1996 Kistler "Dutton Ranch" Russian River Valley Chardonnay

SKU #930052 94 points Stephen Tanzer's International Wine Cellar

 Green-gold. Extraordinarily penetrating, musky, Burgundian aromas are a cross between Chassagne truffle and herbs and Meursault roasted grain and toasted nuts (and the structure is akin to that of a Puligny). Great purity and intensity of fruit in the mouth; sharply focused and restrained today, with near-perfect fruit/acid balance. Finishes with terrific grip and palate-staining persistence.  (5/1999)

93 points Wine Spectator

 Starts out smoky and toasty, turning focus to the ripe pear, fig, apricot and anise flavors, with a touch of hazelnut on the aftertaste.  (6/1999)

90-92 points Robert Parker's Wine Advocate

 The flamboyant 1996 Chardonnay Dutton Ranch offers the tell-tale concoction of tropical fruit intertwined with smoky, meaty aromas. The wine possesses tangy acidity for a 1996, as well as provocative, rich, intense flavors that have obviously enjoyed plenty of lees stirring, and high quality French oak. This is a tasty, excellent, possibly outstanding wine that is more tightly-knit than usual. It is a candidate for 3-5 years of cellaring. All the Kistler Chardonnays are made in a Burgundian manner. They are barrel-fermented, given full malolactic fermentation, extensive lees stirring, racked out of their barrels following a year's cask aging, and allowed to settle in tank until bottling, which usually occurs without any fining or filtration. All of the wines reviewed in this segment were tasted from tank as they were awaiting bottling early next year.  (12/1997)

Wine Enthusiast

 Deep coppery gold. Toasted popcorn but enough acidity to be really very impressive. Very long and throat-warming. This has lasted beautifully. (18/20 Score)  (7/2010)

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Price: $79.99
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- It's hard to believe that up until about 30 years ago, this extremely popular varietal hid behind the veil of geographical names like Chablis and Puligny-Montrachet. Now grown all over the world and bottled by its varietal name, Chardonnay has achieved a level of branding unlike any other wine. Surprisingly, though, what you get when you buy Chardonnay can differ greatly from country to country and even within one country, depending on the climate where it's grown and how it is vinified and aged. From fresh, crisp and minerally with apple and lemon notes to rich and buttery with tropical fruit overtones, Chardonnay runs the gamut. In France's Burgundy, Chardonnay is the source of the prized wines of Chablis, Corton-Charlemagne, Mâcon, Meursault and Montrachet. It also the foundation of exceptional Champagne, where it is blended with Pinot Noir and Pinot Meunier or vinified on its own into Blanc de Blancs. It is also extremely popular in California, and is gaining popularity in Australia, New Zealand, Italy, Spain and South Africa.

United States

- When people consider domestic wine, they normally think about the state of California. The fine viticultural Region within California, including the Napa Valley, Sonoma, Santa Cruz Mountains, Mendocino and Santa Barbara, are capable of growing grapes of world-class quality. But there's plenty of fabulous wine coming from other states, too. Oregon, Washington and New York are also causing eyebrows (and glassware) to be raised around the world.


- With the explosive growth that California's wine industry has seen the past several years, it's easy to view winemaking and grape growing in the Golden State as a recent phenomenon. And while it's true that California's viticultural history is brief compared to several European countries, this state's roots date back well over 200 years. Due to the enormous response to California wine within the United States and worldwide, there are thousands of excellent and diverse wines being produced within the state each year.
Specific Appellation:

Alexander Valley/Russian River

- Among Sonoma County's northernmost appellations, the Alexander Valley AVA acts as a gateway to neighboring Napa to the east and Mendocino to the north. It is a sprawling appellation, with pockets of distinct microclimates and soils, and as such, is home to a variety of wine grapes and styles. Nearly everything grows in the Alexander Valley, though Cabernet Sauvignon and Chardonnay are the most widely planted grapes. The Russian River Valley lies to the south of Alexander Valley, and is marked by much cooler temperatures and frequently heavy fog. The Chardonnay and Pinot Noir grown here are some of the state's finest and most sought-after. Aromatic whites like Gewürztraminer and Riesling can also be successful, and sparkling wine production has a long history in the area.