What is buttery Chardonnay?
When people say a Chardonnay is buttery, they’re noticing it reminds them of melted butter. That’s not their imagination: during winemaking, the wine gets a creamy mouthfeel and butter aroma thanks to a secondary fermentation.
Where does buttery Chardonnay come from?
Buttery Chardonnay comes from anywhere Chardonnay is cultivated and made into wine. The style is strongly associated with wines from California. The rich buttery wines made in California were first inspired by the rich and balanced White Burgundies from France, including Meursault, Puligny-Montrachet, and Chassagne-Montrachet. So, if you’re interested in a different take on wine with toasted bread and croissant notes, try a wine from one of those regions of the Côte de Beaune.
How is buttery Chardonnay made?
Just like all wine, buttery Chardonnay starts with Chardonnay grapes. The grapes are harvested, fermented to create alcohol, and they undergo a second fermentation that adds a buttery aroma and flavor.
- The winemaking process starts with picking grapes at the right time when they are sweet and ripe, with enough acidity to make the wine taste refreshing.
- The stems are removed from the grape clusters, and then the grapes are pressed to extract the juice, and the skins are thrown away. The juice must be separated from the skins right away for the wine to stay clear.
- Yeast is added to start the alcoholic fermentation. Yeast eats the sugar in the grape juice, converting it into alcohol.
- The wine undergoes a second malolactic fermentation that gives it a buttery flavor. This process converts tart malic acids naturally in grapes to creamy lactic acid. Sometimes, just part of the new wine goes through malolactic fermentation, so the wine has a balance of bright and rich notes.
- A buttery Chardonnay is often aged in oak barrels, which can add vanilla, toasty notes, and more texture to the wine. When the winemaker decides the wine has aged long enough, they perfect the final blend and then bottle the buttery, oaked Chardonnay for sale.
What wine is buttery?
There isn’t any butter in the wine. Chardonnays made in California with a process called malolactic fermentation are often described as buttery. When a Chardonnay wine grape is on the vine, it tastes very bright and tangy thanks to an acid called malic acid. As the wine is maturing, it goes through a process called malolactic fermentation that converts the malic acid into lactic acids, like the ones found in cream and butter.
Are all Oaked Chardonnays the same as Buttery Chardonnay?
Sometimes buttery Chardonnay is confused with Oaked Chardonnay, but it’s important to note that these two types of Chardonnay are not exclusive. They do often get paired together, where buttery Chardonnays will be aged in oak to give even more nuanced spice and vanilla flavors to the overall wine.
Want to more about Oaked Chardonnay? Visit Oaked vs. Unoaked Chardonnay guide!
Is J Lohr Chardonnay buttery?
Yes, J. Lohr Riverstone from Arroyo Seco is a buttery Chardonnay. The tasting notes say it has subtle butter and vanilla toastiness along with peach, nectarine, and apple notes. This wine is creamy on the palate and full of vivid notes that will create a satisfying experience.
What are some of the other words used to describe a buttery Chardonnay?
Sometimes a buttery Chardonnay will say just that in the tasting notes. But other times, the winery will use different words that suggest richness, such as cream, Creme brûlée, brioche, butterscotch, toffee, caramel, croissants, and pie crust. If you see on the label that a Chardonnay is unoaked, it’s a signal that this is a crisp, lean style that probably won’t taste very buttery.
What are the popular brands of buttery Chardonnay?
Total Wine & More carries all the most popular buttery Chardonnay wines. With such a wide selection of buttery Chardonnays under $20, you can be sure to find one that you’ll like.
Some of our most popular brands of buttery Chardonnays are:
Browse our full selection of Chardonnay wines and take home a couple of bottles of the best buttery Chardonnays from around the world.
Want to learn more about buttery Chardonnay?
Visit our Guide to Chardonnay to learn more about the best wines in this style from California and around the world.