- Item #: i_200330Bottle Size: 750mlThe 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.
- "The 2018 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 2018, as it is quite closed today. Bright saline notes add freshness and zip to this super-expressive Chardonnay."
- Item #: i_200430Bottle Size: 750mlThe 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.
- Item #: i_202940Bottle Size: 750mlThis Santa Barbara County Chardonnay is a good all around choice to satisfy a wide variety of foods. With enough structure to age for five to six years, we think this wine is most enjoyable three years after the vintage year. This is truly a Santa Barbara County blend from warmer Santa Ynez Valley to the cooler Santa Rita Hills.
- Item #: i_275937Bottle Size: 750mlJeb Dunnuck: 94People 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:
2017 Vintage - 93 Points
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 - "The classic Napa release from this estate, the 2018 Chardonnay Private Reserve has lots of beautiful golden apple, caramelized citrus, toasted nut, and hints of acacia flowers. With a rich, textured style, it still stays beautifully fresh, balanced, and layered. It's a brilliant effort."
- Item #: i_202690Bottle Size: 750mlBoen draws its profile from the varied winegrowing regions that are the most highly regarded cool-climate appellations along California's coast. This stretch of coastline is so geographically diverse that the various soil types, sub-climates, and elevations produce wines with an array of differences in character and style. To create the Boen Tri-Appellation Chardonnay, Joe Wagner blends together grapes from Sonoma County, Santa Barbara County, and Monterey County to showcase a wine that is rich in flavor, with bright aromatics and a vibrant minerality.
Crisp green apple and persimmon lead to peach skin and a stone-fruit opening. The mid-palate is lively and tropical with an undertone of delicate salinity. Boen Chardonnay ends with lovely hints of kumquat and fresh lemon custard pie. Rich and creamy, this wine resides with it's many elements. Pair this Chardonnay with welsh aged cheddar, baked tilapia, and kale salad with apples and blanched almonds.
- Item #: i_206040Bottle Size: 750mlWine Spectator: 92Vinous Media: 92Jeb Dunnuck: 94There is an alluring charm to the entire Central Coast wine producing region, but it was Santa Rita Hills that called to Greg Brewer and Steve Clifton. Besides the beauty of the land, the climate and the soil compositions there was a freshness in the air as the cool Pacific Ocean breeze filtered through the canyons and subsequent vineyards planted. For many years the two farmed the land and made outstanding wine, even earning praise from top critic Robert Parker Jr: "Two brilliant young winemakers, Greg Brewer and Steve Clifton, are symbolic of both the present and future of California high quality wine production." While the winery has been sold, Greg Brewer remains on board as head winemaker ensuring the vision both himself and Steve had along with the quality of the wine doesn't change for many years to come!
With the goal of expressing a comprehensive expression of the appellation, Brewer-Clifton selected four unique vineyard sites to create this Santa Rita Hills bottling. This blend is comprised of 3D, Machado, Acin, and Hapgood vineyards. As each vineyard has its own unique requirements, the winery manages each according to their inimitable needs rather than a macro approach to farming. Brewer-Clifton works to achieve a natrual balance between the site, the vines, the aspect and the microclimates in each vineyard, using sustainable and/or organic farming methods whenever possible.
JEB DUNNICK 94 POINTS - "This is another brilliant lineup from Greg Brewer, and these Chardonnays and Pinot Noirs (as well as a terrific Syrah) are up with the finest wines in this report. These wines are never shrinking violets and have loads of fruit and texture, yet they always show singular characters, stunning balance, and weightless, elegant textures that make them a joy to drink. I think they're some of the finest Pinot Noirs and Chardonnays coming out of California today."
"Starting with the Chardonnays, the 2018 Chardonnay Sta. Rita Hills is a winner and is ideal for readers looking to understand the Sta. Rita Hills as well as the style of the wines at Brewer-Clifton. Medium gold, with a great nose of Meyer lemons, caramelized orchard fruits, hints of sappy herbs, and a touch of seaside-like salinity and minerality, it's medium to full-bodied and has a rounded, elegant texture, nicely integrated acidity, and a clean, classy finish."
ANTONIO GALLONI 92 POINTS - "The 2018 Chardonnay (Sta. Rita Hills) is vivid and expressive. Like so many of the wines here, the Chardonnay needs a good bit of air to show at its best. Once that happens, the wine's textural breadth and dimension emerge beautifully. Lemon confit, dried pear, mint and dried herbs are all laced together. This appellation Chardonnay is deep, savory and phenolic, all of which make it an excellent choice for the dinner table. It is the hidden gem in this range. Vineyard sites are 3D, Machado and Hapgood."
ROBERT PARKER'S WINE ADVOCATE 92 POINTS - "The 2018 Chardonnay Sta. Rita Hills has very pretty aromas of perfumed quince, pears and peaches with notes of honey and hazelnuts and a bright lemon peel lift. The light to medium-bodied palate is slow to unfold to delicate, seamlessly fresh fruits with savory bass tones and a long, lifted finish. 2,500 cases produced."
- 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 2018 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_207710Bottle Size: 750MLShowcasing the vibrant charm of Chardonnay grown on the cool, windswept Central Coast, this wine displays enticing aromas of lemon zest, green apple, cedar and passionfruit. On the palate, mouthcoating waves of tropical fruit are balanced by a beam of natural acidity, with French oak-inspired hints of toasted brioche emerging on the finish.
- Item #: i_210160Bottle Size: 750MLWine Advocate: 92ROBERT PARKER'S WINE ADVOCATE 92 POINTS - "The 2018 Chardonnay Estate has lush scents of baked apples, honeysuckle, honeycomb and hay with notes of quince paste and almonds. The palate is medium-bodied, rounded and slightly buttery with a long, uplifted finish. 10,000 cases produced."
- Item #: i_210100Bottle Size: 750mlSince its founding, Chalk Hill has been producing artisan wines from their estate vineyards in the hills of northeastern Sonoma County. For four decades they have studied, prodded and coaxed our complex terroir to ensure that their estate wines deliver vivid aromatics, commanding flavors, great character and regional accuracy. While their 300+ acres of vineyards surrounding the winery will always be the cornerstone of Chalk Hill's identity, starting with the 2011 vintage, in addition to their estate Chardonnay, Chalk Hill started producing their first Sonoma Coast Chardonnay.
This 2018 Sonoma Coast Chardonnay comes from extraordinary vineyards throughout Sonoma County consisting primarily of Foley Family estate vineyards. This Chardonnay features fruit from some of the best sites in Carneros, Chalk Hill, and ouf course, Sonoma Coast. Rich, graceful and balanced are just some of the ways to describe this 2018 Sonoma Coast Chardonnay. The wine is a light golden color and exudes aromas of apple and baking spice immediately upon entering the glass. The palate has a rich textural body composed by zest and acidity with flavors of toasted hazelnut, vanilla and creme brulee. With its cool-climate influences, this Chardonnay has remarkable varietal intensity, balanced acidity and minerality that complement the rich and full flavors on the palate.
- Item #: i_210670Bottle Size: 750mlWine Advocate: 93Vinous Media: 92Jeb Dunnuck: 92ROBERT PARKER'S WINE ADVOCATE 93 POINTS - "The 2018 Chardonnay Grower Collection Calesa Vineyard has a very pretty, delicate nose with touches of floral perfume and quince that float over a core of spiced peaches, hazelnuts, cut hay and lemon cream. The medium-bodied palate takes its time to unfurl to spicy, perfumed fruits, rounded but fresh and lively, with a long, layered finish. Lovely. 2,020 cases produced."
ANTONIO GALLONI 92 POINTS - "The 2018 Chardonnay Grower Collection Calesa Vineyard shows the more reserved side of Chardonnay. The 2018 is bright and lifted and is all about savory and mineral infused energy, while the citrus-driven fruit is very much in the background. Saline notes give the 2018 much of its persistence and overall feel."
JEB DUNNUCK 92 POINTS - "Brought up in just under 40% new French oak, the 2018 Chardonnay Calesa Vineyard shows a pure, elegant style as well as caramelized grapefruit, white flowers, and salty mineral-like aromas and flavors. Bright, juicy, and medium-bodied, drink this balanced, lively Chardonnay over the coming 3-5 years."
- Item #: i_214030Bottle Size: 750mlWinemaker's Tasting Notes: "A long, cool growing season, ideal for cool climate varieties, delivered wines of structure, focus and shimmering elegance. Our 2018 Estate Chardonnay delights with notes of hazelnut, honeysuckle, apricot and quince. The hints of brioche and vanilla surf a wave of citrusy, bright fruit and a long, creamy finish."
- Item #: i_215880Bottle Size: 750mlJeb Dunnuck: 93Dragonette strives to create Chardonnays of textural purity, complexity and balance with classic tension. Complexity and balance are achieved by meticulous attention to detail in the vineyard, where each vineyard block is managed for appropriate canopy and proper yields. Tension and textural purity begin in the vineyard with low yields and balanced acidity at harvest. Native yeast fermentation in clean oak cooperage and aging on the lees aid in preserving the purity of texture. Dragonette ages their wines on their lees, without racking, and constant topping. Moreover, each wine is bottled only after sufficient time in barrel to permit ideal evolution. The SRH blend is constructed from these individual components selected for diversity of site and soils to create complexity and harmony. This year, the wine is a blend of fruit from Donnachadh, Spear, and Bentrock vineyards, which are all organically or sustainably farmed.
JEB DUNNUCK 93 POINTS - "Moving to the Chardonnay releases, the 2018 Chardonnay Sta. Rita Hills reveals a medium gold hue as well as a textbook, classy bouquet of golden apples, citrus blossom, spice, and salty minerality. A textbook Sta. Rita Hills Chardonnay, it's medium-bodied and has a wonderful texture as well as a great finish. Readers looking to learn what topflight Chardonnay from this region tastes like should latch onto bottles."
- Item #: i_216814Bottle Size: 750mlBoth complex and alluring, this radiant Chardonnay opens up with aromas of pineapple, stone fruit and lime, as well as hints of white flowers and sweet French oak. On the palate, it is round and silky, with lively acidity and abundant minerality balancing the underlying richness and adding poise to the lush flavors of apple, peach and creamy lemon curd.
- Item #: i_220220Bottle Size: 750MLWine Advocate: 94+Vinous Media: 94-96ANTONIO GALLONI 94-96 POINTS - "One of the early highlights in this range, the 2018 Chardonnay Isobel Charles Heintz Vineyard is wonderfully precise and nuanced. The natural richness of this site comes through, but the 2018 is a bit more focused and pointed than it usually is. Exotic floral notes and hints of tropical fruits play off striking mineral underpinnings. This is such a vivid and captivating young Chardonnay."
ROBERT PARKER'S WINE ADVOCATE 94+ POINTS - "Winemaker Andy Smith says that because of the very large crops and big clusters in 2018, there was some inevitable botrytis character in the 2018 Chardonnay Isobel Charles Heintz Vineyard. Although the nose is youthfully tight, the petrichor and flint aromas open to lemon drop and tropical hints, and the palate, which is tight, linear and bright, hints at more savory layers to come, finishing lifted and ethereal. This vintage has loads of personality and should be very long lived."
- 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 2018 Chardonnay displays a luminous pale gold, with green rim in the glass. A lovely nose of Meyer lemon, grapefruit zest, ginger, and fresh pineapple supported by verbena and coastal rainfall and is wonderfully complex and inviting. On the palate a delightfully broad entry leads to a viscous and rich midpalate with lovely weight. All of the richness is framed by fresh acids that complement the texture. Pineapple and Asian pears dominate the flavor profile, echoing on a long, persistent finish. Such delicious drinking now but restraint will be required if you are to realize the potential of the 2018 Chardonnay until 2030.
- Item #: i_274300Bottle Size: 750mlThe Chardonnay estate is a barrel selection. Since each barrel ferments with its own yeast and ages at its own rate, each barrel becomes very distinct. Before bottling, Jason tastes each barrel. Those barrels which speak to the longest aging potential become the Original Vines Reserve. This estate, on the other hand, is blended from those barrels which offer the most immediate pleasure.
- Item #: i_220630Bottle Size: 750mlCoombsville's beloved Haynes Vineyard was planted upon beds of rich, volcanic alluvial soils in back in the late 1960s, making it one of the oldest Chardonnay vineyards within the Napa Valley. Old Wente clones have been grafted upon St. George rootstock. After harvest, the grapes are fermented with native yeast, which follows with full malolactic fermentation. The wine is aged for 11 months sur lies in 15% new French oak, 20% concrete egg, and 10% stainless steel.
Aromatically the wine has nuances of white flowers such as jasmine, as well as a touch of lemon curd and an underlying salinity. On the palate, the wine is beautifully full-bodied with just barely ripened stone fruits and serious longevity.
- Item #: i_220660Bottle Size: 750mlThe Hudson Vineyard was planted upon beds of Haire loam soil back in the 1980s by a Texas expat by the name of Lee Hudson. Located at the southern tip of the Mayacamas Mountain range, the vineyard is 20 miles north of the San Pablo Bay exposing it to the classically Napa diurnal shift of foggy morning and extremely warm afternoons. The wines undergo native yeast fermentation before aging for 11 months in a combination of roughly 15% new French oak and 20% concrete egg.
Aromatically the wine is flinty, with notes of grapefruit and as well as tropical fruits. On the palate, the wine has ripe yellow fruits, a touch of pie crust and a firm backbone of sleek acidity.
- 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!
Classic Far Niente style with aromas of grilled citrus, melon and honeysuckle with hints of white fig, gardenia and toasted hazelnuts, background of mild toasted oak that adds supportive warmth and richness. A silky entry builds on the palate with a rich texture that continues to evolve. Possessing great structure and length, a sweet core of melon and citrus is supported by white floral and toasted vanilla and baking spice notes. The broad mid palate comes back together with a long bright finish.
- Item #: i_220510Bottle Size: 750mlThis smooth, rich Chardonnay is the wine for you if your palate tends toward the “buttery” and “oaky” side.
It would be hard to hear the name Ferrari- Carano and not think of world-class wine. From a small, 30-acre plot of grapes purchased in 1979, to today’s 1,500 acres in six different appelations, Ferrari-Carano owns some of the finest properties in all of California. Their wines are recognized by the critics and are listed on the menus of some of the finest restaurants in the world. While tasting through the current lineup at a recent luncheon, it was their Reserve Chardonnay that truly garnered the limelight.
Coming from their property in Carneros, the long, cool growing season matures the fruit slowly, giving it plenty of time to gain in richness and depth while retaining a higher acidity and tighter structure than fruit in warmer climate. Combine this with the wine’s aging in a high percentage in new oak, and you get a Chardonnay that is both fresh, lively, yet rich and decadent. This wine entices with aromas of quince, apple, cinnamon, caramel, citrus, butter, vanilla, and graham cracker complemented by elegant, upfront flavors of pear, peach, and a lingering, toasted oak finish.
- Item #: i_220560Bottle Size: 750mlWinery's Notes: This Chardonnay delights with aromas of citrus, white peach, orange blossom, vanilla, graham cracker and butter perfectly balanced by vibrant and refreshing flavors of Meyer lemon, minerality, cinnamon and pears. Lingering creamy and toasted oak notes round out the finish.