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Reviewed Wines from the current Newsletter
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From The Making of a Glorious ChardonnYAY: Winemaker Michael Zardo of Ten Acre Winery Tells How He Did It

2015 Ten Acre Ritchie Vineyard Russian River Valley Chardonnay

14.4% alc., pH 3.55, TA 0.63, 210 cases, $55. Wente heritage clone, planted in 1972 and 2004. Yield 3.0 tons per acre. Fermented and aged in French oak barrels, 40% new. Full malolactic fermentation. Bottled unfined and unfiltered. · Moderate golden yellow color in the glass. This is clearly a special wine from the first whiff and taste. Enticing aromas of lemon creme, white-fleshed fruit, white flower blossoms, honey, and the slightest spice and vanilla pick up intensity over time in the glass. Great polish and balance make for exceedingly easy drinking. Velvety in the mouth without oiliness, offering fresh flavors of lemon, pineapple, coconut, apricot and a subtle compliment of oak peeks from the background. A juicy arrow of sound acidity is at the heart of the wine. The finish is dry and quenching and urges another sip. This wine seduces rather than attacks the senses and is truly Chardonnay nirvana. Score: 97. WINERY » ARTICLE »


From Ritchie Vineyard: California’s Legendary Grand Cru Chardonnay Vineyard

2016 Montagu Ritchie Vineyard Russian River Valley Chardonnay

15.2% alc., 101 cases, $60. · Moderate golden yellow color in the glass. Aromas of lemon zest, buttered toast, warm biscuit and ashtray. Rich, creamy and toasty in the mouth, offering flavors of ripe peach, grilled pineapple, caramel and char. Oak overrides the core of very ripe fruit flavors, the wine lacks acid verve, and there is the slightest sense of alcohol on the finish. Score: 87. WINERY » ARTICLE »

2016 Bevan Cellars Ritchie Vineyard Russian River Valley Chardonnay

14.6% alc., $65. · Moderately dark golden yellow with a light apricot hue in the glass. Aromas of ash, tobacco and white pepper with no fruit showing up over time. Viscous in the mouth with a richness of ripe flavors including lemon curd, pineapple, ripe apricot, and tropical fruits. Clearly, the fruit was left hanging a long time. Oak-driven flavors of toast and smoke intrude. Somewhat heavy in the mouth, lacking vibrancy, and slightly hot on the finish. No vineyard typicality in this version. Score: 87. WINERY » ARTICLE »

2016 Gary Farrell Ritchie Vineyard Russian River Valley Chardonnay

13.9% alc., pH 3.24, TA 0.66, 95 cases, $65. Harvest Brix 22.0º-23.0º. Harvested in cool morning hours, gently whole cluster pressed, allowed to settled at chilled temperature for 24 hours before inoculating with Montrachet yeast. Fermented and aged in French oak barrels, both light and medium toast barrels and 500-L puncheons (Francois Frères, DAMY, Dargaud & Jaegle and Cavin), 35% new for 9 months. Racked off primary lees once before bottling. · Moderate golden yellow color in the glass. Leading off are lovely aromas of delicate flint, lemon custard and lime. Somewhat lean, yet flavorful, offering tastes of lemon-lime, grapefruit, white peach and caramel. Oily on the palate, with plenty of righteous acidity keeping the wine lively and edgy through the clean and quenching finish. Score: 94. WINERY » ARTICLE »

2016 Chateau Boswell Ritchie Vineyard Russian River Valley Chardonnay

14.3% alc., 225 cases, $95. Susan Boswell proprietor and Philippe Melka winemaker. · Moderately light golden yellow color in the glass. Nicely perfumed with aromas of lemon zest, apricot, white flower blossom and brioche. Very seductive in the mouth, with a sleek but not viscous mouthfeel, offering flavors of lemon, pineapple, pear and mango with complimentary oak highlights chiming in. Beautifully balanced, with a delightful evanescent finish. A true reflection of the vineyard terroir. Score: 95. WINERY » ARTICLE »

2014 Ramey Ritchie Vineyard Russian River Valley Chardonnay

14.5% alc., 1,250 cases, $65. Old Wente selection planted in 1972. Harvest Brix 23.5º. Native yeast and full malolactic fermentation in barrel, with lees stirring. Aged 19 months in Francois Frères French oak barrels, 30% new. Fined but not filtered. · Moderately light golden yellow color in the glass. Enticing aromas of lemon oil, kiwi, green apple, slate and the slightest matchstick. Seductively oily, with fresh flavors of citrus, apple and coconut. Inviting harmony, with the right bit of toasty oak, and some finishing persistence. This wine walks the line between fruit richness and wholesome acidity. Score: 93. WINERY » ARTICLE »


From More Recently Tasted Chardonnay

2016 Trader Joe’s Lot #87 Grand Reserve Sonoma Coast Chardonnay

14.8% alc., $12.99. Vinted and bottled by AVID Winery, Sebastopol. · Pale golden yellow color in the glass. Up front aromas of butter, lemon and pineapple. Light in weight with good acidity, featuring flavors of citrus, apple, nuts and caramel. Bright and lively with a silky texture and integrated alcohol. This wine will attract Chardonnay fans at this price. Score: 88. WINERY » ARTICLE »

2016 MacRostie Winery & Vineyards Sonoma Coast Chardonnay

14.3% alc., 18,227 cases, $25, screwcap. Sourced from multiple distinguished vineyards in the Sonoma Coast, Carneros, Russian River Valley and Petaluma Gap. 85% of the juice was racked into French oak barrels for fermentation, 20% new. 15% of the juice stayed in stainless steel tanks and never went to barrel. The wines were aged on the lees for 6 months both in tank and barrel, with occasional stirring. · Light golden yellow color in the glass. This is a very classy and comforting wine, featuring aromas and flavors of lemon, white peach, baking spices and a hint of toast. Good on the attack with a pleasingly smoothing texture, finishing on a lemony high note. Very harmonious and easy to like. Impressive quality considering such a large production and modest pricing. Score: 92. WINERY » ARTICLE »

2016 Kessler-Haak Santa Rita Hills Chardonnay

14.6% alc., 360 cases, $35. Vintner grown clones 95 and 76. · Moderate golden yellow color in the glass. Aromatically pleasing scents of sea breeze, lemon-lime, and buttered toast. Moderately rich, yet clean and refreshing, with flavors of lemon, pineapple and white peach. Slightly oily in mouthfeel with a vibrant personality. Score: 91. WINERY » ARTICLE »

2016 Morgado Cellars Steiner Vineyard Sonoma Mountain Chardonnay

14.2% alc., $62. · Moderate golden yellow color in the glass. Complex nose offering aromas of haystack, graphite, lemon, peach, spice, shortbread and nutty oak. A rich and boldly styled wine with some heaviness. Creamy on the palate, with flavors of lemon, ripe pineapple, apple, caramel and toast. The texture is really quite dreamy, but there is a sense of alcohol on the nose and finish. Score: 89. WINERY » ARTICLE »

2015 Wildberry Estate Reserve Margaret River Australia Chardonnay

13.0% alc., $30, screwcap. Imported by Southern Starz, Inc., Huntington Beach, CA. · Moderately light golden yellow color in the glass. Flinty reduction on the nose with added aromas of pear, lemon-lime and seaweed. Crisp and bright in the mouth, with flavors of lemon custard and pear fruits with a flinty (mercaptan) bearing. The bright citrus-imbued acidity drives the wine’s vibrancy and the lemony finish. Your enjoyment of this wine will depend on your attraction to volatile sulfur compounds in Chardonnay. Score: 89. WINERY » ARTICLE »

2015 Byron Bien Nacido Vineyard Santa Maria Valley Chardonnay

14.1% alc., 300 cases, $40. Clones 4 and 95. Barrel fermented with 100% malolactic fermentation and aged in French oak barrels, 69% new. · Moderate golden yellow color in the glass. The nose offers aromas of buttered popcorn, honey, pineapple core and lemon rind. Creamy in the mouth with well-ripened fruit flavors of yellow apple, pineapple, mango and pear. A bold, rich wine with nicely integrated acidity and a deft touch of oak. Well crafted in this fruit and oak driven style. Score: 92. WINERY » ARTICLE »

2015 Byron Nielson Vineyard Santa Maria Valley Chardonnay

14.4% alc., 400 cases, $40. Primarily Wente clone from cuttings obtained from the original Wente clone planted on the estate in 1964. Barrel fermented with 100% malolactic fermentation and aged in French oak barrels, 52% new. · Moderately dark golden yellow color in the glass. Aromas of citrus peel, yellow grapefruit and ripe apple lead to a discretely rich styled wine with ripe flavors of pineapple, lemon and yellow peach underlain with complimentary oak. A good cut of acidity maintains a refreshing vibrancy. Score: 92. WINERY » ARTICLE »

2015 Gran Moraine Yamhill-Carlton Willamette Valley Chardonnay

13.0% alc., $45. · Moderate golden yellow color in the glass. Aromas of ripe apple, pear, mango, custard and cold steel. Nicely composed with seamless balance, offering flavors of spiced apple, citrus, juniper berry, honey and baked bread. Easy going, with a silky texture and a crisp finish. Score: 91. WINERY » ARTICLE »

2015 Open Claim Willamette Valley Chardonnay

13.5% alc., $75, DIAM closure. Sold in three bottle allocations. Winemaker Tony Rynders. · Moderately light golden yellow color in the glass. The nose is infused with citrus and oak driven aromas of honey on toast, shortbread and vanilla creme. Nuanced aromas of floral blossom, dried grass and wax add interest. Slightly creamy in the mouth, with heady flavors of lemon, grapefruit, white peach and banana, with oak compliments. Nicely integrated acidity, with some finishing length. Score: 92. WINERY » ARTICLE »

2015 Paul Hobbs Richard Dinner Vineyard Sonoma Mountain Chardonnay

14.1% alc., $80. · Moderate golden yellow color in the glass. Very appealing aromas of crystallized lemon, white peach, brioche and a subtle spice and floral note. Some richness in the mouth but not heavy, with flavors of lemon, peach and pineapple underlain with a friendly bit of toasty oak. Agreeably creamy in the mouth, submerged acidity yet lively enough, offering some length on the very satisfying, lemon-fueled finish. Score: 95. WINERY » ARTICLE »

2014 Sweetzer Cellars Santa Maria Valley Chardonnay

14.1% alc., pH 3.37, TA 0.73, 250 cases, $28. Vines planted in 2007. Clones 4, 76, 95 and 96. Native and proprietary yeasts. Fermented 60% stainless steel and 40% neutral oak. Aged 18 months in French oak barrels, 25% new. · Moderately light golden yellow color in the glass. Aromas of kiwi, grapefruit and wax with some unusual whiffs. Flavors of lemon and créme brûlèe in a crisp, tightly wound style with only a hint of oak vanillin. Score: 88. WINERY » ARTICLE »

2014 Sweetzer Cellars Pesqu’ile Vineyard Santa Maria Valley Chardonnay

14.4% alc., pH 3.33, TA 0.75, 137 cases, $40. A barrel selection. Clones 4, 76, 95 and 96. Fermented in 60% stainless and 40% neutral oak. Aged 18 months in French oak barrels, 25% new. · Moderately light golden yellow color in the glass. Scents of butter, yellow nectarine, wax and toasty oak entice. More concentration and length in the mouth than the Santa Maria Valley bottling with valued flavors of lemon, honey and toasty oak. The acidity is also better integrated in this wine. Score: 90. WINERY » ARTICLE »


Robert Parker’s 100 point wine scoring system, which became popular in 1983 and adopted by the Wine Spectator in 1988, has been a homing beacon for consumers seeking to buy good wine. Currently, a majority of United States based wine critics and magazines use the 100 point scale.

The reality is that the 100 point scale is actually a 10 point scale. MORE»
A Note About Prices

Price shown in a tasting note is either the winery-direct price or the retail price paid by the Prince.