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2018 Hudson Chardonnay “Estate” Carneros
If clearly a youngster, this Chardonnay is already sophisticated in its harmonious melding of creamy richness, sweet oak and spicy fruit. The nose is a focused melange of white peach, baked green apple, golden fig, lemon custard, dried orange peel, chamomile, hazelnut nougat and flinty minerality. As expected, it proves a bit tighter on the palate, where notes of fig, apple skin, pear liqueur, nut husk and more strongly-stated minerality are at center stage. The finish lingers nicely and airing brings the flavors into the balance promised in the nose. Certainly dinner-balanced and pleasurable now, it will surely grow ever more seductive for the next three years and beyond.
2017 Freeman Chardonnay “Ryo-Fu” Russian River Valley
Rich yet genteel, the nose of this pretty bottling offers scents of baked apples, pineapple soufflé, lemon drops and toasted hazelnuts. It is quietly zesty on the palate, where ripe apple, pineapple, dried golden mulberry and cantaloupe flavors find harmony with spice notes of vanilla wafer and hazelnut nougat. Soft-edged and pert through its lingering finish, it is ready to enjoy and will prove a fine companion to roast fowl and richly sauced seafood entrees. 740 cases made.
2016 Mindego Ridge Chardonnay “Estate” Santa Cruz Mountains
This is a gorgeous wine from a brilliant and distinctive property. The aromas are a vividly spicy perfume of white peach, golden fig, gooseberry, apple skin, tarte tatin, white rose, hazelnut husk and flinty mineral scents. Dried peach, apple skin, golden fig and gooseberry take center-stage on the palate, where things are as complex yet more notably youthful and age-worthy, and mineral undercurrents bring a harder edge to an otherwise plush texture. Certain to get ever more exciting over the next three years, it will prove a stunning counterpart to seared scallops right now. 340 cases made.
2016 Ridge Chardonnay “Monte Bello” Monte Bello Estate Vineyard Santa Cruz Mountains
This is Monte Bello of a great vintage, with concentrated, energetic fruit of focused beauty and grandeur. The aromas are a firmly structured yet luxurious mix of dried golden fig, white peach, pear and baked spiced-apple, married to elegantly expressive compliments of preserved lemon, orange peel, brioche, nutmeg and chamomile: this whole immersed in a mouth-drenching bath of liquid minerality. The scale is operatic, the texture plush and the finish stony-dry, sharp-edged and lingering. Expect years of improvement for this already wonderful wine.
2017 Seabold Chardonnay Sympatico Vineyard “Old Vines, Wente Clone” Bennett Valley Sonoma
Immediately attractive, the nose of this lovely Chardonnay poises scents of fresh creamy applesauce, white peach, a touch of pineapple, vanilla wafer, and honeysuckle above a firmer mineral backdrop. The piquant flavors of golden apple, white peach, pear skin, orange zest and kiss of tropical fruit that fan-out on the palate are vibrantly paired to orange zest, vanilla, white rose and mineral compliments. Extremely long and altogether delicious right now, it is likely to be even more so in eighteen to twenty-four months. 125 cases produced from the old vine “Wente Clone” section of the vineyard.
2016 Scar of the Sea Chardonnay “Block 11, Mount Eden Clone” Bien Nacido Vineyard Santa Maria Valley
Deeply-etched from start to finish, this stunning Chardonnay combines charm, concentration, depth, zest and rich mineral spice. The nose is a layered perfume of apple skin, peach pit, dried golden mulberry, golden fig, yellow peach, tarte tatin, nutmeg, hazelnut nougat, honey-drenched pistachio, white rose and mineral scents. It is enormously rich on the palate, yet piquant fruit acidity represented by notes of peach pit and apple core, couples with “river stone-like” minerality to keep the mouth-feel vibrant and and the dramatic flavors surprisingly elegant. The wine’s extraordinarily long finish delivers all the promised aromatic elements with focus and ideal dinner balance. Ready for service with the most elevated sauced entrees, is bound to improve for several more years. 150 cases produced.
2016 Blue Farm Chardonnay Leveroni Vineyard Russian River Valley
This is a terrific Chardonnay: aromatic,sophisticated, texturally appealing and food-worthy. The nose offers creamy-rich aromas of sweet baked apple, white peach tart, lemon curd, white rose, baking-spice, hazelnut nougat and a hint of toasted coconut. There is a lovely textural contrast in the mouth, where lively fruit acidity brings elegance to very opulent, lingering fruit. The finishing flavors are a medley of spiced apple, lemon tart, hazelnut butter cream and white pepper above a hint of chalky minerality. If already well-evolved and food-worthy, it is certain to be more so in a another year or two. 250 cases made.
2016 Liquid Farm Chardonnay “Golden Slope” Santa Rita Hills
This four vineyard Reserve-style blend is ultra-rich from the start, as scents of tarte tatin, poached pear, lemon zest, orange peel tea, brioche, nutmeg, baking-spice and toasted grain all pour forth. It proves as luxurious in the mouth as expected, delivering a palate-drenching medley of golden apple, poached pear, peach nectar, peach pit, pineapple core, honeysuckle, hazelnut, sandalwood and mineral flavors. Despite all the richness, the lingering finish is fully dry. Deliciously styled for service with sauced sweetbreads, seared scallops and the like, it should improve for another year or more.
2016 Newton Chardonnay “Unfiltered” Napa Valley
This is a richly oaky, complex yet deftly balanced Chardonnay. The aromas are a firm, focused mix of peach pie, tarte tatin, pear, lemon, apple blossom, hazelnut husk, nougat and mineral impressions. It gives a Puligny-Montrachet-like impression on the palate, where the baked apple, dried golden fig, peach, lemon, toasted hazelnut and mineral flavors are at once forthcoming, lean and elegant. The finish is lingering and food-worthy and its elevated quality calls for service with fancy sauced entrees. 550 cases produced.
2016 Peirson Meyer Chardonnay Charles Heintz Vineyard Sonoma Coast
This impressive wine combines notable richness with impeccable balance. The aromas are a creamy-zesty mix of fresh applesauce, dried pineapple, preserved lemon, honey-almond brittle, vanilla wafer and white pepper scents. It shows a plush supppleness on the palate, where flavors of baked green apple, pineapple core, Meyer lemon sorbet, white rose, toasted almond, hazelnut and white pepper find harmony. All those flavors linger elegantly in a wine that seems more or less fully mature. It will be terrific with sauced fish or fowl. 350 cases made.
2015 Ramey Chardonnay Ritchie Vineyard Russian River Valley
Sophisticated, elegant and rich, the aromas of this classy bottling suggest that it is built for grand cuisine. The nose is a sleek, forthcoming perfume of peach tart, tarte tatin, dried golden fig, honey-drenched hazelnut and nougat, with hints of orange marmalade and preserved lemon in the background. It is cutting dry, intense and racy on the palate, as chalky mineral notes underpin all that ripe fruit to create a focused balance and temper the long-lasting flavors. Terrific dinner wine already, it will grow in dimension and class for another another year or two. 898 cases produced.
2017 Tyler Chardonnay Bien Nacido “Block W” Santa Maria Valley
A near-perfect marriage of Burgundy-esque wine making and “old vine” fruit from this celebrated Santa Maria Valley vineyard, this wine finds a razor-edged balance among complex, zesty fruit, creamy oak and drying minerality. The nose is a racy melding of fresh applesauce, apple skin, golden fig, lemon peel, peach pit, toasted meringue, nougat, honey and chalk aromas. These flavors are mirrored on the palate, yet the wine is light on its feet, despite its intensity, and the lingering flavors build in grace as the wine airs. Certain to grow ever finer over the next four or five years, it will be delightful with elegantly sauced seafood entrees right now. 250 cases produced.
2017 Cattleya Chardonnay “Call to Adventure” Pratt Vineyard Russian River Valley
This is a bright, racy wine with aromas of lemon sorbet, Fuji apple, guava, white peach, pineapple, honey, hazelnut nougat and hints of jasmine and sea shell. On the palate, it is gently mouth-coating if notably zesty, poising focused flavors of key lime, passion fruit and lemon curd above richer notes of white peach, baked green apple, pineapple, nougat and a hint of saline minerality Beautifully food-balanced, it will show its best if paired with richly sauced fish, fowl and pasta dishes. Another year will bring more suppleness, length and a bit more evolution, but there is no real reason not to enjoy it now. 88 cases made.
2016 Morlet Chardonnay “Ma Douce” Fort Ross-Seaview
Gorgeously rich and notably Puligny-Montrachet-like, the nose of this terrific Chardonnay layers scents of sweet baked apple, nectarine, white peach, dried golden fig, lemon curd, orange blossom, vanilla wafer, honey and hazelnut nougat above chalky mineral underpinnings. The flavors are a grander mirror of the aromas, rolling-out with chiseled focus and impressive intensity, yet the lingering finish is rendered stony-dry by both mineral undercurrents and the wine’s classic white Burgundy-style balance. Certain to improve for several more years, it is a hedonistic delight already. 650 cases produced.
2016 Mount Eden Chardonnay “Estate” Santa Cruz Mountains
Classically Mount Eden, this beauty is aromatic, flavorful, mineral-laced and obviously age-worthy despite its immediate appeal. The aromas are a focused mix of tart tatin, white peach, dried golden fig, hazelnut and mineral scents tied to emerging suggestions of lemon peel and pineapple soufflé. It proves as plush as expected on the palate, yet that opulence is immediately trimmed by strong minerality and lemony zest, which ally to firm-up the wine’s juicy core of apple, peach and fig fruit and oaky-spicy undercurrents. The finish is precise and lingering, and although the wine is quite delicious right now, it is clearly three years from its full glory. 1176 cases produced.
2016 Ramey Chardonnay Fort Ross-Seaview
Leaning toward white Burgundy in its style and mouth-feel, this vibrant wine is pure Sonoma Coast in its mix of zest, minerality and slightly tropical fruit. The nose layers focused scents of pineapple core, lemon peel, grapefruit zest, tarte tatin, white peach, dried golden mulberry and hazelnut upon a flinty mineral core. The mouth-feel is both crisp and minerally, while the flavors center on baked apple, honey-dipped golden fig, lemon peel and hazelnut. Finishing long and food-balanced, it will show nicely with sauced seafood, Linguini con Vongole and the fancier chicken entrees. It is ready to enjoy. 898 cases produced.
2016 Three Sticks Chardonnay Durell Vineyard Sonoma Coast
An exotic marriage of the opulent style of Bob Cabrall (late of Williams Selyem) and the notorious minerality of Durell vineyard: this is Operatic Chardonnay. At opening the drama is almost too much, yet airing reveals a surprising harmony between the wine’s juicy-rich aromas of baked apple-oatmeal crisp, tarte tatin, white peach tart, Meyer lemon, vanilla cream pie, nutmeg and toasted meringue, and those high-volume mineral underpinnings. It proves ultra palate-coating and elegantly supple in the mouth, where flavors of baked apple, peach tart, poached pear, Meyer lemon, vanilla wafer, toasted meringue, pie crust, nutmeg and vanilla wafer take the edge off the wine’s chalky undercurrents. Probably a year or so from ideal balance, it will always be a wine for and worthy of grand cuisine. 675 cases made.
2016 Tyler Chardonnay Zotovich Vineyard Santa Rita Hills
This Chardonnay displays ample personality yet it achieves an impressively polished style despite notable contrasts of zest, minerality, textural creaminess and ripe, expressive fruit. The aromas and the mirror-like flavors that gently coat the palate, are a plush, lingering medley of baked apple, orange zest, Meyer lemon, nutmeg and hazelnut cream, all rising above chalky undercurrents. Delicious now, it is likely to be more so next year. 75 cases produced.
2017 Brewer Clifton Chardonnay 3-D Vineyard Santa Rita Hills
In all ways a Greg Brewer production, this wine is built to last, and it drinks significantly better the morning after opening. The aromas are a juicy, focused, crisply-balanced, coiled mix of dried yellow peach, fresh Fuji apple, golden mulberry, lemon peel, chamomile, honeysuckle and mock orange blossom, infused with a streak of “riverstone” minerality. It is more expressive on the palate, where bright zest and hard mineral tones make a stony-dry platform for layers of melon, apple, yellow peach, lemon peel, chamomile, honeysuckle and a piquant note of apricot pit. Super-long and never less than rich, it wants service - at this point - with richly sauced entrees. Overnight airing transforms it from an almost clumsily intense wine into one with polish, poise and lovely dinner balance. It should be really something in a few more years. 750 cases made.
2017 De Sante Chardonnay Napa Valley
This is classically “old-style” Napa Chardonnay, with old vines in the mix. The nose is a vibrant, focused, fruit-forward package of green apple skin, fresh applesauce, baked white peach, lemon peel, vanilla and hazelnut scents. The flavors are a rich, mouthwateringly crisp, lingering, food-worthy melange. The wine finishes with cascade of fresh apple, yellow peach, golden berry, preserved lemon, white pepper and vanilla wafer flavors. A terrific dinner wine right now, it is likely to grow more so over the next several years. 144 cases made.
2016 Lucia Chardonnay Soberanes Vineyard Santa Lucia Highlands
As in the past, the “Soberanes” bottling is at once rich in slightly tropical fruit, mineral-laced and full of pretty floral and oak-derived accents. The 2016 offers scents of of baked apple, pear liqueur, lemon cream, pineapple core, brioche, toasted grain and white rose, over a gentle background of saline minerality. Palate-coating, yet deftly balanced with citric and mineral accents, the flavors are a lingering mirror of the nose. It finishes juicy-ripe and is ready to enjoy. 190 cases produced.
2018 Plump Jack Chardonnay “Reserve” Napa Valley
Brightly forthcoming and fruit-centric, the nose of this distinctive Chardonnay floats scents of grapefruit, kumquat, lemon curd, citron and orange blossom above a creamy, richly-oaky backdrop redolent of tarte tatin, baking spices and sweet vanilla. It is notably creamy on the palate, where flavors of Meyer lemon pie, baked apple, Crenshaw melon and poached pear find harmony with sweet-natured counterpoints of vanilla, nutmeg, baking-spice and hazelnut tart. The finish is zesty yet surprisingly genteel, and the wine - if delicious in and of itself - should make an especially tasty companion to sole in buerre blanc. 5372 cases made.
2016 Stonestreet Chardonnay Upper Barn Vineyard Alexander Valley
This Chevalier-Montrachet-like stunner brilliantly portrays the character of its legendary vineyard. The nose fans-out focused, concentrated scents of white peach, dried golden fig, baked apple, brioche, nutmeg, hazelnut nougat and white pepper above a rich background of flinty minerality. It proves creamy-rich and just as intense on the palate, where its tighly-coiled fruit, spice and mineral notes gradually rise up to full proportion. The ultra-long flavors - a near-perfect mirror of the nose - are almost heady-rich, yet roll-out in a highly polished, dinner-worthy style. If at least three years from approaching its full expression, it is already, by any standard, a great Chardonnay. 813 cases produced.
2015 Under The Wire Sparkling Chardonnay Alder Springs Vineyard Mendocino
Textbook “Alder Springs” in its pretty, forthcoming mix of sweet apple and pear scents and hard mineral edge, the nose of this distinctive bubbly also brings forth notes of preserved lemon and white rose, along with subtle accents of honeysuckle, white pepper and almond. There is a delightful, soft-edged frothiness on the palate, where fresh apple, lemon sorbet, green pear, white pepper and some floral hints are braced by deeply etched, chalky undercurrents. The finish is brisk, cutting-dry and lingering. As at ease with buttery sole with chervil as with raw oysters, it is quite delicious already yet is likely to get even better. 80 cases made.
2016 Benovia Chardonnay “La Pommeraie” Russian River Valley
Ultra-elegant, focused, pure in fruit and full of lovely savory accents, the nose of this knockout wine rolls-out aromas of fresh Fuji apple, apple skin, peach pit, golden berry and lemon curd in perfect harmony with scents of toasted hazelnut, coconut cream, white rose, white pepper and vanilla wafer. It is wonderfully supple and vibrantly fresh on the palate where a mix of Meyer lemon zest, lemon sorbet, peach pit and chalky mineral notes add sophistication to the apple, peach and golden berry fruit. Lingering and delicious, it brings to mind fine Chassagne-Montrachet. 304 cases produced.
2018 Diatom Chardonnay Bar M Vineyard Santa Barbara County
Counterpoints of bright fruit and mineral salts give this wine a Chablis-like aromatic personality, yet leave it soft-edged enough to enjoy by itself. Those aromas are a melding of sweet golden apple, fresh pear, preserved lemon, grapefruit zest, gooseberry, celery seed, chalk and mineral salts. On the palate, these elements meet others of golden mulberry, chamomile and flint, with the fruit tones growing more dominant in the lingering finish. Built for raw oysters, baked clams, steamed mussels and the like, it is ready to enjoy. 1000 cases produced.
2015 Hartford Court Chardonnay Fog Dance Vineyard Russian River Valley
Opulent, fully ripe and extravagant from start to finish, this wine deserves service with classy, full-favored cuisine. The nose is a plush marriage of peach cobbler, baked apple, lemon curd, pineapple core, honeycomb, orange blossom, yellow rose, brioche and toasted hazelnut scents. It proves fully as rich and tongue-coating as expected in the mouth, where all the promised stone fruit, apple, citrus, honey and floral notes are replicated, with hazelnut nougat, nutmeg and golden berry layered in through a very long finish. Wonderfully food-worthy now, it may prove more so next year. 340 cases made. Organically Farmed.
2017 Paul Lato Chardonnay “It’s All Good” Talley Oliver’s Vineyard Edna Valley
This is a vivid and truly extravagant expression of the Oliver’s Vineyard’s citrus-packed personality. The nose is a rush of zesty-creamy aromas that include lemon sorbet, kumquat, green apple skin, fresh lime, quince jelly, yellow rose and vanilla wafer. It proves as palate-coating as expected, yet more densely rich and more well-evolved in the mouth, if no less zesty. The flavors are a wonderfully juicy mouthful of apple skin, fresh green apple, golden fig, gooseberry, white peach, guava and Meyer lemon sorbet flavors supported by others of sweet vanilla, nutmeg and baking-spice. A wonderful dinner wine already, it could be sensational within twenty-four months. 98 cases produced.
2017 Melville Estate Sparkling Blanc de Blanc “Non-Dosé” Santa Rita Hills Method Traditional
Bright, racy mineral-laced and piercingly dry, this “Brut Nature” bubbly is built for raw sea foods, yet is delightful all by itself. The nose offers scents of apple skin, quince, pear, sous vide green melon, lemon, flint and smoke. Focused apple, lemon, quince, Persian raisin and melon fruit tones show tight structure on the palate, where they are braced by slate-like mineral notes of the same potency. The texture is lean and racy and the lingering finish cutting-dry. 448 cases produced.
2016 Trombetta Chardonnay Four Brothers Vineyard Sonoma Mountain
This opulent wine has a deep, classically “Sonoma Mountain” nose, with scents of dried apple and peach, apple skin, peach pit, brioche, vanilla custard, hazelnut nougat and a suggestion of white pepper. It is plush in texture and notably ripe on the mid-palate, where a streak of hard minerality brings firmness to forthcoming flavors of ripe peach, baked apple, lemon peel, white pepper, vanilla and nougat. The finish is long and palate-coating, and rich enough for service with heavily sauced fish, fowl or veal entrees. It is ready to enjoy. 220 cases produced.
2017 Cattleya Chardonnay “Cuvee # 5” Sonoma Coast
Zesty, creamy, classy and complex, the nose of this focused beauty poises scents of white peach, baked green apple, lemon sorbet, white rose, coriander seed, honeysuckle, hazelnut and white pepper above harder-edged Puligny-Montrachet-like minerality. Those mineral notes bring a cutting edge to flavors of hazelnut nougat, dried yellow peach, fresh apple sauce, white rose, coriander seed and dried orange peel: all of which hold their character through a bright, lingering, ultra-elegant finish. Terrific now, it will be considerably finer in another two years or so. 167 cases produced.
2016 Chanin Wine Company Chardonnay Los Alamos Vineyard Santa Barbara County
This is an elegant, zesty, creamy, toasty-nutty wine, endowed with a rich mix of tarte tatin, guava, quince, golden mulberry, lemon curd, nutmeg, vanilla wafer, nougat and baking-spice scents. It has palate-coating richness, yet is bright and firm in the mouth, where baked green apple, golden mulberry, quince, Persian raisin, white peach pit, white pepper, vanilla and hazelnut nut husk flavors wash over “riverstone” mineral notes to create a lingering, food-worthy mix. A terrific dinner wine, worthy now to accompany the most refined meals, it should grow more so with a year or two in the cellar. 700 cases produced.
2016 Liquid Farm Chardonnay “White Hill” Santa Rita Hills
This nose of this delightful Chardonnay opens with Chablis-like minerally-zesty notes in support of well-defined white peach, golden apple, apple skin, lemon, kumquat, nutmeg and honeycomb scents. It has pinpoint balance in the mouth, where zest and cutting chalk notes create a truly racy mouth-feel. The flavors are well-defined, lingering, stony-dry and brilliantly food-worthy, and the flavors of kumquat, lemon sorbet, citrus pith, apple skin, white peach tart, brioche, nougat and their mineral counterpoint fan-out with chiseled clarity. It cries out for fancy seafood dishes. 1000 cases produced.
2017 Miura Chardonnay Napa Valley
Reflecting the pedigree of its unnamed (but famous) Carneros fruit source, this is a generous and richly satisfying wine. The aromas and the plush, lingering flavors that follow are a focused melange of white peach, baked green apple, lemon curd, pineapple core, tangerine zest, meringue, brioche, vanilla wafer, baking-spice and toasted hazelnut, above a subtly chalk-like mineral undercurrent. Built for extravagantly rich entrees, it is ready to drink. 275 cases produced.
2016 Peake Ranch Chardonnay Peake Ranch Vineyard Santa Rita Hills
Elegantly rich fruit, pretty oak and floral highlights are signatures of this wine, and the nose rolls-out as a genteel medley of baked green apple, white peach tart, vanilla wafer, brioche, hazelnut, honeysuckle and orange blossom. It is gently tongue-coating and quietly piquant in the mouth, where dried peach, dried apple, orange peel tea, and nutmeg join hazelnut and brioche at center-stage, a step ahead of a deeper core of baked green apple. Rich dried apple and subtle mineral notes are notable at the finish. A fine companion to baked fish or fowl now, it will be better yet in another year. 107 cases made.
2016 Peay Chardonnay “Estate” Sonoma Coast
Reminding of an especially elegant Grand Cru Chablis, the aromas and flavors of this intense wine are youthful yet beautifully expressive. They unfold as a harmonious combination of dried apple, dried pear, sweet fresh apple, honey, peach blossom and white rose, with wet oyster shell notes in drying counterpoint, but without coarseness. The mouth-feel is firm and satin-smooth, and the flavors already delicious. The finish is extremely long and brilliantly food-friendly. A nearly ideal companion to shellfish or any raw seafood right now, it will likely improve for several years. 700 cases
2016 Donum Chardonnay “Year of the Monkey” “Estate Vineyard” Carneros
Immediately appealing, the aromas of this luxurious yet zesty Chardonnay are a perfume of lemon sorbet, pineapple core, lemon curd, lime, apple and pear skin, peach tart, melon rind, toasted meringue, vanilla wafer, brioche and hazelnut nougat, with accents of orange blossom and yellow rose. All of these elements roll-out on the palate, where plush texture, creamy oak and zesty fruit are in harmonious counterpoint. The finish is generous, youthful and lingering, with baked apple and baking-spice notes chiming-in. Expect this terrific wine to become even grander over the next few years. 240 cases produced.
2015 Morlet Chardonnay “Ma Princesse” Ritchie Vineyard Russian River Valley
Seeming to be a “New World” Batard-Montrachet, this extravagant wine packs scents of peach pie, tarte tatin, lemon tart, honeycomb, hazelnut nougat and toasted meringue into a tightly-wrapped, subtly mineral-accented package. It is juicy in body, fruit and spice drenched, and seems even more dramatic than previous “Ma Princesse” bottlings. The flavors pack a punch, and linger as a tongue-coating melange of apple, yellow peach, pear, golden fig, golden mulberry, lemon drop, honeycomb, baking-spice and hazelnut cream. Plusher still as it airs, it wants richly flavorful cuisine, and will repay at least a year or two in the cellar. 470 cases made.
2014 Red Car Chardonnay Ritchie Vineyard Russian River Valley
A picture of subtly rich elegance, the nose of this beauty opens gradually, to reveal scents of white peach, tarte tatin, lemon curd, pineapple core, lychee, white rose, toasted meringue, hazelnut nougat and baking spices. It is both supple and tongue-coating in the mouth, where flavors of Meyer lemon zest, lemon cream pie, white peach pit, baked green apple, vanilla wafer, brioche, meringue, nutmeg and hazelnut find a pretty, lingering harmony. If already a perfect companion to Frutti di Mare , Chicken Tetrazzini and the like, it should be better still in another eighteen months. 500 cases produced.
2016 Scar of the Sea Chardonnay Bien Nacido Vineyard “Block 11” Santa Maria Valley
This is an elegantly-rich, silky textured Chardonnay. The nose layers juicy scents of baked green apple, pineapple core, lemon curd and Asian pear over notes of white rose, orange blossom, brioche, vanilla wafer, baking-spice and a hint of almond paste. It is creamy and super-polished in the mouth, where the lemony notes, floral accents and sweet- savory flavors sail above a deeper, more youthful core of baked apple and pear. The finish is full and long, with just the right note of citric zest. Expect this seductive wine to grow in appeal for the next three years. 100 cases produced.
2013 Stony Hill Chardonnay “Estate” Spring Mountain Napa Valley
Reminiscent of the impressively age-worthy Stony Hill Chardonnays of the 1960s, the 2013 shows pristine clarity, mountain structure, loads of fruit and potent zest. The nose is a focused mix of lemon sorbet, grilled grapefruit, fresh Fuji apple, peach pit, pear skin, preserved lemon, orange blossom, vanilla wafer and mineral scents. It is rich in body, yet streamlined on the palate, where citrus pith, preserved lemon, fresh apple, pear skin and hints of mango and passion fruit dominate other flavors of white pepper, chalk, toasted almond and hazelnut. Suggestions of peach and orange highlight a lingering finish. Delicious now, it is potentially long lived. 1800 cases made.
2015 White Rock Chardonnay “Estate” Napa Valley
There is an almost “1970s” style and mouth-feel to this delicious Chardonnay. The nose, focused by a “riverstone” mineral undertone, marries scents of baked green apple, honeydew melon, lemon curd, tangerine, lime zest, white rose, brioche, nutmeg and hazelnut to create a sleek, concentrated melange. It is as firm and racy as expected on the palate, where the aromatic elements fan-out and linger, while juicy notes of peach and pear join in at the end to more fully dominate the mineral hints. Certain to improve, it is beautifully balanced dinner wine right now. 305 cases produced.
2014 Chasseur Chardonnay Graton’s Choice Vineyard Russian River Valley
Deep, complex, harmonious and distinctive, this richly endowed Chardonnay delivers scents of white peach, baked green apple, honey-drenched hazelnuts, quince jelly, baking-spice, vanilla wafer and a hint of lime curd: all poised above a backdrop of oyster shell/flint minerality. Baked apple, tarte tatin, peach tart, pear liqueur, pineapple core, preserved lemon, baklava, honeycomb, white rose and white pepper coat the tongue on the palate, yet that note is ideally balanced by those same mineral elements. The result is a luxurious and lingering cascade of flavor that is never less than dinner-friendly. This one would be a perfect companion to extravagantly sauced seafood entrees. 101 cases produced.
Paul Lato Chardonnay “Kokoro” Sierra Madre Vineyard Santa Maria Valley
More citric, more floral and more “scaled-up” than Lato’s fine “Le Souvenir” Chardonnay, the “Kokoro” rolls-out scents of baked peach, baked apple, tarte tatin, tangerine, white rose, preserved lemon, candied orange peel, chilled watermelon soup, white pepper, baking-spice and hazelnut nougat over chalky minerality. In the mouth its palate-coating richness is balanced by soft-edged zest, and that lovely harmony lingers long after the flavors of peach, apple, watermelon sorbet, dried orange and lemon peel, white pepper, nut husk, nutmeg and baking spices first roll across the palate. Just delicious now, it promises to grow ever more so over the next few years, and it deserves service with the grandest of sauced fish or fowl entrees. Aged in 100% new oak barrels, 64 cases produced.
2014 Mount Eden Chardonnay “Estate” Santa Cruz Mountains
This is a classic Mt Eden Chardonnay: intense, focused, piquantly fruity, mineral-laced and obviously age-worthy. The nose offers deep, yet youthfully dense aromas of sautéed apple, lemon peel, Persian raisin, white peach, vanilla, toasted hazelnut and honeycomb, firmly counter-pointed by hard-edged chalk notes. On the palate, the wine is a bit tightly-wound as yet, but that does little to deter the surge of zesty baked apple, white peach, fig, Persian raisin, orange peel, brioche, vanilla, toasted hazelnut and chalk that pushes through to the finish. Enjoy it now, or wait four years or so to see its full glory. 1495 cases produced.
2016 Oceano Chardonnay Spanish Springs Vineyard San Luis Obispo
Generous and forthcoming, the nose of this Chardonnay carries scents of baked apple, white peach, lemon, lime, orange cream sickle, pineapple core, white rose, cantaloupe, orange blossom, brioche, baking-spice and vanilla wafer. It is rich and gently tongue-coating and shows fine intensity on the palate, where all the promised flavors fan-out in good focus. The finish is lingering and rich, yet there are mineral undercurrents and citric zest which make for a food-friendly balance. It is ready to enjoy. 350 cases produced.
2016 Spear Chardonnay “Estate” Santa Rita Hills
Density and style are equal contributors to this lovely Chardonnay’s personality. Although still a bit youthfully reticent, its nose shows a mix of baked apple, yellow peach, pineapple core, orange pith, grapefruit, honey, mineral and graham cracker scents. It is rich in body and distinctive in character on the palate, where dried yellow peach, apple skin, quince, white peach, orange flesh melon, white pepper and mineral flavors achieve a rich harmony. The finish is deep and lingering, and this wine should prove just the thing for service with garlic-lemon rubbed roast chicken. 120 cases produced.
2016 Talley Chardonnay “Oliver’s Vineyard” Edna Valley Estate Grown
Density, zest and youthfully suppressed richness are all hallmarks of this bright, tasty, notably food-worthy wine. The aromas are a tightly-knit medley of fresh apple, lemon sorbet, lemon cream pie, white peach, golden fig, yellow rose, honeysuckle, brioche, vanilla wafer and baking-spice scents. It sports a sleek yet dense texture on the palate, where the aromatic suggestions are broadened by notes of apricot and guava. The finish is lingering and full of energy, so although it seems likely to get better for another two years, it will prove a satisfying dinner wine already. 435 cases produced.
2017 Diatom Chardonnay Katherine’s Vineyard Santa Maria Valley
Richly fruity, with a mineral-citric counterpoint, this is a gorgeous Chardonnay built for service with sashimi, raw oysters and any number of enchanting seafood entrees. The aromas seem chiseled and starkly dry, yet fruit-expressive, and they fan-out as a zesty array of fresh apple, quince, pear skin, pineapple core and peach blossom, cut by hard, almost flinty minerality. The fruity elements are every bit as pronounced on the palate, where they counterpoint an even stronger mineral presence. The finish is piquant, cutting-dry and lingers beautifully, adding notes of celery seed, peach pit and lemongrass to the blast of bright fruit promised by the aromas. Terrific now, it could prove fairly long-lived. 450 cases made, from 48 year old vines, with no oak barrel influence.
2015 Journeyman Chardonnay Russian River Valley
As layered as its vineyard pedigree suggests, the nose of this creamy rich Chardonnay offers scents of tarte tatin, baked peach, lemon curd, pineapple core, quince, white rose, orange blossom, chestnut, brioche, baking-spice and vanilla wafer. It proves as plush and expressive as expected on the palate, where zesty apple skin, pear skin and citric notes give a slightly piquant edge to richer tarte tatin, peach tart, kiwi, quince jam, white pepper, brioche and hazelnut nougat flavors. The finish is lingering and gains backbone from “riverstone” mineral undercurrents. Delicious now, it will be more so in another year, and will be a terrific companion to the richer fish and fowl entrees throughout its life. A blend of 4 Russian River Valley Vineyards: 34% Ritchie, 26% Zio Toni, 26% Lucky Well & 14% La Montana. 538 cases made.
2014 MacRostie Chardonnay Wildcat Vineyard Sonoma Coast
Reminiscent of elegant Puligny-Montrachet, the nose of this intense mountain Chardonnay fans out as a mineral-braced, slightly exotic mix of golden fig, spiced apple, lemon sorbet, grilled white peach, coriander and celery seed, brioche and baking-spice scents. It is tongue-coating yet piquant on the palate, where the racy mouth-feel is entree to a wave of gooseberry, lemon peel, Fuji apple, nectarine, golden fig, peach tart, Persian raisin, orange blossom, toast, vanilla and coriander seed flavors that carry through a long, mineral-laced finish. Exquisitely food-balanced, it should retain its beauty for another four years. 1080 cases produced.
2015 Mayacamas Chardonnay “Estate”Mt. Veeder Napa Valley
This bottling seems to mark a return to the glory and age-worthiness that this winery so often achieved in the 1970s. The aromas are a densely-coiled mix of golden apple, pear liqueur, peach tart, white rose, honeysuckle, brioche vanilla wafer and mineral scents. It is both piquant and tongue-coating on the palate, where the density is even more obvious yet the flavors are deeply-etched and surprisingly forthcoming. Those flavors, if years from their full expression, already prove a rich layering of baked green apple, dried peach, peach pit, lemon zest, orange peel, brioche and vanilla. Certainly delicious now, it will grow in depth and grace over the next five to eight years. 2200 cases produced.
2014 Peirson Meyer Chardonnay Sophie’s Vineyard Russian River Valley
If still a hint restrained, the nose of this densely-packed Chardonnay shows depth and richness in its richly-oaked melange of peach cobbler, baked green apple, Persian raisin, lime zest, pineapple core, praline, brioche, orange blossom, baking-spice and hut husk scents. It is heftier and more forthcoming on the palate, where peach, apple, pear, apricot, pineapple core, Persian raisin, praline, orange and hazelnut nougat flavors achieve a rich and lasting harmony. Beautifully food-balanced despite its richness, it should offer ever more lovely dinner service for several years. 350 cases produced.
2015 Torrin Winery Chardonnay “Lagom” San Luis Obispo Spanish Springs Vineyard
Complex and sophisticated yet notable for its bright zest, this lovely wine opens with scents of lemon, lime, orange and gooseberry over a richer core of white peach, golden fig, brioche, nougat, pie crust and a hint of white pepper. It is sleek in texture, elegantly fruity and offers well-sustained flavors of lemon cream, gooseberry, red apple skin, golden mulberry, white peach, pineapple core, nutmeg, Crème brûlée, hazelnut husk and dried orange peel. Classy in the way of fine Meursault, it is built for service for richly sauced fish or fowl, and is ready to enjoy. 200 cases produced.
2014 Brewer Clifton Chardonnay 3-D Vineyard Santa Rita Hills
Distinctive and deeply concentrated, this Chardonnay offers rich, vivid aromas of dried golden fig, spiced baked apple and white peach tart poised above notes of preserved lemon, guava, orange peel and earthy spice. The flavors - at once bright, opulent, focused and lingering - roll-forth as a bright yet creamy wave of dried golden mulberry, dried golden fig, pineapple core, lemon peel, baked green apple, quince, grilled peach and honey, with earthy hints and hard mineral notes in support. Built for extravagantly rich fish or fowl preparations, it is delicious now and likely to grow more so over the next several years. 230 cases produced.
2016 Hartford Chardonnay Four Hearts Vineyards Russian River Valley
This tightly-wound, notably youthful Chardonnay is destined for greatness. The nose is a precise, concentrated, vivid mix of white peach, tarte tatin, pineapple core, lemon curd, baking-spice, hazelnut, bees wax and creme brulee scents. It is just as intense on the palate, where chiseled flavors of peach, baked apple, lemon drop, pineapple sorbet, orange zest, pie crust, meringue, nutmeg and hazelnut nougat fan-out. This finish is super-long and perfectly focused and the flavors grow grander with airing and are better yet on day two. Expect at least three years of steady improvement. 900 cases made.
2015 Hudson Chardonnay “Estate” Carneros
A knockout Chardonnay, this wine displays Operatic grandeur and beauty from start to finish. The nose layers luxurious scents of tarte tatin, peach pie, orange cream sickle, meringue, pineapple soufflé, nutmeg and other baking spices over a background of vanilla wafer and toasted hazelnut scents. The drama continues on the palate, where layers of baked apple, stone fruits, kumquat marmalade, vanilla pudding, baking spices, honey and toasted nuts surge-forth. The finish is opulent, zesty, intense, lingering yet perfectly food-balanced. Better already than world famous Chardonnays, it should be truly great in another two years. 1000 cases produced.
2015 Talley Chardonnay Rincon Estate Vineyard Arroyo Grande Valley
Youthfully bright and notably firm, yet as flavorful as it is energetic, this wine opens with focused aromas of crunchy fresh apple, yellow peach pit, pear skin, preserved lemon, white pepper, baking spices and vanilla. It is more forthcoming and shows fine concentration in the mouth, where suggestions of apple, peach, nectarine, lemon tart, pineapple core, grapefruit, lime and orange zest, brioche, vanilla wafer and white pepper are all on display. The finish is zesty and lingering and the wine wants only time to reveal all of it’s inherent richness. Expect three to five years of improvement, although it will prove a gorgeous dinner partner already. 437 cases produced.
2014 Ten Acre Chardonnay Kent Ritchie Vineyard Russian River Valley
Sleek in style and generous in both aroma and in it’s lingering flavors, this is a lovely wine. The nose layers scents of lemon cream pie, apple galette, lemon curd, vanilla wafer, honey and hazelnut in an elegant and generous harmony. It is more forthcoming yet on the palate, where the flavors of pear skin, baked apple, lemon tart, hazelnut and toasted grain come on strong and coat the tongue. The finish is rich and gently zesty and the balance should make it a fine companion to the richer fish and fowl entrees. 175 cases produced.
2015 Wayfarer Chardonnay Wayfarer Vineyard Fort Ross-Seaview
This is a stunning effort, full of drama yet exquisite in it’s precision and balance. The aromas are an opulent perfume of lemon custard, apple galette, peach, quince and orange blossom paired seamlessly to notes of toasted hazelnut, meringue, vanilla wafer and honey. It is flavor-drenched on the palate, where the creamy vanilla, honey and toasted nut notes find perfect harmony with even more intense fruit contributions which more generously mirror the aromas. The finish is luxuriant yet silky and high-toned, so this ultra-rich wine is never less than food-friendly. It is likely to grow in elegance over the next few years, although its is hard to imaging it tasting much more delicious than it does now. 800 case made.
2012 Au Bon Climat Chardonnay “Nuits-Blanches au Bouge” Santa Maria Valley
Seductively rich and many-layered, this already well-evolved bottling may yet improve for a few years. The aromas are a rich mix of tarte tatin, peach cobbler, preserved lemon, orange blossom and hazelnut nougat. It is tongue-coating, yet still a hint youthfully firm in the mouth, where the flavors are a dense layering of baked apple, white peach, lemon curd, pineapple core, Asian pear, yellow rose, meringue, vanilla wafer, baking-spice and honey. The finish is generous and long, with appropriate zest and a touch of minerality. 807 cases produced.
2014 Auteur Chardonnay Durell Vineyard Sonoma Coast
A lovely mix of the rich and the racy, this Chardonnay opens with aromas of lemon and orange zest, lemon cream, quince, pear skin, honeysuckle and mineral scents. It is firm, yet concentrated and focused on the palate, where lemon sorbet, fresh apple, pear liqueur, lemon and orange zest, vanilla wafer, toasted grain, toasted nuts and chalky mineral notes find a rich harmony. Big, rich and delicious on the palate, it is at the same time impressively refined. It is worthy of fancy French cuisine and should drink beautifully over the next three years. 162 cases produced.
2013 D’Alfonso-Curran Chardonnay White Hills Vineyard Santa Barbara
This richly endowed Chardonnay offers plush fruit and savory spice uplifted by pretty floral suggestions. The nose melds scents of apple, white peach, lemon curd, honeysuckle, yellow rose, camphor blossoms, baking-spice, meringue and a wisp of bacon smoke. It is densely-packed on the palate, delivering baked apple, peach, lemon bar, orange blossom, white rose, honeysuckle, vanilla wafer, mace and baking-spice notes which carry through a lingering finish where hints of lemon peel, lime zest and minerals chime-in at the end. It is built for rich entrees. 153 cases made.
2015 Fait-Main Chardonnay Toyon Farm Napa Valley
This creamy-rich wine is impressive from the start. The nose offers a rich mix of sweet baked apple, green plum, pear skin, vanilla cream and toasted hazelnut scents. It is as rich as anticipated on the palate, where well-concentrated flavors of baked apple, pear, stone fruit, dried lemon peel, quince, vanilla cream pie and hazelnut create a fine and lingering harmony. Impressively rich, yet elegant, it deserves service with full flavored entrees. 200 cases produced.
2014 Mindego Ridge Chardonnay “Estate” Santa Cruz Mountains
This is a classic Santa Cruz Mountain Chardonnay that runs a streak of gravely minerality below deep spiced apple, white peach, golden fig, pineapple core, graham cracker crust and hazelnut nougat scents. It is densely packed on the palate, with focused golden fig, peach tart, tarte tatin, vanilla, honey and hazelnut flavors. Citric zest and minerality keep the finish racy and food-worthy already, but it will take another two or three years for this brilliant wine to show all it has. 343 cases produced.
2015 Peake Ranch Chardonnay Sierra Madre Vineyard Santa Maria Valley
Puligny-Montrachet-like in its elegance, the nose of this wine wafts a veneer of peach galette, spice-cake, salted caramel, white rose and vanilla wafer scents above a deeper core of tarte tatin, lemon cream pie and nectarine chutney. It is more obviously youthful on the palate and richer as well, with flavors of tarte tatin, peach galette, honey-drenched hazelnut, lemon curd, pear tart, white rose and brioche underpinned by hints of chalk and white pepper. The finish is lingering and complex. Deep and classy already, it should evolve for another two years and beyond. 316 cases produced.
2015 Baxter Chardonnay Oppenlander Vineyard Anderson Valley
Vivid and pin-point balanced, the nose of this lovely Chardonnay offers bright key lime, quince, fresh green apple, white peach, lemon tart, mock orange, white pepper, nutmeg, clove, meringue and vanilla wafer scents in an elegant harmony. Unexpectedly, strong mineral notes team with the wine’s citric zest to stiffen the mouth-feel so flavors that are otherwise a mirror of the aromas take-on a sleek, focused, Chablis-like aspect. Cutting-dry and very long, the finish pushes this delicious wine toward service with shellfish, sushi and classic seafood entrees. 125 cases produced.
2014 Ken Brown Chardonnay Rita’s Crown Vineyard Santa Rita Hills
Stony-dry, zesty and Chablis-like in ways, this lovely Chardonnay is also packed with youthful fruit. The nose is a impressively harmonious mix of lemon sorbet, dried apple, baking-spice and flinty mineral scents. The wine’s bright, sweet-natured fruitiness brings the same charming balance to the palate, where flavors of fresh apple, white peach tart, lemon and orange blossom push back the mineral edge. The finish is engaging and supple, although the combination of zest and minerality renders it cutting-dry. Delicious by itself, it should be a terrific and widely applicable dinner wine. 147 cases produced.
2014 Darioush Chardonnay Napa Valley
Rich, creamy and quietly zesty, the aromas of this opulent Chardonnay are a focused medley of pear liqueur, spiced apple, white peach, lemon curd, orange blossom, baking-spice and vanilla wafer scents over a background of toasted hazelnut. It proves as lush on the palate as expected, where the peach-nectarine, baked apple, pear skin, vanilla baking-spice and toasted nut flavors are all generous and lingering. It is ready to enjoy and should maintain its present beauty over the next two years or so. 2618 6-packs produced.
2013 Ramey Chardonnay Woolsey Vineyard Russian River Valley
Fanning-out with the firm, zesty-minerally character of fine White Burgundy, the nose of this classy effort lays a veneer of lemon-lime zest and pineapple core over a core of crisp Fuji apple, tempered by toasty vanilla and baking spice scents. It is more immediately expressive on the palate, where baked apple, golden fig, white peach, lemon sorbet and passion fruit flavors marry with more savory vanilla, toasted nut and mineral notes. The finish is lingering and high-toned, although the impression is still a youthful one. Built for classy fish and fowl dishes, it should grow ever better over the next three years or so. 580 cases produced.
2014 Sandhi Chardonnay Mount Carmel Vineyard Santa Rita Hills
Youthfully reserved, yet deep, packing a complex mix of fruit and mineral scents, this is a fascinating and age-worthy wine. The nose hovers scents of dried yellow peach, tarte tatin, honey-drenched hazelnuts, preserved lemon, brioche and orange blossom above a background of oyster shell-like minerality. Lemon sorbet and orange zest are prominent notes in the mouth, joining with brioche, baked apple and white peach flavors to counterpoint drying suggestions of nut husk and saline minerals. Long and satisfying, the finish is racy and cutting-dry, so the wine is perfect for service with seafood appetizers and entrees. Expect three or four years of improvement. 352 6-packs produced.
2014 Stonestreet Chardonnay Upper Barn Vineyard Alexander Valley
This is a justly famous vineyard and here is yet another reason why. The nose is a luxurious and precise perfume of baked apple, white peach, dried golden fig, preserved lemon, lime, yellow rose, honeysuckle, meringue, vanilla and toasted hazelnut scents. At once palate-coating and racy, with bright balancing zest, the flavors are an ultra long cascade of stone and citrus fruits, tarte tatin, lemon cream pie, hazelnut nougat and honeysuckle, perched above firming mineral undercurrents. Gorgeous now and deserving of service with grand cuisine, it should be even more opulent and refined given a few more years of cellar-time. 900 6-packs produced.
2015 Arns Chardonnay Charles Heintz Vineyard Sonoma Coast
Vivid, fresh and forthcoming, the nose of this gorgeous Chardonnay pinpoints notes of green apple, fresh lime, pineapple core, lemon blossom, peach pit, vanilla wafer and hints of coconut cream and “river stone” minerality to produce a perfume that is both rich and elegant. The impression of chiseled focus is as evident on the palate, where feminine raciness tempers the intense fruit to streamline the mouth-feel. This is a vineyard famous for it’s rush of almost “weighty” tropical fruit, yet the finish of this wine rolls-out as a supple, gently piquant caress of sweet green apple, pear skin, lime, lemon, pineapple soufflé, vanilla wafer and baking-spice, above a background of nut husk and marzipan braced by low-key mineral undercurrents. Captivating now, if may be more so in a year or two. 70 cases made.
2013 Blue Farm Chardonnay Laceroni Vineyard Russian River Valley
Richly-layered and well-defined, the aromas of this Chardonnay are a melange of baked green apple, white peach, lemon curd, lime, pineapple core, orange blossom, pie crust and toasted hazelnut scents. Things prove just as weighty and flavor-packed on the mid-palate as expected, yet the citric influences provide a more than adequate foil to the wine’s rich body and juicy tarte tatin and peach tart notes. The finish is full, lingering and harmonious, as the deep apple, white peach, lemon, pineapple, baking spice, meringue and hazelnut flavors are braced by zest and a chalky mineral counterpoint. Built for full-flavored entrees, its is delicious right now and should remain so for several years. 242 cases produced.
2014 Brewer Clifton Chardonnay Hapgood Vineyard Santa Rita Hills
A true brother to Grand Cru Chablis in character, this stunner is a sibling in intensity as well. The nose is a steel-edged layering of white peach, quince, nectarine, spiced green apple, lemon curd, grapefruit sorbet, flint and white pepper scents. It is rich in texture yet vibrant and cutting-dry on the palate, with deeply-etched minerality thoroughly dominating fruity-spicy flavors that include fresh apple, quince, dried peach, Calimyrna fig, preserved lemon, pineapple core, orange blossom and brioche. Extremely long, if cold-hearted all the way, it is a perfect companion to raw oysters and should be just as trilling with steamed mussels or Linguine con Vongole. 6 barrels produced.
2015 Dos Lagos Chardonnay Napa Valley
Polish and easy richness are hallmarks of this fine Chardonnay. The aromas and the mid-palate flavors which follow are a harmonious marriage of lemon zest, lime curd, green apple, pear, quince, mock orange, brioche and white rose. The texture is soft-edged and the follow through to the finish seamless, and toward the end notes of white peach, pistachio, white pepper, nut husk and cardamom add extra dept. Dinner-balanced and ready, it should prove a versatile match to winter or summer entrees. 50% Oak Knoll/50% Carneros. 150 cases produced. Debut release.
2013 Hilliard Bruce Chardonnay “Estate” Santa Rita Hills
This is in all ways a lovely wine. The nose is a delightfully fresh and notably classy mix of peach pit, Meyer lemon sorbet, pineapple soufflé, dried peach, fresh red apple and flinty mineral scents. In the mouth it is gently tongue-coating yet sleek in texture, as mineral elements and piquant notes of nut husk, lemon sorbet, apple skin and peach pit counterpoint creamy vanilla wafer, nutmeg and brioche undercurrents. The finish is ultra-long, elegant and almost lighthearted in personality. 555 cases produced.
2015 Paul Lato Chardonnay “Belle de Jour” Duvarita Vineyard Santa Barbara
A wonderfully feminine contrast to the luxurious 2014 Belle, this aristocratic beauty shows crystalline definition in its ultra-elegant perfume of sweet Meyer lemon, grapefruit sorbet, white peach, pear skin, cox orange pippin apple, lychee, white rose, vanilla wafer, meringue and “river-stone” mineral scents. It proves as sleek and classy as hoped on the palate, where flavors of grapefruit sorbet, apple skin, peach pit, dried peach, white rose, orange blossom, hazelnut nougat and flint fan-out in chiseled focus. The finish is long and captivating and as the wine airs it grows more and more like fine white Burgundy. As near-perfect as it seems now, expect another three years of positive evolution.
2015 Brewer Clifton Chardonnay Santa Rita Hills
This is an amazingly fine “appellation” Chardonnay of chiseled clarity and exquisite balance. The nose jumps forth in a vivid array of peach pit, white peach, apple skin, apple sauce, orange and Meyer lemon zest and white pepper scents, cut by flint, slate and chalk-like mineral notes. Things are just as intense and focused on the palate, where everything promised by the aromas is richly replicated and lingering. The finish is both luxurious and cutting crisp, so the wine should be a perfect foil to sauced fish or fowl and especially to raw sea foods. It is likely be to long-lived. A blend of the 3D, Acin & Machado Vineyards.
2014 Cattleya Chardonnay Pratt Vineyard Russian River Valley
This is an elegant, yet flavor-packed Chardonnay. The nose rolls-out a panorama of fruity-savory scents, as red apple, white peach, green melon rind, lemon curd, tangerine zest, vanilla wafer, hazelnut and hints of coconut and nut husk create a harmonious perfume. Opulence tempered by zest makes the mouth-feel just as elegant, and the fruity-zesty-creamy balance holds through a super-long finish. The lasting memory is of yellow peach, pear, quince, fresh apple sauce, lemon curd, watermelon sorbet, white pepper, vanilla wafer and hazelnut flavors in exquisite harmony. This beauty should be even grander in another twelve to twenty-four months. 100 cases produced.
2014 Failla Chardonnay Haynes Vineyard Coombsville Napa Valley
This Chardonnay is rich in aroma and texture, complex and lingering in flavor and altogether satisfying. Hints of orange blossom, yellow rose and clove provide entree to richer notes of white peach, baked green apple, pear skin, lemon curd, dried pineapple, lime zest, brioche, hazelnut and marzipan. These elements find a harmony that stretches from the wine’s nose to it’s focused, lingering finish. It is ready to enjoy. 484 cases produced.
2014 La Pitchoune Chardonnay Sonoma Coast
Richness and zest are equal partners in this lovely wine and the aromas are a harmonious melange of Fuji apple, white peach, lemon-lime zest, tarte tatin, white pepper, toasted meringue, nutmeg and clove scents. There is a racy textural elegance on the palate, where flavors of nectarine, green plum, white peach, key lime, pineapple core, toasted meringue, almond, vanilla wafer, clove and white rose create a lingering impression of polished opulence. The finish is lingering and gently piquant, which suggests that it might prove a near-perfect companion to richly-sauced entrees. 200 cases made.
2014 Morlet Family Chardonnay “Ma Douce” Fort Ross-Seaview Sonoma Coast
Concentrated and focused, if youthfully tight, this racy wine offers a complex perfume of white peach tart, sweet red apple, lemon cream pie, toasted almond and baking spices, with hints of yellow rose and mock orange blossom. On the palate, it is every bit as rich, yet just as tightly-wrapped, and the texture is firmed by chalky mineral notes as well. The result is a sleek, intense, obviously youthful yet aristocratically balanced Chardonnay with lingering flavors of white peach, green apple, lemon tart, quince, white rose, vanilla, baking-spices and undercurrents of Persian raisin, marzipan and hard minerality. A classy dinner wine already, it will be a stunner in three years.
2015 Ultima Tulie Chardonnay Santa Maria Valley
If initially reserved, the nose of this rich Chardonnay expands with airing to reveal aromas of baked apple, dried peach, pineapple core, coriander seed, nutmeg and other baking spices and a hint of orange peel tea. It is as rich as expected on the palate, if still youthfully tense, and the flavors build as the wine airs. Ultimately, the finish makes the wine: as bright flavors of lemon, pineapple core and Fuji apple marry richer notes of white peach tart, dried yellow peach, toasted grain, vanilla wafer, baking-spice and hazelnut husk. A fine companion to richly sauced fish or fowl, it will be much more so in another year or so. 48 cases produced.
2013 Alma Fria Chardonnay Sonoma Coast
This is a delightful Chardonnay that delivers depth of flavor and attractive refreshment. The nose offers green apple, pineapple core, lemon, lime, white peach, white rose, orange blossom and white pepper scents of vibrant freshness. Things are rich, yet piquantly fresh on the palate, where flavors of hazelnut husk and lime zest join “river stone” mineral notes to bring a sharply cutting balance to all the rich and lingering fruit. Read to drink, it should handle the richest entrees with ease. 185 cases produced.
2014 Brick & Mortar Chardonnay Sweetwater Springs Vineyard Russian River Valley
This luxuriously rich wine is as zesty as it is opulent. The nose offers lemon and orange zest, red apple skin and white pepper scents in contrast to a plush display of baked apple, peach tart, pineapple and hazelnut nougat. It proves as tongue-coating as expected on the palate, where delicious flavors of peach, baked apple, pineapple core, lemon curd, hazelnut, orange blossom, yellow rose, brioche, clove and white pepper come on strong and linger in chiseled focus. Truly rewarding already, it should be even more so next year. 200 cases produced.
2014 Deovlet Chardonnay Zotovich Vineyard Santa Rita Hills
Rich in aroma, this lovely Chardonnay layers scents of white peach, lemon curd, quince, kiwi, cantaloupe, apple, pineapple core, brioche, vanilla and baking spices into an elegant perfume. There is a strong impression of creamy richness on the palate, yet it is nicely balanced by citric zest and attractive minerality, and the lingering finish adds notes of white pepper, lime zest, celery seed, melon rind and white rose to reinforce the overall sense of depth. It is ready to enjoy. 100 cases produced.
2014 Paul Lato Chardonnay “Kokoro” Santa Barbara County
By any standard this is a knockout Chardonnay. The nose pushes-forth aromas dominated by apple skin, lemon zest, peach pit, kumquat, baked green apples and vanilla cream pie. The flavors are much deeper and more varied, and they roll-out in a rich, piquant, slightly exotic wave, with pear liqueur, dried peach, dried pineapple, dried mango, apple, brioche, toasted grain, nut husk, smoke, lemon curd, lemon zest and kumquat marmalade impressions lining-up in chiseled focus. Long, vibrantly fresh and intense to the end, it is built for service with the richest seafood entrees and it will likely grow in stature and appeal for several years. 45 cases made.
2014 Petree Cellars Chardonnay King Estate Russian River Valley
This is a rich Chardonnay, from start to finish. The nose rolls forth as a genteel melange of white peach, baked green apple, pineapple core, lemon curd, lime zest, vanilla wafer, brioche, meringue, toasted nut, clove, nutmeg and cardamon scents. It is mouth-coating and full-flavored on the palate, where the same mix of stone fruit, citrus and sweet-savory spice flavors never lags. Built for flavorful roast chicken, richly sauced pasta and the like, it is ready to enjoy. 110 cases produced.
2014 Tantara Chardonnay Dierberg Vineyard Santa Maria Valley
Every bit as elegant as it is rich, this bottling fans-out it’s aromas of fresh apple sauce, apple skin, pear skin, white peach, lemon marmalade, vanilla cream pie, nutmeg and hints of toasted hazelnut and coconut in a pretty display. It is slightly more reserved in the mouth, yet just as texturally rich as expected. At the finish, white pepper and apple skin notes bring focus and a soft-edged contrast to the wine’s layering of apple, peach, Persian raisin, lemon curd, vanilla wafer and baking-spice flavors. Very satisfying already, it will be more so in twelve to eighteen months. 100 cases produced.
2013 Albatross Ridge Chardonnay “Estate” Carmel Valley Monterey
This wine's complex perfume of baked Gravenstein apple, white peach pit, quince, pineapple core, mock orange blossom, vanilla wafer, baking-spice and toasted hazelnut rolls-out with seductive richness. There is a delightful and sophisticated piquancy on the palate, where nut husk, peach pit and chalky mineral notes counterpoint juicy-rich notes of baked apple, white peach, peach pit, quince jelly and pineapple core, above a rich undercurrent of honey, hazelnut, vanilla and mineral salts. If three years from its peak, it is delicious now and just cries out for luxuriously sauced entrees. 410 cases made.
2014 Ch. Igai Takaha Chardonnay “Samurai” Santa Rita Hills
Very ripe and almost heady-rich, this full-tilt Chardonnay delivers aromas of yellow peach, baked apple, lychee fruit, pineapple soufflé, coconut milk and white pepper over quieter vanilla, brioche and straw notes. On the palate, it proves as grand-scale in texture as expected and as flavorful, with peach, baked apple, preserved lemon, pineapple core, mango, lychee, white pepper, coconut cream, vanilla wafer, toasted grain and some smoky mineral hints all vying for attention at the end. Built for service with the richest and most flavorful entrees, it is ready to go. 183 cases produced.
2013 Chasseur Chardonnay Lorenzo Vineyard Russian River Valley
This is textbook Chasseur, opulent and mouth-coating, yet classy. The nose is a luxurious mix of tarte tarin, yellow peach, Asian pear, pineapple core, preserved lemon, pastry crust, nutmeg and baking-spice scents. The texture is plush and palate-coating, yet there is supporting minerality and zest to keep the cascade of peach, guava, quince, baked apple, pineapple core, nutmeg, cardamom, baking-spice, brioche and hazelnut flavors in dinner-balance. Everything is bright, flavorful and richly textured to the very end. Ready to enjoy. it will stand up to the richest entrees. 100 cases made.
2015 La Voix Chardonnay “Here and Heaven” John Sebastiano Vineyard Santa Rita Hills
Steve Clifton’s new Chardonnay is a portrait of quiet elegance, in stark contrast to the ferociously intense wines he helped craft at Brewer-Clifton. The aromas are a youthfully subtle mix of quince, lemon curd, baked apple, white peach, mock orange, vanilla cream and meringue scents, with a wisp of Thai basil in the background. White peach, baked apple, Bosc pear, Canary melon, orange souffle, white pepper and chestnut flavors find a pretty harmony on the palate. The finish is genteel and lingering and the wine is a pleasure to drink already. 92 cases produced.
2014 Talley Chardonnay Rosemary’s Vineyard Arroyo Grande Valley
Rosemary’s is always Talley’s most flamboyant Chardonnay and the 2014 is true to form. The nose is opulent, yet beautifully focused, and the aromas roll-out as a plush mix of fresh Fuji apple, baked apple, white peach tart, lemon zest, pineapple core, white pepper and baking-spice, with a hint of Marzipan in the background. If clearly youthful, it is bright, polished and already creamy on the palate, where the dominant apple and white peach flavors rise above a supporting cast that includes orange zest, lemon marmalade, pineapple core, yellow rose, brioche, vanilla wafer and hazelnut. Zest and drying mineral elements bring the lingering finish into food-worthy balance. Just delicious already, it will grow more so for several more years 438 cases produced.
2013 Tyler Chardonnay Sanford & Benedict Vineyard Santa Rita Hills
A wine with a perfume to match it’s fine pedigree, this lovely Chardonnay opens with truly elegant aromas of spiced baked apple, lemon drop, green plum, pear skin, orange blossom, toasted grain, toasted nuts and minerals. It is sleek and polished on the palate, where quince jam, apple, lemon sorbet, green plum, pear skin, chamomile, baking-spice and toasted hazelnut flavors fan-out over a subtle mineral undercurrent. The finish is super-long and delightfully feminine. This already delicious bottling will be a stunning match for the more elegant seafood entrees, and it should improve for another eighteen to twenty-four months. 150 cases produced.
2013 Camino Chardonnay Sobranes Vineyard Santa Lucia Highlands
Here is yet another proof that the Sobranes Vineyard is a great home for Chardonnay. Rich, harmonious and bright, the nose marries scents of white peach, baked green apple, lemon and orange blossom, pineapple core, lemon cream pie, white rose, white pepper and toasted hazelnut into an enchanting perfume. It is sleek, yet creamy on the palate, where flavors of lemon and lime zest, peach pie, apple skin, white pepper, brioche, allspice and toasted hazelnut fan-out. The finish is lingering and polished and the dinner-worthy balance reminds of fine Meursaut. Lovely now, it will be even better in another twelve to twenty-four months. 75 cases produced.
2014 Paul Lato Chardonnay “East of Eden” Pisoni Vineyard Santa Lucia Highlands
If years from its full loveliness, this streamlined beauty is already gorgeous and its aromatic profile is a textbook expression of Santa Lucia Highlands fruit. Its perfume of lemon sorbet, fresh pear, white peach, pineapple core, kumquat marmalade, white rose, beeswax, brioche, toasted grain and white pepper is sweet-natured and beautifully focused, yet it is stiffened by it’s own vibrant zest and by a hard, chalk-like, undercurrent. The flavors that follow are tightly-coiled, but penetrating, as the mineral notes provide strong contrast to the wine’s core of lemon sorbet, apple, pear liqueur and peach. The finish is rich and lingering while the texture is sleek and the finish cutting-dry. A joy already with seared scallops, it will be a stunner in five to eight years. 98 cases made.
2013 Liquid Farm Chardonnay “Golden Slope” Santa Rita Hills
This “richest barrels” blend is once again a delight. The aromas are creamy-zesty and stylish, with scents of white peach, green apple, lemon sorbet, lemon curd, pink grapefruit, mock orange, sweet vanilla and honey finding harmony. It is downright tongue-coating in the mouth, where a charming mix of lemon, peach, pineapple core, fresh green and red apple and pear skin flavors are accented by notes of nutmeg, white pepper and vanilla cream pie and gain a drying contrast from a chalky mineral undercurrent. If ultra-long and creamy to the end, it finishes almost piquantly dry. Super now, it will be more so in eighteen to twenty-four months. A blend of six vineyards, 936 cases produced.
2014 Mayacamas Chardonnay Estate Mount Veeder Napa Valley
Possibly the finest Mayacamas Chardonnay since the 1970s, this is a brilliant and age-worthy bottling. Elegance and richness are equal partners in the nose, where a deep core of spiced baked apple and white peach gains further richness from notes of lemon-pineapple souffle, vanilla cream pie and nutmeggy custard. In the mouth it is racy yet palate-coating, with youthful reserve and quiet acidity taming the opulence of its dried peach, dried apple, fresh apple skin, lemon curd, pie crust and vanilla wafer flavors. Quite long and already super delicious, the finish offers a representation of what the wine may become given three or four more years of cellar-time.
2015 Melville Chardonnay “Clone 76 - Inox” Santa Rita Hills
Bright, exotic, concentrated, focused, brilliantly balanced and distinctive, this is likely the best Inox bottling Melville has produced. The nose contrasts fruity aromas of lemon sorbet, peach pit, white peach, fresh green apple, guava and lime oil with others of nut husks, celery seeds and river-stone minerality. It is tongue-coating rich in the mouth, yet shows a much stronger mineral character and cutting zest in counter-point. The finish is a lingering cascade of lemon sorbet, Fuji apple, red apple skin, green plum, yellow peach, canteloupe, pistacio, bees wax, white rose, cucumber and oyster shell flavors that are bone-chilling dry. Made without barrel contact, 350 6-packs made.
2014 Ridge Vineyards Chardonnay Estate Monte Bello Vineyard Santa Cruz Mountains
Focused, deep and elegantly spicy, the nose of this terrific bottling melds scents of citron, lemon marmalade, spiced apple, white peach, vanilla wafer and some hard-edged mineral notes into a penetrating yet never heavy perfume. It is as deeply fruity on the palate, where fresh red apple, lemon sorbet, apple skin, white peach, peach pit, vanilla, toasted grain and mineral flavors come on strong and linger. Absolutely delicious right now, it is likely three years from it’s full expression. 3361 cases produced.
2012 Hartford Court Chardonnay Stone Cote Vineyard Sonoma Coast
As luxurious in oak treatment as expected from this producer, this bottling has the fruit intensity to reward the extra time in barrel. In the nose, fruit scents of baked apple, golden fig, lemon curd, tangerine zest, Asian pear, yellow rose and pineapple make a lovely marriage with others of brioche, toasted hazelnut, nutmeg and vanilla wafer. There is a firming core of zest on the palate, which elevates flavors that perfectly replicate the aromas through a classy and lingering finish. Already worthy of the classic French seafood dishes it’s opulence cries out for, it will be more so in another year or so. 660 6-packs made.
2012 Chasseur Chardonnay “Graton’s Choice” Russian River Valley
This is a rich and layered Chardonnay, full of fruity-spicy contrasts. The nose marries scents of peach, apple, golden fig and Asian pear with notes of lemon custard, pineapple core and a hint of orange marmalade: the whole supported by creamy suggestions of vanilla wafer, baking spices and toasted hazelnut. On the palate, there is creamy a rush of youthful fruit and oaky spice balanced by plenty of citric zest. The balance of richness and youthful brightness makes the finish ultra rewarding, and if destined to improve for at least another year, it should prove a luxurious dinner companion already. 21 barrels produced.
2013 Pellet Estate Chardonnay Sunchase Vineyard Sonoma Coast
Both rich and slightly exotic, the nose of this expressive bottling quickly unveils aromas of Fuji apple, white peach, pineapple core, yellow rose, mock orange, brioche, vanilla wafer and a hint of toasted coconut. There is a more stylish palate-feel that the aromas suggest, yet all the promised flavors are forthcoming and lingering, with notes of cantaloupe and coconut cream pie added-on at the finish. Delicious by itself, it will find harmony with a wide variety of fish and fowl entrees. 175 cases produced.
2013 Radio Coteau Chardonnay Savoy Vineyard Anderson Valley Mendocino
Big-scale from start to finish, this is nevertheless a well-balanced wine which has the zest and mineral counterpoints to carry it’s weight. The nose is creamy-rich, with fruit notes of baked apple, white peach Asian pear, tangerine zest, pineapple core and white rose, over vanilla wafer, brioche, hints of white pepper and some “river stone” minerality. It is as creamy as expected on the palate, with huge body and apple, peach pineapple, citrus, vanilla cream pie and toasted hazelnut flavors that linger. If better next year, if gives lots of rich pleasure right now. 400 cases made.
2013 Peirson Meyer Chardonnay Charles Heintz Vineyard Sonoma Coast
Creaminess and citric spice are counter-pointed in this lovely Chardonnay. The nose marries rich white and yellow peach notes to equally plush scents of pineapple soufflé, vanilla cream pie, toasted nuts and coconut, with orange and lemon zest notes adding background spice. Things are as complex and juicy on the palate, where ripe peach, tarte tatin, golden fig and Asian pear flavors rise toe to toe with others of lemon curd, pineapple soufflé, brioche, nutmeg, lemon zest and some orange marmalade and toasted coconut. Lingering and balanced, despite all the richness, this one should get better and better over the next two years. It deserves the companionship of full flavored entrees. 200 cases produced.
2004 Kathryn Kennedy Sparkling Blanc de Blanc “Cuvee 27" Santa Cruz Mountains
Delicious, wonderfully aromatic, exquisitely balanced and altogether distinctive, this is an absurdly underpriced bubbly. The nose is an enchanting perfume of sweet apple sauce, apple skin, yellow peach pit, white peach, yellow rose, and honeysuckle wrapped in cashmere-like layers of chestnut honey, toasted meringue, creme brûlée and a suggestions of marzipan. It is airily feminine and surprisingly zesty-minerally on the palate, where the texture has a sleek raciness to counterpoint the wines penetrating flavors of Meyer lemon zest, fresh apple, white peach, quince sorbet and it’s “riverstone” mineral undercurrents. The finish poises bright lemon-mineral notes versus a lingering wave of white peach, chestnut honey, hazelnut and creme brûlée Ready to drink, it is aristocratic from start to finish. 600 6-packs produced. This wine is disgorged as needed!