The World's Best Value Chardonnays

Chardonnay is a consumer favorite and it offers some spectacular bargains.
© NZ Wine | Chardonnay is a consumer favorite and it offers some spectacular bargains.
It's time to start looking for value again and where better to start than everyone's favorite white wine?
By Don Kavanagh | Posted Thursday, 09-Sep-2021

If we were to tell you that you could get a 97-point wine for less than the price of a steak, you'd probably think we were crazy – but you can.

Okay, you might have to go to Europe to buy it, which would add considerably to the cost of the bottle, but if you look hard enough there are bargains to be had everywhere, especially if you like Chardonnay.

Related stories:
Whatever Happened to Old-Fashioned Chardonnay?
Swapping Chardonnay for Cabernet in Napa
Willamette Valley: The New Burgundy?

Looking for good value is what Wine-Searcher is all about and our best-value series tends to dig up gems from the unlikeliest places. Last year, our Chardonnay list contained wines from as far afield as France, California, New Zealand and Australia, but this year it's all about Chile – half the wines on this year's list come from the country that has made a name for itself by offering good-quality wines at value prices.

Now, we're not saying you'll be able to lay your hands on all these wines, but all the wines on our list have a reasonable spread of offers for them.

First, the ground rules. For this series of "best value" stories, we work with a more direct point-to-dollar ratio for a simplified "bang for buck" scale than our standard algorithm for suggesting the best value wines. Simply dividing the score by the price gives a value factor and the higher the factor the better the value – a kind of points-per-dollar scale. The higher the value factor, the more points per dollar.

Usually, when we run our superlative lists, we don't take vintage into account, but since vintage variation affects the score so much, we concentrate on individual vintages of wines for our best-value lists.

Best Value Chardonnays on Wine-Searcher:

It's the top wine that stands out here. It has an average price of $18 and a score of 97 – and that score isn't from some local amateur wine show, either; it's from the Decanter World Wine Awards (DWWA). There are no offers for this wine in the US, but it is reasonably easy to come by in Europe, so it not only makes the list, but it tops it comfortably.

A special mention should also go to Tabali Wines for the brilliant result of getting four different vintages of its Talinay Chardonnay on the list. The wines vary in average price from $17 for the 2017 to $28 for the 2019, while the aggregated scores range from 94 (for the '17, '18 and '19 vintages) to 96 for the 2020, a model of consistency as well as quality.

Speaking of consistency, De Morgenzon's 2018 Reserve Chardonnay has repeated its sixth-place performance from last year, with only a very slight rise in price (from $32 to $33). Its aggregated critic score of 93 is slightly deflated by Jancis Robinson's score of 16, but Tim Atkin and the DWWA have scored it 96 and 95, respectively. Interestingly that is the lowest aggregate score on this list, which emphasizes just what value Chardonnay can offer.

The bottom three wines are all interesting in their own ways, too. The Arterberry Maresh wine is the sole US entrant this year, managing to combine a great aggregated score of 95 with an average price of $43 – and you can pick it up for as little as $25 if you check the offers.

The Baettig wine completes Chile's excellent showing on the list, with a 96-pointer for an average price of $57, while the Erwin Sabathi wine proves that Austria is about more than just mouthwatering Grüner Veltliner – the 97-pointer has an average score of $60.

It's hardly surprising that Chardonnay remains the world's favorite white wine with bargains like this to be had.

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