Chardonnay is a green-skinned grape variety used to make white wine. It originated in the Burgundy wine region of eastern France but is now grown wherever wine is produced. The Chardonnay grape itself is very neutral, with many of the flavors commonly associated with the grape being derived from such influences as terroir and oak. It is vinified in many different styles, from the lean, crisply mineral wines of Chablis, France to New World wines with oak, and tropical fruit flavors. In cool climates (such as Chablis and the Sonoma Coast AVA of California), Chardonnay tends to be medium to light body with noticeable acidity and flavors of green plum, apple and pear. In warmer locations (such as the Adelaide Hills and Mornington Peninsula in Australia and Gisborne and Marlborough region of New Zealand) the flavors become more citrus, peach and melon while in very warm locations (such as the Napa Valley AVA of California) more fig and tropical fruit notes such as banana and mango come out. Wines that have gone through malolactic fermentation tend to have softer acidity and fruit flavors with buttery mouthfeel and hazelnut notes.
- Item #: i_200505Bottle Size: 375mlWine Spectator: 91**Please note, this is a half sized bottleWINE SPECTATOR 91 POINTS - "A broad-shouldered effort, rich and layered, with extracted pear and melon flavors and toasty, smoky, vanilla-scented oak making for a mouthful of Chardonnay that reminds me of versions from Napa in years past. Drink now through 2021. 3,000 cases made."
- Item #: i_200520Bottle Size: 750mlAlpha Omega's Chardonnay is naturally fermented, unfined and unfiltered. The integration of six different clones of Chardonnay brings unique characteristics to this multifaceted wine. They achieve precision and balance by an 18-month aging process in French oak with constant stirring. The result is an elegant and finesse driven Chardonnay that embodies Meursault with a California accent.
This Chardonnay is bright yellow gold with hints of buttermilk and mercury. On the nose there's an explosion of brioche, gingerbread and creme brulee with touches of apricot, quince and tomato stems lingering on citrus, honey, soap and butterscotch. The palate is fresh on entry, evolving on salted caramel with hints of butterscotch and citrus lingering on nutmeg, fresh pears and candied peaches.
- Item #: i_200290Bottle Size: 750mlWinery's Tasting Notes: "Vibrant and rich with enticing aromatics that lead to a firm core of pear, apple and apricot flavors shaded by light spicy oak. On the palate, the wine offers layer upon layer of lingering flavors. The wine highlights varietal purity, elegance and a freshness on the palate."
- Item #: i_200330Bottle Size: 750mlVinous Media: 94The focus of this two person operation is on small lot, single vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon, Syrah, Chardonnay, as well as several other varieties uncommon in Northern Californian vineyards. Sites are carefully chosen and are generally on the cooler end of the spectrum for the planted varieties. Collaboration with dedicated and passionate growers is paramount in the farming of these sites.
Duncan and Nathan grew up around winemaking in the Napa Valley. Nathan is a second generation cooper and personally builds all of the French oak barrels that are utilized in the ageing of all Arnot-Roberts wines. Over the years Duncan has worked making wine in the Napa Valley in wineries like, Caymus, Groth, Acacia, Kongsgaard. Total production of Arnot-Roberts is around 2,000 cases per year with thirteen individual wines.
The Watson Ranch Chardonnay comes from one of the southernmost vineyards in Napa Valley AVA. The vines were planted in 1990 and dry farmed in clay over limestone with a view of San Pablo Bay. The wine was whole cluster pressed, fermented in stainless steel by native yeasts and aged in neutral French oak barrels.
ANTONIO GALLONI 93 POINTS - "Duncan Arnot describes 2017 as a year with a longer growing season than 2016, which goes to show how different the growing season was in Sonoma relative to Napa Valley, which so often tends to dominate the discussion of California wines. In tasting, the 2017s here all show terrific energy and complexity. Moreover, the combination of intense summer heat and the cooler sites Arnot and Nathan Roberts favor, yielded a set of positively stunning wines.
"The 2017 Chardonnay Watson Ranch is a gorgeous wine. Apricot, chamomile, dried flowers, sage and dried pear are all laced together in this super-expressive, inviting Chardonnay. Readers should be prepared to cellar the 2017, as it is quite closed today. Bright saline notes add freshness and zip to this super-expressive Chardonnay."
- Item #: i_275937Bottle Size: 750mlWine Advocate: 93+Jeb Dunnuck: 94 PointsPeople in the wine world always want to talk about the "new kid on the block", but what needs to be remembered is there are a few of the "old guards" that will go toe-to-toe with those "young guns" and give them a run for their money! For decades, Beringer has been making phenomenal, world-class wines utilizing time-honored techniques that are still used today by virtually all the high-quality producers…even by those "young guns"!
Beringer's Private Reserve Chardonnay highlights the richness and complexity of this varietal and has been one of the benchmark Chardonnays since its first vintage in 1978. Just to give you an idea of the quality, let's take a look at the scores from Robert Parker's Wine Advocate for the past few years:
2016 Vintage - 90-92 Points
2015 Vintage - 91 Points
2012 Vintage - 93 Points
2011 Vintage - 95 Points
2010 Vintage - 87 Points
2009 Vintage - 93 Points
2008 Vintage - 94 Points
2007 Vintage - 92 Points
2006 Vintage - 92 Points
These are scores that most producers receive every so often…but not with this consistency. This is one of the reasons why Beringer's Private Reserve Chardonnay is such in demand. And how do they do it? Well, winemaker Laurie Hook ferments the juice in French oak barrels to enhance the natural richness in the wine. Weekly lees stirring enhanced the toasty notes, and integrated the oak flavors for an overall balance. All of the wine was put through malolactic fermentation to encourage a lush creaminess. After 9 months aging, Laurie chose the most expressive lots and blended them to create this richly layered wine.
JEB DUNNUCK 94 POINTS - "A different animal, the 2017 Chardonnay Private Reserve is richer and more opulent, with Montrachet-like caramelized lemon, tropical fruits, and brioche aromas and flavors. Nevertheless, it's still more elegant and vibrant than past vintages, with medium body, a layered texture, and good acidity. I love its balance and it can be drunk any time over the coming 2-4 years, although there's no need to delay gratification."
ROBERT PARKER'S WINE ADVOCATE 93+ POINTS - "The 2017 Chardonnay Private Reserve aged for ten months in 100% new French oak. It opens with beautiful creme brulee and candied ginger notes over a core of pineapple and green mango with a waft of brioche. Medium-bodied, satiny and with fantastic freshness, it delivers loads of tropical layers and great length. 8,100 cases produced, to be released in March 2019."
- Item #: i_207600Bottle Size: 750mlChardonnay grapes grown in the bottom half of the valley tend to produce rich, ripe, elegantly structured wines that are delicious on release, but also age well in the bottle; this gem is no exception! And while 75% is fermented in French oak, only 11% goes through malolactic fermentation in order to produce a full-bodied wine that's food friendly. The nose offers vivid, creamy aromas of green and golden apple, pear and citrus with supporting scents of beeswax and mineral. Full-bodied and vibrant on the palate, with bright, intense, apple, citrus and melon flavors, Cakebread's 2016 Napa Valley Chardonnay is remarkably persistent on the palate, culminating in a long finish showcasing pleasing spice, yeast and mineral tones. Released soon after bottling, it will hit its stride after 6-8 months and reward 5-7 years' aging.
- Item #: i_244010Bottle Size: 750MLVinous Media: 92ANTONIO GALLONI 94 POINTS - "Montelena's 2016 Chardonnay is terrific. Fresh, nuanced and light on its feet, the 2016 is striking for its freshness and understated intensity. Lemon peel, almond, chamomile and floral overtones add shades of nuance throughout, but above all else, the 2016 stands out for its bright, crystalline tension and overall energy. What a gorgeous wine this is. "
- Item #: i_214030Bottle Size: 750mlWinemaker's Tasting Notes: "The 2016 Estate Chardonnay is brimming with stone fruit, white blossoms and lovely notes of vanilla and clove. A gorgeous vintage in Napa Valley, the wine is quite opulent, with a plush texture buoyed by white peach and honeysuckle notes. Despite its apparent richness, the wine has the trademark focus and lingering finish that our Los Carneros estate is prized for."
- Item #: i_200310Bottle Size: 750mlThe David Arthur Estate is located high on Pritchard Hill, on the eastern side of the Napa Valley. The rough mountain terrain and rocky red soils provide ideal growing conditions for wine grapes such as Cabernet Sauvignon. In 1978, Donald Long and his 28 year old son David began the epic job of building roads, clearing land and finally planting wine grapes. Although David lacked a formal viticultural education, he learned hands-on by working in the vineyards and cellars of local wineries such as the Chappellet and Joseph Phelps. The first vintage of Chardonnay was harvested in 1985, followed by Cabernet Sauvignon in the nineties. As his experience and knowledge of the land grew, David learned the ability of these hills to grow the very finest wine grapes. Today, with the help of a highly insightful team, David Arthur continues to cultivate rich concentrated wine grapes that in turn help them craft distinctive and memorable wines.
Chardonnay is now the anomaly, as David Arthur has sourced their Chardonnay grapes from the Oak Knoll District and Stagecoach Vineyard in Napa Valley for nearly a decade, and cherish their relationships with these independent growers that offer small parcels and unique clonal selections. The David Arthur Chardonnay style offers a wonderful balance of new world fruit expression and restrained winemaking technique.
A slight green-golden hue offers bright and illuminated aromas of kiwi, Asian pear and Golden Delicious apple, and white peach, citrus blossom followed by light hints of toasted almonds. The palate is soft/plush and full throttle with layers of citrus, candied apple, poached pear and finishes with a subtle minerality
- Item #: i_216814Bottle Size: 750mlThe fantastic 2017 growing season yielded an intense and complex expression of Napa Valley Chardonnay, with alluring aromas of nectarine, yellow plum, pineapple upsidedown cake, and sweet spices. On the palate, zesty acidity and an underlying silkiness add depth and nuance, with French oak-inspired hints of vanilla, sweet dough and clove framing the generous fruit.
- Item #: i_275980Bottle Size: 750MLThis is not your typical Napa Chardonnay. By combining the characteristics that both traditional barrel fermentation and stainless steel ferment provide, Educated Guess was able to retain the delicious tropical fruit flavors, while also giving the customer what they have come to love in Chardonnay - creamy notes, toast, spice and vanilla without being overdone in any way. No stick of butter and a 2x4 Chardonnay here! Very food friendly and crowd pleasing!
- Item #: i_218740Bottle Size: 750MLEl Molino was established back in 1871. The winery, along with the historic label, was resurrected in 1981 by Reg Oliver who focused on incomparable Chardonnay and distinctive Pinot from an appellation admittedly more famed for Cabernet Sauvignon. He left a legacy of environmental stewardship and enthusiasm for Burgundy varietals that has not been lost on his daughter Lily and her husband, Jon Berlin (Jon & Lily pictured top right). Lilly moved to the winery with the family when she was nine, and since child labor was never frowned upon, there was a lot to be learned by the age-old tradition of apprenticeship under her father. Lily uses these time-honored techniques to fashion a Chardonnay of impeccable balance that can age for decades!
El Molino's 2014 Rutherford Chardonnay displays rich complex fruit aromatics with ruby grapefruit, key lime, and lemon oil to the fore, supported by wet slate, green apple, and white flowers. On the palate the entry is plush and broad with excellent viscosity and great acidity. Full flavored and rich the flavors are long and persistent on the finish. This may prove to be one of their longest lived Chardonnays, although much willpower will be required as it is drinking beautifully now.
- Item #: i_219930Bottle Size: 750MLAlways the "darling" of Chardonnays, Far Niente Chardonnay is a blend of superlative Napa Valley vineyards, many of which are located in a little-known area called Coombsville: a cool growing region nestled in the rolling hills east of thecity of Napa. While entirely barrel-fermented, it doesn't go through the typical secondary fermentation, thus keeping itsrefreshing acidity. Perhaps this is why it appeals to such a broad spectrum of consumers!
A delicious wine in one of the most eye-catching bottles, this wine greets with forward fruits, layered by peach and tropical notes combined with rose petal and toasty allspice. The balance between the oak and fruit are completely seamless. Full bodied and rich, creamyhints of minerality complement the sweet fruit throughout. The finish is very long, lingering and beautifully textured.
- Item #: i_222280Bottle Size: 750MLFontanella Family's 2016 Chardonnay delivers the heft and beautiful fruit that consistently make this the Chardonnay for red wine-lovers! Sugared banana, Meyer Lemon zest, and pineapple on the nose invite you into a round mouthfeel packed with honeysuckle, baked apples and cinnamon, toasted marshmallow, and lemon meringue – all balanced with the trademark Mt. Veeder minerality and crisp acidity that cleanse and refresh your palate after each sip.
- Item #: i_274965Bottle Size: 375ML**Please note, this is a half sized bottleBright and lively; it opens with aromas of lemon/lime zest, candied Meyer lemon, yellow nectarine, raw ginger and dried Mirabelle plum. These fresh aromas are countered by vanilla, butterscotch, spice cake and creamy butter giving rise to a vibrant and harmonious combination. The palate is crisp, mellow and full; bursting with stone fruit, green apple, and Asian pear while being laced throughout with gentle toasted oak aromas of vanilla and spice.
- Item #: i_274436Bottle Size: 750mlBright and lively; it opens with aromas of lemon/lime zest, candied Meyer lemon, yellow nectarine, raw ginger and dried Mirabelle plum. These fresh aromas are countered by vanilla, butterscotch, spice cake and creamy butter giving rise to a vibrant and harmonious combination. The palate is crisp, mellow and full; bursting with stone fruit, green apple, and Asian pear while being laced throughout with gentle toasted oak aromas of vanilla and spice.
- Item #: i_223710Bottle Size: 750mlWine Advocate: 94+Freemark Abbey is one of Napa's hallmark producers with a rich history dating back to pre-prohibition days. They were also one of the 12 Wineries featured in "The 1976 Judgment of Paris" tasting where California won every single category, which catapulted Napa Valley onto the world stage as a premier wine-producing region. Ted Edwards has been at the helm as winemaker for over 3 decades crafting these classically-styled wines while garnering rave reviews from the top critics year after year. This producer is also no stranger to our Hi-Time Cellars top 10 wines of the year feature we do every holiday season which should tell you how our staff feels about the level of quality, commitment and consistency!
CERTIFIED SUSTAINABLE WINERY
WINE ADVOCATE 94+ POINTS - "The 2017 Chardonnay (no malolactic fermentation) offers notes of fresh pineapple, honeydew melon and lemon tart with touches of allspice, shaved almonds and lanolin. Medium to full-bodied, the fruit hits the palate with amazing freshness and vivacity, sporting loads of citrus and spice notions and finishing long."
- Item #: i_225560Bottle Size: 750mlOn the nose, bright lemon zest, grapefruit peel, and Mexican lime mix with spice notes of cinnamon and vanilla. The first impression on the palate is zesty citrus. The mid-palate hosts tart green apple, peach, and grilled pineapple. The finish shows notes of pastry cream, chamomile, dried apricot, and golden raisins. This complex Chardonnay also displays hits of a wet stone minerality.
- Item #: i_227330Bottle Size: 750MLLong, cool fermentation in a mixture of old and new barrels gives this Chardonnay layers of fruitiness and complexity that result in a wine that is very enjoyable when young or after several years of bottle age. This method of fermentation, in conjunction with whole cluster pressing and "sur lie" aging add layers of toastiness and creaminess to the wine. Together these components meld together harmoniously to create a balanced wine that is both lively and rich in aroma and flavor.
- Item #: i_229830Bottle Size: 750MLChardonnay The Heitz name is so deeply ingrained in the culture of Cabernet connoisseurs that some people are surprised to discover we have been making Chardonnay since the winery was founded in 1961. Sleek and vibrant with the invigorating aroma of juicy pear and lemon blossoms. It's a delicious wine delivering tiers of citrus flavor and the slight tanginess.