The Anything-But-Chardonnay movement was a direct response to the late-20th-century rise of flabby, over oaked, high-alcohol Chardonnays. Two decades later, the ABC sentiment is alive and well, even though the prevailing style today, at least for the wines I review from California’s Central Coast, is tight and racy, driven by fresh citrus flavors and chalky textures.
I spend a lot of my time educating the Anything-Butters about the zippy wonders of these “new” vibrant Chardonnays. Though many express doubt at first, my conversion rate is happily high.
All Chardonnay needn’t be made the same, and there remains a seat at my table for rich, oaky Chardonnay, which is still plentiful. To me, their butter scotch drizzled, seared marshmallow, honeysuckle-laden flavors are the embodiment of comfort in your cup. Few white wines go as well with a roaring fire as snow falls outside, or to complement both soft and hard cheeses before or after dinner, or as an accompaniment to roasted chicken—such succulent, herb-infused flesh never knew a better beverage buddy than nutty, caramelized Chardonnay.
Of course, these Chards must achieve balance amid their opulence to qualify for my cellar. That mandatory counterpoint usually arrives in the form of lemony acidity, but a chalky tension also works, as do savory hints of herb or sea salt.