California Chardonnay—Walking the Talk?

In the United States, the popularity of big, oaky California Chardonnays led, in the late 1990s, to a still-thriving counter-movement called ABC—Anything But Chardonnay. Today, scores of California winemakers hammer on about the importance of expressing elegance and balance in Chardonnay. Yet, too few “walk the talk.” They may have moved their vineyards to cooler places, but many winemakers seem to have forgotten to move their mindsets and winemaking practices there too. The audience for pedal-to-the-metal, big, ripe, and very oaky California Chardonnay doesn’t seem to be going away. But if you’re an ABCer, here are a few of my favorite California Chardonnays made from cool-climate vineyards and made in a pure, minimalist, not-overripe style.

  • Melville “Clone 76-Inox”
  • Scribe Estate
  • Carbone
  • Massican Hyde Vineyard
  • Matthiasson Linda Vista Vineyard
  • Flowers Camp Meeting Ridge
  • Hanzell
  • Jordan


* Photo of Flowers Vineyards & Winery by Adam Gout


Get WineSpeed

Join tens of thousands of other wine lovers. Get each week’s edition of WineSpeed delivered to your inbox every Friday. It’s fast. It’s free. It’s the smartest way to stay up to speed on wine.
Email address
First Name
Last Name
Other Way You Heard About Us
Be sure to check your inbox to confim your subscription.