By: Bryan Brick | K&L Staff Member | Review Date: 6/24/2016 | 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 for 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 “winemaking” to get in the way of the amazing raw materials they put into each and every bottle they make. The bad news, however, is that the 2014 vintage will be the last vintage for these wines from the Spring Ridge Vineyard, as the Varners couldn’t come to an agreement with the owner of the vineyard on and extension of the lease for the vineyard. So get them before they are gone forever.
The Home Block is the most focused and fully realized of the trio of Chardonnays in 2014. With a floral aromatic intensity that is not found in the other two wines, this is a lifted and spicy nose packed with lime blossom, honeysuckle and magnolia blossom. Brisk and energetic on entry, this has a touch of a brackish/sea salt quality as a background note that resonates behind the wall of orange pith, nectarine, sweet tobacco and morel mushroom flavors. Precisely balanced and well formed, I found this to be the most instantly drinkable of the three Chardonnays and maybe the most typical, given the history of the brand.