I'm very picky about my Chardonnays, and I don't like ones that are heavy, oaky, buttery, or a combo of that. If anyone has seen Sideways, you'll know Miles doesn't either.
"I like all varietals. I just don't generally like the way they manipulate chardonnay in California. Too much oak and secondary malolactic fermentation."
For those not in the know, secondary malolactic fermentation is a process where lactic acid bacteria is introduced to the Chardonnay, and it consumes the Chardonnay's natural malic acid (which produces the lighter, crisper Chardonnays), and the lactic acid produces the buttery, caramel, oaky taste. I like my whites light and crisp, so I MUCH prefer Chardonnays that are allowed to keep their crisp taste.
Here are my favorite Chardonnays, in no particular order. I tasted the Montelena, Rombauer, and Fort Ross on my Napa trip last year, bought a Grgich Hills and Sanford, and was gifted the Buehler. :-)
1) Grgich Hills
3) Chateau Montelena
4) Rombauer - the heaviest I'll go on the Chardonnay scale
5) Fort Ross