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K&L Staff Recommendations
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.
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 maintan a bracing vein of freshness and acid.
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 »
Robert Parker's Wine Advocate: "http://www.yelp.com/biz/mercato-centrale-firenze-firenze-2" (8/2014) K&L Notes: The Varner brothers make some of our favorite value wines in California under their "negociant" label, Foxglove--always fruit-filled, balanced and polished--and this under $15 Chardonnay is a fantastic offering from the perfect and boutiful 2012 vintage. We like it, and so do the critics. The 2012 has not yet been professionally reviewed, but all previous vintages reviewed by Robert Parker's Wine Advocate have scored from 90-91 points (2007-2011 vintages).
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 vanilla. The intense fruit in this wine is beautifully integrated with refreshing acidity and French oak. Sleepy Hollow's signature mineral character and creamy textures add complexity to a long, explosive finish."
The 2013 Kalinda Napa Valley Chardonnay comes from one of the top domestic Chardonnay producers, but as part of our agreement to acquire the wine, we cannot divulge to you who it is. Suffice it to say, this is always among the best bargains in the store--a luscious Chardonnay that would normally sell at a much higher premium. We're guessing it won't be around for long. This Chardonnay has a slight connection to the famous Chateau Montelena Chardonnay that won the French-American tasting in 1976.
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.
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 »
Stephen Tanzer's International Wine Cellar: "Bright full yellow. Musky aromas of candied apple, nutmeg, honeysuckle and toasty oak, complicated by a leesy nuance. Round, sweet and ripe, with a savory aspect to the flavors of ripe apple, pineapple, toast and brown spice. This rather glyceral Chardonnay shows a saline umami quality but holds its shape nicely. Finishes with good lingering fruit. Remarkably inexpensive." (5/2014) Wine Enthusiast: "New French oak brings plenty of buttered toast and vanilla to this sweet, rather simple Chardonnay. It’s a wine with universal appeal, with bright pineapple, lemon-meringue ...Read More »
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 »
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 »
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 »
Antonio Galloni: "The 2013 Chardonnay (Sonoma County) is absolutely delicious. Apricot pit, peach, honey, mint and chamomile flesh out in a bold, racy Chardonnay to drink now and over the next few years. Once again, Lioco delivers superb value with the Sonoma Coast Chardonnay. Lioco stands out for wines that deliver pure pleasure. Every glass seems to call for another in these superb, impeccable whites and reds. Winemaker John Raytek makes the Lioco wines in a slightly riper style than he favors at Ceritas, which puts Lioco closer to the center. Best of all, pricing rema ...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 »
90 points Stephen Tanzer's International Wine Cellar: "Pale yellow-gold. Aromas of nectarine, orange pith and white flowers, with touch of smokiness in the background. Starts off tight and focused, then puts on weight with air, offering juicy pear and pit fruit flavors and a hint of toasty lees. The orange quality comes back strong on the finish, which lingers with very good mineral-driven persistence." (5/2014) Wine Spectator: "Presents a tight beam of cherry-laced gravel, dried herb and cedar notes, ending clean and vibrant. Drink now through 2020." (9/2014) K&L Notes: La Crema has built its brand around this kind of wine: a solidly d... 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 »
91 points Robert Parker's Wine Advocate: "The 2012 Chardonnay offers delicate peach, pear, white currant, vanilla and buttery notes, medium to full body, and a green-ish hue to its light gold color. It builds incrementally on the palate, and should drink well for 4-5 years. (RP)" (10/2014)
Antonio Galloni: "The 2013 Chardonnay is another fabulous wine for the money. This racy, impeccably balanced Chardonnay delivers the goods, and then some. Pear, spice and melon notes flesh out in a delicious, hugely attractive wine to drink now and over the next few years. Brian Talley's Bishop's Peak label is full of affordable, everyday wines that mostly over deliver next to their very reasonable price points. (AG)" (7/2014) Wine Enthusiast: "Talley Vineyards’ bargain brand offers light lemon and chalk aromas before delivering a palate where brisk acidity is the primary player. White rock ...Read More »
Robert Parker's Wine Advocate: "A percentage of the 2012 Chardonnay Estate comes from the same clone planted on the famous Alexander Mountain estate of Jess Jackson's (the Upper Barn clone of Chardonnay). The wine is aged for eight months, half in oak and half in stainless steel. The impression is one of a full-throttle Maconnais with loads of white peach, apricot, honeysuckle and buttered/caramelized citrus. It is elegant, fresh, seems relatively neutral when it comes to oak seasonings, and has good depth and richness. This is a beauty to drink over the next several years. (RP) ...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 »
Stephen Tanzer's International Wine Cellar: "Light gold. Aromas of fresh pear and melon, with a honeyed aspect adding depth. Juicy and open-knit, offering plump orchard fruit flavors braced by a touch of lemon curd. Closes with good sappy cling, an echo of bitter citrus zest and spicy persistence. This wine's balance of richness and energy makes it highly flexible with food; it's also quite easy to drink by itself." (12/2013) K&L Notes: Always a crowd pleaser and great value in Central Coast Chardonnay. From the winery: "A pure fruit expression of our vineyard, Talbott Chardonnay, Kali Hart is lush and live... 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)
92 points Wine Enthusiast: "Buttered sourdough toast and a slight nuttiness kick off another excellent Chardonnay from the ever-reliable Talley. The palate is greeted with minerality that fades into an apple butter flavor alongside a pinch of cinnamon, culminating in a graceful vanilla finish." (12/2014)90 points Antonio Galloni: "Butter, pastry, honey and yellow stone fruits meld together in the 2012 Chardonnay Estate. The 2012 is generous, soft and accessible, with pretty smoke, spice and honey overtones that add complexity. The 2012 is a great choice for drinking now and over the next few years. Rincon and ...Read More »
Mer Soleil Chardonnay is brought to you by the Wagner family, founders of Caymus in Napa Valley. This reserve bottling is full-bodied and aged in French oak, although only a portion undergoes malolactic fermentation so that a bright acidity is retained. From proprietor and winemaker Charlie Wagner: "Golden-hued in color, the wine opens with opulent aromas of peach, apple, Meyer lemon and baking spices. The palate is an inviting medley of peach and D’Anjou pear; layered with tropical notes of pineapple and banana. The vibrant acidity is well balanced by w... Read More »
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 »
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: "Another winner and a very good value are the 11,500 cases of the 2012 Chardonnay Sonoma. Made primarily from Alexander Valley barrel-fermented fruit, it possesses crisp acidity, lots of buttery citrus and white peach notes along with little evidence of oak, medium to full body, and a rich, layered mouthfeel. Enjoy it over the next 2-4 years. (RP)" (12/2013) Antonio Galloni: "Butter, pastry, dried pear and almond notes all flesh out in the 2012 Chardonnay Sonoma County. This textured, inviting Chardonnay will drink well for at least another few years." (2/2014)
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 »
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 »
"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.
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!"
90 points Antonio Galloni: "The 2013 Chardonnay (Sonoma Coast) from CrossBarn is bright, focused and nicely balanced. Lemon, white flowers and crushed rocks all jump from the glass in a bright, perfumed Chardonnay built on energy. The 2013 was done mostly in steel, which keeps the flavors and acidity lively. CrossBarn is Paul Hobbs' sister label of entry-level wines made mostly from purchased fruit. These three new releases from winemaker Greg Urmini and his team deliver notable quality and value. (Antonio Galloni)" (1/2015) K&L Notes: Paul Hobbs Crossbarn is a somewhat more affordable offerin... Read More »
Sourced mainly from the Russian River Valley and the Sonoma Los Carneros, here's a 100% malolactic fermented Chardonnay with a softer, 4.8 grams/liter acidity. Winery's tasting note: "Our Chardonnay has tropical aromatics with notes of citrus, crème brulee and integrated oak. It has a round, lush mouthfeel with balanced acidity and a long finish of orange peel, tangerine and toasted almond." Arrowood was started in 1986 by noted Sonoma County winemaker Richard Arrowood, and is now run by Jackson Family Wines, which has earned distinction for retaining an... Read More »
Grapes for Heron's 2012 Chardonnay are 1/3 from each Carneros, Russian River Valley, and Santa Maria Valley. They are all sourced from small, family-run, dry-farmed and cool-climate vineyards that practice organic and sustainable farming methods. Vines averaging more than 20 years also do their part to impart a profile of substance and quality at such a modest price point. An excellent growing seasons across all of these disparate growing regions produced a bounty of high-quality fruit. About 2/3 of the wine was aged in 1-2 year old French oak to add dim... Read More »
True Myth is part of the Niven Family Wine Estates, which includes Baileyana, Tangent and Cadre, among others. This is a full-bodied, oaky and tropical style Chardonnay from the Paragon Vineyard in the Edna Valley. It is fermented in 65% French oak and 35% stainless and aged in 2=38% new French oak.
Antonio Galloni: "The 2013 Tous Ensemble Chardonnay is a pretty, entry-level offering from vineyards in Anderson Valley. Apricot pit, pastry, tangerine peel and lightly honeyed notes flesh out in a soft, nuanced Chardonnay to drink now and over the next few years. I was quite taken with the wines I tasted from Copain and proprietor Wells Guthrie this year. The Tous Ensemble range delivers outstanding value, while the best Syrahs and Pinots soar with exceptional beauty and a sense of weightlessness that is compelling. In particular, several of the 2012 Syrahs are utterly ...Read More »
Wine Enthusiast: "This Chard bowls it right down the middle of today’s popular taste, offering ripe tangerine, apricot and mango flavors, enriched with plenty of caramelized oak." (4/2014) Wine Spectator: "Offers delicate white peach and honeydew melon notes. Clean and refreshing, if slightly simple in the end. Drink now." (5/2014) K&L Notes: Sonoma-Cutrer's Sonoma Coast bottling combines fruit grown across this broad appellation for a balanced and complete Chardonnay. Predominantly sourced from the Vine Hill, Cutrer, Owsley and Shiloh vineyards, about 90% of the juice completed malolactic fermentation ... Read More »
Wine Enthusiast: "Tropical fruit, peach, pear, green apple and lime flavors mark this fruity Chardonnay. It has prominent vanilla and buttered toast flavors, with a nice hit of acidity for balance." (12/2013)
From Oeno: "Oeno (ee-no) is a private label project by Amy Atwood. Unable to find affordable domestic wines made with native yeasts and neutral oak, she sought out CA winemakers who would make these wines to her specifications. Dan Fitzgerald made the wines in Sebastopol, California. Oeno Russian River Chardonnay is cold settled 24 hours, uses native primary fermentation and native malolactic, and 25% tank fermented/stainless steel. 75% barrel fermented." 75% MLF 25% no MLF, unfined.
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 »
91 points Robert Parker's Wine Advocate: "The 2012 Chardonnay Grand Reserve (200,000 cases produced) is composed of Monterey and Santa Barbara fruit that spent nine months in largely French oak as well as smaller quantities of American wood. One-third is new, and this cuvee is put through full malolactic fermentation as opposed to the other Chardonnays where it is generally partially or completely blocked. Copious quantities of tropical fruits, pineapples, mangoes, apricot marmalade and honeyed citrus are found in this clean white that finishes with good acidity and a distant minerality. It was ...Read More »
Robert Parker's Wine Advocate: "The 2012 Chardonnay Charm Acres is an exuberantly fruity effort displaying hints of tropical fruits, white peaches, no evidence of oak, and crisp, fresh, pure flavors. While not particularly complex, it will provide satisfying drinking over the next several years. It should be immensely popular among consumers. (RP)" (12/2013) K&L Notes: Based in Lompoc but founded by two Pacific Palisades natives (hence the name), Pali quickly developed a following for their charming and value-oriented Pinot Noir, but they make some irresistible Chardonnay as well. The 2012 "Charm A... Read More »
91 points Antonio Galloni: "Bright yellow. Very fresh aromas of white peach, tangerine, gingery spices, jasmine and iodine. At once rich and lively, with bright acidity and firm minerality giving focus to the sappy citrus and orchard fruit flavors. The sharply focused finish echoes the floral and mineral notes and hangs on with excellent tenacity. This wine reminded me a lot of a high-quality Puligny. According to Chad Melville, his family recently sold their Verna's vineyard, north of Los Alamos and in the Santa Barbara County appellation, because they want to focus completely on ...Read More »
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. -M.K." (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 Chardonna ...Read More »