White Wine

Guide to Unoaked Chardonnay

Unoaked Chardonnay, with its crisp and vibrant characteristics, is an exquisite option that can elevate your hosting game. In this guide by Fran Berger Living, we'll delve into the nuances of Unoaked Chardonnay, particularly from the renowned Chablis region in France. Get ready to discover its unique flavors, ideal food pairings, serving techniques, and how it’s the secret to hosting an excellent gathering of any kind.


Unoaked Chardonnay Stripped: Naked and Refreshing 

Unoaked or “naked” Chardonnay obtains its high-quality essence from the terrains of the wine district in Chablis, France, and a unique winemaking process using stainless steel tanks. Here are the key characteristics of Unoaked Chardonnay that make it a standout choice for your next celebration:

  1. Crisp and Fresh: Unoaked Chardonnay is known for its bright acidity, making it exceptionally refreshing on the palate. It has notes of vibrant citrus and green apple, providing a zesty backdrop for your evening.
  2. Mineral Undertones: With unique undertones of minerality relative to crushed stones, Unoaked Chardonnay can transport you to the hillsides of Chablis, France with every sip. 
  3. Non-Creamy: Unoaked Chardonnay skips the process of using oak barrels. This absence of oak results in a wine that is free from the creamy, buttery, or vanilla notes often associated with oaked Chardonnay, making it more clear and crisp in mouthfeel.

Chablis: The Unoaked Chardonnay Paradise

Nestled in the heart of Burgundy, France, Chablis is the unrivaled home of unoaked Chardonnay. Its cool climate and unique Kimmeridgian limestone soils give a special character to the wines that are produced here. When hosting with Chablis, you're bringing a piece of this enchanting region to your table.


The Unoaked Difference - Fermentation in Steel Vats

Unoaked Chardonnay is processed and fermented in stainless steel tanks. Winemakers use this process to add complexity and texture to the wine without introducing oak-related flavors. The steel vessels don't add the woodsy notes that are often present in its oaked brother.

Fermentation in steel vats is typically quicker than in oak barrels. The absence of wood influence allows for a more straightforward and efficient fermentation process.

Winemakers may choose to stir the lees (sediment) in steel vats, while oak barrels facilitate close interaction between the wine and the lees, promoting a creamy and textural mouthfeel. This can lead to those flavors of vanilla and butterscotch.

With steel vats being made of neutral and non-reactive material, this allows the grapes' natural characteristics to shine, giving it that refreshing, crisp taste and marrying the floral and mineral profiles. 


Tasting Characteristics - Oaked vs. Unoaked

Now, let's briefly contrast Unoaked Chardonnay with its oaked counterpart to appreciate and better understand the distinctions.

Unoaked Chardonnay (Chablis), has aromas of fresh green apple, citrus, and subtle white flowers. Whereas, in traditionally oaked Chardonnay, you will find notes of butter, vanilla and white tropical fruits.

Unoaked Chardonnay, due to the fermentation process through steel vessels, allows the acidity and minerality to come forth and presents a clean, bright finish on the palate. An oaked Chardonnay will resume the creamy textures found in those wines produced in oak barrels, along with hints of oak and spice. 


Food Pairings

Unoaked Chardonnay, with its clean and crisp profile, is a versatile partner for a wide array of dishes. Here are some pairing suggestions to impress your guests:

  • Oysters: The salty and briny notes of oysters perfectly complement the minerality of Chablis.
  • Grilled Seafood: Whether it's scallops, shrimp, or a delicate white fish, the wine's acidity cuts through the richness of seafood.
  • Sushi: The freshness of unoaked Chardonnay pairs wonderfully with sushi's delicate flavors.
  • Herb-Roasted Chicken: The wine's citrusy notes harmonize beautifully with the herbs and poultry.


Serving A Fresh Glass

To ensure your unoaked Chardonnay shines at your gathering, follow these serving techniques:


Serve at 50-55°F (10-13°C) for the best and most crisp tasting experience.


A crystal, tulip-shaped white wine glass is essential to concentrate the aromas and fully savor the complex tastes of an Unoaked Chardonnay. 

Elevate your drinking experience with the exceptional detailing and expressive design of The Crane wine glass, personally designed by Fran Berger and crafted especially for savoring your favorite white varietal. This glass is luxurious enough for special occasions, while still functioning as your go-to collection for ordinary evenings. You can order a pair of the Crane White Wine glasses for $260 through the Fran Berger Living online storefront.

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Amazing Unoaked Chardonnays to Try


Domaine Louis Moreau Chablis Grand Cru Clos des Hospices dans Les Clos
2016 (Chablis, France)

Tasting Notes: Directly produced in Chablis, this classy, refined bouquet displays a dominance of mineral notes and touches of citrus and peach fruits. The complex characters add to the experience both on the nose and palate.

Affordability: Avg. $119 per bottle

Where to Buy: You can purchase at online retailers, including Nicholas Pierce Wines.


Domaine Bernard Defaix Chablis (Chablis, France)

Tasting Notes: A full-bodied unoaked Chardonnay with a very strong mineral character that is crisp and vibrant on the palate.

Affordability: Avg $49.99 per bottle

Where to Buy: You can purchase at online retailers, including Warehouse Wines & Spirits. 


La Crema Monterey Unoaked Chardonnay (California, USA)

Tasting Notes: The 2021 Le Crema Monterey Chardonnay presents a balanced acidity with flavors of Asian pear and pineapple. Notice the subtle, yet defined notes of mineratlity. 

Affordability: Avg $16 per bottle

Where to Buy: Purchase this wine directly from La Crema’s website or at your local retail store.


Domaine William Fevre - Chablis Champs Royaux NV

Tasting Notes: Fresh and supple, the wine is marked by mineral notes that are typical of the Kimmeridgian subsoil that the Domaine William Fèvre’s vineyards sit on.

Affordability: Ranges from $30-50 per bottle

Where to Buy: You can purchase at online retailers, including Georgio’s Liquors. 


MacRostie Sonoma Coast Unoaked Chardonnay (California, USA)

Tasting Notes: “Rich, textural, and beautifully complex on the palate, its bright citrus flavors and cool-climate energy showcase the poise and purity of the great Sonoma Coast.” 

Affordability: Avg $24 per bottle

Where to Buy: Ship a bottle to your home by purchasing from MacRostie or visit your local retail store.


Antinori Castello della Sala Cervaro 2021 (Umbria, Italy)

Tasting Notes: A harmonious blend of intense citrus fruit flavors, aromas of white blossom and notes of flint blended to bring the feeling of Umbria, Italy to your table.

Affordability: Avg $60 per bottle

Where to Buy: You can purchase a bottle for delivery or pickup from Total Wine retail stores.


The Secret To A Fresh Soirée

When you're hosting an event that calls for elegance and freshness, Unoaked Chardonnay, particularly from Chablis, is your secret weapon. Its lively character and harmonious balance with a range of dishes make it the perfect choice for creating memorable moments with friends and loved ones.

Enjoy exploring the world of home entertaining and design through the expert eyes and expansive knowledge of Fran Berger, to fill your cabinetry and your hearts with unexpected luxuries of fine dining and lifestyle collections.



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