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2013 California & Oregon Chardonnay Second Team All-Americans

2010 Benovia La Pommeraie Russian River Valley Chardonnay

14.5% alc., $43. From the dry-farmed Zio Tony Vineyard farmed by the Martinelli family. Located along Laguna Ridge at the edge of the Green Valley AVA. The vineyard was once an apple orchard, thus the name “La Pommeraie,” French for “the apple orchard.” High density plenty of Dijon 95 and Old Wente. 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.

2010 DuMOL isobel Russian River Valley Chardonnay

13.9% alc., 955 cases, $60. Released November 2012. Sourced from Charles Heintz Vineyard, UCD 108. Yield 3.5 tons per acre from wines that are 29 years old. Complete malolactic fermentation and 15 months aging in 40% new French oak barrels. Light straw color and clear in the glass. Very fresh scent of lemon, grilled peach, pear and savory herbs. Remarkable palate presence with impressive energy and a vibrant lift of acidity on the extended finish. The peach, lemon and nutty flavors are complimented by a touch of caramelized oak and really grab your attention. Very flavorful, but has the balance and restraint to pair beautifully with food. Heintz Vineyard Chardonnay is my paramour.

2011 Freeman Ryo-Fu Russian River Valley Chardonnay

13.5% alc., 450 cases, $40. A blend of two vineyards with the largest component from Keefer Ranch and a lesser amount from Heintz Vineyard (vines dating to 1982). Aged 14 months sur lies in 21% new and 79% 1, 2 and 3-year-old French oak barrels. · Light yellow color and clear in the glass. Aromas of lemon, apple and slate lead to crisp, vivid flavors of citrus, apple, white peach and oak. Plenty to like with forward fruit flavors reigned in by lively acidity, finishing on a high note with lemon-drop memories. Still fine the following day from a previously opened and re-corked bottle.

2010 Hanzell Sonoma Valley Chardonnay

14.5% alc., pH 3.20, TA 0.72, 2,329 cases, $75. Cold, wet spring with rains causing a fair bit of shatter. Yields down over twenty percent. Summer temperatures were mild. Harvest extended from September 13 to 28. Select barrels were included in this final blend. Light straw color and clear in the glass. Nicely perfumed with aromas of lemon drop, peach, buttery brioche and chalk dust. The palate-staining flavors really pique your interest by their depth, offering notes of baked pear, green apple, grilled grapefruit and roasted nuts. Juicy and seductive with lively acidity, this wine is superb in every way. I rarely talk of finish in Chardonnay but this wine offers superb closing intensity and length. An outstanding wine that makes you want to clap.

2009 Johan Vineyards Estate Reserve Willamette Valley Chardonnay

12.5% alc., pH 3.36, TA 0.59, 142 cases, $33. Released November 2011. A winemaker selection of a blend of Dijon clones 76 and 95. Fermented with native yeasts in 50% new French oak with lees stirring, and aged 18 months where it underwent 100% MLF. The wine was bottle aged an additional 7 months before release. Minimal sulfite additions. Unfiltered.Pale straw color in the glass with slight cloudiness (bottled with lees). Attractive scent of lemon custard and buttered brioche. Fresh and frisky, with delicious flavors of lemon, pear, apple, pineapple and yeasty goodness, silky textured, finishing with a good cut of acidity. One of the more impressive Oregon Chardonnays I have sampled.

2011 Kosta Browne One Sixteen Russian River Valley Chardonnay

14.5% alc., pH 3.32, TA 0.62, 2,191 cases, $58. Sourced from six vineyards reflecting the Green Valley of the Russian River Valley appellation. Multiple clones. Named for Highway 116 (Gravenstein Highway) that cuts through the town of Sebastopol. Barrel and partially concrete egg fermented 15 months in 40% new French oak barrels. Moderate golden straw color and clear in the glass. Lovely aromas of honey, lemon curd, golden apple and butter brickle. Very beguiling on the palate with flavors of baked pear, apple, citrus, honey and caramel. Beautifully composed with bright acidity and good staying power on the finish. The best Chardonnay yet from Kosta Browne and a wine that competes with the top performers in the Russian River Valley.

2011 Joseph Phelps Freestone Vineyards Estate Sonoma Coast Chardonnay

13.5% alc.,pH 3.31, TA 0.70, 2,150 cases, $55. 100% MLF. Aged 13 months in 40% new and 60% two to three-year- old French oak puncheons and barrels. Light golden straw color and clear in the glass. A very embraceable wine with hi-spirited aromas of spiced apple, lemon, crème brûlée and vanilla cream, and sparkling flavors of lemon curd, green apple and a hint of pear. Oak is understated but supportive. Very juicy with lively acidity and a chalky, mineral blessed finish.

2011 Lucia Santa Lucia Highlands Chardonnay

14.2% alc., $39. From the Pisoni family who are better known for Pinot Noir but their Chardonnays are first rate. Year in and year out, one of my favorite California Chardonnays (and well-priced too). Light straw color and clear in the glass. A perfect blend of fruit and oak-driven aromas and flavors featuring citrus, pear, crème brûlée, honey and caramel. Nothing stands out and the wine is in perfect focus, indicating impeccable winemaking. No quarter given to the French.

2011 Paul Lato “East of Eden” Pisoni Vineyard Santa Lucia Highlands

Chardonnay 14.5% alc., 100 cases, $65. Mostly Wente clone. 50% malolactic fermentation. Filtered. Aged in 75% new French oak barrels. Moderate golden yellow color and clear in the glass. Very aromatically enticing with scents of lemon curd, baked apple, and Acacia blossom. Bright and crisp on the palate, offering flavors of citrus, baked pear, and vanilla with an underlying sea-brine minerality. A big, flamboyant wine, yet beautifully balanced.

2011 Patz & Hall Hudson Vineyard Carneros Chardonnay

13.7% alc., 279 cases, $55. Released March 2013. Sourced from the 4-acre prized block that Hudson makes his own Chardonnay from. Planted in 1980, this block features Hudson-Wente selection isolated by Lee Hudson. Whole cluster pressed, indigenous yeast fermentation, sur lie aged with weekly stirring, aged in 55% new French oak barrels. Unfiltered. Light golden straw color and very slight haze (unfiltered) in the glass. A serious wine offering aromas of lemon, caramel, buttered popcorn and chalk dust. Elicits a Wow! on the palate with luscious flavors of lemon, baked pear, peach honey, toffee, and pastry creme. Ideal integration of oak, notable acidity and impeccable balance. One of California’s greatest and most sophisticated Chardonnays.

2011 Roth Estate Sonoma Coast Chardonnay

13.7% alc., pH 3.61, TA 0.78, $28. A blend of Sonoma Coast and Russian River Valley fruit. Aged sur lie 11 months in 100% French oak barrels. · Very light yellow and clear in the glass. Inviting array of tropical aromas including pineapple with hints of white peach and oak vanillin. Very enjoyable flavors of baked apple, grilled pineapple, lemon, lychee and slight burnt caramel finishing smoothly on a lemon drop note. Beautifully composed, thoroughly dry and refreshing. Tremendous value.

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