Here’s a good tasting experiment: Try these two chardonnays, a perennially delicious bargain from Australia and a more ambitious selection from France. The first is an easy-drinking charmer, ideal for parties or casual sipping. The second shows terroir, with some of the minerally, chalky texture that exemplifies chardonnay from this northern area of Burgundy. Both demonstrate why chardonnay is the world’s most popular white wine. Red lovers should look here for an inexpensive Chateauneuf-du-Pape look-alike. There’s also a delightful vinho verde from Portugal and a tasty cheapie from northern Italy.
Jean-Marc Brocard Chardonnay en Sol Kimmeridgien 2014
Two and a half stars.
Burgundy, France, $21
Kimmeridgien refers to the chalky soils of Chablis, where some of the world’s most stunning, minerally chardonnays are produced. It could aptly be called a “baby Chablis,” as it offers some of the stony, earthy quality of that name brand. ABV: 12.5 percent.
Château de Marjolet Cuvée Tradition Laudun 2014
Two and a half stars.
Côtes du Rhône Villages, France, $18
Châteauneuf-du-Pape lovers will like this bargain-priced wine, with its big dark-fruit flavors and potent alcohol. It holds its weight well, with impressive depth and a plush texture. ABV: 15 percent.
Portal do Fidalgo Alvarinho 2015
Vinho Verde, Portugal, $15
Alvarinho, the Portuguese name for albariño, makes an excellent wine to pair with seafood of almost any type, especially bright, acidic dishes such as salads or even ceviche. The Portal do Fidalgo is tropical and rich, with just enough acidity to keep it in balance. ABV: 12.5 percent.
Lindeman’s Bin 65 Chardonnay 2015
South Eastern Australia, $6
Readers occasionally chide me for not recommending wines that are available in supermarkets or wherever inexpensive wine is sold. Truth is, not many are all that good. But the Lindeman’s chardonnay may very well be the best-value inexpensive chardonnay on the market, year in, year out. Also available in magnums. ABV: 13.5 percent.
Distributed by Breakthru in the District and Maryland, Virginia Imports in Virginia: Widely available.
Fossi Bianco NV
This is 100 percent Garganega, the grape of Soave, in northern Italy. It’s not earth-shattering, it won’t change your view of the world, but it is a delicious quaff, and cheap. Also available in magnums. ABV: 12 percent.
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Three stars Exceptional, two stars Excellent, one star Very Good
Prices are approximate. Check Winesearcher.com to verify availability, or ask a favorite wine store to order through a distributor.