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K&L Staff Recommendations
91 points Wine Enthusiast: "Tart aromas of sour cream, yogurt, candied lime and pressed quince show on the nose of this stylishly structured Chardonnay. The palate carries the theme forward, with pithy pink grapefruit notes, lime ade and brie rinds, showing firm tension on the tongue and bound-up energy that will keep this bottle alive for years. (MK)" (2/2016)
95 points Wine Enthusiast: "This voluptuously seductive wine is also elegantly balanced. Citrus, wet stone and sea salt lift the minerality to pronounced levels, accented by a crispness of lemon peel and papaya wrapped in blossoming jasmine. Many of the vines on the site date back nearly 40 years, a demonstration that in age there is beauty." (9/2016) 93 points Robert Parker's Wine Advocate: "The 2014 Chardonnay Dutton Ranch is a rather complex blend of multiple heritage clones from California, such as the Wente, Robert Young, Rued, the U.C. Davis Clone 4, and the Spring Mountain Clone. The wine offers up plenty of white pea ...Read More »
Robert Parker's Wine Advocate: "The least expensive Chardonnay from Rombauer, the 2014 Chardonnay Los Carneros was aged nine months in a combination of French and American oak. It has a light gold color with a greenish hue, attractive nectarine and citrus oil notes, medium body, and subtle wood. Drink it over the next 2-3 years. (RP)" (12/2015) K&L Notes: Cool climate Carneros fruit and Rombauer's house style of élevage make this Chard a top choice vintage after vintage.
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 »
We can tell you this much: our Kalinda private label hooks you up with awesome wine at a fraction of what you'd otherwise pay for this exact same wine under its normal label. While we have to remain quiet about the source of this beauty, we can tell you that it sells elsewhere at a much higher premium. Get it while it lasts.
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.
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)
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 »
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 »
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."
91 points Robert Parker's Wine Advocate: "A small step up over the Katherine’s Vineyard, the 2012 Chardonnay Bench Break shows slightly more toasty oak in its apple and orchard fruits, white flowers and hints of nuttiness. Full-bodied, rich and layered, it’s a big, full-flavored effort that stays beautifully balanced and pure. Spending roughly 10 months in 57% new French oak, enjoy bottles over the coming 3-4 years. (JD)" (8/2014) 90 points Stephen Tanzer's International Wine Cellar: "Light yellow-gold. Ripe, lees-accented orchard fruit and melon aromas are complicated by notes of orange pith, tarragon and sweet butter. Smooth and expansive on the pa ...Read More »
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)
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 »
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 »
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 »
95 points Vinous: "Varner's Chardonnay Amphitheater Block is rich, ample and super-expressive. Lemon peel, almonds, chamomile, earthiness, dried apricot and sage meld together effortlessly. The 2013 Amphitheater is a classic Varner Chardonnay built on phenolic intensity and plenty of savory/floral notes that add nuance, while the fruit is pushed a bit into the background. Bob and Jim Varner have turned out another magnificent set of wines at Varner and Neely. Vintage 2013 appears to have favored the Chardonnays - which are truly superb - over the Pinots. The Varners descr ...Read More »
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 »
91 points Robert Parker's Wine Advocate: "The 2014 Chardonnay Sonoma Coast has a greenish hue, always a good sign as it seems to suggest chlorophyll and healthy grapes. The wine has hints of subtle pineapple, honeysuckle, green apple skin and citrus oil. It is medium-bodied and refreshing, with terrific fruit purity and a ripe, medium to full-bodied palate with zesty acidity. Drink it over the next 2-3 years. (RP)" (4/2016)
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)
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)
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 »
Aptly named and always a favorite in the rich California style, Butternut is a luxuriously textured Chardonnay. Aromas of baked apple, hazelnut, and crème brûlée fill the nose and reverberate on the palate with notes of peach, fig, butterscotch, and toasty oak. Grapes 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 delicious snapshot of the state's growing regions.
Wine Spectator: "Shows a strong, pithy lemon peel bitterness that subsides a bit but dominates the core fruitiness. (JL)" (6/2015)
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!"
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)
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 »
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 »
Wine Enthusiast: "Dried lemon, sliced pineapple, ripe yellow apples and a squeeze of lime show on the light nose of this bottling from the Gallo family. The palate is juicy and showy, but not overbearing, with sliced apples, a pinch of salt and nectarine flavors trending toward tropical edges. (MK)" (4/2016) Wine Spectator: "Simple and easy-drinking, with light-weight fig, melon and butterscotch flavors. (JL)" (6/2016)
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)
95 points Vinous: "The 2014 Chardonnay Bee Block is the standout in this lineup of Chardonnays from Bob and Jim Varner. Wonderfully complete and layered, the 2014 is all about balance, harmony and proportion. Everything is in the right place. The combination of phenolic intensity and creaminess is deftly balanced in a Chardonnay endowed with both tension and enough mid-palate intensity to give the wine its sense of openness. (AG)" (7/2016) 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 d ...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)
Robert Parker's Wine Advocate: "For starters, there are four Chardonnays, which include the 2014 Chardonnay Home Ranch – a terrific value in Chardonnay that is barrel-fermented in about 30% French oak and aged 10 months prior to bottling. The wine reveals discrete oak, caramelized citrus, a touch of honey and has an attractive, light gold color with a greenish hue. It is medium-bodied and exhibits a gravelly minerality. Drink it over the next several years. (RP)" (2/2016) K&L Notes: From Ed Sbragia, the winemaker behind many great vintages at Beringer. As Robert Parker says, "Sbragia has always de... Read More »
90-92 points Robert Parker's Wine Advocate: "As for the 2014 Chardonnays, they all possess great acid and obvious intensity. I’ll keep my notes short, but they are all brilliant wines, including the 2014 Chardonnay Russian River, which has plenty of citrus oil, white flowers, quince and peach. Paul Hobbs has emerged as one of the great success stories in Northern California. He’s an international consultant known for his outstanding work in Argentina. He is also now involved in a joint venture in the Finger Lakes region of New York, so hopefully we can anticipate some interesting Rieslings and po ...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
Sourced from the Garvey, Genny’s, Stagecoach, Hudson & Hyde Vineyards. Harvested August 28 - September 27, 2013 at 22.4 - 26.2 Brix. Elevage takes place in 30% new French oak 30& used oak, and 40% stainless steel with 50% malolactic fermentation. According to the winery: "Sourced from low-yielding vineyards in Napa Valley, our Chardonnay is characterized by crisp apple, ripe melon and citrus flavors gently balanced with toasty French oak. Our winemaker uses a malolactic fermentation in moderation to retain the wine’s bright acidity. More than a decade af... 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 Vinous: "Pale gold. Fresh pear and tangerine scents are complemented by ginger and honey. Smooth and broad on entry, then tighter in the mid-palate, offering sappy orchard and citrus fruit flavors and a hint of melon. Emphatically fruity Chardonnay with very good closing breadth and cling. This label, which owner Brian Talley is quick to say is not a second label for Talley, has steadily improved in recent years and the wines, without exception, deliver big bang for the buck. While it might not be exactly correct to call them mini-Talleys, the comparison is apt a ...Read More »
Vinous: "Lioco's 2014 Chardonnay (Sonoma County) is brilliant, focused and nuanced, with plenty of citrus, lemon peel, white pepper and orchard fruit nuances. This is one of the very best values in California Chardonnay readers will come across. Vinfication and aging in steel keeps the flavors fresh throughout. (AG)" (2/2016) K&L Notes: 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, ... Read More »
Wine Spectator: "With time, the cedary oak edge should work into the core of green apple, melon and pithy citrus skin notes. (JL)" (6/2016) K&L Notes: This classic Chardonnay walks the tightrope between elegance and richness. In a creamy, medium-weight style, it exudes notes of pears and peaches, apples and melons, with a bright acidity and a ton of finesse.
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 »
98 points Wine Enthusiast: "***Editors' Choice*** This is yet another stunning wine from this site, guided by the capable hands of Winemaker and Viticulturalist Bibiana González Rave, who has coaxed from it beguiling layers of complex concentration and sublime notions of tang and salt. The only white from a sea of Pinot Noir grown here, it speaks to what the extreme Sonoma Coast can bring to the variety—a celebration of lemon zest, crisp apple and brioche delicately wrapped in minerality. (VB)" (8/2016) 94 points Robert Parker's Wine Advocate: "The 2014 Chardonnay Fort Ross Vineyard is a beauty. It spent 10 months in 30% new ...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 »
91 points Vinous: "The 2013 Chardonnay (Russian River Valley) is another terrific entry-level Chardonnay from David Ramey. Here it is the wine's richness and creaminess that really stand out. Honey, apricot pit, mint, butter and dried flowers blossom are some of the signatures. This is a real overachiever in its class. (AG)" (2/2016) 90 points Robert Parker's Wine Advocate: "The 2013 Chardonnay Russian River is a relatively large cuvée of between 12,000 and 15,000 cases. It offers up loads of baking spices, orange marmalade, white peach and honeysuckle. It is medium to full-bodied, pure, and at the same time, combin ...Read More »
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)
From the Winery; The founders of Grayson believe that we can put to work our Napa Valley winemaking skills to create some of the highest quality wines at the by-the-glass price point. We believe that decades of Napa winemaking experience will allow us to create a better bottle of wine at a better price point than what’s generally in the market today. Our wines are carefully crafted by Larry Levin, who is among the most experienced winemakers in the Napa Valley. He has covered the globe by making wine in New Zealand, Chile, and Australia across all price... Read More »
According to the winery: "When we say Fossil Point rocks we mean it! Calcareous shale and coarse sand were uplifted from the floor of an ancient ocean and then weathered into place over millennia. It became a place of vast potential. Fossil Point is a rugged headland stretching from Port San Luis to the Guadalupe Dunes. The Point is just five miles due west of the vineyards that are its namesake. Sunny afternoons are cooled by marine breezes sweeping off the Pacific Ocean, along Fossil Point to the vines and grapes. The result are grapes perfectly ripene... Read More »