2014 Varner "Amphitheater Block-Spring Ridge Vineyard" Santa Cruz Mountains Chardonnay
The 2014 Chardonnay Amphitheater Block wraps around the palate with striking depth. Creamy, ample and expressive, the Amphitheater is all about texture. Orange peel, mint, graphite, candied lemon and sweet floral notes abound in this deeply nuanced Santa Cruz Mountains Chardonnay. There is a lot to like here. (AG)
Robert Parker's Wine Advocate
Varner's 2014 Chardonnay Amphitheater Block Spring Ridge Vineyard spent eight months in 25% new French oak. While it's the lightest colored Chardonnay in the lineup, it doesn't lack intensity and offers terrific notes of white peach, honeysuckle, spice and a hint a of mint in its rounded, generous, supple, even sexy personality. Relatively forward and ready to go, drink bottles over the coming 2-4 years. The big change at this reference point estate is the splitting of the partnership between the Varner and Neely families, and the Varner brothers will no longer have access to the Spring Ridge Vineyard in the Santa Cruz Mountains, where they've worked since the early 2000s. Going forward, this team will focus on their contracts in Santa Barbara County, where they've also worked for the past three years. Few winemakers do Chardonnay and Pinot Noir better than brothers Jim and Bob Varner, and I've no doubt this estate will continue to be one of the stars of the Central Coast. (JD)
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.