We use cookies to operate this website and to improve its usability. Full details of what cookies are, why we use them and how you can manage them can be found by reading our Privacy & Cookies pages. Please note that by using this site you are consenting to the use of cookies.

Home Winners > Winners 2018 > NEW WORLD: Chardonnay USA

Winner Details

New World: Chardonnay, USA

2018  Gold 2        Silver 5             Bronze 4              Commended 6
2017  Gold 2        Silver 3             Bronze 1              Commended 4 

It’s tempting to think that sommeliers hate ripe, big-fruited wines. Tempting, but wrong. They’ve proved – over the past few years in particular – that they’re quite happy to reward these quintessentially Californian Chardonnays, provided they think they’re well made. Nothing wrong with big oak and big fruit, in other words, provided the wine as a whole is in balance.

So yes, they might be as polarising as a Donald Trump speech, and no, not all of our tasters are fans of them personally. But they can see a very definite use for them and if there are customers out there who like that style of wine, then you’d better make sure you have some good examples on your list.

Pricing, understandably, was high. But that wasn’t seen as a particular disadvantage for these wines; punters are often quite happy to pay the big bucks for the big wines.


‘There was this backbone of freshness – they were good, and a nice range of styles – it’s no longer easy to pigeonhole them. But you have to pay your money – excitement came at the higher prices.’ Simon Woods, team leader

‘I wasn’t impressed. There was too much oak, it was overpowering, and not food-friendly.’ Daria Ershova, Ten Green Bottles

‘There were some really bad ones at the entry level, but as the flight went on, the quality steadily increased. I usually don’t like the sweetness and oak, but the flight was really good.’ Olivier Gasselin, Hakkasan

‘The sweetness is too high – I’m not a big fan.’ Gabriele Galuppo, Theo Randall at the InterContinental

Award winners

Found 17 wines

New World: Chardonnay, USA

Joseph Phelps, Freestone Vineyards, Chardonnay 2015, Sonoma Coast, California, USA

Gold medal winner

A memorable experience for Hakkasan’s Olivier Gasselin, who found this Gold winner to be ‘multi-layered and juicy, with very fine toast and a crunchy texture with minerals and fabulous acidity’, declaring it ‘wonderful’, while Lime Wood Hotel’s Christopher Parker highlighted its ‘aromas of soured cream and sweet pastry, Belgian buns and iced fingers, with revitalising acidity’. ‘Rich, complex and ripe, with a creamy yet refreshing, as well as elegant, palate,’ concluded Erik Simonics of La Dame de Pic at Four Seasons.

£32.36 Berkmann Wine Cellars

DeLoach, Chardonnay 2015, Russian River Valley, California, USA

Gold medal winner

This Gold medallist’s ‘vanilla, nutty nose’ led to a ‘really juicy and fresh palate, well made with ripe peach and a lovely fresh finish’, said an impressed Matthieu Longuère MS of Le Cordon Bleu London, while The Don’s Carlos Ferreira had praise for its ‘ripe fruits and asparagus touches on the nose, and a palate that’s both dry and elegant with a long, oily-textured finish’. For Hakkasan’s Olivier Gasselin, this ‘slightly tropical, balanced and complex’ wine was perfect for beef stroganoff.

£15.95 Liberty Wines

Rutherford Ranch, Chardonnay 2015, Napa Valley, California, USA

Silver medal winner

Daria Ershova of Ten Green Bottles liked the ‘fresh acidity, very textural feel and ripe tropical fruits, with balanced oak, honeyed hints and apricot’, while for team leader Angela Reddin it was ‘very lush and full, tightening up with a lick of acidity on the finish’.

£17.91 Jascots Wine Merchants

Byron, Nielson By Byron, Chardonnay 2015, Santa Maria Valley, California, USA

Silver medal winner

‘Very clean on the nose, showing shaved apple fruit and lemon confit character,’ began team leader Angela Reddin, finding it ‘very well made, with vanilla oak present but not intrusive and elegant length’.

£18.94 Boutinot

Bogle, Chardonnay 2016, California, USA

Silver medal winner

Christopher Parker of Lime Wood Hotel enjoyed this wine’s ‘vanilla, underdone toast, sweet spice and double cream aromas, with peach sundae and a touch of nutmeg on the back’, while Hakkasan’s Olivier Gasselin found ‘tropical notes of guava and mango, with lemon and stony mineral on the finish’.

£11.69 Enotria&Coe

Trefethen, Chardonnay 2016, Napa Valley, California, USA

Silver medal winner

This was ‘fruity, with apple and yellow pear aromas’, thought Gabriele Galuppo of Theo Randall at the InterContinental, finding the palate ‘nutty and creamy but dry and well integrated’, while Lime Wood Hotel’s Christopher Parker found it ‘lean and inviting, with zesty lemons and ripe Cox apple, clarified butter and spring flowers with an apple crunch’.

£19.13 Daniel Lambert Wines

Stag's Leap Wine Cellars, Karia, Chardonnay 2015, Napa Valley, California, USA

Silver medal winner

Lime Wood Hotel’s Christopher Parker admired this Chardonnay’s ‘great complexity’, finding it ‘dominated by white peaches with cinnamon, anise, clove and white pepper spice, delightful’, while team leader Simon Woods found it ‘quite herbal, lively and subtle, and feels like it will improve’.

£25.41 Enotria&Coe, The Wine Treasury

Buena Vista, North Coast, Chardonnay 2015, California, USA

Bronze medal winner

A pleasingly well-proportioned style, showing ‘elegant vanilla and subtle nuttiness on the nose, really juicy and fresh on the palate with well-integrated oak and lovely peach fruit’, said Matthieu Longuère MS of Le Cordon Bleu London.

£14.50 Berkmann Wine Cellars

Charles Smith, Eve, Chardonnay 2015, Washington State, USA

Bronze medal winner

Notes of ‘lemon sorbet and moderate oak’ on the nose were appealing to Daria Ershova of Ten Green Bottles, who found ‘a touch of sweetness with honey and dried apricot, but dry on the finish’, while team leader Angela Reddin highlighted ‘light orchard fruit aromas’ and found it ‘very clean in the mouth with good balance’.

£12.65 Bibendum

Terlato, The Federalist, Chardonnay 2015, Mendocino County, California, USA

Bronze medal winner

Team leader Simon Woods found ‘slightly smoky, subtle oak, laid-back fruit with good balance on the palate, fresh pear and melon with light guava on a long finish’, while Hakkasan’s Olivier Gasselin noted ‘saffron and pineapple, toasted and zesty style, rich with a hint of coconut’.

£17.79 Matthew Clark

E&J Gallo Winery, Columbia Winery, Chardonnay 2016, Washington State, USA

Bronze medal winner

‘The nose is complex and elegant, with red apple and stone fruit notes,’ began The Don’s Carlos Ferreira, who found the palate ‘fruity and creamy, very well balanced’, while team leader Angela Reddin noted ‘lemon and baked apple, quince aromas with crème anglaise, and a broad, sweetish style’.

£9.52 E. &J. Gallo Winery

Guenoc, Chardonnay 2016, California, USA

Commended medal winner

DFV, Black Stallion, Chardonnay 2015, Napa Valley, California, USA

Commended medal winner

£18.31 Bibendum

Morgan, Highland, Chardonnay 2015, Santa Lucia Highlands, California, USA

Commended medal winner

£20.10 Bibendum

Chateau Ste Michelle, Chardonnay 2015, Columbia Valley, Washington State, USA

Commended medal winner

E&J Gallo Winery, Talbott Vineyards, Kali Hart, Chardonnay 2015, Monterey, California, USA

Commended medal winner

Meiomi, Chardonnay 2014, California, USA

Commended medal winner

£15.37 Matthew Clark


Subscribe to the SWA newsletter

Subscribe to our newsletter and keep up to date with the latest Sommelier Wine Awards news.