2013 California & Oregon Chardonnay Second Team All-Americans
2010 Benovia La Pommeraie Russian River Valley Chardonnay
14.5% alc., $43. From the dry-farmed Zio Tony Vineyard farmed by the Martinelli family. Located along Laguna
Ridge at the edge of the Green Valley AVA. The vineyard was once an apple orchard, thus the name “La
Pommeraie,” French for “the apple orchard.” High density plenty of Dijon 95 and Old Wente. Light straw color
and clear in the glass. Moderately rich and very Russian River Valley in character, yet has enough restraint to
appeal. Aromas and flavors of fresh apple, citrus, honey and brioche. Like biting into a juicy, ripe caramel apple
on a stick. Beautifully balanced with just the right amount of oak.
2010 DuMOL isobel Russian River Valley Chardonnay
13.9% alc., 955 cases, $60. Released November 2012. Sourced from Charles Heintz Vineyard, UCD 108. Yield
3.5 tons per acre from wines that are 29 years old. Complete malolactic fermentation and 15 months aging in
40% new French oak barrels. Light straw color and clear in the glass. Very fresh scent of lemon, grilled peach,
pear and savory herbs. Remarkable palate presence with impressive energy and a vibrant lift of acidity on the
extended finish. The peach, lemon and nutty flavors are complimented by a touch of caramelized oak and
really grab your attention. Very flavorful, but has the balance and restraint to pair beautifully with food. Heintz
Vineyard Chardonnay is my paramour.
2011 Freeman Ryo-Fu Russian River Valley Chardonnay
13.5% alc., 450 cases, $40. A blend of two vineyards with the largest component from Keefer Ranch and a
lesser amount from Heintz Vineyard (vines dating to 1982). Aged 14 months sur lies in 21% new and 79% 1, 2
and 3-year-old French oak barrels. · Light yellow color and clear in the glass. Aromas of lemon, apple and slate
lead to crisp, vivid flavors of citrus, apple, white peach and oak. Plenty to like with forward fruit flavors reigned
in by lively acidity, finishing on a high note with lemon-drop memories. Still fine the following day from a
previously opened and re-corked bottle.
2010 Hanzell Sonoma Valley Chardonnay
14.5% alc., pH 3.20, TA 0.72, 2,329 cases, $75. Cold, wet spring with rains causing a fair bit of shatter. Yields
down over twenty percent. Summer temperatures were mild. Harvest extended from September 13 to 28.
Select barrels were included in this final blend. Light straw color and clear in the glass. Nicely perfumed with
aromas of lemon drop, peach, buttery brioche and chalk dust. The palate-staining flavors really pique your
interest by their depth, offering notes of baked pear, green apple, grilled grapefruit and roasted nuts. Juicy and
seductive with lively acidity, this wine is superb in every way. I rarely talk of finish in Chardonnay but this wine
offers superb closing intensity and length. An outstanding wine that makes you want to clap.
2009 Johan Vineyards Estate Reserve Willamette Valley Chardonnay
12.5% alc., pH 3.36, TA 0.59, 142 cases, $33. Released November 2011. A winemaker selection of a blend of
Dijon clones 76 and 95. Fermented with native yeasts in 50% new French oak with lees stirring, and aged 18
months where it underwent 100% MLF. The wine was bottle aged an additional 7 months before release.
Minimal sulfite additions. Unfiltered.Pale straw color in the glass with slight cloudiness (bottled with lees).
Attractive scent of lemon custard and buttered brioche. Fresh and frisky, with delicious flavors of lemon, pear,
apple, pineapple and yeasty goodness, silky textured, finishing with a good cut of acidity. One of the more
impressive Oregon Chardonnays I have sampled.
2011 Kosta Browne One Sixteen Russian River Valley Chardonnay
14.5% alc., pH 3.32, TA 0.62, 2,191 cases, $58. Sourced from six vineyards reflecting the Green Valley of the
Russian River Valley appellation. Multiple clones. Named for Highway 116 (Gravenstein Highway) that cuts
through the town of Sebastopol. Barrel and partially concrete egg fermented 15 months in 40% new French
oak barrels. Moderate golden straw color and clear in the glass. Lovely aromas of honey, lemon curd, golden
apple and butter brickle. Very beguiling on the palate with flavors of baked pear, apple, citrus, honey and
caramel. Beautifully composed with bright acidity and good staying power on the finish. The best Chardonnay
yet from Kosta Browne and a wine that competes with the top performers in the Russian River Valley.
2011 Joseph Phelps Freestone Vineyards Estate Sonoma Coast Chardonnay
13.5% alc.,pH 3.31, TA 0.70, 2,150 cases, $55. 100% MLF. Aged 13 months in 40% new and 60% two to three-year-
old French oak puncheons and barrels. Light golden straw color and clear in the glass. A very
embraceable wine with hi-spirited aromas of spiced apple, lemon, crème brûlée and vanilla cream, and
sparkling flavors of lemon curd, green apple and a hint of pear. Oak is understated but supportive. Very juicy
with lively acidity and a chalky, mineral blessed finish.
2011 Lucia Santa Lucia Highlands Chardonnay
14.2% alc., $39. From the Pisoni family who are better known for Pinot Noir but their Chardonnays are first
rate. Year in and year out, one of my favorite California Chardonnays (and well-priced too). Light straw color
and clear in the glass. A perfect blend of fruit and oak-driven aromas and flavors featuring citrus, pear, crème
brûlée, honey and caramel. Nothing stands out and the wine is in perfect focus, indicating impeccable
winemaking. No quarter given to the French.
2011 Paul Lato “East of Eden” Pisoni Vineyard Santa Lucia Highlands
14.5% alc., 100 cases, $65. Mostly Wente clone. 50% malolactic fermentation. Filtered. Aged in 75% new
French oak barrels. Moderate golden yellow color and clear in the glass. Very aromatically enticing with scents
of lemon curd, baked apple, and Acacia blossom. Bright and crisp on the palate, offering flavors of citrus,
baked pear, and vanilla with an underlying sea-brine minerality. A big, flamboyant wine, yet beautifully
2011 Patz & Hall Hudson Vineyard Carneros Chardonnay
13.7% alc., 279 cases, $55. Released March 2013. Sourced from the 4-acre prized block that Hudson makes
his own Chardonnay from. Planted in 1980, this block features Hudson-Wente selection isolated by Lee Hudson.
Whole cluster pressed, indigenous yeast fermentation, sur lie aged with weekly stirring, aged in 55% new
French oak barrels. Unfiltered. Light golden straw color and very slight haze (unfiltered) in the glass. A serious
wine offering aromas of lemon, caramel, buttered popcorn and chalk dust. Elicits a Wow! on the palate with
luscious flavors of lemon, baked pear, peach honey, toffee, and pastry creme. Ideal integration of oak, notable
acidity and impeccable balance. One of California’s greatest and most sophisticated Chardonnays.
2011 Roth Estate Sonoma Coast Chardonnay
13.7% alc., pH 3.61, TA 0.78, $28. A blend of Sonoma Coast and Russian River Valley fruit. Aged sur lie 11
months in 100% French oak barrels. · Very light yellow and clear in the glass. Inviting array of tropical aromas
including pineapple with hints of white peach and oak vanillin. Very enjoyable flavors of baked apple, grilled
pineapple, lemon, lychee and slight burnt caramel finishing smoothly on a lemon drop note. Beautifully
composed, thoroughly dry and refreshing. Tremendous value.