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2014 California Chardonnay All-Americans

2012 Anaba Denmark Vineyard Sonoma Coast Chardonnay**

13.9% alc., pH 3.45, TA 0.59, 216 cases, $34. This vineyard is in the southeastern foothills of the Sonoma Coast AVA. The soils are rich with minerals. Wente clone. Harvest Brix 23.5º. Whole cluster pressed, cold settled for 2 days, 60% fermented in stainless vats, 40% in neutral French oak barrels. 40% of the wine went through malolactic fermentation. Aged sur lees for 11 months in 12% new French oak. · Light golden yellow color and clear in the glass. This was a striking wine in every way. Aromas of lemon curd, butter brickle, poached pear and apple draw you into the glass. Delicious flavors of citrus, Granny Smith apple, peach and pear with a slight buttery tone. Very harmonious and bright, with perfectly engaged acidity. There is some stony minerality in this wine for want of a better description. The finish is silky and pleasing with a lasting impression of lemon creme. This wine reminds me of a very fine Meursault. 94

2012 Aubert CIX Estate Vineyard Sonoma Coast Chardonnay

15.0% alc.,600 case, $90. This vineyard is planted with the Reuling selection of Chardonnay in 2007. It is located adjacent Lauren Vineyard. · Light golden yellow color and clear in the glass. Wondrous aromas of apple, lemon, pineapple, stone, almond and steel displaying impressive intensity and penetrating quality over time in the glass. A remarkably flavorful wine with notes of lemon curd, baked apple, peach, spice, cashew butter, burnt caramel, nutty oak, and honey with moderate richness. Beautiful oak integration in an unctuous style that is still impeccably balanced. There is no sense of high alcohol in this wine. A distinguished wine offering a bold expression of California Chardonnay that has the balance to last upwards of 10 years. 95

2012 Bluxome Street Winery Teac-Mor Vineyard Russian River Valley Chardonnay

14.2% alc., 175 cases, $38. · Moderately light golden yellow color in the glass. This wine really sings with appealing aromas of lemon curd and apple and bright lemon flavor accented with notes of pear, peach, herbs and very subtle oak. Very clean and crisp, impressively balanced, and thoroughly enjoyable, even exceptional. 94

2012 Charles Heintz Vineyards Heintz Vineyard Sonoma Coast Chardonnay

14.2% alc., pH 3.62, TA 0.52, 200 cases, $45. Clone 4 (Wente) on AXR1 planted in 1982. Barrel fermented, 11 months in barrel on lees with stirring 1 to 2 times per month only until malolactic fermentation complete. Aged in 35% new French oak barrels. · Light golden yellow color in the glass. A reference wine for California Chardonnay. High brow aromas of lemon, Granny Smith apple, marzipan and toast lead to flavors of lemon curd, honeyed nuts, toasty oak and a hint of tropical fruits. Polished and seductive with perfect harmony between California fruit hedonism and bright, mineral-driven acidity. Still invigorating the following day when tasted from a previously opened and re-corked bottle. 95

2011 Failla Keefer Ranch Russian River Valley Chardonnay

14.1% alc., 425 cases, $42. Very cool growing season. 25% of grapes were fermented in concrete egg vessels and 75% in 33% new French oak barrels. · Pale yellow color and clear in the glass. Appealing aromas of pear, applesauce, pastry cream, toffee and vanilla wafer. Slightly creamy and plush on the palate with vivid flavors of poached pear and baked apple, finishing with a caramel apple note and a charge of bright acidity. This wine has the apple by the tail. 94

2012 McIntyre Vineyards Estate 25th Anniversary Edition Santa Lucia Highlands Chardonnay**

14.4% alc., pH 3.76, TA 0.58, 792 cases, $28. Released December 2013. From a block of clone 76 planted in 2000. VSP trellis with cluster thinning. Harvest Brix 25.0º Brix. Whole cluster pressed, 20% whole cluster, fermented in new Siruge French oak barrels and aged in 33% new French oak barrels for 10 months. 100% MLF. · Moderate straw color in the glass. Lovely aromas of lemon, tropical fruits, floral display and a hint of buttered popcorn. A Caliesque style of Chardonnay with plenty of showy fruit flavor including lemon, pear and pineapple. Seductively creamy on the palate with bright underlying acidity and a silky finish. I couldn’t help returning to the glass to take another sip. A complete charmer at a very attractive price. 94

2012 Patz & Hall Hyde Vineyard Carneros Chardonnay

14.2% alc., 1,303 cases, $60. Released October 2014. Hyde-Wente selection. 24th growing season working with this fruit. Whole cluster pressed. Indigenous fermentations, aged sur lie with weekly stirring, 100% malolactic fermentation in barrel. Aged in 50% new French oak barrels. Unfiltered. · Moderate straw color and clear in the glass. Lovely perfume of fresh lemon, white rose, and brioche. Hi-tone flavors of lemon, nectarine, apple, lemongrass and nutty oak working in harmony. Bright, with excellent grip and follow through on the crisp finish. A stylish wine with excellent breeding. 93

2011 Peirson-Meyer Charles Heintz Vineyard Sonoma Coast Chardonnay

14.2% alc., $55. · Moderate golden yellow color and clear in the glass. Aromas of lemon, pear and ripe pineapple lead to enjoyable flavors of lemon, baked pear and toffee. The balance is spot on, the texture is slightly creamy, and there is a good spark of acidity driving the refreshment. The finish is long with a pleasing honeyed lemon tone. The wine gets better over time in the glass becoming more aromatic with elevated flavor volume. Still great the next day from a previously opened and re-corked bottle. 94

2012 Pfendler Sonoma Coast Chardonnay

14.2% alc., pH 3.58, TA 0.618, 300 cases, $38. Clones 4 and Hyde-Wente. Brix at harvest 24º 100% barrel fermented and 100% malolactic fermentation. 8 months sur lees aging and 10 months in 40% new French oak barrels. · Moderate golden yellow color with a slight haze (unfiltered) in the glass. An array of appealing aromas emerge over time in the glass including lemon, grilled grapefruit, fresh brioche, pastry cream and toffee. Delicious core of discreetly rich lemon, grapefruit and pineapple fruits accented with a buttery toffee note. Crisp on the palate with a slight creamy texture and a bright, refreshing finish. The wine became more appealing over time in the glass to the point that I hated to stop sipping. My wife, who is quite the Chardonnay connoisseur, loved this wine as well. 94

2012 Rhys Vineyards Alpine Vineyard Santa Cruz Mountains Chardonnay

13.4% alc., $69. From 3.51 acres of tightly spaced vines planted on low vigor rootstock onto which are grafted a field mixture of heritage selections of Chardonnay (Wente, Hyde, Mt. Eden). Soils are 18” - 24” rocky topsoil over Monterey Shale. Gently whole cluster pressed for 4 hours. The must is settled overnight and in the morning the barrels are filled by gravity. 20-25% new French oak barrels are used. The wine is left undisturbed in barrel without stirring, completing a native yeast fermentation that can sometimes take an entire year. · Golden yellow color and clear in the glass. This is a subtle wine that reveals many nuances over time if you are patient. There is a clear vein of “minerality” running through this wine evident in the sea brine aromas and the vibrant underlying acidity. The flavors of apple, white peach, crème brûlée, and a hint of butterscotch are inviting, and the silky texture of the wine is dreamy. There is some finishing length as well, uncommon in many Chardonnays from California. With the modest alcohol and bright acidity, this is an ideal food wine, but it is wonderful on its own. Should be even more interesting in a few years. For connoisseur’s only. 95

2012 Stomping Girl Hyde Vineyard Carneros Chardonnay

14.1% alc., $40. Wente and Robert Young clones. Gently whole pressed with free-run juice sent to French oak barrels (one new, the rest neutral) at a cool temperature. Aged sur lie with regular lees stirring. The wine clear naturally, without fining or filtration, and was bottled with a single racking before bottling. · Light golden yellow color in the glass. The aromas pull you into the glass, with bright notes of lemon curd, pear, toast and subtle vanilla. Delicious lemon, pear and apple flavors in a bright, crisp and clean style with a slightly creamy mouthfeel. Amazing fruit goodness. Beautifully balanced with noticeable length on the finish. All you could ask for in a Chardonnay. Drink this one on a sunny day with your best friends. 94

2011 Thomas Fogarty Estate Grown Langley Hill Vineyard Santa Cruz Mountains Chardonnay

13.8% alc., pH 3.13, TA 0.87, 96 cases, $60. · Moderate golden straw color and clear in the glass. Highly aromatic, with bright aromas of croissant, roasted nuts, baked apple and lemon. Plenty of intensity showing lemon curd, baked pear, apple and almond flavors backed by a lively, but integrated, cut of acidity. Very smooth in the mouth with an incredibly bombastic finish that offers waves of lemony goodness returning for what seems like a minute. I have rarely met with a finish like this in Chardonnay. On top of that, the wine is very harmonious with just the right amount of contribution from oak. 94

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