I've been opening a lot of chardonnay lately. You may think I'm a glutton for punishment, but I'm not afraid to admit I like chardonnay. I especially like some of the relatively inexpensive burgundies from the Macon and other regions. Alas, I can't afford Montrachet but there is still plenty of good, austere French chardonnay.
What's so good about French chardonnay? They aren't cloaked in oak nor are they sweet, which is what I still find in mass-produced California chardonnays. But, I did find two balanced chardonnays that emphasized fruit and balance over oak and sugar.
The 2015 Fort Ross Mother of Pearl Chardonnay ($60) is unfined and unfiltered, which preserves the purity of the grapes. The oak influence is in the background and adds to the complexity of this luxurious chardonnay but upfront are the generous citrus and honeysuckle aromas followed by layered pear and white peach flavors.
The other version that impressed me was the 2016 Dutton Estate Kyndall's Reserve-Dutton Ranch chardonnay ($42) from the Russian River Valley. Good acidity balances the plush mouthfeel of the barrel-fermented, malolactic fermented fruit.