2006 Neely "Holly's Cuvee" Santa Cruz Mountains Chardonnay

SKU #1048070

94 points from Robert Parker: "A joint venture between the Varner and Neely families in the Santa Cruz Mountains, the 2006 Chardonnay Holly's Cuvee, which is a blend of blocks of Chardonnay from the Varner's Spring Ridge Vineyard, is a limited cuvee with undeniable minerality, lots of lemon oil, and honeyed citrus in a medium to full-bodied wine, with terrific fruit purity and expression. Drink it over the next 3-4 years." (12/08) Rare is it that our staff gets fired up about a Chardonnay, rarer that that Chard comes from outside the confines of Burgundy. But one California producer seems to have the magic touch. The Varner brothers, Bob and Jim, seem to have figured out how to make exceptional wines from our staff's most snarked about grape. In this case it is under the Neely label, which they make in collaboration with the Neely family, one of the Varner's major investors. This Chardonnay is a blend of all three of the blocks - Bee, Home and Amphitheatre - from the Spring Ridge Vineyard, which acts as their estate vineyard. Chalk, cherry blossom, toasted walnuts and brioche combine flawlessly on the expressive and pleasing nose. Add to that the snappy key lime fruit on the entry, the vibrant tangerine-esque acidity throughout, and a drying earthiness in the finish and you have a Chard that is so far ahead of it competitors it makes them look like Single-A kids playing in the Major Leagues. (Bryan Brick, K&L)

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Price: $39.99
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- It's hard to believe that up until about 30 years ago, this extremely popular varietal hid behind the veil of geographical names like Chablis and Puligny-Montrachet. Now grown all over the world and bottled by its varietal name, Chardonnay has achieved a level of branding unlike any other wine. Surprisingly, though, what you get when you buy Chardonnay can differ greatly from country to country and even within one country, depending on the climate where it's grown and how it is vinified and aged. From fresh, crisp and minerally with apple and lemon notes to rich and buttery with tropical fruit overtones, Chardonnay runs the gamut. In France's Burgundy, Chardonnay is the source of the prized wines of Chablis, Corton-Charlemagne, Mâcon, Meursault and Montrachet. It also the foundation of exceptional Champagne, where it is blended with Pinot Noir and Pinot Meunier or vinified on its own into Blanc de Blancs. It is also extremely popular in California, and is gaining popularity in Australia, New Zealand, Italy, Spain and South Africa.

United States

- When people consider domestic wine, they normally think about the state of California. The fine viticultural Region within California, including the Napa Valley, Sonoma, Santa Cruz Mountains, Mendocino and Santa Barbara, are capable of growing grapes of world-class quality. But there's plenty of fabulous wine coming from other states, too. Oregon, Washington and New York are also causing eyebrows (and glassware) to be raised around the world. Click for a list of bestselling items from the United States.


- With the explosive growth that California's wine industry has seen the past several years, it's easy to view winemaking and grape growing in the Golden State as a recent phenomenon. And while it's true that California's viticultural history is brief compared to several European countries, this state's roots date back well over 200 years. Due to the enormous response to California wine within the United States and worldwide, there are thousands of excellent and diverse wines being produced within the state each year. For our entire selection of California wines, please visit this link.
Specific Appellation:

Santa Cruz Mountains

- Vineyards dot the valleys and ridges of this coastal AVA just south of San Francisco. Microclimates make it difficult to generalize, and vineyards are frequently separated by acres of forests and meadowlands (not to mention entire towns!), but this is nonetheless known as a cooler-climate zone ideal for pinot noir. Ridge is doubtless the most famous local producer, with its cabernet blend, Monte Bello, named after a Santa Cruz mountain peak. High-quality, low-production chardonnay and some Rhône varietals prosper as well.