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K&L Staff Recommendations
After working as the vineyard manager for Newton Vineyards for over 30 years, Lupe Maldonado bought a 10-acre piece of land in the cool southern tip of Napa (in Jamieson Canyon), and planted vineyards in the dark, gravelly clay soil. He brought in Jean Hoefliger from Newton as his consulting winemaker. Winemaker notes: "Clean and light with aromatics of white nectarine, citrus and orange blossoms... Fermented in Stainless Steel.
92 points Wine Spectator: "The fruit is ripe and juicy, seemingly sweet and shaded by spicy, toasty oak, allowing tiers of flavors to unfold in a graceful, elegant and understated manner. (JL, Insider 09/2016)" K&L Notes: Beringer's 2014 Private Reserve Chardonnay is creamy and rich, with toasty notes and an overall sense of balance. The fruit is primarily sourced from their Gamble Ranch property in the Oakville AVA of Napa Valley. Each lot was kept separate from harvest all the way through the winemaking process. The wine was aged for 9 months in predominately new French oak with full malolac... Read More »
Wine Enthusiast: "A hearty cradling of oak provides a tinge of vanilla sweetness here, before richer notions of apple pie and cinnamon tug at the wine’s fuller-bodied core. It’ll appeal to fans of this richer, riper style, while still finishing in a measure of acidity." (8/2016) K&L Notes: From the producer: "At Napa Cellars, the Chardonnay grapes are carefully hand-picked, harvested and crushed. At the winery, a portion of the juice is then cold fermented in stainless steel tanks. The balance of the juice is barrel fermented and aged for seven months, and then put through malolactic ... Read More »
Far Niente is a benchmark for quality in Napa Valley. The 2014 vintage has yet to be reviewed, but the 2013 earned 92 points from Wine Spectator with rave reviews: "Firm and intense, well-focused and vibrant, centered on spicy citrus, green apple and pear flavors, with hints of honeysuckle, white peach and flinty stone. Lingers on the finish, with a pithy edge to the lemon and green stone fruit notes. Drink now through 2019." (06/2015)
94 points Robert Parker's Wine Advocate: "John Kongsgaard told me that when the unfiltered Chardonnay from Newton was first launched in the early 1980s, the fruit came entirely from what is now the Judge Vineyard of Kongsgaard. No wonder that wine was so spectacular in those days. It also had an incredible aging curve as well. This wine continues to be a strong effort. The 2013 Chardonnay Unfiltered exhibits notes of white peach, honeysuckle and some brioche in a medium to full-bodied, lusciously fruity, rich, complex and full style. It doesn’t have the minerality of the old days of the early 19 ...Read More »
Wine Spectator: "Shows a strong, pithy lemon peel bitterness that subsides a bit but dominates the core fruitiness. (JL)" (6/2015)
Robert Parker's Wine Advocate: "Caramelized citrus, apple skin and a touch of tangerine oil are all present in the medium-bodied, refreshing, basically unoaked or neutral oaked style of Chardonnay that Chateau Montelena’s produced in 2013. This style is meant to show the fruit and acid of the varietal. Drink it over the next 4-5 years. (RP)" (12/2015) Vinous: "The 2013 Chardonnay is unusually open in this vintage. Lemon oil, white flowers, mint and sage are some of the signatures. Deceptively medium in body, the 2013 shows all the classic parameters of Montelena Chardonnays, but it comes across a ...Read More »
91 points Wine Spectator: "Pure, rich and graceful, centered on a core of green apple, pear, melon and spice, holding focus and ending with a long, persistent aftertaste. A classic old-school Napa Chardonnay." (7/2016) K&L Notes: Antonio Galloni praised the 2014 vintage at Chappellet: "Quality is on the rise at Chappellet, one of the most historic wineries in Napa Valley. Winemaker Philip Corallo-Titus credits new state of the art optical sorting equipment for much of the upswing in quality. Corallo-Titus adds that the recently built new winery also allows him to keep temperatures low during a... Read More »
Wine Spectator: "Pithy citrus peel elements impart distinctive texture and flavor in this white, which is pleasing and cleansing. Drink now. (JL)" (6/2016)
In terms of dream careers, race car driver and winemaker are often at the top of the list—though not usually held by the same individual. Yet former Indy car driver Randy Lewis has managed to make a living out of both passions, settling in the Napa Valley, where he’s been at the wheel of his family winery since 1992. Just in time for summer, Lewis Cellars Chardonnays are expertly crafted by winemaker Josh Widaman (formerly of Pahlmeyer) to drive fans to this small family winery.
94 points Vinous: "The 2013 Chardonnay is built on breadth textural richness. Candied lemon, honey and almonds flesh out in a deep, powerful Chardonnay built on explosive energy and breadth. The resonant, unctuous finish is striking. (AG)" (10/2015)
94 points Robert Parker's Wine Advocate: "The 2013 Chardonnay Napa displays beautiful honeysuckle, lemon oil, and hints of nectarine and poached pear, and has a Burgundian, Bâtard-Montrachet-like texture and richness. The wine is sensationally rich and once again a great success from this winery, which has had such an incredible track record for world-class Chardonnays. This should drink well for another 5-7 years, as their record for aging is brilliant. (RP)" (12/2015) 93 points Vinous: "Pahlmeyer's 2013 Chardonnay is gorgeous and also a fascinating contrast to Chardonnay from the family's Wayfarer property on the ...Read More »
Founded by Fred and Eleanor McCrea on Spring Mountain in Napa Valley, Stony Hill celebrated its first harvest in 1952. From the winery: "Our 2009 vintage is a perfect example of the winemaker’s art. Mike Chelini has been crafting Chardonnay at Stony Hill for thirty-nine years, always bringing out the essential characteristics of our hillside grown grapes. The aromas of green apples and citrus that greet you are unmistakable. As the wine opens up, the fresh fruit on your tongue is joined by the flinty, earthy quality that the vines drink up from our stony... Read More »
Wine Enthusiast: "Crisp fruit unveils itself slowly in this classically refreshing wine, soft and medium in acidity and oak. It picks up additional ripeness on the finish, from mango to peach." (7/2016) K&L Notes: Though few remember it today, Trefethen Chardonnay comes with "Olympic" credentials. At the 1979 Gault Millau World Wine Olympics, held in Paris three years after the famed "Judgment of Paris" tasting that made Chateau Montelena famous for their Chardonnay, Trefethen's 1976 Chardonnay was named best in the world over a much wider field of entrants. Trefethen's 2014 Chardonn... Read More »
Wine Enthusiast: "This presents a balanced nose of seared pineapple and marzipan. The palate shows off a judicious use of oak, with a clean line of acidity cutting through brushes of stone fruit and citrus. (MK)" (2/2015) Wine Spectator: "Openly fruity, with a tangy edge to the core of tropical fruits. (JL)" (6/2015)
Connoisseurs Guide: "Bright and brisk with a bias to green apples and citrus with but a bare bit of subtle oak in the mix, this straightforward, medium-bodied effort eschews overt ripeness and instead charts a leaner, somewhat firmer course. It is more refreshing than it is rich, yet it keeps Chardonnay character in its sights and it will be most at home with milder fare." (1/2016) Wine Spectator: "Elegantly styled, with a delicate mix of green apple, citrus and quince flavors. Clean and refreshing on the finish. (JL, Web-2016)" K&L Notes: Although famous for their Cabs, Heitz Cellar has been making Chardo... Read More »
91 points Wine Enthusiast: "From a relatively cool hillside site within the Oak Knoll District, this wine dances in lemon and green apple, completely crisp atop a fuller-bodied style embraced in oak. Luxurious on the palate, it finishes with a bite of salty brine. (VB)" (4/2016)
In terms of dream careers, race car driver and winemaker are often at the top of the list—though not usually held by the same individual. Yet former Indy car driver Randy Lewis has managed to make a living out of both passions, settling in the Napa Valley, where he’s been at the wheel of his family winery since 1992. Lewis Cellars Chardonnays are expertly crafted by winemaker Josh Widaman (formerly of Pahlmeyer) to drive fans to this small family winery. The 2015 vintage saw an early yield for grapes thanks to a warm year, and the flavors in this wine ar... Read More »
Wine & Spirits: "Sweet fruit contrasts this wine’s flinty, savory lees notes. It’s a juicy, creamy-rich white to chill for bacon-wrapped figs." (6/2016) K&L Notes: According to the winery: "Every year we grow increasingly more confident that the approach that we take with our Chardonnay not only produces a wine that is lovely upon release, but continues to develop beautifully in the bottle over time. (Just open a 2010, 2011 and 2012 and you’ll see what I mean). Limited barrel fermentation coupled with extended sur lie aging in concrete vats keeps the wine bright and fresh on the fini... Read More »
91 points Robert Parker's Wine Advocate: "The 2014 Chardonnay is a non-malolactic 100% Chardonnay that’s 45% barrel-fermented. The wine is sensational. There are nearly 10,000 cases of this wine, which shows loads of white peach, honeysuckle, green apple and melon notes in a distinctive, clean, steely Chablis-like style. There is some tropical fruit, such as pineapple, but the overall character is one of great acid, medium to full-bodied mouthfeel, and no real oak influence. (RP)" (12/2015) 91 points Wine Enthusiast: "Aged in stainless steel and small barrels of French oak, this wine remains smooth and silky with interweaved ...Read More »
90 points Robert Parker's Wine Advocate: "There doesn’t appear to be a lot of oak in the 2013 Chardonnay from Hendry, but I like what’s there - some nice caramelized citrus, medium to full body, good mouth texture and lusciousness, but great purity and a steely minerality. This is serious Chardonnay that sort of creeps up on the taster as it’s in the mouth. Drink it over the next several years. (RP)" (12/2015)
91 points Connoisseurs Guide: "**Two Stars** Right from the first, this wonderfully vital youngster impresses with its sense of fruity precision, and, while it hits every one of the right varietal marks, it does so in an especially composed and well-crafted way. It is a wine of great fit and finish, and its lovely, lightly creamy oak is always in service to its juicy and very generous, fresh-apple fruit. It manages to be rich and yet light on its feet, and, if its impeccable balance guarantees a very long life, it is an expressive and beautifully polished Chardonnay that is hard to re ...Read More »
Inventory: Redwood City
93 points Wine & Spirits: "Totally savory, this wine smells like seashells and tastes like green lime pith. It’s a big wine, fat in the middle, held taut by the mineral acidity that keeps it fresh and refreshing. It ends as clean as a premier cru Chablis might, here with the firm, grippy spice of a Spring Mountain white." (2/2016) 90 points Wine Enthusiast: "Decadent and candied, this is an oaky, well-made wine with richness at its core. Tahitian vanilla, caramel and Meyer lemon give way to more weighty tropical characteristics, making for a ripe, bigger-styled wine." (5/2016) Robert Parker's Wine Advocate: "Their 2014 is an attractive, fresh ...Read More »
94 points Vinous: "The 2014 Chardonnay, from O'Shaughnessy's estate vineyard in Oakville, is loaded with personality. Rich, ample and structured on the palate, the 2014 possesses superb depth and striking aromatic complexity throughout. Orchard fruit, flowers and white pepper are some of the scents that emerge from the glass, but it is the wine's overall feel that really impresses today. Betty O'Shaughnessy and her husband Paul Woolls, along with winemaker Sean Capiaux and viticulturist Alan Peirson, run one of the hidden jewels of Napa Valley. All of the wines in this lin ...Read More »
Inventory: Redwood City
90 points Connoisseurs Guide: "Vibrant, young, green apple fruit is the driving force of this sleek, nicely made opus with mildly toasty, lightly laid-on oak a constant, if comparatively quiet, companion. The wine is firmly framed and conveys a clear impression of substance and depth, and, while its hard-to-miss acidity may leave it a little taut and tight at the moment, there is no question but that it has very good places to go. Leave it untouched for a couple of years, and know that it will hold for a good many more." (1/2015) K&L Notes: A classically-styled Chardonnay that is bright and delici... Read More »
Wine Spectator: "Crisp and pithy, with a clean delivery of white peach, melon and apple notes that give this a refreshing mouthfeel and lingering aftertaste. (JL, Web-2016)"
92 points Wine & Spirits: "Barrel fermented without having gone through malolactic conversion, this is a firm, completely savory Chardonnay, gaining its viscosity from the richness of alcohol. The oak feels integrated, driving star-fruit flavors toward earthier tones of bitter almond. A full-bodied white for a veal chop." (4/2015) Robert Parker's Wine Advocate: "Good minerality, crisp red currants and citrus emerge from this fresh, lively, medium-bodied 2013 Chardonnay. (RP)" (10/2014) Wine Enthusiast: "Soft layers of faint lemon, fig and yellow apple stand out in this pretty, straightforward and slightly tart white, the whole of the ...Read More »
95 points Vinous: "Ric Forman's 2014 Chardonnay is a real stunner. A bit riper than it usually is, the 2014 possesses superb richness and intensity, but tapered with the vibrant, blocked-malo style that Forman pioneered in Napa Valley. The 2014 is a wine of push and pull that engages all the senses with superb textural balance and tons of nuance. Lemon oil, orchard fruit, almonds and dried flowers open up, but above all else the 2014 is a wine of feel. The balance here is just unreal. (AG)" (10/2015) 92 points Robert Parker's Wine Advocate: "He always has pioneered a non-malolactic, crisp, fresh Chardonnay, and the ...Read More »
Merlot favorite Duckhorn's third Chardonnay vintage, from 12 vineyard sources and fermented in 90% barrels, 45% new French oak. The winery's tasting note: "From its aromas of Bosc pear, lemon cream, vanilla and chai to its silky entry and bright minerality, this is a vibrant and complex Chardonnay. On the palate, it strikes a beautiful balance between richness and elegance, with a lush texture and abundant flavors of white peach and Mandarin orange framed by lively acidity and hints of baked apple and elderflower."
Coming out of another stunning vintage in the Napa Valley, the Duckhorn Chardonnay from 2014 is 100% Chardonnay and barrel fermented in 100% French Oak with 45% of it being new. All told the barrel aging program is 10 months before the wine goes to bottle.
Inventory: San Francisco
90 points Connoisseurs Guide: "*One Star* Vibrant, young, green apple fruit is the driving force of this sleek, nicely made opus with mildly toasty, lightly laid-on oak a constant, if comparatively quiet, companion. The wine is firmly framed and conveys a clear impression of substance and depth, and, while its hard-to-miss acidity may leave it a little taut and tight at the moment, there is no question but that it has very good places to go." (1/2015)
Connoisseurs Guide: "There are family resemblances between this wine and its mate above in their appley focus and supporting oak, but this wine is tight both in aroma and across the palate and comes with acidity that sticks out a bit. It is nearly equal to its mate in ripeness while lacking some of that wine's greater depth and richness, and it is recommended for service with pan-grilled trout, cracked crab and other lighter preparations." (10/2016) Robert Parker's Wine Advocate: "The 2014 Chardonnay exhibits good depth and ripeness in its orange rind, quince and white currant notes, along with good minerali ...Read More »
With fruit sourced from this notable Napa Valley site, Massican has produced yet another of their stunning white wines. The lower yields from the 2015 vintage meant more intense fruit, making this Chardonnay a very expressive wine.
90 points Wine Enthusiast: "From a selection of vineyards across the Napa Valley, including Brown Ranch in Carneros, this is a woody, herbal wine, full bodied on the midpalate, with flavors of peach and vanilla. It has aged in both French oak and stainless steel to keep the oak in check, and finishes with fresh Meyer lemon. (VB)" (3/2016) Robert Parker's Wine Advocate: "A clean, fresh, lively Chardonnay with poached pear, a touch of honey, good acidity, a round, luscious mouthfeel, and impressive purity and length, this is an excellent Napa Chardonnay to drink over the next several years. (RP)" (12/2015) Wine Spectator: "Ripe and f ...Read More »
Jancis Robinson: "Fresh and creamy, warm and juicy. Opulent fruit with an attractive autolytic note. Muscular and potent. (RH)" (3/2015) Wine Spectator: "Tilts toward green apple, pear and citrus flavors, making this bright and refreshingly clean and pure. Drink now. 40,000 cases made. (JL)" (6/2015) K&L Notes: Cakebread's popular Napa Valley Chardonnay blends the best qualities of grapes grown in the Carneros region on San Pablo Bay with those of warmer areas of the Napa Valley. Look for fresh apple, melon and pear, spicy oak, and rich fruit flavors balanced with mineral tones.
Inventory: Main Warehouse
According to the winery: "Every year we grow increasingly more confident that the approach that we take with our Chardonnay not only produces a wine that is lovely upon release, but continues to develop beautifully in the bottle over time. (Just open a 2010, 2011 and 2012 and you’ll see what I mean). Limited barrel fermentation coupled with extended sur lie aging in concrete vats keeps the wine bright and fresh on the finish. This year’s innovation of brief time on the skins before pressing has paid dividends in expressing greater palate depth. Pure mine... Read More »
93 points Wine Spectator: "Deliciously rich and creamy, offering tiers of fig, pear, hazelnut and a hint of marshmallow that spread out on the palate, revealing extra dimensions of depth and flavor nuances." (7/2006) 91 points Connoisseurs Guide: "*Two stars* Proactive winemaking combines with very deep fruit in this full and powerful Chardonnay, and, as ripe and wonderfully rich as it may be, its themes of concentrated apples, sweet toast and lees come without the complications of unmanageable heat or the heaviness that such ripeness often entails. Nor does it taste of over-ripeness in any way, and its highly co ...Read More »
Inventory: Main Warehouse
90 points Robert Parker's Wine Advocate: "Hendry’s tasty 2012 Chardonnay Barrel Fermented (14.6% alcohol) comes from a combination of Old Wente and Dijon clones. Although aged 11 months in French oak, the wood component is pushed to the background. It exhibits attractive pineapple, peach and citrus oil notes, good minerality, medium body and lots of character and depth. Drink it now through 2017." (10/2014) Wine Enthusiast: "More floral than fruity, this white spent almost a year in French oak, a third of it new. Still, the oak doesn’t overpower or overwhelm, allowing medium-bodied layers of stone fruit and apple t ...Read More »
Inventory: Main Warehouse
The Pirelli-Minetti family began making wines in California over 100 years ago, and the tradition continues today under the guidance of Andrew Perelli-Minetti.
From the winemaker: "Complex and intense, this alluring wine offers aromas of ripe freestone peach and Meyer lemon custard, with notes of sweet vanilla and citrus blossom. On the palate, the fruitful flavors echo the nose with layers of lemon cream and nectarine, as well as a touch of toasty oak and an underlying acidity that draws the wine to a clean, crisp finish." The 2014 has not yet been professionally reviewed at this time, but the 2013 bottling garnered 91 points from Wine & Spriits.
90 points Wine Spectator: "Perfumed floral aromas and flavors of honeydew melon and honeysuckle are pure and elegant, with a zesty vibrancy and lively aftertaste. Drink now through 2020. 800 cases made." (10/2016)
94 points Vinous: "Beringer's 2013 Chardonnay Private Reserve emerges from Gamble Ranch in Oakville. Classy, polished and restrained, the 2013 is absolutely superb. Above all else, the 2013 is a wine of finesse. Hints of pastry, baked apple and spices are woven into the super-expressive, oily finish. This was my first tasting at Beringer following Laurie Hook's move into the role of Winemaker Emeritus. Mark Beringer, the great-great grandson of founder Jacob Beringer, is the newly arrived Chief Winemaker. These are all Laurie Hook's wines, though. Needless to say, it will ...Read More »
Inventory: Main Warehouse
91 pointa and two stars from the Connoisseurs' Guide to California Wine: "Fresh and sweet smells of apples, lemons, roasted grains, spices and vanilla make for a most intriguing and attractive start, and the wine comes through on the palate with a big, bold, almost swaggering construction that leans heavily on ripeness and flesh yet has a surprisingly alive bounce to its deep and lengthy flavors. Toast and caramel add to the wine's complexity, and its bright ending promises that bottle age will see it holding up nicely for several years to come." (Feb. 2... Read More »
Inventory: Main Warehouse
93 points Connoisseurs Guide: "*Two Stars* Although showing a bit of youthful constraint right out of the gate, this substantial and nicely concentrated Chardonnay gains traction as it goes and, even if a touch firm and framed by good acidity, it opens and builds on the palate with deep, well-formed, fully ripe fruit, a good dose of creamy oak and a tantalizing touch of baked-bread sweetness. It is a big wine, to be sure, but it is not at all overblown, and it hits the accustomed Darioush mark for fruity amplitude and richness." (7/2015) Wine Spectator: "Raw in texture from oak, but the fruit is pure an ...Read More »
Inventory: Main Warehouse
95 points Robert Parker's Wine Advocate: "The 2003 Chardonnay Napa reveals a Corton-Charlemagne-like earthiness and minerality, perhaps less fat and flesh than the Sonoma Coast bottling, but a full-bodied, rich personality. Aromas and flavors of pineapples, citrus oil, hazelnuts, and crushed rock/mineral-like characteristics are found in this long, defined Chardonnay. (RP)" (2/2005) 91 points Stephen Tanzer's International Wine Cellar: "Hazy, unfiltered appearance. Bright, aromatic nose offers candied citrus peel and baking spices. Gives a sweeter and even lusher impression than the Sonoma Coast bottling, with very ripe flavors of peach and apricot. V ...Read More »
Inventory: Main Warehouse
Stephen Tanzer's International Wine Cellar: "Faintly hazy appearance. Aromas of white flowers, grapefruit, lemon candy and wet stone. Bright but shy, with good mouth feel but only moderate flavor development and intensity. Comes across as slightly hard-edged today, with some acidity yet to be absorbed. (ST)" (5/2002)
Inventory: Main Warehouse
LVE wines are made at Raymond Vineyards in Napa Valley in collaboration with award-winning recording artist John Legend. The winery's tasting note: "Our 2014 LVE Chardonnay is fruit forward and balanced, delivering aromas of honeydew melon, toasted hazelnut and créme brulée. Seductive and rich texture on the palate, flavors of vanilla créme and toasty oak are balanced with a touch of baking spices and the creamy, rounded mouthfeel leads to a vibrant finish."
99 points Robert Parker's Wine Advocate: "The Chardonnay of the vintage is the 2003 Chardonnay The Judge. At $175, it may be California’s most expensive Chardonnay, but what a remarkable wine! Tightly-wound as well as super-concentrated, it represents the essence of a terroir and varietal character. Sadly, there are only 100 cases of this remarkable effort." (12/2005) 93 points Stephen Tanzer's International Wine Cellar: "Slightly deeper yellow than the 2004. Wild aromas of bacon fat and game. Superconcentrated but quite dry, with flavors of apple pie dough, cinnamon butter and smoked meat. Very little primary fruit to be found. This is hugely rich bu ...Read More »
Inventory: Main Warehouse
92 points Robert Parker's Wine Advocate: "The 2014 Chardonnay Hyde Vineyard displays oodles of tropical pineapple, mango and honeysuckle in a rich, medium to full-bodied, crisp, zesty style. 92+ points. (RP)" (10/2015) 90 points Wine Spectator: "Begins trim, tart and pithy, with citrus skin flavors. Chablis-like in structure and vibrancy, this opens to reveal a silky texture. Drink now. 250 cases made." (7/2016)