2010 Varner "Amphitheater Block" Santa Cruz Mountain Chardonnay
Robert Parker's Wine Advocate
The 2010 Chardonnay Amphitheater Block is a big, broad-shouldered wine. There is a directness to the fruit that is highly appealing. Nectarine, honeysuckle, mint and flowers are all supported by clean veins of minerality. This extroverted, enveloping Chardonnay could use another year or two in bottle to fully come together. The clone in this parcel is believed to be Wente, or a derivative of Wente. The wine certainly has the richness and weight typically associated with that clone. Anticipated maturity: 2013-2020. 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.
We're always HUGE fans of the Varner brothers' wines, especially from this, their flagship label. These are carefully crafted, terroir-driven wines that drink well on release and age well too. The 2010 Amphitheater Block, 29-year-old own-rooted vines planted to a south-facing slope with lots of sedimentary rock at the surface produces a wine with more floral aromatics than its brethren, and a deep set nutty-mushroomy quality, says Domestic buyer Bryan Brick. On the palate, it is the most stone fruit driven, but with some baked pear and creamsicle qualities. It's also a touch richer and more textural than the home, but like all of the Varner wines, has great, integrated acidity. This is a nice Chardonnay with lots of flesh, pith and broad appeal.