavors with tart citrus, bright apple, meringue, and cedar, with a fruity finish.
The minerality shines through on the mid-palate, creating a beautiful balance with the fruitiness.
This wine is perfect with grilled fish and shellfish. The tartness also cuts through cheeses and pastries, making it a good snack option.
19. Rodney Strong Chalk Hill Chardonnay 2018
A creamier Chardonnay for lovers of more-ish wines, Rodney Strong Chalk Hill Chardonnay 2018 is made with grapes from Sonoma County, California.
The grapes are aged in French oak barrels, giving the wine a creamy texture.
Aromas of bright green apple pie, lime, pie crust, and cream give it a delectable bouquet, while flavors of caramel apple, lemon, and oak make the mouth water. The finish is chalky and perfectly offsets the buttery creaminess.
This Chardonnay is perfect with fresh fruit, toasted marshmallows, and sweet desserts, and it's also a great aperitif to go with cake.
18. Los Vascos Chardonnay 2020
This tropical Chardonnay has hints of hazelnut and a creamy mouthfeel, making it beautifully balanced. Made with Chardonnay from Rapel Valley, Chile, it's crisp and fresh with a medium body and an interesting mineral finish.
Honeydew melon, fresh green apple, and lime come through on the nose, with hints of hazelnut providing an earthy tone.
On the palate, flavors of apple, ripe peach, and lemon shine, with a salty, creamy finish from the addition of Lees.
Los Vascos Chardonnay is fruit-forward, so it pairs best with fatty fish (salmon, mackerel), pork and chicken dishes in a rich sauce.
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17. Ritual Casablanca Valley Chardonnay 2018
With notes of brioche and lemon, this elegant wine is a treat for the senses. A smooth, creamy mouthfeel and a long finish with tang and minerality deliver a rich experience befitting the finest Chilean white wines.
The bright aromas of lemon curd, butter pastry, and peach are truly mouth-watering. Still, the fresh apple, quince, hazelnut, and chalky flavors steal the show—a dry, balanced wine with buttery scents and delicious citric acidity.
We love this wine with meaty fish (monkfish and cod), stinky cheeses like Roquefort, rice, risotto, and Indian cuisine.
16. Henry Fessy Vire-Clesse Maitre Bonhomme 2019
A classic Chardonnay with grapes from Burgundy, France, Henry Fessy Vire-Clesse Maitre Bonhomme is perfectly balanced with a full body and dense acidity. It is creamy and fruity with layers of tropical fruit and hints of green apple.
On the nose, golden apple, peach, pineapple, nutmeg, and lemon give way to green apple, kiwi, pear, and lime on the palate. The creamy, dense mouthfeel has good minerality with a long, acacia blossom finish.
We adore this Chardonnay with veal, fish, pasta, salads, fresh fruit, and savory dishes. It is a perfect wine for those hot summer days.
15. Louis Latour Grand Ardeche Chardonnay 2018
A toasty intensity and almondy finish give this Chardonnay an interesting palate. It is produced with grapes from Rhone, France, by Maison Louis Latour, one of the finest and most acclaimed winemakers of Burgundy.
Aromas of green apple, honey, and almond with hints of vanilla give this wine a mouth-watering bouquet. Citrus and ripe orchard fruits shine with a mid-palate of smoky oak and toasted almonds. The finish is rich and creamy.
The powerful flavors in this Chardonnay are great for cutting through smoky foods like BBQ chicken and spicy dishes like Pad-Thai.
14. La Colline aux Fossiles Chardonnay 2019
Produced in Vin de France, La Colline aux Fossiles Chardonnay 2019 is full-bodied and wonderfully layered with sweet and salty notes.
It is a delicious wine with powerful stone fruit, caramelized citrus, and green apple aromas and flavors.
A bouquet of honeysuckle, white flowers, and stone fruit provides a balanced nose, with a fine minerality on the palate.
Flavors of roasted nectarine, citrus, pear, and ripe apple come through on the mid-palate, showcasing great depth.
This Chardonnay is perfect with seafood with butter and brown-butter sauces, shellfish, salads, and roasted vegetables.
13. Tenuta di Nozzole Le Bruniche Chardonnay 2018
A delectable Chardonnay from Tuscany, Italy, Tenuta di Nozzole Le Bruniche is citrus-forward with complimentary apple, peach, and floral notes. The Nozzole estate makes it in the area closest to the river Greve.
Citrus aromas with apple, peach, and lime peel hints give this white wine a classic Chardonnay bouquet. Pear and apple flavors with hints of oak, butter, pear, and butter give it a complex but refreshing palate.
We love this Chardonnay with feta, yogurt, ice cream, and pizza. It cuts through fatty foods like mackerel and lamb perfectly too.
12. Louis Jadot Macon-Villages 2020
Chardonnays don't come fresher than Louis Jadot Macon-Villages 2020. It's produced in Burgundy, France, by The House of Louis Jadot. Founded in 1859, the winery is one of the most revered in central-eastern France.
This wine has crisp green apple, white flower, and pear notes, with hints of honeysuckle and a crisp minerality.
It is creamy with a perceptible citrus tang, vanilla, oak, tangerine on the mid-palate, and an appley finish.
The lively and fresh palate goes perfectly with smoked cheese, fish, chicken, and pork, giving it excellent versatility.
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11. Zolo Unoaked Chardonnay 2020
An unoaked maturing process gives this Chardonnay a bright and fruity palate with crisp tropical notes. It is produced in Lujan de Cuyo, Argentina, with grapes grown in vineyards located over 6,000-metres above sea level.
A light body, low tannins, and fresh fruity notes make this wine a pleasure to drink on its own. Aromas of apricot, mango, cream, and wet stone give way to flavors of peaches, apple, pineapple, and lemon, with a mineral finish.
This wine goes down best on its own and as an aperitif, but the light body makes it suited to salads, fresh fruit, and vegetable dishes.
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10. Wente Morning Fog Chardonnay 2020
This Chardonnay is bursting with toasty oak and vanilla notes from barrel aging. It is produced with the freshest juice of the pressing by Wente Vineyards, California's oldest family-owned winery, now in its fifth generation.
A blend of 98% Chardonnay and 2% Gewurztraminer gives this wine an interesting profile, with aromas of melon, green apple, toast, and vanilla.
The palate is light and fruity – bright apple, peach, and white flower petals with a lingering minerality.
You can enjoy this wine with most foods, but it is especially good with Mexican, Pad-Thai, Chinese, and other spicy cuisines.
9. Diora La Splendeur du Soleil Chardonnay 2019
Buttery and rounded, Diora La Splendeur du Soleil Chardonnay 2019 is the perfect Chardonnay if you enjoy a lighter, sweeter wine. It is made by San Bernabe Vineyard, aged for 14-months in 45% new French oak barrels.
Notes of toasted oak, light spice, crème brûlée, and apple give it a delectable aroma, with delicate flavors of vanilla, butter, cream, and lightly spiced apple. It is rounded and fresh, with a smooth mouthfeel and low acidity.
We love this Chardonnay with savory and sweet snacks, desserts, jam, and hearty treats like cinnamon buns and apple pie.
8. Sterling Napa Chardonnay 2018
A delicious Chardonnay with unique notes of orange blossom and chamomile, Sterling Napa Chardonnay 2018 is something special. It is made by Sterling Napa Valley using cool stainless-steel fermentation tanks for a smooth finish.
Aromas of lemon crème, pretzel, vanilla, and lemon give this wine a dessert-like bouquet. Honey almond with green and red apple layers on the palate delivers a sweet character, balanced by bright acidity and a creamy finish.
A light body and oaky notes make this wine perfect with smoked sausage, pizza, grilled chicken, seafood, and light pasta.
7. Bogle Phantom Chardonnay 2019
Phantom Chardonnay is a contender for the best 2019 vintage, with freshly baked apple pie notes and a creamy mouthfeel.
The Bogle family makes it in Clarksburg, California, where the Chardonnay grapes take on a creamy consistency.
We love the aromas of green apple, baked peach, and lemon drizzle. The flavor profile is more complex, with hints of allspice, pear, green apple, and dusky peach. It has a medium body and a long, buttery finish with hints of toasted nuts.
This wine goes great with grilled lamb, calamari, light seafood, fruit salad, pesto, soups, and meaty fish like halibut and cod.
6. Banshee Sonoma Coast Chardonnay 2019
Complexity is baked into Banshee Sonoma Coast Chardonnay with aromatics of lemon curd and a rich lemon and crème palate.
It is made in Sonoma County, California, by the Banshee winery using ecological farming methods.
This wine shines with lemon curd, honeysuckle, and buttercream aromas, with subtle hints of lime and apple.
On the palate, green apple, savory spices, lemon, and crème brûlée notes create a delicious wine with excellent depth of flavor.
We recommend this wine with white meats like chicken and turkey, light seafood, goat cheese, gruyere, and pastries.
5. MacRostie Sonoma Coast Chardonnay 2019
MacRostie Sonoma Coast Chardonnay is a tropical bonanza with rich pineapple, melon, and guava notes.
It is made in Sonoma County, California, by MacRostie Winery and Vineyards, using traditional winemaking techniques.
On the nose, tropical fruit, and light cream with hints of chalk create a perfectly balanced bouquet with tempting minerality. Flavors of stone fruit, key lime, yellow apple, and orange peel are complemented by a long and smooth finish.
We enjoy this Chardonnay most on its own and as an aperitif to fish and seafood, and the chalky finish also takes the edge off sweet desserts.
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4. Decoy Sonoma Chardonnay 2020
Beautifully crisp with oaky, buttery notes, Decoy Sonoma Chardonnay is a pure expression of dry wine.
It is made by Decoy in Sonoma County, California, using 100% Chardonnay that is fermented in stainless steel and French oak barrels.
Aromas of green apple, nectarine, candied citrus, and flavors of stone fruit, pear, and peach create a fruit-forward profile with hints of white flowers. The finish is long, with a creamy mouthfeel that develops a slight minerality.
This wine is a match made in heaven for pasta with white sauce, shellfish, grilled and roasted salmon, and grilled vegetables.
3. Raeburn Chardonnay 2020
With an exciting palate of ripened green apple, toast, and crème brûlée, Raeburn Chardonnay is an interesting wine that balances the sweetness. It is made by Raeburn Winery in Sonoma County, California.
We adore this expressive wine, which has aromas of oak and honeysuckle with crisp apple and vanilla pod on the palate. The mid-palate has butterscotch and baked peach, while the finish delivers mouth-watering, zesty acidity.
Veal, pork, chicken, and meaty fish go well with this wine, and it also goes well with pasta, grilled vegetables, risotto, and savory snacks.
2. Schug Sonoma Coast Chardonnay 2020
This Chardonnay is aged in stainless steel and neutral oak casks to allow bright and fruity flavors to shine through.
The Schug Carneros Estate Winery is one of the finest in Sonoma County, California, so you know this wine will be special.
Aromas of ripe apple, pineapple, white peach, and savory spices give it a fruity yet earthy bouquet.
On the palate, stone fruits, quince, sandalwood, and golden apple dominate, with tones of caramel. Mildly acidic with a hearty finish.
We love this wine with rotisserie chicken, chicken casserole, and roasted meats, with the bright flavors also going great with salads.
1. Novellum Chardonnay 2020
Novellum Chardonnay 2020 takes the crown as our favorite Chardonnay under $20 with a fruit-forward yet oaky palate.
It is aged in 30% new French oak barrels, which give it creamy notes and bright aromas that make you drool.
Aromas of pear, apple, peach, citrus, and pineapple are joined by butter and cream, with a palate of stone fruits, apple, and honeysuckle. It has medium acidity with some roundness, a smooth mouthfeel, and a long finish.
This wine is so good we can drink it with anything, but it particularly suits lobster, calamari, shellfish, meaty dishes, and risotto.
If you're new to Chardonnay, we've got a couple of pointers that can help you separate the good from the bad.
Respected Chardonnay Regions
Chardonnay is grown in vineyards globally, from Italy to the US.
Still, it is best known for growing in Burgundy, France, and the iconic California vineyards, where alternating cool and warm temperatures provide perfect growing conditions.
Here is a quick list of the regions where Chardonnay is grown:
- New Zealand
- United States
Argentina, Chile, France, Italy, and the United States are at the top of most people's lists as the best Chardonnay regions.
Napa Valley, Livermore Valley, Columbia Valley, Mendocino County, San Bernabe, and Russian River Valery are traditional regions in the US.
California is world-famous for Chardonnay, which is why so many wines on this list are from there.
In France, Chardonnay is grown in Champagne, the Loire Valley, and the French Riviera in Languedoc-Roussillon.
It is most often associated with Burgundy, an eastern region of France also known for Pinot Noir.
In Italy, Chardonnay vineyards are most often found in the northern region of Italy, Piedmont, which has a similar climate to Burgundy.
Like all grape varieties, Chardonnay grapes take on different flavors depending on the microclimate, soil, and cultivation techniques.
For example, Chardonnay grown along the French Riviera in Languedoc-Roussillon is sweet and juicy, while it is tart and lean grown in Loire Valley.
The Difference Between Oaked and Unoaked Chardonnay
When it comes to white wine, Chardonnay is the king of dry, but two different styles offer different profiles – oaked and unoaked.
The simple difference is that oaked Chardonnay is aged in oak barrels, while unoaked Chardonnay is aged in stainless-steel tanks and barrels.
While oaked Chardonnay has an oaky, almondy, and toasted flavor, unoaked Chardonnay is fruit-forward with a zesty, mineral edge.
If you like your wines to be lean, minerally, dry, and fruit-forward, a bottle of unoaked Chardonnay is perfect. If you like your wines to be creamy, toasty, and rich, then a bottle of oaked Chardonnay will be better.
When Chardonnay is aged in oak, elements of the oak – woodiness, earthiness – impart flavors into the wine that resemble caramel, cream, and almonds. These flavors give the wine a heavier, creamier palate and finish.
When Chardonnay is aged in stainless steel, it develops fruity flavors unhindered by the wood. The malic acid in unoaked Chardonnay gives it its fruity flavor; this acid converts into lactic acid in oaked barrels, which gives it butter qualities.
Overall, you can't go wrong with a good bottle of Chardonnay, but unoaked is for you if you like crisp minerality and fruity flavors. If you like buttery and toasted flavors, go oaked.