5 Steel-Aged Chardonnays for Your Summer

We’ve discussed the differences between oaked and unoaked (or steel-aged) Chardonnays before, and we wanted to bring your attention back to it because it’s important, and also because Chardonnay is a lovely summer wine and it’s still summer!

To refresh your memory, the difference between oaked and unoaked is literally the fermentation method: whether it’s aged in an oak or steel-aged barrel. It may seem like a small thing but the flavor profiles come out completely different based on the type of barrel.

A steel-aged Chardonnay is going to be tart and citrusy with a much brighter profile, while an oaked Chardonnay will be smooth and slightly sweet. Typically you hear oaked Chardonnays described as “buttery” because the oaky finish gives the effect that it’s creamy.

Because summer is still here and we want to make the most of it, we wanted to share some of our favorite oaky Chardonnays to help you enjoy the last of the warm weather.

St. Innocent 2014 Freedom Hill Vineyard Dijon Clone Chardonnay

Although it’s made in the US, this wine is a wonderful replica of a French Chardonnay from Dijon. It’s aged in French oak and finishes with that luxurious butterscotch note on top of sweet fruits like peach and pineapple. $26, Willamette Valley

Bel Lago 2013 Chardonnay

You may not usually associate northern Michigan with good wine but this Chardonnay is absolutely delightful with a creaminess that comes from its two years aged in French oak. Top that with a gentle acidity and slight minerality to create a perfectly balanced wine. $28, Michigan

Knapp 2014 Barrel Reserve Chardonnay

Elegant and fresh, this bottle is simple with peach and apricot notes and a touch of lemon-lime citrus. Aged for eight months, the spice and oaky nature is delicate but apparent. $12, Finger Lakes

Ram’s Gate 2012 Hudson Vineyard Chardonnay

A true Napa Chardonnay, this bottle has all of the silky smooth elements that you’re looking for. It’s toasty and spicy with notes of caramel and apple, and it will be great now or great later. $64, California

MacRostie 2010 Wildcat Mountain Vineyard Chardonnay

This is one intense bottle of Chardonnay, completely with a powerful minerality and deep oaky flavors, with plenty of citrus and tropical fruit flavors underneath. It’s rich and robust and will surprise you. $35, California

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