2012 Varner "Amphitheater Block" Santa Cruz Mountains Chardonnay

SKU #1165064 95 points Robert Parker's Wine Advocate

 The smallest production cuvee, the 2012 Chardonnay Amphitheater Block Spring Ridge Vineyard is a stunning effort that does everything right. Possessing an almost Chablis-like minerality, with loads of Meyer lemon, citrus blossom and white-flower nuances, this beauty flows onto the palate with medium to full-bodied richness, fabulous purity and a focused, precise feel that doesn't lack for depth or richness. It's a gorgeous Chardonnay that will evolve gracefully for over a decade. This block lies just up from the Bee Block, at an elevation of 735-780 feet, and consists of 31-year-old, own-rooted vines. As with all of the Chardonnays, it was aged in 25% new French oak.  (10/2014)

94 points Vinous

 Honey, lemon peel, hazelnut, spices and savory herbs meld together in Varner's 2012 Chardonnay Amphitheater Block, a wine that adds considerable focus and energy to the classic Santa Cruz structure that is such a distinctive signature here. Today the 2012 is striking, but it will be even better in a few years, once there is a bit more flavor development. These own rooted vines planted with a derivative of the Wente clone often yield Chardonnays loaded with personality. That is once again the case in 2012.  (7/2014)

K&L Notes

If you've shopped K&L over the past few years, you probably know that the wines made by Bob and Jim Varner are not only among our favorites, but we think they are among the finest Chardonnays and Pinot Noirs made in California. Every wine comes from the Spring Ridge Vineyard, which is located just 10 miles from the Pacific Ocean in the Portola Valley. The grapes are dry-farmed and left to struggle for success without fertilizers or insecticides. The Amphitheater Block is a two-acre, south-facing slope planted with 31-year-old Chardonnay vines, probably Wente clone, that goes through full malo with native years in 25% new French oak. The excellent 2012 vintage will be remembered for its mild weather, which allows the terroir of the individual blocks to really shine in this forward and expressive wine.

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Price: $47.99
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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.
Alcohol Content (%): 14.4