2010 Varner "Bee Block" Santa Cruz Mountain Chardonnay

SKU #1109406 95 points Robert Parker's Wine Advocate

 The 2010 Chardonnay Bee Block is another rich wine, but there is so much depth to the fruit that wine’s structural components are nearly buried. Apricot, mango and honey flesh out in this radiant, totally expressive Santa Cruz Mountains Chardonnay. The Bee Block stands apart for its mid-palate density and sheer depth. This is a great showing from the Varner brothers. Anticipated maturity: 2012-2020. Brothers Jim and Bob Varner describe 2010 as a cold year with two heat spikes that were shorter and less dramatic than in other parts of California. It was a long growing season, and the fruit came in 2-3 weeks later than normal. As always, the Varner and Neely wines were fermented in barrel, with native yeasts, natural fermentation and minimal handling. These broad-shouldered Chardonnays and deep, resonant Pinots remain some of the most compelling wines being made in California.  (8/2012)

K&L Notes

The Bee Block Chardonnay comes from the Varner brothers' Spring Ridge vineyard in the Santa Cruz Mountains, and it's always a staff and customer favorite, sure to sell out quickly. A massale selection made from the Home Block, the Bee Block vines are 23 years old and planted on a northeast-facing slope with sedimentary rock farthers from the surface. Of the the 2010 Varner Chardonnays, this has the most complete and integrated nose, according to Domestic buyer Bryan Brick, but also the most oak showing. Still, there's plenty of kumquat, mango, cardamom and honey to keep it from overwhelming. It is also the richest, creamiest Chardonnay in the bunch, brightening mid-palate as the acid picks up, creating tension between the ripe fruit and the acidity, between the creamy and the tangy aspects. Delicous now, this is a wine that Bryan says he'd love to taste in 10 years.

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Price: $44.99
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Staff Image By: Bryan Brick | K&L Staff Member | Review Date: 9/24/2012 | Send Email
If you receive our e-mails and/or newsletter and you haven’t yet heard of the wines from Varner you probably really have not been paying attention. We’ve championed their numerous brands (Varner, Spring Ridge, Neely and Foxglove) for years and have made many a friend with their wines along the way. I stand by my assessment that they may be the best Chardonnay producer in California over the last 5 years, heck, even Robert Parker’s Wine Advocate has gotten on the bandwagon giving the Varner wines consistently high scores over that same amount of time. Don’t miss out on the release of these 2010 single block Chardonnays, they won’t last long. The 2010 Bee Block is just out of this world and may be one of the best Chardonnays I’ve seen this year. It not only has the most integrated and complete nose with kumquat, cardamom, honey and fresh mango, but it is also possibly the best suited for the future as well. The depth of this wine is impressive with considerable tension between its parts, and I’d love to taste this in 10 years. However, it does drink great right now with the most weight and texture of the three single block Chardonnays.

Additional Information:



- 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.
Alcohol Content (%): 14.7