Small Sips of Recently Tasted Chardonnay
2013 Bernardus Rosella’s Vineyard Santa Lucia Highlands Chardonnay
15.4% alc., 412 cases, $40. Bottled August 2014.
Vineyard owned and farmed by Gary and Rosella Franscioni. Dijon
clone. Whole cluster pressed, fermented using a variety of specially
selected yeasts. 100% malolactic fermentation, lees stirring every two
weeks until shortly before blending and bottling. Aged in 40% new
French oak barrels.
Moderate golden yellow color in the glass. Aromas
of lemon curd, tropical fruits and kiwi lead to a rich and creamy palate
displaying ripe yellow orchard fruits with a hint of lemon and pineapple,
and a tug of buttery oak that shows up for an encore on the strong finish
that is flush with generous fruit concentration. Nicely done in this style.
2013 Bernardus Soberanes Vineyard Santa Lucia Highlands Chardonnay
14.7% alc., 302 cases, $40.
Bottled August 2014. Vineyard located just south of Garys’ Vineyard that is owned and farmed by Gary Pisoni
and Gary Franscioni. Whole cluster pressed, fermented with a variety of specially selected yeasts. 100%
malolactic fermentation, lees stirring every two weeks until shortly before blending and bottling. Aged in 40%
new French oak barrels.
Moderate golden yellow color in the glass. The nose offers oak-driven aromas of
roasted nuts, incense, and toast, with a bit of flint. A robust wine offering upfront sappy flavors of grilled citrus,
baked apple, poached pear and lemon butter, flanked by significant oak notes of caramel, toffee and toast. This
wine will appeal to those who like a notable mantle of oak in Chardonnay.
2013 Bernardus Sierra Mar Vineyard Santa Lucia Highlands Chardonnay
14.9% alc., 502 cases, $40.
Bottled August 2014. Vineyard planted and farmed by Gary Franscioni. Wente clone and Dijon clones 95 and
96. 100% malolactic fermentation, lees stirring every two weeks until shortly before blending and bottling. Aged
in 40% new French oak barrels.
Moderate golden yellow color in the glass. Reduced, flinty aromas dominate
upon opening, transforming to notes of ripe apple, lemon and papaya over time. A very ripe fruit profile
includes ostentatious flavors of grilled citrus, apricot, pear and crème caramel. Slightly viscous, with a long kiss
of oak on the finish.
2013 Duckhorn Napa Valley Chardonnay
14.1% alc., 14,000 cases, $35. Sourced from cooler vineyards in
the Napa Valley. 45% malolactic fermentation. Aged in 45% new French oak and a small amount of stainless
Very light golden yellow color in the glass. Nicely perfumed with scents of pear, white orchard fruits and
lemon oil. Admirable composure, with a pleasing core of white peach, pear, lemon pie and pineapple flavors
backed by a subtle mantle of nutty oak. Slightly viscous in the mouth and easy to drink, but lacking a bit of
spirited concentration on the finish.
2013 Gary Farrell Olivet Lane Vineyard Russian River Valley Chardonnay
13.8% alc., pH 3.33, TA 0.67,
987 cases, $45. Vineyard planted to Wente selection on AXR rootstock in 1975. Harvest Brix 22º-23º. Whole
cluster pressed, inoculated with Montrachet yeast. Fermented and aged in 40% new French oak barrels. After
8 months of aging, a barrel selection led to this single vineyard wine.
Light golden yellow color in the glass.
With some swirling, inviting aromas of peach, lemon drop, white flower and nut oil emerge. On the palate, the
wine has a balanced interplay between the discreet richness of yellow peach and apricot fruits and bright,
sound, mineral-infused acidity. The finish is particularly notable, grabbing hold for an extended time and
seducing with a silky, bracing demeanor. Tasted twice: this was the best bottle.
2013 J. Lohr Arroyo Vista Arroyo Seco Monterey Chardonnay
14.9% alc., pH 3.51, TA 0.66, RS
0.29, 7,002 cases, $25. Estate grown composed mainly of Dijon clone 76, with small amounts of
Dijon clones 95 and 548. Harvest Brix 26.9º. Whole cluster pressed, cold settled, barrel fermented,
100% malolactic fermentation, weekly stirring of lees up to 10 months post malolactic fermentation,
aged in 100% French oak barrels, 54% new.
Moderately light lemon color in the glass. Shy aromas
of citrus blossom, juniper berry and nut oil. Full-bodied and opulent, with ripe flavors of lemon cream
pie, pineapple, grilled yellow peach and enhancing oak-driven notes of roasted nuts and caramel.
There is enough sound acidity to tame the flamboyant fruit.
2013 Lombardi Sonoma Coast Chardonnay
14.5% alc., pH 3.42, TA 0.60, 48 cases, $36. Bottled April 27,
2015. Barrel fermented and aged 18 months in neutral French oak.
Moderately light golden yellow color in the
bottle. A hint of flinty reduction upon opening transforms to pleasing aromas of lemon oil, kiwi and vanilla. The
flavors of lemon-lime, apple and peach are vivid with oak playing a complimentary seasoning role. Soft and
slightly viscous in the mouth, with an uplifting and cleansing finish.
2013 Migration Russian River Valley Chardonnay
alc., 14,300 cases, $32. Grapes are sourced from the cool
Green Valley of Russian River Valley region. 75% malolactic
fermentation. 10% of wine aged in stainless steel.
yellow color in the glass. Complex and enticing aromas of
lemon oil, white stone fruits, honeysuckle, vanilla and blonde
caramel. Bright, refreshing and tasty, with mid palate flavors of
white peach, pear and subtle nutty oak, finishing with a burst of lemon driven
juiciness. This wine is easy to like with its polished texture and
2013 [Noble Vines] 446 San Bernabe Vineyard Monterey Chardonnay
14.5% alc., $12. Part of the Delicato
Family Vineyards portfolio. A single vineyard wine at this price point is a rarity. The grapes are Martini
clone 4 and are planted in block 46 of the vineyard = “446.” 50% malolactic fermentation.
golden yellow color in the glass. Slightly creamy on the palate, this wine has bright flavors of apple,
pear, melon and vanilla cream, and aims to please with an uplifting spring in its step. Among the
oceans of Chardonnay in the marketplace, this wine stands out at its price point (I have seen it marked down to $9.99). Widely distributed.
2013 Pali Wine Co. Huber Vineyard Sta. Rita Hills Chardonnay
14.3% alc., 886 cases, $39, screwcap.
Bottled November 2014. First release from this vineyard. Barrel fermented and aged 12 months in 100%
French oak barrels, 30% new, 70% neutral.
Light golden straw color in the glass. Fruit aromas of green apple
and lemon are framed with a note of flinty minerality. On the palate, a good cut of acidity underlies a pleasing
melange of apple and citrus flavors that have some length on the bright finish. Slightly creamy and
unpretentious, with fruit at the forefront and very little, if any, oak intrusion.
2013 Rally Point Wines Limited Production Russian River Valley Chardonnay
14.1% alc., 168 cases, $38. Released May 2015. Native
fermentation with primary lasting 1-2 months in French oak barrels and a
temperature-controlled concrete egg. Aged on the lees, then racked into
a tank for another three months for clarification. Bottled unfined and
Winemaker Tim Burgess says that this is a “Chardonnay for
people who don’t like Chardonnay,” and he has that right. This is not an
opulently fruited and oaked style of wine that we have come to associate
with a number of Russian River Valley Chardonnay offerings. Light
golden yellow color in the glass. The nose offers an interesting mix of
leesy, nutty aromas dancing with subtle fruit notes of green apple. Bright
and clean on the palate, with flavors of lemon-lime, green apple, peach
and subtle nutty oak, and offering a pleasing suavity of texture, this wine
has consummate balance and drinkability. Highly food friendly, this is a
Chardonnay that doesn’t tire your palate, but rather entices more over time in the glass. My wife is somewhat
of a Chardonnay connoisseur and she loved this wine.