Sips of Recently Tasted California Chardonnay
2014 Attune Sonoma County Chardonnay
14.1% alc., 240
cases, $36. Aged 15 months in French oak barrels, 30% new.
Moderate golden yellow color and clear in the glass. A
comforting wine with aromas of yellow apple, honey, brown
butter and brioche. Nicely appointed with flavors of lemon curd,
white peach, graham and nutty oak, with a slightly creamy
mouthfeel and a polished finish with some length.
2013 Cazadero Bei Ranch Sonoma Coast Chardonnay
14.2% alc., 150 cases, $30. Winery founder Frank
Egger and grower John Bei work with winemaker Pat Knittel. Sourced from a rocky soiled ridge top vineyard
located at 1,600 feet half way between Cazadero and Russian Gulch. Native yeast fermentation, barrel
fermented and aged 12 months in French oak barrels.
Moderately light golden yellow color. Slight reduction
with a rubber note upon opening. Aromas of buttered corn and toast show up over time. Richly appointed
flavors of lemon, baked apple, creme brulee, caramel and buttery toast follow. Oak plays too great a role for
me to fully enjoy the wine.
Chardenet is part of Jackson Family Wines’ West Burgundy Wine Collective, a small portfolio of estate-based
producers of Pinot Noir and Chardonnay from California and Oregon growing regions. Chardenet was the
original spelling of Chardonnay in France dating back to its first use in 1849. The wines are crafted at Carneros
Hills Winery by winemaker Eric Johannsen, and are available through the website, www.carneroshills.com, as
well as wine shops and fine restaurants nationally.
2013 Chardenet Coteau Blanc Carneros Chardonnay
13.9% alc., pH 3.55, TA 0.58, 993 cases, $45. The
Coteau Blanc Vineyard sits on a ridge overlooking San Pablo Bay south of the Carneros Highway. Clones 14,
48, 131 and Long. Whole cluster pressed, yeasted and fermented in barrel for 10 to 14 days. 75% of the blend
underwent malolactic fermentation. Aged 10 months in 100% French oak barrels, 17% new, with lees stirring
every month for 8 months.
Moderate golden yellow color and clear in the glass. Very shy aromas of lemon,
peach and pastry creme. More open on the soft and smooth palate, with flavors of lemon curd, yellow apple
and peach. Pleasant, with good balance, but not exceptional.
2013 Chardenet Durell Vineyard Sonoma Coast Chardonnay
13.9% alc., pH 3.62, TA 0.59, 903 cases,
$65. Clones are Robert Young, Upper Barn and Wente 4. Whole cluster pressed, 67% barreled down and 33%
fermented in a small stainless steel tank. Fermented in barrel for 10 to 14 days and cold fermented in tank for
25 days. 75% of the blend underwent malolactic fermentation. Aged 9 months in 100% French oak barrels,
19% new, with lees stirring every month for 7 months.
Moderate golden yellow color and clear in the glass.
Citrus aromas meet notes of flint and saline on the nose. Very enjoyable, with a citrus-driven core accented
with notes of butter, pastry creme, poached pear, straw and caramel. Slightly viscous in texture, with a
pleasingly bright finish.
2014 Decoy Sonoma County Chardonnay
13.7% alc., pH 3.55, TA 0.57, $20, screwcap. Part of the
Duckhorn portfolio of wines. A blend of fifteen vineyards. Fermented in oak barrel (25%) and stainless steel
Moderately light golden yellow and clear in the glass. A simple, lighter styled wine, with aromas and
flavors of apple, buttery lemon-lime, pineapple, and vanilla. Slightly viscous, with enough acidity to offer easy
2014 J. Lohr Arroyo Vista Arroyo Seco Monterey Chardonnay
14.9% alc., pH 3.33, TA 0.73, RS 0.32 g/
100ml, 5,500 cases, $25. One of the first wines made at J. Lohr’s new Greenfield Winery designed to allow
small lot pressing and barrel fermentation of Chardonnay. Average harvest Brix 27.1º. Barrel fermented with
inoculated yeast strains for an average of 21 days. Full inoculated malolactic fermentation. Aged 14 months in
59% new French oak barrels with weekly lees stirring.
Moderate golden yellow color in the glass. Very faint
aromas of citrus, peach, white flower, vanilla, and barrel. A bold, ripe-fruited styled wine with flavors of yellow
peach, apricot, buttery citrus, vanilla and pain grille, along with underlying alcohol-driven warmth. Crisp acidity
helps to offset the palate weight. This wine is for fans of full-throttle, generously oaked Chardonnay.
2014 Kosta Browne One Sixteen Russian River Valley Chardonnay
14.5% alc., $58.
Moderate goldenyellow color and clear in the glass.
Complex nose featuring scents of lemon, golden apple, banana, creme
brulee, and steely resolve. Flavors of lemon, golden apple, pear, vanilla
and caramel are true to its Russian River Valley heritage. Slightly
viscous with good finishing energy. The wine was noticeably better the
following day from a previously opened and re-corked bottle.
2013 la pitchoune Chenoweth Vineyard Russian River Valley Chardonnay
14.1% alc., 40 cases, $88.
Moderate golden yellow color in the glass. Very complex nose displaying a range of aromas including lemon
curd, honey, nectarine, caramel and vanillin. A somewhat richer styled wine with bright flavors of citrus, kiwi,
pear and caramel. Crisp and inviting, with a cleansing and lengthy finish combining Meyer lemon and nutty oak
2013 la pitchoune Pratt Vineyard Russian River Valley Chardonnay
14.2% alc., 52 cases, $58.
golden yellow color in the glass. Fruit aromas of lemon and ripe apple are combined with notes of toasty oak
and a briny hint of the sea. Slightly creamy on the palate, with flavors of salted apple and lemon creme backed
by well-toasted oak. The wine is blessed with cleansing acidity and some lingering fruit on the modest finish.
2014 Lombardi Sonoma Coast Chardonnay
14.0% alc., pH 3.48, TA 0.696, 125 cases, $40. Sourced from 3
Starrs Vineyard. Wente clones. 100% barrel fermented in neutral French oak barrels. Aged 16 months in
French oak barrels.
Moderately light golden yellow color in the glass. A melange of wildflower, fruity lemon and
grapefruit, and buttery brioche aromas lead to a mid weight core of yellow apple, lemon, pineapple and toast
flavors framed by vibrant acidity, finishing with welcome fruit presence and persistence.
2014 MacRostie Sangiacomo Vineyard Carneros Chardonnay
14.6% alc., 277 cases, $46, screwcap. 28th
vintage making wine from Sangiacomo. This wine is meant to be special, representing only 4% of the fruit that
MacRostie gets from Sangiacomo Vineyard. Grapes came from four blocks of Sangiacomo Vineyard: Rich
Kiser, Kiser A, Kiser B and a Petaluma Gap site called Roberts Road. Gently whole cluster pressed, racked to
French oak barrels for fermentation where primary and malolactic fermentations were completed. The wine
was aged on the lees with occasional stirring for 10 months. 12 barrels were chosen, 2 of which were new and
the rest used for previous vintages.
Moderately light golden yellow color in the glass. A ripe fruited wine of great
appeal with aromas of fresh citrus, honeysuckle, barrel and buttered popcorn. Defined by lively acidity and
lemon-driven flavor, with a slightly creamy texture, a hint of nutty oak, and some finishing length.
2014 MacRostie Dutton Ranch Russian River Valley Chardonnay
14.6% alc., 399 cases, $46, screwcap.
Sourced from three blocks that are foggy with Goldridge soils. Braughton on Vine Hill Road, Hansen Hill at
Dutton Ranch in Graton, and Jewell Ranch also located in Graton. Whole cluster pressed, racked into French
oak barrels for primary and malolactic fermentation, and aged 10 months on lees with occasional stirring. 35%
of barrels were new.
Moderately light golden yellow color in the glass. Aromas of lemon pie, peach, brioche,
and kelp lead to predominantly salted apple, pear, pineapple and spice flavors in a sleekly styled wine with
2014 Patz & Hall Dutton Ranch Russian River Valley Chardonnay
14.2% alc., 6,500 cases, $44. A blend of
multiple heritage clones such as Wente, Robert Young, Rued, Wente 4 and the Spring Mountain clone. Aged in
French oak barrels, 40% new. 100% malolactic fermentation. Bottled unfiltered.
Moderate golden yellow color
and clear in the glass. Clean aromas of petrichor, white peach, green apple, banana cream and honeysuckle.
Supple in the mouth, with straightforward flavors of lemon, pineapple and mango embellished with driving
2014 Patz & Hall Hyde Vineyard Napa Carneros Chardonnay
14.2% alc., 1,321 cases, $65. Release October 2016. Several
sections of Hyde Vineyard were planted exclusively for Patz &
Hall. Patz & Hall has made single-vineyard Chardonnay from
Hyde Vineyard since 1996. Hyde-Wente selection is planted on
the best soil at Hyde Vineyard that is well-drained, sandy, clay
loam. The result is lower yields that are even lower than usual
for this small-berried clone. Whole cluster pressed, indigenous yeast
fermentations, aged on the lees with weekly stirring in French oak
barrels, 50% new. Bottled without filtration.
Light golden yellow color in
the glass. This is a particularly complex wine that is full of sunlight and
offers something different with each sip. Nicely perfumed with scents of
citrus, blood orange, Granny Smith apple and flint. Flavors of lemon and
white orchard fruits are interwoven with supportive toasty oak. Uncommon attack and mid palate intensity with
balancing mouthwatering acidity that leaves a lasting impression of juiciness. The soaring finish is generously
endowed with lemon goodness in this memorable wine from one of California’s most cherished vineyards.
2014 Reuling Vineyard Sonoma Coast Chardonnay
13.8% alc., pH 3.46, TA 0.60, 250 cases, $70. Harvest
Brix 23.6º. Whole cluster pressed to barrel, 100% barrel fermented with indigenous yeasts, aged for 10 months
in 100% French oak barrels, 33% new and 66% used.
Light golden yellow color in the glass. The aromas of
petrichor, pear and hazelnut oil are quite alluring. A complex palate offers tastes of lemon, pear, subtle tropical
fruits, honeyed nuts and creme caramel. Wonderful balance, with a slightly viscous and softly comforting
mouthfeel, along with a gentle, sleek and lengthy finish.
2013 Sea Smoke Estate Vineyard Sta. Rita Hills Chardonnay
14.9% alc., pH 3.49, TA 0.598, $60. Released October 2015.
Four clones, primarily Wente clone with additional Dijon clones.
Untoasted 21-hectoliter foudre and some 600-liter demi-muids
were used in fermenting the earlier-picked Dijon clones. After
whole cluster pressing, the juice was racked to both French oak
barrels and a stainless steel fermenter, then inoculated for both
primary and malolactic fermentation. Aged 16 months in French oak
barrels, 55% new.
Moderately light golden yellow color and very slight
haze in the glass. High class aromas of flint, steel shavings, lemon and
butter. Sleek and refreshing, with a delicious infusion of peach, pear,
lemon and grapefruit flavors brought to vivid expression with acidic
verve. There is only a slight imprint of oak, and the polished demeanor is
2014 Sojourn Sangiacomo Vineyard Sonoma Coast Chardonnay
14.1% alc., pH 3.55, TA 0.65, 375 cases,
$45. Released spring 2016. Clone 95 from Sangiacomo Roberts Road Vineyard and Old Wente clone from
Sangiacomo Vella Ranch and Green Acres. Whole cluster pressed and barreled down into French oak barrels,
30% new. Native yeast fermentation and 100% malolactic fermentation. Aged in 30% new French oak barrels.
Deep golden yellow color in the glass. Demure aromas of citrus, banana and vanilla water.
Cohesive flavors of ripe apple, pear and orchard fruits, with added notes of creme caramel and honey.
Somewhat weighty and heady, with an appealing creamy presence.
2014 Sojourn Gap’s Crown Vineyard Sonoma Coast Chardonnay
2014 Sojourn Gap’s Crown Vineyard Sonoma Coast Chardonnay 14.2% alc., pH 3.51, TA 0.61, 225 cases,
$45. Release fall 2016. Vineyard on Roberts Road just above the Sangiacomo Vineyard. Inaugural vintage from this vineyard for Chardonnay after making Pinot Noir from the same site since 2007. Clones 76 and 95 fermented separately in French oak barrels using native yeast.
Whole cluster pressed, 100% malolactic fermentation, aged 11 months in 30% new French oak, and bottled
Moderate golden yellow color in the glass. Richly appointed aromas of lemon oil, pineapple and
nectarine lead to a softly textured palate featuring ripe pear and yellow peach fruits framed by a kiss of nutty
oak and supported by cleansing acidity.
2014 Sojourn Durell Vineyard Sonoma Coast Chardonnay
14.3% alc., pH 3.54, TA 0.60, 400 cases, $48.
Release fall 2016. Old Wente clone from both old and newer plantings. Whole cluster pressed and barreled
down, native yeast fermentation and 100% malolactic fermentation. Aged in 40% new French oak barrels.
Moderate golden yellow color in the glass. Shy, but pleasing mineral-inflected nose with added
scents of citrus peel and vanilla. Polished and expressive, with flavors of lemon butter, pear, white peach and
toasted brioche that persist on the finish that has uncommon fruit presence.
2014 Spell Russian River Valley Chardonnay
14.5% alc., pH 3.56, TA 0.63, 234 cases $39. Sourced from
Sullivan Vineyard - Dutton Ranch. Vineyard planted in the 1980s to Wente clone on its own rootstock. Aged in
French oak barrels, 39% new, 50% twice used and 20% older.
Moderately light golden yellow color in the
glass. A nicely composed wine with engaging aromas of toasted apple, lemon, grapefruit and caramel. Slightly
viscous on the mid palate, with inviting flavors of yellow apple, nectarine, pear and pineapple. Sleek, soothing
and cozy, with a complimentary touch of toasty oak and commendable balance.
2014 Three Sticks Origin Durell Vineyard Sonoma Valley Chardonnay
14.5% alc., pH 3.44, TA 0.639, 398
cases, $48. Winemakers Bob Cabral and Ryan Prichard. Fermented in concrete eggs for 18 days and aged 10
months in small stainless steel barrels. Malolactic fermentation inhibited.
Moderately light golden yellow color in
the glass. This wine offers Chardonnay unplugged, pure grape character without oak overlay. Aromas and
flavors of golden apple, lemon and Asian pear are framed by a bright cut of acidity. A silky, refined and slightly
viscous mouthfeel adds appeal in this acid-driven wine that finishes with a pleasing infusion of citrus.
2014 Wayfarer Wayfarer Vineyard Fort Ross-Seaview Chardonnay
14.5% alc., 815 cases, $N/A. Estate grown. Four clones planted in
Goldridge soil. Bottled unfined and unfiltered.
Moderately light golden
yellow color in the glass. Riveting aromas of lemon, honey, vanilla,
buttery brioche and a hint of salinity. Very classy, with satisfying
richness, featuring flavors of lemon-lime and grapefruit, without ripe
tropical tones. The wine exhibits deft integration of oak and a
mouthwatering finish that has a briny hint of the sea.