By: Bryan Brick | K&L Staff Member | Review Date: 8/3/2015 | Send Email
I’m not scared to say it, and I have many times, out loud, to real people. I think the Varner Chardonnays are some of the best, if not the best, Chardonnays made in the United States. These wines are still way under the radar to most wine fans due to their small production, out of the way location-high in the hills above Portola Valley in the Santa Cruz Mountains, and stylistic choices. But for all of us lucky enough to have tasted these wines vintage after vintage we can’t help but feel this way. The wines are just too good, with pinpoint precision, amazing complexity, and little “wine making” to get in the way of the amazing raw materials they put into each and every bottle they make.
The 2013 "Amphitheater Block” stunned me with how fleshed out it was. Typically the Amphitheater is always the most strict, linear, mineral driven wine under the Varner label. However this year there is a pleasing nutty generosity to the nose and a very deep set richness on the palate that just wasn’t there in previous vintages. (The Varner’s attest this to the vineyard block maturing rather than any changes in the cellar, of which there were none.) Cashew, almond skin, dried apple and nectarine mesh on the complex and intriguing nose. Bright and citrusy on entry with layers of mineral and earth over tangerine, pomelo and lemon pith this has a subtle creaminess and fleshes out with a pretty floral bitterness at its edges.