2010 Varner "Bee Block" Santa Cruz Mountain Chardonnay
Robert Parker's Wine Advocate
The 2010 Chardonnay Bee Block is another rich wine, but there is so much depth to the fruit that wine’s structural components are nearly buried. Apricot, mango and honey flesh out in this radiant, totally expressive Santa Cruz Mountains Chardonnay. The Bee Block stands apart for its mid-palate density and sheer depth. This is a great showing from the Varner brothers. Anticipated maturity: 2012-2020. Brothers Jim and Bob Varner describe 2010 as a cold year with two heat spikes that were shorter and less dramatic than in other parts of California. It was a long growing season, and the fruit came in 2-3 weeks later than normal. As always, the Varner and Neely wines were fermented in barrel, with native yeasts, natural fermentation and minimal handling. These broad-shouldered Chardonnays and deep, resonant Pinots remain some of the most compelling wines being made in California.
The Bee Block Chardonnay comes from the Varner brothers' Spring Ridge vineyard in the Santa Cruz Mountains, and it's always a staff and customer favorite, sure to sell out quickly. A massale selection made from the Home Block, the Bee Block vines are 23 years old and planted on a northeast-facing slope with sedimentary rock farthers from the surface. Of the the 2010 Varner Chardonnays, this has the most complete and integrated nose, according to Domestic buyer Bryan Brick, but also the most oak showing. Still, there's plenty of kumquat, mango, cardamom and honey to keep it from overwhelming. It is also the richest, creamiest Chardonnay in the bunch, brightening mid-palate as the acid picks up, creating tension between the ripe fruit and the acidity, between the creamy and the tangy aspects. Delicous now, this is a wine that Bryan says he'd love to taste in 10 years.