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K&L Staff Recommendations
From winemaker Rob Mondavi, Jr, the 2013 Spellbound Chardonnay displays a lively and lush tropical profile of pineapple, guava, and kiwi fruit. To contribute the rich complexity of vanilla and crème brûlée, 90% of the wine was fermented in oak barrels, with the remaining 10% fermented in stainless steel to maintain a bracing vein of freshness and acid.
90 points Wine Enthusiast: "*Editors' Choice* This crisp and balanced wine offers lemon, guava and papaya, tropical without being cloying. With enough viscous creaminess to keep it medium in weight, it’s soft and herbal, with measured acidity and a golden color. It finishes lean and savory." (8/2015) Robert Parker's Wine Advocate: "There are an astonishing 14,000 cases of the 2013 Chardonnay from the Sonoma Coast. It reveals good minerality along with crisp, honeysuckle, orange zest, white peach and tropical fruit notes. At $15 a bottle, this medium-bodied, fresh, lively Chardonnay is a sensational value. Drink it ...Read More »
Formerly run by Rombauer, Napa Cellars has been a Trinchero family property since 2006. Winemaker Joe Shirley introduced French oak to the Chardonnay program there, for a more finessed version of the rich, buttery (and eminently affordable) Napa Valley Chardonnay for which they've become known.
90 points Wine Enthusiast: "A bowl full of complex aromas and flavors are bundled together in this full-bodied, lush-textured wine. The aroma resembles wet earth for a moment, then transitions to buttery, bakery spices. Ripe and honeyed pear flavors come out on the palate and the mouthfeel is nicely viscous." (7/2015)
92 points Wine Enthusiast: "The nose on this wine from nine vineyards ranging from Santa Clara to Santa Barbara reflects much of what the large appellation offers, but in subtle ways: touches of Golden Delicious apples, grilled pineapple, toasted coconut and chalk. The flavors surround a Meyer lemon zest tension, with apple flesh fruits and a zesty acidity that holds throughout without biting." (3/2015)90 points Antonio Galloni: "Calera's 2013 Chardonnay (Central Coast) is absolutely stunning in this vintage. Peach, apricot, wild flowers, honey and spices all meld together in a supple, generous Chardonnay that ...Read More »
A collaboration with famed sportscaster Jim Nantz. The winery describes this white as a "classic Chardonnay was blended from select Dutton Ranch vineyards in the prestigious Russian River Valley appellation. Barrel fermentation and sur lie aging have created a rich and creamy wine with notes of stone fruit, citrus, melon, toasted nuts, and vanilla bean. Bright acidity and a long finish make this wine an excellent dinner companion."
Aptly named and always a favorite in the rich California style, Butternut is a luxuriously textured Chardonnay. Aromas of baked apple, hazelnut, and creme brulee fill the nose and reverberate on the palate with notes of peach, fig, butterscotch, and toasty oak. Grapes for the 2012 bottling were sourced from important growing regions across California including Napa, Sonoma, Mendocino, and Monterey. The result is a generous and concentrated Chardonnay that creates a statewide snapshot of the bountiful 2012 harvest.
93 points Wine Enthusiast: "This is a delightfully floral and lemony-crisp wine, with a touch of creme brulee blanced between layers of citrus. Despite the rich accent, it's light-bodied and easy to like, offering subtle complexity and a sultry, spicy finish." - Advanced Buying Guide" (12/2014) K&L Notes: Au Contraire comes from California’s prestigious Sonoma Coast AVA. With over 2,000 acres of vineyards, this appellation extends from San Pablo Bay in the south to the border with Mendocino County in the north. With most vineyards located above fog line, a cool climate and beneficial rainfall l... Read More »
Antonio Galloni: "Lemon oil, white flowers, mint and slate meld together in the 2012 Chardonnay. Racy and beautifully layered on the palate, this tank-fermented, non-malo Chardonnay delivers exceptional quality for the money. (AG)" (7/2014) Robert Parker's Wine Advocate: "The 2012 Chardonnay Foxglove is my favorite of the bunch and gives up clean and classy white peach, apple blossom and subtle spice in its medium-bodied, juicy and delicious style. Brought up in stainless steel, it’s hard to beat at the price and should be purchased by the case for drinking over the coming year or so. (JD)" (8/2014) K&L Notes: The Var... Read More »
MacRostie's Sonoma Coast bottling is definitely a top choice for an under-$20 California Chardonnay. Grapes were sourced from several select Sonoma Coast vineyards including the "A-list" Sangiacomo Vineyard, vineyards belonging to the Dutton and Martinelli estates, and MacRostie's own estate properties. The beatifully ripe and pristine fruit was whole-cluster pressed into 20% new French oak for fermentation where it aged for an additional 6 months. A few lots were fermented in stainless steel to retain some special emphasis on aromatic fruit characterist... Read More »
91 points Wine Enthusiast: "The winery is making new strides by finding the best sites for its wines rather than trying to grow everything on its estate. This Chardonnay is a case in point. High in acidity and low in oak influence, it offers restrained layers of tropical mango, lemon and ginger snap." (3/2015) Stephen Tanzer's International Wine Cellar: "Light yellow-gold. Lively citrus and orchard fruits on the spicy nose. Shows hints of sweet butter and ginger on the palate, complementing Meyer lemon and apple flavors that tighten up with air. Closes tangy and dry, with an echo of ginger and good, nervy persistence. (ST) ...Read More »
Antonio Galloni: "Vivid yellow. Ripe pear, peach and a hint of honey on the nose. Fleshy and open-knit, offering touch of smokiness to its orchard fruit and pineapple flavors. The emphatically fruity, spice-accented finish shows good cling." (6/2015) K&L Notes: A dry vintage and an ocean-influenced, cool climate add up to a great value in 80% barrel-fermented Santa Lucia Highlands Chardonnay. The winery's tasting note: "A combination of barrel and stainless steel fermentation resulted in bright and floral aromatics, with layers of pear, apple and citrus, highlighted with a hint of van... Read More »
From the winery: "Grapes sourced from our preferred clones of Chardonnay provide the tropical notes folks have come to love. A slow cold primary and secondary fermenta:on on our proprietary combinaion of oak create an ethereal creaminess balanced with a vanilla finish. Fruit from our favorite cooler climates in California produce delicate aromas of baked lemons, pear, peach and apple that seamlessly evolve on the palate with a finish that is uniquely Butter!"
91 points Wine & Spirits: "Crisp and salty, this captures the fresh energy of the windy Santa Rita Hills in a blast of flavor that suggests yellow raspberries and wafts of smoke. Its brisk intensity would match grilled mackerel." (4/2015)90 points Connoisseurs Guide: "It may be the least expensive Chardonnay in the Foley line-up, but this tasty, nicely made youngster should not be overlooked. It combines lots of fresh, very vital fruit with a sensible measure of creamy oak and hints here and there at chalk and stones along its way. If its brightness and bounce are a little hard to resist now, this wine is still ...Read More »
93 points Wine Enthusiast: "Ripe aromas of passionfruit, kiwi and nectarine rise alongside greener elements of celery stalk, wet thyme and Granny Smith apple on this promising early look at the vintage. The tongue tingles throughout the sip, with flavors of crisp apple, yellow melon and crushed chalk. Buttercream appears on the finish." (2/2015) Antonio Galloni: "Bright yellow. Ripe yellow plum and orange aromas show a touch of heat and pick up a spicy element with aeration. Fleshy and broad in the mouth, offering pliant pit and orchard fruit flavors that could use more structure. Finishes with decent ...Read More »
This is a delicious new Chardonnay made in collaboration with Talley winemaker Eric Johnson. All of the fruit comes from Talley's Oliver's Vineyard. It is a compilation of five different barrels that domestic buyer Bryan Brick chose alongside Johnson down at Talley earlier this year. Here's a breakdown of the components: Barrel #1 is the backbone of the blend; it's earthy and savory, with a wealth of complexity. It's made from the oldest block in the vineyard and the same block that goes into Talley's vineyard-designated Chardonnay. Barrel #2 comes from ... Read More »
Antonio Galloni: "The 2013 Chardonnay (Sonoma Coast) is gorgeous. Apricots, honey, mint, orange blossom and wild flowers are all laced together in the glass in a racy, perfumed Chardonnay to drink over the next handful of years. Simply put, this is a fabulous wine for the money. The 2013 was done 90% in oak and 10% in steel. (AG)" (1/2015)
93 points Wine Enthusiast: "**The Enthusiast 100 of 2014 - #17** Buttered toast, oaky smoke and a slight mango tropicality converge for an epic nose on this Chardonnay from a vineyard that was planted in 1976. There are layers of flavor too, lime citrus at first evolving toward brioche with a butterscotch finish, and some salt and cracked pepper throughout." (11/2014)91 points Antonio Galloni: "The 2012 Chardonnay Wolff Vineyard is once again striking. Honey, almonds, apricots, dried pears and spices meld together in a resonant, deeply expressive Chardonnay from a late ripening site in Edna Valley. This is one ...Read More »
93 points Wine Spectator: "A creamy-textured, charming style that's easy to drink yet is deceptively complex and layered, with a mix of vanilla-scented oak and vibrant peach, nectarine, honeydew and apricot flavors. Long on the finish. Drink now. 100,000 cases made." (7/2015) Robert Parker's Wine Advocate: "The attractive, sexy 2013 Chardonnay reveals ripe fruit, tangerine oil and citrus blossom notes, medium body, a fresh style, and a delicate hint of wood. Drink it over the next 2-3 years." (10/2014) K&L Notes: It's back! True, Rombauer's Chardonnay needs to take its own sweet time, fattening up for 10 months in toasty Ameri... Read More »
This is 100% estate grown fruit from Talbott's Monterey vineyards (with the majority coming from the Sleepy Hollow Vineyard in the Santa Lucia Highlands) finished in 90% stainless and 10% French oak. Juicy, with just a touch of fruity sweetness at the finish, this has mandarin and honeydew fruit aromas and flavors galore. Medium-bodied on the palate, there's a touch of spice and a roundness mid palate from the small amount of oak aging. According to the winery: "The rich, inviting nose shows bright tropical notes that continue on the palate, where refres... Read More »
90 points Robert Parker's Wine Advocate: "The amazing 2012 Chardonnay Sonoma Coast possesses lots of tropical fruit, honeysuckle, pineapple and tangerine notes. Half went through malolactic and the other half was blocked. With lots of minerality as well as a Chablis-like character, it is a major sleeper of the vintage. This beauty should drink well for 1-2 years. (RP)" (12/2013) Antonio Galloni: "The 2012 Chardonnay Sonoma Coast is beautiful. All the elements fall into place nicely in a Chardonnay that is bright and crisp, but with good depth in its fruit and no hard edges. Lemon oil, pear and pastry notes meld int ...Read More »
Wine Enthusiast: "This unoaked Chardonnay is so ripe and rich, you won’t miss the buttered-toast flavor of oak. It’s incredibly potent with limes, mangoes, oranges and pineapples, uplifted with brisk acidity. A weekend brunch of scrambled eggs and smoked salmon will be the perfect occasion." (12/2013) K&L Notes: From fruit sourced from Yountville, the 2013 Napa Valley Chardonnay offers great value for the pedigree of the fruit. The winery's tasting notes: "Hoopla 2013 Chardonnay has a beautiful clear bright golden color. From the first pour, it explodes from the glass with tropical f... Read More »
93 points Antonio Galloni: "The 2013 Chardonnay Estate is gorgeous. Rich and oily on the palate, with considerable texture, the 2013 boasts tons of texture and breadth. Candied lemon, white flowers, almonds and chamomile add shades of nuance as the 2013 opens up in the glass. The 2013 boasts tons of oiliness and viscosity for a Chardonnay with no malolactic fermentation. Best of all, the 2013 is a great value. Winemaker Greg Brewer turned out a gorgeous set of 2013 Pinots at Melville. The wines are consistently of very high quality, something that was not easy to achieve in a year ...Read More »
Robert Parker's Wine Advocate: "As most readers know, you don't find Russian River Chardonnay at this price point, and winemaker David Cronin has turned out a very nice one. Crisp, elegant and fruity with delicate pear, white peach and honeysuckle, medium body and a dry finish. (RP)" (11/2014) K&L Notes: The winemaker's notes on the 2013 Russian River Valley Chardonnay, aged on the lees with a judicious percentage of new oak: "The Russian River Chardonnay displays abundant floral/ stone fruit aromas lightly accented by toasty, graham cracker sur-lie qualities. The mouthfeel is creamy and full but t... Read More »
100% Chardonnay 100% Block 4, El Camino Vineyard, Los Alamos Clone 4 100% Stainless steel fermentation 26% aged 6 months in new Francois Freres puncheons 74% aged in stainless steel on fermentation lees no malo-lactic fermentation 822 cases produced
90 points Wine Spectator: "Delivers a tight beam of cream-laced green apple, melon, citrus and honeydew flavors, supported by firm acidity and ending with a persistent, flavorful finish. Drink now. 9,300 cases made. (web only-2015)" Robert Parker's Wine Advocate: "The 2013 Chardonnay Estate offers up notes of white currants, peaches and orange blossoms in a medium-bodied style displaying a hint of wet rocks/minerality. The oak component is subtle, and the wine’s fruit dominates. This attractive 2013 will be flexible with an assortment of dishes over the next 4-5 years." (12/2014) Wine Enthusiast: "Spicy Asian pear dominates in this l ...Read More »
93 points Antonio Galloni: "Dierberg's 2012 Chardonnay is gorgeous. Lemon oil, tropical fruit and butter are all tempered by the cool microclimate here. The flavors remain bright, focused and nuanced in a crystalline Chardonnay that stands out for its precision. A hint of sweetness from the oak adds complexity, but overall, the 2012 is a wine built on energy. Dierberg, and its sister property, Star Lane, is in a bit of a transition at the moment. New winemaker Tyler Thomas took over with the 2013 vintage, while the 2012s were finished by assistant winemaker Jeff Connick. Thomas ma ...Read More »
Wine Spectator: "Features juicy sour pineapple and tropical fruit notes that are pure and direct. More simple than complex. No oak." K&L Notes: From the winery: "A pale yellow hue, the wine is well balanced with great structure. Bright minerality, pink grapefruit and key lime characters shine through on the nose, followed by lemon zest and stone fruit. The mid-palate displays intriguing notes of lemon meringue, quince and citrus, complemented by a crisp acidity that carries through from start to finish. The higher acidity in this wine makes it a perfect accompaniment to a wide array ... Read More »
"The 2013 Ferrari-Carano Chardonnay from Sonoma County has superior lots of wine from our vineyards in Alexander Valley, Dry Creek Valley, Russian River Valley and Carneros. This full-bodied Chardonnay boasts aromas of pear, green apple, honeydew, orange, lychee and peach perfectly balanced by a fruity entry with refreshing acidity with flavors of Meyer lemon, honeysuckle, vanilla, pineapple and a floral finish," explains the winery.
90 points Wine & Spirits: "This wine’s initial impression of oak makes way for intense, coastal chardonnay fruit: the juicy, on-point ripeness of midsummer peaches lifted into seashell and airy chamomile tones—a big wine that maintains a buzz of energy." (10/2014) Connoisseurs Guide: "*Good Value* Here is a wine that is easy to recommend for its combination of very fresh, well-defined, green-apple fruit as well as its brightness and fine balance. It is cleansing and crisp yet sports a fair sense of depth with integral highlights of minerals and a careful touch of sweet oak, and, while moderately full-bo ...Read More »
Renowned for their classically styled Napa Cabernet, beloved for their quirky Grignolino, Heitz Cellar also makes Sauvignon Blanc, Zinfandel and this Chardonnay. A great price for this respected Napa Valley label. Heitz Cellar's tasting notes: "Our 2013 Napa Valley Chardonnay is nothing short of refreshing, an excellent expression of both the varietal and the great 2013 growing season. Aromas of crisp, ripe apple and Asian pear mingle in the glass, while an invigorating acidity plays across the tongue. This is a medium-bodied Chardonnay with a touch of F... Read More »
90 points Wine Enthusiast: "Creamy and well-integrated, this offers personality and style. The crisp bite of green apple and lemon curd are textured and long-lasting. With its overall balance, it is a fantastically versatile pairing option." K&L Notes: There are a lot of Chardonnays made in California these days. From the rich, oak driven, tropical style wines to the stainless steel interpretations. The Rutherford Ranch Napa Valley at $12.99 is a nice balance of both. Hints of oak and creaminess with a nice backbone of acidity. The apple and pear notes are well integrated with just a touch of c... Read More »
90 points Robert Parker's Wine Advocate: "The least expensive white is the 2012 Chardonnay Overlook, a cross-California blend of fruit with 83% from Sonoma, 11% from Monterey and 6% from Santa Barbara. A consistently delicious effort, the 2012 maintains beautiful tropical fruit and honeysuckle notes as well as a pure, front end-loaded, fruit-driven style. With good acidity, beautiful cleanliness and little oak, this exuberant, classic California Chardonnay can be drunk over the next several years. It is an amazing value!" (12/2014)90 points Wine & Spirits: "This wine’s 'California' appellation masks the fact that it’s actu ...Read More »
Robert Parker's Wine Advocate: "Attractive aromas of white peach, poached pear and caramelized citrus are followed by a creamy, medium to full-bodied, pure, well-made Chardonnay that is best drunk over the next 4-5 years. (RP)" (12/2014) Wine & Spirits: "A plump, warming, oak-laden Russian River Chardonnay with decadent scents of ginger, butternut squash and roasted corn, this would fare well with a good chill and a crab salad." (2/2015) Wine Enthusiast: "Golden-hay in color, this has a luxurious toffee-caramel imprint accompanied by apple and pineapple notes. Soft and medium in acidity, it’s a bright, layered wine that fol ...Read More »
Connoisseurs Guide: "A bit sparing in obvious fruit and showing a certain vaguely stony cast to its balanced but brief, mildly citrusy flavors, this cleanly made middleweight is something of a minimalist, but it shows nary a hint of the candied confection that routinely comes with inexpensive Chardonnays and is thus a useful and fairly versatile wine to pour with sundry seafoods." (5/2015)
Back in the 1980s, Matanzas Creek made big, buttery waves with their barrel-fermented Chardonnay--and the high price tag it commanded. It was so distinctive, the winery had a malolactic bacteria strain named after them: MCW. So what's new at Matanzas Creek, which is now part of the Jackson Family Wines stable? Quite a lot. For one, the Chardonnay is made by young Chilean-born winemaker Marcia Monahan, who spends a lot of time on the winery's burgeoning Sauvignon Blanc program...and she threw out the MCW for a less "buttery" malolactic fermentation! The r... Read More »
According to the winery: "The 2014 Cabernet Sauvignon is 90% Cabernet Sauvignon, 4% Merlot, and 4% Malbec, and 2% Cabernet Franc. We sourced fruit from Alexander Valley, Dry Creek Valley, and Sonoma Valley for this years assemblage. Each lot was individually fermented then blended and aged in French barrels ranging from 1-5 years old. A little riper and more fruit forward than the Hobo Cab. Camp Wines were created by the Hobo Wine Co. in 2011 to showcase the quality and value of Sonoma County wine. We are working with top growers and vineyard managers in... Read More »
From the winery: "Pale straw in color, this vintage of Talley Vineyards Estate Chardonnay has aromas of grilled nuts, honeysuckle, and lemon oil. Citrus notes of lemon curd and lime zest characterize this refreshing medium bodied chardonnay. The wine finishes clean with hints of minerality and crushed stone. Enjoy this wine with fresh swordfish or sautéed sea scallops."
90 points Wine Enthusiast: "An unabashedly rich and luscious wine, this combines ripe and fresh fruit flavors with luxurious spicy, buttery accents and an almost thick texture. With a subtext as savory as Udon broth it’s practically a meal in a bottle. Call it full-bodied, full-flavored, ultrasmooth and impressive." (6/2015)90 points Wine Spectator: "Showcases rich tropical fruit, with dashes of mango, marmalade and honeyed citrus that coat the palate while remaining elegant and delicate. A noteworthy achievement. Drink now through 2017." (4/2015)
Wine Spectator: "A solid effort, intense and complex, offering a mix of ripe pear and apple flavors and a pithy citrus peel texture." (7/2014) K&L Notes: Director of winemaking Michael Trujillo says that it's sometimes a hard sell to get his growers to stick with the "ragged looking" old Wente clone of Chardonnay - which don't look quite as uniform and big as their neighbors' grapes - but that the results in the bottle are worth the effort.
93 points Antonio Galloni: "The 2012 Chardonnay Bien Nacido Reserve Block Eleven is rich and voluptuous in the glass, with copious apricot pit, honey, chamomile, butter, spice and orange blossom. This is a decidedly flashy, buttery Chardonnay, but all the elements are in the right place, even if this style can't exactly be called subtle. If these new releases are any indication, Qupé is going through a transition following the sale of a majority interest to Charles Banks' Terroir Selections. It will be interesting to see how the infusion of capital manifests itself here. As for the ...Read More »
93 points Robert Parker's Wine Advocate: "The impressive 2012 Chardonnay Sonoma Coast displays delicate honey, white peach and floral notes followed by a medium to full-bodied Chardonnay with good freshness, excellent purity and fine texture. This cleanly made, beautifully crafted, well-balanced 2012 should be consumed over the next 5-6 years. (RP)" (12/2014) K&L Notes: A blend fruit from Anaba's estate vineyard (named J McK) in Carneros, Denmark Vineyard in the southern end of the Sonoma Valley and choice vineyards from the acclaimed Dutton Ranch (Mills Station Vineyard and DuttonHouse Block) in the Russian... Read More »
90 points Robert Parker's Wine Advocate: "Luli is a joint project between the Pisoni Family and Master Sommelier Sara Floyd. These 2012s are the best yet from this label and they all represent superb values! Tel. (800) 946-3130; www.luliwines.com Aged half in stainless steel and half in neutral barrel, the 2013 Chardonnay Santa Lucia Highlands offers impressive minerality (especially at the price) to go with lively lychee, citrus blossom and peach-like aromas and flavors. Medium-bodied, pure, layered and decidedly pretty, drink it over the coming couple of years." (10/2014) Antonio Galloni: "A gorgeous wine, the 2 ...Read More »
90 points Antonio Galloni: "Light yellow-gold. Smoky and spicy on the nose, displaying ripe citrus and orchard fruit aromas and flavors and a suggestion of candied ginger. Smooth and open-knit but lively as well, with a touch of leesiness emerging slowly. Finishes silky, broad and long, with refreshing bitterness and mineral-driven persistence." (6/2015) K&L Notes: Always a top value for a Santa Lucia Highlands Chardonnay, half of the grapes for Morgan's Highland Chardonnay were sourced from their estate Double L vineyard with the other half from neighboring vineyards. Grapes were hand-harveste... Read More »
90 points Robert Parker's Wine Advocate: "The 2012 Chardonnay The Arsonist is one of the super-values in the marketplace. There are only 1,700 cases of this beauty. Copious notes of crisp honeysuckle, pineapple, white peach and caramelized pears are followed by a medium-bodied, surprisingly rich, concentrated, pure wine with zesty acids buttressing its intensity. Drink it over the next 1-2 years. (RP)" (11/2014) Wine Enthusiast: "In an era of proudly unoaked Chardonnays, this is a staunch throwback. It has a rich yellow-gold color, powerful aromas of toasted oak barrels and toasted walnuts, full body and viscous te ...Read More »
Trefethen's Chardonnay is entirely sourced from their Main Ranch estate vineyard in Napa Valley's Oak Knoll District. The perfect 2013 growing season started and finished early and avoided any heat spells that could compromise the fresh quality of this energetic Chardonnay. From the winery: "Fruit aromas of white peach and Fuji apple fill your nose along with brioche toast and a touch of spice. The palate zings with bright acidity, unveiling ripe apple and pear fruit, with lovely tropical and pineapple flavors. A classic Trefethen Chardonnay, a round and... Read More »
According to the winery: "Our 2013 Sonoma Coast Chardonnay is light golden in color and displays expressive fruit aromas of yellow apple, lemon curd and a nice minerality. The bouquet is further complexed by toasted bread, marzipan, and crème brulee with an oak finish. This Chardonnay is quite elegant with its mineral style, akin to a White Burgundy on steroids! Fruit forward and a rich textural body make this complex wine a real crowd pleaser and the fruit is reined in by good acidity and lemon zest."