A Guide to Buttery Chardonnay: Our 11 Best Picks Under $20

buttery chardonnay

If you’re a fan of buttery Chardonnay, you’re in luck.

In this blog post, we will discuss what buttery Chardonnay is and we will explore what makes a wine buttery. Plus we will recommend eleven (11) of the best buttery Chardonnays under $20.

Keep in mind that buttery Chardonnay is not for everyone. Some people might find it too rich, creamy, or buttery. But if you enjoy these flavors, then this article is for you!

Table of Contents

What is Buttery Chardonnay?

Buttery Chardonnay is a style of Chardonnay that is characterized by its signature buttery flavor. This buttery flavor comes from the process of malolactic fermentation, which is when bacteria converts the wine’s natural malic acid into lactic acid.

Lactic acid is what gives butter its characteristic rich and creamy flavor. Think the taste of buttered popcorn, vanilla, and creamy milk.

Why is it Buttery?

malolactic fermentation

Malolactic Fermentation (MLF)

MLF is called a secondary fermentation. But because it does not use yeast, Malolactic Fermentation actually isn’t a fermentation. It’s a bacteria that consumes malic acid and excretes lactic acid.

This secondary (or bacterial) fermentation is the main reason buttery chardonnays exist. And MLF is a process where bacteria transforms the natural tart malic acids (the same acid in tart apple) in wine into creamy lactic acid (the same acid in milk). Lactic acid is what gives the wine its characteristic creamy and rich buttery flavor.

Most red wines and a few white wines go through malolactic fermentation.

WineO Tip – Some wine makers allow just a portion of the wine to undergo malolactic fermentation. This is a technique for giving the wine body and texture without losing too much aroma and flavors.

Oak Barrel Aging

Malolactic Fermentation typically occurs while wines age in oak barrels. Therefore, buttery Chardonnays are usually aged in oak as well.

Oak barrel aging not only adds buttery and creamy notes to the wine, but it also contributes aromas and flavors of vanilla, baking spices, and coconut.

New World Chardonnays tend to have more pronounced oak flavors because they typically use newer oak barrels. On the other hand, Chardonnays from Burgundy tend to have more subtle oak flavors because they use neutral oak barrels that will impart less oak flavors.

WineO Tip – The type of oak used (typically American/French), how it was toasted, dried, and length of aging all contribute to the flavor profile imparted onto the wine.

Best Buttery Chardonnay Wine Regions

Now that we know what buttery Chardonnay is and how it gets its buttery flavor, let’s explore some of the best regions for buttery oaked Chardonnay grapes.

  • California – Napa, Paso Robles, Lake County, Santa Barbara
  • Mendoza, Argentina
  • Australia

Even though 100% of Burgundy whites go through MLF, I wouldn’t consider them to be buttery Chardonnays so they don’t make this list.

11 Best Buttery Chardonnay Under $20

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Great value for your money! Easy accessible because it sells in most wine stores, shops, and even grocery stores.

Bread & Butter is great for everyday drinking. This Chardonnay has aromas of creamy citrus and pear with flavors creamy bananas, buttery vanilla, and spice. It’s well-balanced with lots of oak and a smooth finish.

sonoma cutrer river ranches chardonnay

It’s a medium-bodied wine with aromas of tropical fruits, apple, and vanilla. The flavors are a creamy pear and peach with notes of butter, oak, and vanilla. This wine has good zesty citrus flavors with a bright acidity and a creamy mouthfeel.

For those looking for a more well-balanced wine of fruit, acidity, and creaminess.

Diora is a beautiful Chardonnay with aromas of crisp apple, pear, oak, and citrus. There are creamy peach pie and tropical fruit flavors with a buttery vanilla finish. If you like a good buttery Chard that is well worth its price, this is the wine to get.

This is a spooky good buttery Chardonnay =). Hailing from Clarksburg (California), Bogle Phantom has aromas of lemon, lime, butter, and oak. 

The flavors are creamy pineapple, pear, peach, and other tropical flavors with notes of melted caramel and vanilla. This wine is perfect for those who like their buttery Chardonnays on the smooth and creamier side. 

Just like the name says you’ll find a whole lot of butter in this Chardonnay. It hails from Sebastiani, one of the oldest and most well-respected wineries in Sonoma. 

The wine has aromas of green apple, pear, lemon, and vanilla with flavors of buttered popcorn, tropical fruits, butterscotch, and oak. It’s a full-bodied wine with a velvety mouthfeel and a long buttery finish.

Kendall Jackson Vintner's Reserve Chardonnay best wine at walmart

Kendall Jackson is one of the most iconic buttery Chardonnay producers and their Vintner’s Reserve is their entry-level wine. 

It has aromas of tart green apple, tropical fruit, and citrus. The flavors are creamy tropical fruits, subtle vanilla, and honey. This is also enough acidity to create an excellent acidity with its buttery finish. 

7) Wente Vineyards Riva Ranch Chardonnay 2019

Wente is one of the oldest family-owned wineries in the United States and their Riva Ranch Chardonnay is a great example of an oaky buttery California Chardonnay

It has aromas of candied citrus, grapefruit, lemon, and vanilla. The flavors are creamy baked apples, honeysuckle, baking spices, oak, and toast. This is a medium to full-bodied wine with a long well-balanced finish.

This buttery Chardonnay comes from the Central Coast of California and it has aromas and flavors of apple, pear, lemon, butter, and oak. The bright citrus flavors blend nicely into a buttery oaky creamy finish.

This wine has a smooth, creamy texture with a good acidity to it and delightful fruit flavors. It has aromas of ripe apple, pear, and tropical fruits. 

The flavors baked apple pie, brioche, creamy pineapple, and butter. It has very good complexity along with a rich intensity. Just a fantastic representation of a creamy and buttery Santa Barbara Chardonnay.

This Chardonnay comes from Santa Lucia Highlands and it’s true to the region. The bright acidity of this wine can be attributed to the cool climate of Santa Lucia Highlands. It has aromas of ripe apple, pear, lemon, and oak. The flavors are creamy tropical fruits and buttery oak.

costco chardonnay

This is one of their signature wines from La Crema

The wine has aromas of nectarine, lemon, and white flowers. And the flavors are of crisp green apples, tropical fruits, butter, and vanilla. This is a medium to full-bodied wine with a long well-balanced finish.


What is a Buttery Chardonnay?

A buttery chardonnay is a wine made with the chardonnay grape that has undergone malolactic fermentation, and has usually been oaked. This gives the wine buttery flavors and a creamy texture.

What is the Difference between Chardonnay and Buttery Chardonnay?

Not all Chardonnays are buttery, Chardonnays are made in a variety of ways. In fact, some are completely the opposite of buttery, like a Chablis. A buttery Chardonnay is one that taste buttery with a creamy mouthfeel.

Is Buttery Chardonnay sweet or dry?

They are dry wines. Some may appear sweet because of their fruity and vanilla flavors but they are considered a dry wine.

How do you pick a Buttery Chardonnay?

Check out our list above.


best chardonnay

People usually have a strong opinion one way or the other about chardonnay. They either love it or hate it

So if you are those that love it, I hope this article helps you appreciate this type of wine even more. And I’m hoping we’ve gave you some low-cost, tasty alternatives that you’ll enjoy!!

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