- 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_210160Bottle Size: 750MLWine Advocate: 91Wine Spectator: 91ROBERT PARKER'S WINE ADVOCATE 91 POINTS - "The 2017 Chardonnay Estate opens with notes of toast, cream, lemon pith and hay over a core of Red Delicious apple and banana chips. The medium-bodied palate is rounded and creamy with toasty spice and honey notions, finishing long and lifted with juicy acidity."
WINE SPECTATOR 91 POINTS - "Intense and well-structured, with flavors of Bosc pear, Fuji apple and ruby grapefruit, supported by firm acidity. Dried savory herb notes linger on the fresh, pure-tasting finish. Drink now through 2023."
- Item #: i_214000Bottle Size: 750mlDehlinger has long been recognized for its Russian River Valley Chardonnays, which are known for their balance, fresh acidity, and unctuous flavor. Today, Dehlinger produces a single Estate Chardonnay bottling each vintage, originating from their eight acres of Chardonnay vines planted between 1975 and 1988. These old vines, grown in the region's classic goldridge series soils, are grafted to the California heritage "Wente" clone, which produces small clusters and berries and has a notable minerality and almost oily viscosity.
Dehlinger's Chardonnays are crafted using traditional techniques which preserve the flavor and elegance of the variety. At harvest, the grapes are picked at night, brought cold into the winery and "whole cluster pressed" to extract the highest quality juice. From there, the juice is fermented in French oak barrels using native yeasts. The wine gains further complexity through malolactic fermentation and a year of aging on the lees. Dehlinger has been bottling its Chardonnays "Unfiltered" since the late 1990s in order to capture the full flavor potential and most pleasing texture possible.
ANTONIO GALLONI 92 POINTS - "Not surprisingly, in 2017 Dehlinger's Chardonnay Estate is quite racy and luscious. Orchard fruit, citrus confit, and wild flowers take on an extra level of sheer richness, while tropical accents add to the real feeling of exoticism."
- Item #: i_232540Bottle Size: 750mlWine Spectator: 91Seven Springs Vineyard was planted in 1984 by Al MacDonald on an east-facing slope, in the iron-rich and rocky, volcanic soils of the Eola-Amity Hills. Al planted what would become one of Oregon's most recognized vineyards who sold fruit to many benchmark Oregon producers. The vineyard's position opposite of the windy Van Duzer Corridor mitigates hot, sunny afternoons in the Willamette Valley with cool winds from the Pacific. As valley temperatures increase throughout the day, warm air rises, replaced by cooling winds flooding in from the Pacific through the Van Duzer gap and across the vineyard providing extended hang time at harvest. The vineyard has always been dry farmed, it's certified LIVE and was converted to biodynamic viticulture in 2007.
At the helm of Seven Springs is Rajat Parr, world renowned wine sommelier and Sashi Moorman, known for his passion for winemaking and viticulture. Together, these two bring an insurmountable amount of knowledge leading Seven Springs into its 4th decade producing outstanding wines at an affordable price point!
WINE SPECTATOR 91 POINTS - "Refined and elegantly layered, with floral apple, spiced lees and mineral notes that glide along a structured finish. Drink now through 2021. 1,500 cases made."
- Item #: i_220510Bottle Size: 750mlIt 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_220170Bottle Size: 750MLThe dramatic landscape of the Sonoma coast, with its steep hillsides and windswept foothills, gives Flowers a diverse profile of well-draining soils, while direct proximity to the Pacific Ocean results in a long, cool growing season. These extreme coastal conditions allow Flowers to produce a layered Chardonnay with bright fruit focus, complex minerality and crystalline acidity. Flowers' Sonoma Coast Chardonnay is sourced from a small selection of family-owned sites, including their own estate Camp Meeting Ridge Vineyard.
Medium yellow in color, this wine displays aromas of straw, lemon verbena, and honey suckle that mingle with layers of lemon meringue and lychee. Upon entry are flavors of lemon curd, honeydew, and hints of star fruit and wet stone, balanced with a touch of fine grained tannin. The crisp finish is countered with a spicy note of white pepper and lingers with coastal minerality.
- Item #: i_219890Bottle Size: 750mlPellegrini's Olivet Lane Vineyard was planted in 1975 to Wente selection on AXR roostock. The vineyard sits on 65 acres of sloping benchland in the Santa Rosa Plain, in between the warmer Westside Road region andthe cooler Green Valley, where warm sunny days are moderated by cool breezes and chilly evening temperatures. The combination of low temperature, regular fog intrusion and well-drained loam, clay soils create an excellent environment for growing Chardonnay that develop cool-climate characteristics and impeccable acid at fairly low sugars. The wines from this vineyard simultaneously express power and finess, and they do so with tremendous balance.
This Chardonnay is a pure expression of penetrating acidity moderated by layers of rich, velvety baking spices with crisp apple and citrus notes throughout. The bouquet unravels decadent aromas of shortbread, French vanilla beans and apricot Tarte Tatin, with hints of vibrant lemon zest. The warm and spicy nose paves the way for a more lean and mineral driven palate with exuberant citrus and lemon merengue pie. It slowly opens up to underlying tones of white tea, fresh kumquats and lemongrass. The complex nature of this wine keeps drinkers on their toes, while the impeccable structure is perfect for cellaring for many years to come.
- Item #: i_237240Bottle Size: 750mlCreme brulee opens into a candied pear bouquet. Fermented in stainless steel tanks on the leas and aged in neutral, French oak barrels, light hints of vanilla arise with more robust cantaloupe, citrus, and ripe melon notes. Balanced, fresh texture and crisp acidity harmonize this Chardonnay in a wonderful expression of the Russian River Valley.
- Item #: i_237510Bottle Size: 750mlWine Spectator: 92AVNI Chardonnay reflects the complex flavor profile of Eola-Amity Hills chardonnay combined with Chardonnay from 100% Jory soils in Salem's Bunker Hill, Dundee's Durand, and a Yamhill-Carlton site, with a contribution from Laubejac vineyard fruit near Monmouth, on the southwestern side of the region in Willakenzie and Dupee soils. The wine is silky, racy and complex, with a lasting finish of citrus, pear, white flowers and flinty mouthwatering minerality. The treatment of the fruit at harvest reflects the winemaking philosophy of Dominique Lafon.
WINE SPECTATOR 92 POINTS - "Lithe and gracefully complex, with baked pear and lemon flavors, accented by spice and cinnamon notes. Builds richness on the finish. Drink now through 2021. 1,300 cases made. — TF"
- Item #: i_236780Bottle Size: 750mlWine Advocate: 91Liquid Farm's "White Hill" bottling is the leaner and more Chablisiane of their two Chardonnay bottlings. Comprised of fruit from some of the best vineyards in the area, White Hill highlights the unique salinity that comes through in the ancient soils of Santa Rita Hills. The style of this wine will always be racier and predominately neutral barrel fermentation. Its profile is that of mineral, yellow peach, fresh Asian pear, salinity, linen, candied ginger, and lavender cream.
ROBERT PARKER'S WINE ADVOCATE 91 POINTS - "There are fully 1,200 cases of the 2016 Chardonnay White Hill, Liquid Farm's largest bottling, which offers up a crisp bouquet of white peach, citrus pith, smoke and faint reduction. On the palate, the wine is bright and medium-bodied, with racy acids and nice tension, but concluding with a somewhat fluid finish that depresses my score a touch."
- Item #: i_248610Bottle Size: 750mlLike the mannequins on the label, many of Orin Swift's Chardonnay vineyards have their own set of unique characteristics - the soil, the rickety old gate, or even the dove hunters in the adjacent field. From the tops of the Stagecoach Vineyard to the cool Sonoma Carneros, Orin Swift lets Chardonnay hang until they turn golden-brown, and after being carefully picked, are barrel fermented in a mix of new and seasoned French oak. No two resulting lots ever smell or taste the same, but when blended together, they create something never seen before - much like the collection of mannequins on the bottle.
Pale gold in the glass, opulent aromatics of Meyer lemon, vanilla creme, and sweet oak are complemented by subtle notes of jasmine, gardenias and caramel. The layered palate is replete with ripe stone fruit, melon, lemon curd and hints of roasted almond, grapefruit pith and white pepper. The finish is long and rich with a tapering young coconut flavor.
- Item #: i_249340Bottle Size: 750mlWine Advocate: 92+ROBERT PARKER'S WINE ADVOCATE 92+ POINTS - "The 2017 Chardonnay Dutton Ranch aged on the lees in 35% new oak with weekly batonnage. It reluctantly opens to apple pie, toast, apricot, roasted almonds and smoky reduction. It's medium-bodied, silky and more expressive in the mouth with honeyed, savory notions framing the intense fruits, enlivened by juicy acidity and finishing long and textured. This will benefit from another year in bottle."
- Item #: i_249690Bottle Size: 750mlJeb Dunnuck: 95 PointsAnybody who has been in our store asking for California Chardonnay recommendations has surely heard us mention the wines of Peake Ranch. This producer has previously been on our domestic "Top Wine" list in 2018, and judging by the newly released 2017 Santa Barbara County Chardonnay, there's a good chance that they will be on the list this year!
Peake Ranch is a boutique, family-run winery owned by John and Gillian Wagner. Like all of us who have visited Santa Barbara County, the couple fell in love with the beautiful countryside and the friendliness of the people. They purchased Peake Ranch with a vision of building a winery and a house on the property, and producing extraordinary wines. They also bring a humbleness and sense of humility, which is honestly quite refreshing, considering that in only their third vintage, they began to receive rave reviews from the top critics!
Located on the eastern end of the Sta. Rita Hills AVA on Santa Rosa Road, Peake Ranch is a 105-acre parcel with 50 acres of vines. The plantings are all along a hill that exposes the vines to the cool air that comes off the Pacific and into the Santa Ynez Valley. The combination of various facing slopes, coupled with the exposure to varying degrees of the cool wind give the vineyard a diversity of fruit flavor profiles, resulting in more complex wines.
The winemaking team consists of Paul Lato and Wynne Solomon. Paul has nearly two decades of experience, has earned critical acclaim with top critics (as high as 99 points), and has placed his eponymous line of wines in top restaurants in the United States, Europe and Japan! Wynne studied Wine and Viticulture at Cal Poly in San Luis Obispo, and began making wine with Stephen Ross Winery in the Edna Valley before moving down to the Sta. Rita Hills to continue pursuing cool climate winemaking with Melville Winery. She joined the Peake Ranch team in 2018, worked with Paul Lato in blending the 2017 vintage, and made the 2018 vintage hand in hand with him. Her vision for Peake Ranch is to focus on the unique attributes of this area while emphasizing balance in Californian wines.
This Chardonnay is comprised of the Peak Ranch Estate Vineyard, coupled with Chardonnay from the famed Sierra Madre Vineyard in the Santa Maria Valley. Sierra Madre is comprised of sandy, well-drained soil, and the Chardonnay planted here takes advantage of sunny days and cool night to become both fully ripe and at the same time retain a high level of acidity.
JEB DUNNUCK 95 POINTS - "An up and coming estate readers need to check out is John and Gillian Wagner's Peake Ranch. Located on the eastern/southern side of the Sta. Rita Hills, they produce a stunning array of Chardonnay, Pinot Noir, and Syrahs. Prices haven't caught up with quality, so these are still screaming values."
"A stunning value, the 2017 Chardonnay Santa Barbara County comes from the Sierra Madre and Peake Ranch vineyards and was barrel fermented and aged 18 months in 50% new French oak. It offers a rich, powerful, quintessential California bouquet of orchard fruits, toasted spice, grilled bread, and white flowers. It's a ripe, sexy, yet flawlessly balanced effort that stays balanced, pure, and lengthy. It's a smoking value even at the $40 price point."
- Item #: i_252770Bottle Size: 750MLANTONIO GALLONI 93 POINTS - "The 2017 Chardonnay (Fort Ross-Seaview) is soft, creamy and wonderfully inviting, with notes of lemon confit, white flowers, white pepper and mint. The Fort-Ross Seaview Chardonnay - made entirely from Martinelli's Charles Ranch - takes the place of the former Sonoma Coast bottling. The 2018 finishes with terrific freshness and nuance. This is a gorgeous wine."
- Item #: i_252750Bottle Size: 750MLDavid Ramey is among a distinguished group of pioneering American vintners who revolutionized modern-day winemaking and elevated California to the forefront of the international wine community. Hailed as “Professor Chardonnay” by Wine Spectator, David’s groundbreaking work with indigenous yeasts, sur lies aging and malolactic and barrel fermentation yielded a new California Chardonnay style that was richer, more lush and silky smooth. Ramey Wine Cellars crafts exceptional expressions of Chardonnay.
- Item #: i_274360Bottle Size: 750mlOlson displays a “crunchy” acidity, not unlike Chenin Blanc. Just 5 miles off the Pacific Ocean, the climate is incredibly cold. Locals colloquially call Prunedale “Prunetucky”, and Olson is a large sand dune rising above the town, just west of the 101 and facing the ocean. Typically this wine shows dried honey, Asian pear, and roasted pineapple on top of a distinct saline note.
- Item #: i_275235Bottle Size: 750mlLos Carneros is one of the most prestigious Chardonnay growing area in California, and this wine demonstrates why. Vine Cliff's 2017 Los Carneros Chardonnay is classic Chardonnay. Elegant with complex aromas of pear, green apple, lemon citrus, mineral and floral notes. There is a rich bouquet of hazelnut, butterscotch, and vanilla. The palate is rich and luscious, balanced with bright acidity. Flavors of creme brulee, pear, apple and lemon creme linger on the long smooth finish.
- Item #: i_280120Bottle Size: 750mlThis wine is a beautiful pale gold in color tinged with a green hue. The nose gives expansive aromas of pineapple cake, toasted hazelnut, and delicate white flowers. The palate offers up tropical fruit and crème brulee flavors with bright acidity, balanced by a creamy mid-palate texture that is decadent and round. The finish is bright, with a flinty minerality.
- Item #: i_277830Bottle Size: 750mlWalter Scott's Cuvee Anne Chardonnay is blended from the best Chardonnay sites including Freedom Hill, X Novo, Sojourner, Seven Springs and Justice Vineyards. It is a reserve blend that represents their vision of Willamette Valley Chardonnay. The juice was fermented with ambient yeast, minimal batonnage, and aged in a mix of new and neutral 500 and 350 liter barrels for 12 months. The wine is finally racked and blended to stainless steel for an additional 3 months prior to bottling.
This wine leads with beautiful aromas of nectarine, yellow peach, white flowers and a touch of nuttiness. The palate has great balance with a strong sense of minerality and a long graceful finish.