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K&L Staff Recommendations
92 points Decanter: "Sweet spices and preserved lemons on the nose; memories of a weekend in Marrakech. A mineral palate with restrained oak, nice grip and lots of character. Long and very complex with a full body and promise of more to come." (5/2016) 92 points Wine Enthusiast: "Josh Jensen’s appellation blend is arguably the best American white wine for the price. This vintage offers squeezed tangerine, fleur de sel, lily, apple blossom, apple fritters and a touch of tropicality on the nose. The palate is more steely in structure, with chalk and concrete minerality followed by grapefruit skin and lime ...Read More »
Cool climate Carneros fruit and Rombauer's house style of élevage make this Chard a top choice vintage after vintage.
From winemaker Rob Mondavi, Jr, the 2014 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.
Jancis Robinson: "A little cooler than the Home Block. Solid stuff with good extract. Sweet start and proper beginning, middle and end to this wine. Very different from the Santa Barbara style. More ageable? Some spiciness." (2/2016) K&L Notes: At K&L, we are always HUGE fans of the Varner brothers' wines. These are carefully crafted, terroir-driven Chardonnays that drink well on release and also age very well. This bottling hails from the Bee Block at the Varners' Spring Ridge Vineyard, which features 24-year-old vines planted to a northeast-facing slope. The vines are dry-farmed and... Read More »
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 fermentation."
89 points Vinous: "The 2013 Chardonnay is a fabulous wine for the money. Lemon oil, white flowers and white pepper are all laced together in an impeccably balanced, layered Chardonnay long on class and personality. The 2013 is a blend of fruit from vineyards in Santa Barbara County and Paso Robles, done entirely in steel, with no malolactic fermentation. It is also one of the very best values in California Chardonnay readers will come across. Bob and Jim Varner's Foxglove wines remain some of the very finest values readers will find anywhere in the world. The wines are al ...Read More »
93 points Vinous: "The 2013 Chardonnay Dierberg Vineyard is super-polished and finessed from start to finish. Scents of almond, lemon peel and flowers open up in this striking, effortless Chardonnay. Orange peel and slightly more tropical notes develop with air in a Chardonnay that offers superb textural depth and tons of personality, all in a laid-back, understated style that is such a signature of Santa Maria. I have high hopes for Dierberg and its sister property, Star Lane. Winemaker Tyler Thomas, who was previously at Donelan, arrived in 2013, while Charles (AJ) Fairb ...Read More »
For the last two years we've had the distinct pleasure, and honor, of being able to blend our own Chardonnay with the team at Talley Vineyards. Last year this bottling was a huge success with our customers and we think it is every bit as good this year. Just like last vintage the 2014 comes from Talley's non-contiguous Oliver's Vineyard located in the Edna Valley. This year we had many more barrels to blend with which made our jobs tougher but the final wine that much better. The final blend this year came from five barrels all French oak, one of which w... Read More »
Wine Enthusiast: "A well-crafted wine made in relatively large quantity, this has a tropical edge, sidelining stone fruit and apple. It also offers a lightness of pear skin, atop light, ripe layers of vanilla and oak. The finish puts memorable touches to a generous, expressive palate. (VB)" (10/2015) Wine Spectator: "Easy-drinking, with fresh flavors of zesty tangerine, melon, Golden Delicious apple and light baking spices, ending clean and refreshing. Drink now. 35,000 cases made. (JL)" (7/2015)
Vinous: "The 2014 Chardonnay (Sonoma Coast) is one of the best California Chardonnays readers will find in its price point. Orange blossom, apricot pit and buttery notes meld together in an exquisite, beautifully layered entry-level Chardonnay ... (AG)" (2/2016)
96 points Robert Parker's Wine Advocate: "The 2013 Proprietary White Mannequin, which draws fruit from diverse regions of Northern California such as the Carneros Basin and the Sonoma Coast, is actually a blend of 76% Chardonnay, 8% Viognier, 6% Marsanne, 5% Grenache Blanc, 3% Muscat and 2% Roussanne. This is amazing wine, a gorgeous, full-throttle, honeyed wine with a light-gold color, oodles of tropical fruits including pineapple and mango, rose petal and floral notes, and beautifully integrated oak (aged in 40% new French oak on its lees for 11 months). This full-throttle wine is completely d ...Read More »
Inventory: San Francisco
Wine Enthusiast: "Quite restrained on the nose, this nicely priced bottling slowly unleashes sea salt, apple peel, key lime pith and chalk aromas. It’s tightly wound on the palate with lemon skin and pear skin tartness, proving very racy in style." (8/2016) K&L Notes: Though the 2014 vintage has yet to be professionally reviewed, the 2013 earned praise from Wine Spectator: "Combines rich tiers of fig, apricot, melon and green apple with vibrant acidity and a clean, pure finish." (07/2015)
From the team at Banshee Wines, best known hereabouts for supplying us with excellently sourced Pinot Noir. Producer notes: "With the 2014 vintage we have a more than worthy follow up the popular 2013 version. Once again we tapped a plurality of sources (pretty much all coastal) from Santa Barbara all the way up to Mendocino that enabled us to create blend that hits a number of buttons simultaneously. We were able to pull some richness from warmer areas and some structure and aromatics from cooler areas. The resulting wine is fresh and vibrant aromatic... Read More »
According to the winery: "Rich, bold and luscious, this is an easy-to-love creamy California Chardonnay. Made in the tradition of Californian winemaking, the fruit we choose has juicy, ripe, stone fruit and baked-lemon aromas. Cold fermented to the perfect, rich creaminess and aged in our own blend of oak, gives this wine a lovely, long, vanilla finish that’s uniquely Butter!"
92 points Wine Enthusiast: "*Editors' Choice* This bottling by pioneer Richard Sanford is much more widely available, affordable and stylistically accessible right now than the single vineyard option. It’s delicate on the nose with bright lime spritz, Meyer lemon pith, crushed lemon verbena and a grippy brie cheese rind component, then proves tangy on the nuanced palate, with lemongrass and pomelo skin meshing into nectarine and apple flesh." (7/2016) K&L Notes: For years the Sanford winery produced amazing, intense, under-priced wines from the Central Coast. Richard Sanford, the former owner o... Read More »
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 »
94 points Wine Enthusiast: "****#29 in Wine Enthusiast's Best of Year 2015 and an Editors' Choice**** This is a tremendous blend of various vineyard sites, coaxed together into a stunning combination of beautiful floral aromas, ginger and baked lemon. Given time in half new oak, it takes on flavors of apple and vanilla, never venturing out of range and remaining balanced and textured. (VB)" (12/2015)
93 points Vinous: "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 »
From the producer: "The 2013 Blanc de Blancs has bright and fresh aromas of grapefruit, mango, apricot,lemon, and white peach. The fruitful fragrance intermingles with hints of fresh bread, vanilla cream pie, and rose petals. Freshly sliced Gravenstein apples, zesty citrus, and bright pineapple flavors carry vibrant length on the palate.” – Winemakers Sean Thompson and Hugh Davies
Wine Spectator: "Shows a strong, pithy lemon peel bitterness that subsides a bit but dominates the core fruitiness. (JL)" (6/2015)
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)
Stuhlmuller Vineyards sits at the southern edge of Alexander Valley where it borders both Chalk Hill and the Russian River Valley AVAs. Five blocks of the estate vineyard are planted with Chardonnay grapes, 80% of which are the sought-after Gauer Upper Barn clone. The wine was brought up in small barrels (82%) and larger casks (18%), all of which were French oak (6% new). The wine was fermented on the lees for eight months and underwent 80% indigenous malolactic fermentation. The winery's vintage note: "This medium-bodied wine offers an alluring orchard-... Read More »
Connoisseurs Guide: "*One Star and a Good Value* Clean as a whistle, mid-density in weight and volume and evident if moderate oakiness lifting its mix of ripe and slight green apple fruitiness, this wine is exactly what a $20 Chardonnay should be. It is somewhat rounded in texture with enough youthful energy for balance ..." (5/2015) Wine Enthusiast: "High-toned Meyer lemon and edgy minerality give this coastal wine a freshness on the palate, along with a complexity of fennel and apple. Juicy and medium bodied, it picks up a fullness on the texture as it goes, while remaining balanced and pleas ...Read More »
95 points Wine Enthusiast: "*Editors' Choice* This 100% varietal wine from the cooler outpost of Freestone is so deliciously crisp, bright in minerally lemon and fresh pear. It lingers on the palate in complex ways, elusive one moment, then exuberant the next-a celebration of ideal vintage and place." (12/2015) 92 points Wine & Spirits: "There’s a taut and penetrating depth of flavor at the core of this chardonnay, from a wind-cooled vineyard among the redwoods near Freestone. It’s resolutely dry, with a tangy blood-orange verve, the grip of oak and creaminess of lees providing a context for the clean intensit ...Read More »
In 1989 Walt and Joan Flowers, with great expertise in agriculture and nurseries, turned their attention and passion to the beautiful Sonoma Coast and its perfect position for growing both Chardonnay and Pinot Noir. Their success in this venture is quite well known in the wine collector world now, and they produce some of the most striking Sonoma wines around. They produce both estate wines from their Camp Meeting Ridge and Sea View Ridge vineyards, and wines from vineyards they carefully oversee and control in Sonoma County. Their wines always show the ... Read More »
91 points Wine Enthusiast: "Tightly structured and quiet in oak, this wine instead exudes bright notes of lemon peel and orange blossom, offering plenty of well-traced minerality on the palate. It finishes lean and crisp, refreshing enough to enjoy all night long.(VB)" (11/2015)
90 points Wine Spectator: "*Smart Buys* Features a delicious core of vibrant grapefruit and lemon-laced tangerine and white peach notes, with zesty acidity that keeps the flavors fresh and jumping. (JL)" (5/2016) Robert Parker's Wine Advocate: "A good crisp, Chablis-like character defines the 2014 Chardonnay Sonoma Coast. This wine reveals a touch of lemon oil, citrus blossom and green apple in a medium-bodied, refreshing and pure style. Drink it over the next 3-4 years. (RP)" (3/2016)
90 points Wine Enthusiast: "Unusually dry and crisp, this gives up tangy green apple, kiwi and lemon flavors backed by electric acidity, rather light body and a touch of enervating astringency that’s unusual in a white wine. Fresh oysters, please." (2/2015) Connoisseurs Guide: "Bright and brisk from the outset and a wine that reins in ripeness without sacrifice of keen Chardonnay fruit, this tangy offering is true to the racy Carpe Diem style and sports plenty of acid yet never wanders into lemony austerity. It shows a nice sense of polish and is complete without being big and bold, and it will make a fi ...Read More »
92 points Robert Parker's Wine Advocate: "The beautiful, Burgundian-styled 2014 Chardonnay Sangiacomo Vineyard exhibits notes of hazelnut, white peach and honeysuckle in a medium to full-bodied, beautifully fleshy style with outstanding purity and good acidity. It should drink well for 5-6 years. By the way, a little-known fact here is that the winemaker is Phillip Corallo-Titus, who has been making these wines for Sonoma-Loeb as well as Chappellet since 1990 (where, in fact, these wines are made)." (3/2016) 90 points Wine Spectator: "The core of apple and honeydew is intense and focused, pleasantly pure and spicy, with l ...Read More »
95 points Wine Spectator: "A bold, rich and creamy style that's remarkably elegant and graceful, with a bounty of ripe flavors built around white peach, nectarine, honeysuckle, fig and floral aromas. Finishes with a long sustained finish that keeps repeating the fruit themes. Drink now through 2021. 2,000 cases made. (Web Only, 2015)"
Second label of Alysian Wines. Led by the Hambrecht family in partnership with esteemed winemaker Gary Farrell, they are committed to sourcing from the best vineyards in the Russian River Valley. From the winery: "In keeping with the tradition of second label wines, which originated in the cellars of 18th century Bordeaux, ours is a collection of barrels that do not quite fit the philosophy of Alysian. This flexibility in the cellar allows us to select and blend barrels of small lot wines from exceptional and off the beaten path vineyards and craft an ap... Read More »
Jancis Robinson: "Smoky, lively, very lightly reductive nose. Pretty sweet and broad on the front palate. Tastes a bit more advanced – and jujube – than I would have expected from such a young wine. Lots of early reward. Nice backbone sneaks up on you though." (2/2016)
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.
The 2014 Amphitheater Block comes from 2 acres on a south-facing slope at 780 to 735 feet in elevation. The vineyard is planted to 33 year old vines on their own roots. The soil has sedimentary rock near the surface. During vinification, the wine is aged in all french oak, 0f which 25% is new. Ten miles from the Pacific Ocean, the northern Santa Cruz Mountains appellation features vineyards that are dry-farmed, non-fertilized, hand-hoed, and use no insecticides.
Influenced by his experiences making wine in Europe as well as from two decades working with the respected wine importer Kermit Lynch, Bruce Neyers was an early adapter of the hands-on, natural and organic winemaking approach in the Napa Valley when he and his wife Barbara founded Neyers in 1992. His point of reference for Chardonnay are the great Burgundies of France. "After you try a Chablis from Raveneau or a Burgundy from Méo-Camuzet," he tells us in an Uncorked interview from April of 2011, "you have a frame of reference, an objective to seek." The ... Read More »
92 points Wine Enthusiast: "This offers good quality for the price from this historic producer, which heads south to this dry-farmed vineyard planted in 1976. The wine shows lots of lemon scents, from blossoms to peels, along with browned butter, sea salt and smoke. The palate offers singed lime peels, red grapefruit skin, iodine and sour yellow apple peels, proving quite complex." (12/2015) Robert Parker's Wine Advocate: "Coming from the Edna Valley, the 2013 Chardonnay Wolff Vineyard has lots of matchstick-like minerality, apple blossom and white flower notes in its medium-bodied, supple, juicy and easy drinking ...Read More »
90 points Wine Enthusiast: "***Editors' Choice*** 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. (JG)" (7/2015)
95 points Robert Parker's Wine Advocate: "The 2013 Chardonnay Hyde Vineyard has fabulous fruit concentration, great acidity, discreet use of oak as well as notes of white peach and honeysuckle, currants and a touch of quince. Drink it over the next 4-6 years. The single-vineyard wines all represent much smaller quantities of wine. There have been several noticeable changes in the Kistler wines over the last few years, as they are certainly picking the Pinot Noir at an earlier date and going for less extraction, more fragrance and delicacy. The Chardonnays are still powerful wines but they have b ...Read More »
Inventory: Redwood City
91 points Vinous: "Pale gold. Aromas of orange, pineapple, white flowers and smoky lees. Spicy, high-pitched and focused, with juicy citrus and orchard fruit flavors given further punch by building minerality. Shows strong tension on the smoky, floral finish, which leaves behind a suggestion of iodine. (JR)" (9/2015) 90 points Robert Parker's Wine Advocate: "Another medium-bodied, Burgundian-style effort is the 2013 Chardonnay Estate Arroyo Grande Valley. Seeing nine months in 15% new French oak, it has classic apple blossom, white peach and citrus aromas and flavors, medium-bodied richness and a vibrant, clean and ...Read More »
90 points Vinous: "The 2013 Chardonnay (Sonoma County) is a very pretty appellation-level wine. Hints of butter, pastry, brioche and baked apple open up nicely. Creamy, expressive and nuanced, the 2013 is also a terrific value. (AG)" (2/2016) 90 points Wine Enthusiast: "From vineyards in both Alexander Valley and Bennett Valley, the grapes were fermented in French oak for eight months, a minority of it new. This is a medium-bodied, integrated wine rich in caramel apple and fresh-squeezed tangerine. Brisk and in balance, it finishes with a note of toasted almond. (VB)" (5/2016) Robert Parker's Wine Advocate: "The 2013 Chardonnay Sonoma ...Read More »
Lloyd sourced fruit from the renowned Sangiacomo Vineyard with a little bit from the Truchard Vineyard for this ripe and generous Carneros Chardonnay. From the winery: "Flavors of tropical fruits, pear and apple are supported by rich notes of vanillin, leading into a powerful and succulent finish."
Inventory: San Francisco
92 points Robert Parker's Wine Advocate: "The less expensive label for Paul Hobbs is his Crossbarn label. He has done a magnificent job of elevating the quality of these wines, which are all made from purchased fruit. Take, for example, the Crossbarn 2014 Chardonnay from the Sonoma Coast. There are over 16,000 cases of this wine, which is bone-dry. Ten percent is barrel-fermented, and the rest aged in steel, so it is essentially a naked style of Chardonnay, and the 2014 is just a beauty, with crisp acidity, notes of apple blossom, tangerine oil and honeyed lemons in an extroverted, beautifully p ...Read More »
From the winery: "Monterey County is one of the best appellations in the world for producing Chardonnay. This region benefits from cool morning fog and afternoon breezes that result in a long growing season, producing intense fruit flavors balanced with vibrant acidity. Mer Soleil Silver is a pure, clean expression of our estate-grown Santa Lucia Highlands Chardonnay. The grapes that go into this Chardonnay are of the highest quality for a number of reasons: the unique climate, our vineyard location on east-facing slopes, vine-to-vine uniformity, low-yie... Read More »
90-93 points Vinous: "Energy and focus the two elements that stand out in Shafer's 2014 Chardonnay Red Shoulder Ranch. Lemon peel, white pepper and floral notes are some of the signatures. The 2014 is shaping up to be another jewel of a wine from Shafer. Shafer is one of Napa Valley's best oiled machines. Year after year the wines deliver the goods in a rich, sumptuous style that defines the very essence of contemporary Napa Valley at its very best. (AG)" (10/2015) K&L Notes: Shafer's Carneros Chardonnay was whole-cluster pressed, barrel-fermented with wild yeast in 75% oak and 25% stain... Read More »
92 points Vinous: "The just-bottled 2013 Chardonnay is vibrant and fresh, with a little more cut than is typically the case, the result of a year in which acidities are higher. Lemon peel, white flowers and crushed rocks are wonderfully expressive in this finely-sculpted Chardonnay from Montelena. There is plenty to look forward to here." (12/2014)
According to the winery: "A bountiful crop of 88.53 tons were harvested by hand, destemmed, and the berries "broken" before being pressed (the majority to stainless steel tanks, and the balance to large oak casks). Fermented on the fine lees, with no battonage for 7-months. Malolactic fermentation occurred naturally and finished completely. A gentle cross-flow filtration was performed prior to bottling. A selection of complementary Sonoma county vineyards compose this wine, with an emphasis on the Russian River Valley, Dry Creek Valley, and Sonoma Coast ... Read More »
95 points Vinous: "Foxen's 2014 Chardonnay Bien Nacido Vineyard Block UU is one of the quirkiest California Chardonnays readers will come across. The plant material here is Chardonnay grafted onto own-rooted Riesling rootstock that was originally planted in the early 1970s. Oddly enough, this wine often shows distinctly tropical, Riesling-inflected notes, as it does again in 2014. White peach, ash, slate, pear and crushed rocks show superb energy allied to power in a Chardonnay with searing intensity, fabulous balance and tons of personality. Proprietors Bill Wathen and D ...Read More »