2011 Arnot-Roberts Santa Cruz Mountains Chardonnay
12.7% alc., 300 cases, $30.
Pale light straw color
and clear in the glass. Aromas of apple, pineapple, crushed wet stones and sap. Flavors of green apple and
hi-pitched lemon with piercing acidity. An austere, acid-driven wine with a hint of salinity on the high voltage
2010 Benovia La Pommeraie Russian River Valley Chardonnay
14.5% alc., $43.
Light straw color
and clear in the glass. Moderately rich and very Russian River Valley in character, yet has enough
restraint to appeal. Aromas and flavors of fresh apple, citrus, honey and brioche. Like biting into a
juicy, ripe caramel apple on a stick. Beautifully balanced with just the right amount of oak.
2011 Big Table Farm Willamette Valley Chardonnay
12.8% alc., 136
cases, $42. This is no surprise as Brian has worked extensively with
Chardonnay at Neyers Vineyards and Marcassin in the past. 60% of the
fruit is from Bieze Vineyard which shares a fence with Seven Springs
Vineyard. The balance of the blend is from the Wirtz Vineyard which
dates to the early 1970s. Barrel fermented in mixed aged French oak
barrels. Unfined and unfiltered and not cold stabilized. Label is adorned with
bees courtesy of Clare and her hives.
Light straw color and clear in the glass.
Brilliant aromas of fresh applesauce, the air after a rain, and graphite. Appealing
flavors of baked apples, pear and lemony citrus. Slightly creamy on the palate
with a refreshing lift of acidity on the finish. Not a showy or dolled-up wine, put pure and modest. One of the
better Chardonnays I have had from Oregon. Bring on the oysters!
2011 Chappellet Napa Valley Chardonnay
14.5% alc., pH 3.55, TA 0.64, $35. From the Kelly
Ranch, a cool site in the rolling hills above San Pablo Bay and the Poe and Red Hen vineyards,
farmed by the Laird family. Dijon clones 95 and 96 and Robert young clone. Winemaker Phillip
Corallo-Titus, the winemaker at Chappellet for over twenty years.
Pale straw color and clear in the
glass. Oak-infused aromas of yellow peach, lemon, pastry cream and blond caramel. Tasty core of
lemon cream, baked pear and toffee. Slightly creamy with complimentary oak in the background.
2010 Eric Kent Russian River Valley Chardonnay
14.5% alc.,pH 3.36, TA 0.62, 272 cases, $40. 86% Stiling
Vineyard with small amounts of Wildcat Mountain and Green Acres Hill vineyards. Primarily Rued selection.
Light straw color and clear in the glass. Nuanced nose offering aromas of lychee, chestnut, banana, graphite
and bark. Soft in the mouth and rather ordinary with flavors of pear, lemon, honey and roasted nuts. Decent.
2010 Gary Farrell Russian River Selection Russian River Valley Chardonnay
14.2% alc.,pH 3.22, TA 0.73,
2,752 cases, $35. Released August 1, 2012. Sourced from four Russian River Valley Vineyards. Aged 7
months in 40% new French oak barrels.
Light straw color and clear in the glass. Aromas of lemon curd,
candle wax, bark and oak. A richer style with flavors of baked apple crisp, grilled citrus and toasty oak. The
fruit has a very ripe, cooked quality typical of many Russian River Valley Chardonnays. A good backing of
acidity saves the wine. Decent.
2009 Hanzell Sonoma Valley Chardonnay
14.5% alc., $75.
straw color and clear in the glass. Initially reduction aromas of struck
match, resolving over time to reveal scents of straw bale, alfalfa, autumn
leaves and roasted nuts. A seamless wine that enters with tasty flavors
of lemon, pear and peanuts and exits with a lemony riff. Slightly crusty
and salty. Very good acid backbone leads the drinker to another sip.
Finishes impressively with great vigor and focus. Should age extremely well.
2010 Knez Demuth Vineyard Anderson Valley Chardonnay
13.2% alc., $37.
A very appealing wine that is not gussied up
with oak and is highly flavorful. Lemon and green apple aromas
and flavors are featured with a faint note of fresh brioche. Crisp,
bright and refreshing, like biting into a ripe green apple. Very
charming. This is a Grand Cru level old vine Chardonnay
2010 Joseph Phelps Freestone Vineyards Estate Grown Sonoma Coast Chardonnay
13.5% alc., pH
3.38, TA 0.67, 2,910 cases, $55. Clones 76 and Wente. 100% malolactic fermentation. Aged 14 months in
50% new and 50% two to three-year-old French oak barrels.
Light straw color and clear in the glass.
Understated, picking up interest over time in the glass. Aromas of tart lemon, straw, and buttered brioche.
Reminds me of the smell of a bakery. Very tasty flavors of lemon and baked pear with complimentary buttery
oak. Soft in the mouth, with a zesty finish leaving a long trail of steely lemon behind. Very good.
2010 Joseph Phelps Pastorale Vineyard Estate Grown Sonoma Coast Chardonnay
13.5% alc., pH 3.39, TA 0.62, 210 cases, $75. From the best
block of Chardonnay planted at the Pastorale Vineyard in Freestone. 100%
malolactic fermentation. Aged 14 months in 67% new French oak barrels (50%
in 500 Liter puncheons).
Light straw color and clear in the glass. Delicate
aromas of lemon peel, lime, oak and chalk dust. Restrained, but alluring with
very nice balance. Offers an appealing fusion of apple and citrus flavors with
the slightest nutty oak in the background. This wine has an understated appeal
that keeps the drinker exploring for nuance. Very good.
2011 Pfendler Estate Grown Sonoma Coast Chardonnay
13.8% alc.,150 cases, $38. Partially de-stemmed
and crushed to tank, barrel fermented, 8 months sur lee aging, 10 months in 40% new French oak barrels.
Clone 4 and Hyde-Wente. Winemaker Greg Bjornstad.
Light straw color and clear in the glass. Nicely
perfumed with aromas of apple crisp, lemon, brioche, pastry cream and chalk dust. Soft and pleasing on the
palate with flavors of grilled peach, baked apple, toasted nuts and caramel with a slight riff of citrus. Nicely
balanced with good integration of acidity and a clean finish. Good.