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Two Highly Rated Chardonnay Values from Top California Producers - 03/26/2017 - Chardonnay (domestic)

When it comes to Chardonnay two extremely talented (if a bit understated) producers we return to time and again are Foley and Thomas Fogarty. For years they been dishing out classic Cali style bottlings that standing shoulder to shoulder with the best in the state, while at the same time they remaining very reasonably priced. From a price, points, and quality perspective, you won’t do much better than this pair. While each have their own distinctive approach what they both have in common is an unwavering commitment to quality. With 93 and 95 point ratings, the critics agree that is something very special going on with these bottlings and we wholeheartedly agree. Both have that classic California profile that’s brimming with orchard and tropical fruit flavors accompanied by some great tension and verve. For those who enjoy a more Burgundian flare, the Fogarty makes an excellent choice while that Foley is more traditionally Californian in style with wonderful touches of butter and coconut. With spring already here and summer just around to corner these are to top picks you won’t want to miss.

Vintage Item Name Score Qty Retail Link
2014 Foley "Rancho Santa Rosa" Sta. Rita Hills Chardonnay 93 >60 $22.99 View
2013 Thomas Fogarty Santa Cruz Mountains Chardonnay 95 >60 $29.99 View


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2014 Foley "Rancho Santa Rosa" Sta. Rita Hills Chardonnay ($22.99)

93 points Wine Enthusiast: "Light on the nose, this shows delicate aromas of Asian pear, honeysuckle, squeezed lemon wedge, fresh coconut flesh and a tiny bit of butter. The palate is also demure yet delicious, with lightly poached apples, squeezed lime and a chalky textural grip. (MK)" (03/2017)

91 points Wine & Spirits: "Get past this wines initial toasty scent of oak and youll find some delicious fruit; its sunny papaya flavor and salty, marine tang feel like textbook Santa Rita Hills chardonnay, capturing this high-elevation south-facing hillside vineyard with roots in marine sediments. Serve it as you would a rich albariño, with crispy head-on prawns." (02/2017)

Connoisseurs Guide: "Spicy oak emerges straightaway as a principal player here but it is checked by enough apple-like fruit to not be overly dominant. If never quite juicy, the wine is fairly open in stance to start and is sufficiently rich to overcome its eleventh-hour suggestions of chalky coarseness. Another year in bottle will go a long way in smoothing out its rough spots. *One Star*" (12/2016)

Wine Spectator: "Centered on a core of white peach, nectarine and citrus notes, this is easy-drinking, clean and refreshing. (JL, Web-2017)"

Staff ImageAnthony Gittings | K&L Staff Member | Review Date: February 27, 2017

This was the first time I tried this wine and I was impressed enough to write a review. A delicate and fresh nose, full of lemons and pears. The lemon translates to palate, but enhanced with honeysuckle, and butter. This is classic California style Chardonnay for an extremely fair price.

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2013 Thomas Fogarty Santa Cruz Mountains Chardonnay ($29.99)

95 points Wine Enthusiast: "*Editors' Choice and #14 in Best 100 of 2016* From one of the preeminent Chardonnay producers in the country comes their least expensive yet perhaps most stunning bottling, showing strong lemon rind, sea salt, Gravenstein apple and a floral touch of honeysuckle on the nose. The wondrously zippy and saline palate is framed by a grippy, grapefruit-rind-led tension, but opens just enough to allow the slightest hints of lemon curd and delicate marzipan warmth. (MK)" (09/2016)

92 points Vinous: "Fogarty's 2013 Chardonnay Santa Cruz Mountains is delicate and beautifully layered in the glass. Sweet floral notes meld into apricot, yellow peach and chamomile. This is an especially understated Chardonnay from Fogarty, not to mention a gorgeous appellation-level Chardonnay and a real overachiever. The Santa Cruz Mountains Chardonnay is mostly Langley Hill and Damiana, with a touch of Portola Springs.Thomas Fogarty remains the single most exciting estate in the Santa Cruz Mountain people have likely never heard about. Then again, production levels are tiny. The wines have gone from strength to strength since I started following the estate a few years back. The Chardonnays are intense and phenolic in feel, while the Pinots present an intriguing combination of aromatics, fruit and mountain structure.In terms of aging, the Chardonnays follow a classic, Burgundian aging regime of about 15 months in barrel followed by 4 months in tank, with the exception of the Santa Cruz Mountains, which is bottled earlier, with about 12 months in barrel, to preserve freshness...Sadly, production of these already hard to find wines is down significantly in 2013. The drought conditions led to an early bud break, but then a week of cool, windy weather in May led to a poor set. Readers should do whatever they can to taste these fine, handcrafted wines from proprietor Tommy Fogarty and winemaker Nathan Kandler. (AG)" (06/2015)

91 points Wine & Spirits: "This is a healthy, mountain-grown chardonnay, with a clear tone to its juicy, sun-ripened fruit. Its creamy chamomile and almond flavors meet an earthen zest in the end, the structure focusing the wines expansive richness. For scallops." (08/2016)

91 points Robert Parker's Wine Advocate: "A killer value that's just about as good as the single vineyard releases, Fogarty's 2013 Chardonnay from the Santa Cruz Mountains offers terrific stone fruits, citrus blossom, mineral and hints of toast to go with a medium-bodied, rich, textured and layered feel on the palate. It has the standard acid profile of the estate, yet it still has plenty of richness. There's 1,200 cases of this beauty made, and given the quality, it's a steal at 36 bucks.An estate that deserves more attention in the market, Thomas Fogarty has been making single vineyard Pinot Noirs and Chardonnay (and some Bordeaux blends), from the Santa Cruz Mountains since 1981. Today, Tom Fogarty Jr. is in charge of the estate and Nathan Kandler makes the wines. The focus here is on their estate vineyards located mostly around the winery. These tiny plots (the smallest is just a quarter of an acre) lie between 1,600-2,300 feet in elevation and 10 miles from the Pacific. The farming is organic, most vineyards are dry farmed and yields come in at a tiny 1-3 tons per acre. While the wines lean towards the fresher, more vibrant end of the spectrum, they dont come across as lean, and I think they have solid texture and depth of fruit. (JD)" (10/2015)

K&L Notes: The Thomas Fogarty Winery has been around since 1981 but I don't know if they've ever made better, more consistently amazing, wines that they are right now. From their baby label Skyline, to their top flight single vineyards they are quickly becoming one of the superstars of the Santa Cruz Mountains appellation. Now in the hands of the very capable Tom Fogarty Jr. and one of the hottest up-and-coming winemakers in Nathan Kandler it seems like they can do no wrong with their lively Chardonnays and their sublime Pinots. (Bryan Brick, K&L)

Staff ImageStephanie Vidales | K&L Staff Member | Review Date: March 01, 2017

I don't think you could go wrong with this bottle of wine as it is quite delicious and a good deal. This Chardonnay is made from a winery that's been in the business since 1981 and is made of all estate, single-vineyard fruit from the Santa Cruz mountains. Lemon creme, fresh peaches, white floral and ocean spray are interlaced with bright acid and a weighty mouthfeel.

Staff ImageAndrew Stevens | K&L Staff Member | Review Date: February 24, 2017

Santa Cruz has quickly become one of my go to areas for serious (and seriously good) wine here in California. Although I am most familiar with the spectacular offerings from Domain Eden I am always happy to taste some one else'. I have had my eye on Thomas Fogarty, but had not had a chance to taste the Chardonnay until now. I must say I am super impressed. The wine has been allowed to go through malo, but in a very natural way. This gives the wine some weight, smoke, and richness. Due to the elevation though there is plenty of acid here to balance that out. Complex with alternating layers of fruit, oak, minerality, and acid this is a serious offering.

Staff ImageAnthony Gittings | K&L Staff Member | Review Date: February 24, 2017

This is classic Santa Cruz style Chardonnay. A bright and fresh wine that is harmoniously balanced with bright juicy acid, clean fresh fruit and a rich complex body. Not afraid to let the grapes speak for themselves, this embodies the purity of wine making.