Cru Chardonnay is a top-quality type of white wine made in France. Unlike the cheapest wines, cru Chardonnay requires high standards. Find out what makes these fascinating wines so desirable in this guide.
What Is Cru Chardonnay?
In the French wine industry, the word “Cru” literally means “growth.” This wine term is used to recognize some of France’s best and most expensive wines. For example, the cool climate of Burgundy makes some of the best Cru Chardonnay. Consumption of wine began in this region over two thousand years ago when the Romans arrived. The region has several combinations of soils, including limestone and clay.
What Does Cru Chardonnay Taste Like?
Each Chardonnay vineyard will taste a bit different from other vineyards. That said, some flavors are typically found in these wines. For simplicity, let’s focus on the Burgundy wine region. Consumption of wine began in this region over two thousand years ago when the Romans arrived. The region has a combination of soils, including limestone and clay.
The flavor profile of Burgundian Cru Chardonnay includes apple and citrus notes. A small amount of the region’s annual production is suitable for aged in oak barrels. The buttery styles of these oak-aged wines are instantly recognizable. For more insight on French Chardonnay, see my posts on petit Chablis and the Chardonnay vs. Chablis comparison post.
Cru Chardonnay Wines From France Under $100
Finding affordable wines that meet the Cru standard is challenging. I’ve included a few examples of wine bottles under $100. If you are starting your wine journey, cru Chardonnay may not be for you. Instead, see this guide to the best beginner wines.
Simonnet-Febvre Les Clos
This 13% ABV Grand Cru Chardonnay is available for $82 from some wine shops. Instead of white peach or white flowers, this Chardonnay features lime zest and refreshing natural acidity.
J. Moreau & Fils Les Clos
This Burgundy wine offers citrus notes and oak notes like butter and vanilla. The backbone of acidity in this wine makes it refreshing with your meal. Available for less than $100, this grand cru wine has 13% alcohol content.
Want to see how this type of Chardonnay is made into sparkling wine? The Burgundy winery has transformed its white grape harvest into some of the finest wines. This dominant soil at this commercial vineyard is a blend of limestone and clay. At the time of this rating, this wine sells for less than $100.
La Chablisienne Chateau Grenouilles
This producer is organized as a cooperative rather than a standard commercial winery. Their Chardonnay is notable because it is produced in a vegan style. With 13% alcohol by volume, this Burgundy white wine pairs well with shellfish and vegetable dishes (discover more about Burgundy’s wines like the best Burgundy vintages).
Do Other Wine Regions Make This Kind of Chardonnay?
The wine term “Cru Chardonnay” is a lot like Champagne. Only sparkling wines made in the Champagne wine region can be called Champagne. Likewise, the term does not apply to just any white wine grapes. To be called Cru Chardonnay, the wines must be made in France in the recognized style.
That said, the wine world is highly competitive. Many winemakers in the United States have taken inspiration from the finest vineyards of France to make their wines. For example, Sonoma County (and Sonoma Coast) in California produces some of these wines.
California Style Cru Chardonnay
Outside French locations like the Côte De Beaune, California is best known for producing cru-style Chardonnay. Specifically, the Russian River Valley is already well known for its high-quality Chardonnay.
Ritchie Vineyard (Russian River Valley)
This California winery is one of the earliest wineries to earn cru recognition. This winery has produced wines since the 1970s. Specifically, winemaker Kent Ritchie has found sandy soils that make great wines. In your glass, you can expect to enjoy a European-style Chardonnay without the tropical aromas typical in New World white wines.
Zio Tony Vineyard (Russian River Valley)
Established in 1990, this winery has an interesting origin story. The winemaker, Lee Martinelli, started his career as a high school teacher before turning his hand to cultivating grapes. The winery produces great Chardonnay wines with high acidity and notes of apricot, honey, and peach.
Canadian Style Cru Chardonnay
Canadian wine producers produce bottles in an array of styles. Clos Du Soleil Vineyard, located in British Columbia, offers an artisan wine experience. The wine maker’s Chardonnay has bright fruit flavors such as apple, lemon, and quince. The balanced acidity adds further structure to the glass. Residents of Alberta and British Columbia can avoid paying the Additional Shipping Charge by buying a minimum of six bottles.
Cru Chardonnay In Summary
Cru Chardonnay means different things depending on the wine region. In France, Cru Chardonnay has a specific meaning of high-quality wines. For example, Grand Cru Chardonnay wine bottles often cost over $1000 per bottle! Outside of France, the term has various meanings. It can mean the wine is made in style like high-end French wines. If you want to see this type of Chardonnay wine at its finest, do yourself a favor. Pick up a bottle of high quality Chardonnay wine from Burgundy, France.
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