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_200000Bottle Size: 750MLAcacia Vineyard is in the heart of the Carneros wine region, with stellar views of vineyards and the bay. This premium winegrowing region enjoys the cooling influence of the Pacific Ocean and summer fog, making it an ideal growing area for Pinot Noir and Chardonnay. Acacia was a pioneer in this appellation when it began in 1979 and continues to craft Burgundian-inspired varietals which have been consistently delicious beyond their price point.
And on the subject of price points, the plan with this program is to put the best and most representative of California's Chardonnay growing regions in a bottle and give it a very refreshing price. So here you have it: Monterey, Santa Maria Valley, Paso Robles, and even a touch of Carneros fruit blended together to make a really lovely sipper (someone forgot to tell the wine it shouldn't taste this good at $9.99). An exotic aroma is followed by a rainbow of stone and tropical fruits, it's bright and crisp, and the finish is long. This is one to procure by the case - people are forever dropping by!
- Item #: i_200090Bottle Size: 750mlVibrant aromas of crème brûlée, ginger, lemon curd and white peach are followed by a creamy entry which blossoms to a full, sweet, peach, nectarine and citrus mid-palate. Medium-bodied with vibrant acidity, the wine finishes long and full.
- Item #: i_200240Bottle Size: 750mlVinous Media: 92ANTONIO GALLONI'S VINOUS MEDIA 92 POINTS - "(21% new oak): Pale, brilliant yellow. Displays racy, mineral-accented citrus and orchard fruit scents that show impressive focus and spicy lift. Shows excellent delineation and tension on the palate, offering nervy Meyer lemon, quince and candied ginger flavors that deepen slowly and pick up a hint of smokiness on the back half. Closes dry and impressively long, with repeating minerality and firm, tangy bite."
- Item #: i_200650Bottle Size: 750mlBibiana Gonzalez Rave crafts the Alma de Cattleya wines to be high-quality offerings that represent Sonoma County. Alma means "soul" in Spanish, and Cattleya is the national flower of her native country, Columbia. Making wine meant having to leave Columbia for other climates conducive to grape growing: leaving Bibiana to recognize her country, and her passion, in making this wine.
These Chardonnay grapes were grown along the rolling hills of Sonoma County. The cold and foggy days slowly ripen the grapes, capturing the beauty of this variety: great texture, intense fruit aromatics, and ample acidity.
- 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_201320Bottle Size: 750mlAmalie Robert's "Heirloom Cameo" Chardonnay is fermented in a single, large format French oak barrel or "puncheon." The goal of this fermentation style is to enhance the breadth and depth of the wine through limited oak exposure and extended yeast or "lees" aging. Stylistically, this wine is made to be enjoyed throughout its time in bottle. Upon release the wine is fresh with pungent aromas and a broad mouth feel, followed by a crisp and satisfying finish. We expect this wine to age gracefully for several years and will reward a laddered approach to monitoring its development. The Chardonnay for this wine is estate grown in 1 small block. The blend is about half Dijon clone 76 and half Dijon clone 95. In most years this block ripens until a beautifully hued golden patina envelops the skins, and then Amalie Robert hand harvests all 1,089 vines.
Scintillating aromas of Meyer lemon zest, purple passion fruit and carambola sheathed in a suggestion of five spice and pheromone provide intrigue. The deftly balanced palate is silky chiffon with latent acidity providing a gentle lift, all the while the effortlessly evolving textures and aromas vex. The enduring finish echoes the virtue of presence without weight. Only 70 cases were produced!
- Item #: i_211290Bottle Size: 750mlThe Ancient Peaks Chardonnay vines are rooted in granitic soils along the southeast border of the vineyard, where the morning and afternoon temperatures are particularly cool. Here, brisk marine air settles after flowing through a mountain notch known as Trout Creek. These conditions provide Chardonnay fruit with the long period necessary to nurture vivid varietal character. Margarita Vineyard stands alone as the southernmost vineyard in the Paso Robles region, and as the only vineyard in the new Santa Margarita Ranch AVA. The surrounding mountain peaks act as a gateway for cool marine air, resulting in an extended growing season that yields fruit with uncommon depth and structure. The peaks are also testaments to the tectonic forces that created Margarita Vineyard’s rare diversity of soils, ultimately fostering natural complexity in their wines.
This Chardonnay offers inviting aromas of pear, fig and lime zest with a hint of apple blossom. The palate begins on a creamy note, unfolding with bright flavors of nectarine, white peach, pineapple and lemon drop. Brisk mineral accents and fresh acidity converge on a buoyant, lively finish.
- Item #: i_200730Bottle Size: 750mlLocated in the coastal foothills of the Santa Lucia Mountain Range, the vineyards selected for this Reserve Monterey County Chardonnay are consistently cooled by the marine layer funneled in from the Monterey Bay throughout the growing season. Fog that is late to burn off, and a cool midday breeze, extend hang time to allow the grapes to be picked at the peak of the fruit’s flavor and acidity.
This juicy, fruit driven Chardonnay is dominated by aromas of ripe golden apples, tropical pineapple and coconut, and zesty Meyer lemons. Not to be outdone, the luscious palate is balanced by bright acids and mild oak influence gives this wine a delicious lingering finish.
- 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_201610Bottle Size: 750mlWine Advocate: 92Jeb Dunnuck: 92 PointsANTONIO GALLONI 92 POINTS - "The 2015 Chardonnay (Russian River Valley) is gorgeous. Supple, lush and inviting, the 2015 is a fabulous introduction to the Arista wines. Lush and tropical, with fabulous freshness, the 2015 is terrific. Candied lemon peel, white flowers, chamomile and white flowers add lovely shades of nuance throughout. The Russian River Chardonnay is rich and opulent, but not at all heavy."
JEB DUNNUCK 92 POINTS - "The appellation blend from winemaker Mike Courtney, Arista's 2015 Chardonnay Russian River Valley is a beautiful, classic Russian River Valley Chardonnay. Buttered orchard fruits, orange blossom, and white flower notes flow to a rich, concentrated, layered white that has nicely integrated acuity, no hard edges, and a clean finish. This cuvee spent 12 months in 25% new French oak (the balance in stainless steel), and it should drink nicely for 4-6 years."
ROBERT PARKER'S WINE ADVOCATE 92 POINTS - "The 2015 Chardonnay Russian River Valley offers up gregarious tropical and citrus fruit notions of guava, grapefruit and lemon tart with suggestions of allspice, fresh ginger and baking bread. Medium to full-bodied, the palate is laden with tropical and spicy layers, featuring a lively line of freshness and finishes on a savory note. 578 cases were made."
- 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_200430Bottle Size: 750mlVinous Media: 90Wine Enthusiast: 91 PointsThe Los Alamos Vineyard is roughly 500 planted acres, most of which is on flat bottomland of the Los Alamos Valley that is sandwiched between the Santa Ynez Valley and Santa Maria Valley appellations. The best grapes from this vineyard are found to the north on the gentle slopes of the hills. Au Bon Climat sources grapes grown at the top of the wind-swept slopes of the Solomon Hills. On this hilltop the wind and shallower soils keep the yields low and the grapes struggle to ripen. Even though it is a struggle, the small crop ripens early. This is the first Chardonnay to arrive at the winery for the last 10 years. The small crop on these hardy vines is concentrated.
WINE ENTHUSIAST 91 POINTS - "Warm almond, white peach and sweet oak aromas show on the nose of this wine from legend Jim Clendenen. There is solid tension to the palate, where edgy flavors of lemon skin are balanced by the warmth of hazelnut."
- Item #: i_200400Bottle Size: 750MLBurgundian in sensibility but with California style is one way of describing Jim Clendenen's Chardonnays- Structure and restraint melded with bountiful opulence is another. In the glass, buttery brioche marries with tropical fruits in an irresistible elixir that will leave the bottle drained before you know it.
- Item #: i_200830Bottle Size: 750mlWine Advocate: 96-99ROBERT PARKER'S WINE ADVOCATE 96-99 POINTS - "CIX stands for "109" as this block, planted in 2008 to Montrachet clones, was originally called "parcel 109" when they purchased it. The 2017 Chardonnay CIX Estate has an incredibly intense nose of lemon peel, green mango, fresh pears and powdered ginger with suggestions of baking bread, chopped cashews, lightly buttered popcorn and crème brulee. The palate is full-bodied, concentrated and bold with a racy line carrying the citrus and savory layers to an incredibly long finish."
- Item #: i_200700Bottle Size: 750mlWine Advocate: 96-99ROBERT PARKER'S WINE ADVOCATE 96-99 POINTS - "A barrel sample, the 2017 Chardonnay Eastside Vineyard comes from a warmer site in the Russian River (usually picked second after Sugar Shack) planted to Montrachet clone on very rocky, gravelly soils—the vines really struggle here. It has quite a decadent nose of pineapple upside down cake, almond croissant, peach cobbler and apple crumble with hints of marzipan and orange blossoms. The palate is full-bodied, rich, powerful and opulent in the mouth, with a wonderful oiliness to the texture and a seamless backbone of freshness to give it just enough lift, finishing very long and savory. This is a powerhouse that should offer amazing aging potential."
ANTONIO GALLONI 95-98 POINTS - "The 2017 Chardonnay Eastside Vineyard is incredibly expressive. Montrachet clone in this hillside Russian River site yields a Chardonnay of real distinction and nuance. A hint of reduction adds brightness to a core of candied orange, butter, vanillin and tropical notes. Even with all of its intensity, the 2017 is bright, focused and wonderfully lifted. Readers who can find it should not hesitate."
- Item #: i_202980Bottle Size: 750mlWinemaker's Notes: "This is what you get when you blend three impeccably farmed Chardonnay vineyards together. You get Fuji Apple, lemony salt water taffy, and a delicate herbal note that lies somewhere between spearmint and cumin. If you stainless ferment it at cool temperatures, it all gets delivered to the senses like a laser beam. The three vineyards are mine, Donnachadh (pronounced Donnaka), and Peake, so it doesn’t get much more Sta. Rita Hills than that."
- Item #: i_202570Bottle Size: 750MLJack Niven pioneered winegrape planting with Paragon Vineyard in the Edna Valley in 1973. Not the bystander type, his wife Catharine soon after began a project that grew into what is now Baileyana Winery. In the mid 1990s, their two sons, James and John, purchased property next door, and expanded Paragon Vineyard. They designed and planted these new blocks with select clones, varieties and rootstocks specific to the site. They names this section Firepeak, in homage of th extinct volcanoes in the area, and the resulting volcanic soils.
A bright but complex Chardonnay, this wine has upfront flavors of crisp pear, lemon zest, pineapple, and hints of creamy vanilla. Aromas of citrus and tropical flavors highlight the complexity of flavors that run throughout. The wine is smoothly textured and is well balanced from start to finish.
- Item #: i_207310Bottle Size: 750mlIt's not often that tank-fermented Chardonnay delivers the depth and texture of Teresa's Unoaked Chardonnay. This rich and diverse wine has bright fruit aromas and a nicely balanced mouth feel. The complex bouquet includes key lime, lemon peel, peaches and apricots. The crisp tartness complements the wine's natural viscosity and creates balance and elegance. This wine is extremely versatile with food. It's textured and plush enough to compliment rich seafood like lobster, crab and scallops, but also has a crisp acidity and fruit flavors that can pair nicely with more diverse flavors like grilled pork tenderloin with a fresh apple reduction sauce.
- Item #: i_204330Bottle Size: 750MLFor those of you who are familiar with the Benziger line, you know by now that this family produces some of the best values from Sonoma and are fanatics amongst the wine world’s Green movements. In fact, the Benziger Family has been for years working on converting their vineyards to organic practices and recently has recieved for many of their vineyards “Certified Sustainable” designations.
- 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_208720Bottle Size: 750mlThe Wild Bee! The Wild Bee represents a shift in Big Table Farm's Chardonnay program. This wine takes the place of their Willamette Valley Chardonnay – only in name, label and price! Same vineyard sources, same winemaking, same barrels. The Wild Bee is a combination of all 6 sites of Chardonnay that they work with and is a fantastic representation of Willamette Valley Chardonnay for 2017.
At first blush this wine's aromatics offer up lemon custard and stone fruit. This is a clean bright expression of Chardonnay. It has a persistant white floral note that leads into warm toast and hazelnut – this all shows off the perfectly developed golden grapes that finish like a bite of perfectly ripe pear. The acid is fine and complex without any hard edges giving this wine tension to help you appreciate it's subtleties.