Major Chardonnay Tasting Thursday, May 29

chard2by Andrew Chalk

Sigel’s reports that they are doing their annual Benchmark Chardonnay Tasting on Thursday, May 29th from 5-7pm at their Greenville Avenue store. They say that twenty wines will be tasted but, if past experience is a guide, other winemakers will jump in so there will be more. Based on our past experience, this event is Crave recommended

Here is the current list (I have put a + sign to the left of the name to indicate the wines that I expect to be especially interesting, either because they should be of exceptional quality or good value for money).   


+Tor Kenward Napa Torchaiana 12 93-95rp

Patz & Hall Russian River Zio Tony 11 93+st

+Tor Kenward Sonoma Coast Durrel 12 93ws

Brewer Clifton Santa Rita Hills 3D 10 93rp

Patz & Hall Sonoma Coast 12   93rp

+Lewis Russian River 12 93ws

Brewer Clifton Santa Rita Hills Gnesa 09 92rp

Transcendence Santa Rita Hills Zotovich 11 92st

Melville Santa Rita Hills Estate 12 91st

+Neyers Carneros Novillero 12 91st

Melville Santa Rita Hills Inox 12 91st

Loring Sonoma Coast Durrel 12 90ws

+Fantesca Russian River 10

Miner Family Napa Wild Yeast 10

Transcendence Santa Rita Hills Rancho Santa Rosa 12

August Briggs Carneros Leveroni 11

Neyers Sonoma Valley Vendemia 11

+Steele California Cuvee Steele 12

+Lewis Russian River Race Car 12

Miner Family Napa 12

Transcendence Rancho Santa Rosa 2012

100 cases made. From its brilliant straw color to its head-turning pear, pineapple, citrus blossom and mineral aromatics, this is a vibrant and exciting Chardonnay. Crisp youthful acidity makes the flavors sing across the palate. The vineyard achieved an effortless balance between sugar and acid that allows the multi=dimensionality of this elegant Chardonnay to take center stage.

Loring Durrel 2012     

125 cases made. “Fresh and lively, offering ripe, rich, juicy pear, honeydew melon and honeysuckle notes, revealing a subtle ginger graham cracker spiciness woven within. Gains depth and dimension on the finish. Drink now through 2019.” 90ws

Tor Kenward Durrel 2012      

144 cases made. “An elegant white, offering a rich, creamy mix of fig, butterscotch, apricot, smoke, ginger and citrus-laced apple, gaining depth and gliding along on the finish. Drink now through 2022.” 93ws

Neyers Vendemia 2011          

208 cases made. “Chuy Ordaz planted these vines in 1960, and he still farms them. He used budwood from a vineyard grafted to ‘Shot-Wente’ selection. Consequently, there are no nursery clones here, just traditional Chardonnay from an old ‘heirloom’ version of the variety now enjoying a renaissance. Our traditional natural-yeast fermentation is perfectly suited to the grapes. The finished wine, packed with flavor, still retains enough elegance to show the style and grace that have always been important to Neyers Chardonnay.” Bruce Neyers

Transcendence Zotovich 2011

225 cases made. “Fresh melon and Meyer lemon on the highly perfumed nose.  Juicy, focused and pure, offering sweet citrus fruit and honeydew flavors and a suave floral nuance.  Packs a serious punch but comes off lithe, finishing with excellent clarity and spicy persistence.” 92st

August Briggs Leveroni 2011     

275 cases made. This wine opens with aromas of pineapple and mango, with a touch of vanilla.  On the palate, the texture is rich from barrel fermentation, but enough acidity remains to keep it fresh on the palate, with flavors of pear, pineapple and honeydew melon.

Neyers Novillero 2012     

241 cases made. “Only a few days ago, an experienced taster remarked how much an earlier vintage of El Novillero reminded her of the Perrières wines of Meursault. That similarity may be because the El Novillero vineyard sits at the same elevation as the Perrières vineyard, has the same southeasterly view, and is covered with a similar pebbly-gravel surface. This 2012 El Novillero is the most French-styled Chardonnay we’ve made in years – toasty, rich, mineral-laden and crisp.” Bruce Neyers

Brewer Clifton Gnesa 2009     

288 cases made.”The 2009 Chardonnay Gnesa is striking for its transparency and crystalline purity. Not surprisingly the Gnesa emerges from a north facing plot. This isn’t the most complex Chardonnay at Brewer-Clifton, but it is among the most refined. It will appeal most to readers who appreciate a restrained style of California Chardonnay. Anticipated maturity: 2011-2018.” 92rp

Brewer Clifton 3D 2010            

288 cases made. “Superb energy and tension distinguish the 2010 Chardonnay 3-D. The aromas and flavors are very nicely defined. This is an especially sculpted, saline Chardonnay endowed with considerable depth and nuance. In 2010, the 3-D is all about understatement. Anticipated maturity: 2012-2015.”93rp

Patz & Hall Zio Tony 2011   

324 cases made. “High-pitched, rather Chablis-like aromas of green apple, lemon, fresh herbs and flowers.  Juicy, intense and vibrant but not yet complex, with insidious mineral-driven acidity giving the citrus, apple and nutmeg flavors a firm edge.  Finishes penetrating and long, with terrific lift and a strong impression of salty minerality.  I don’t recall a stronger vintage for this bottling.” 93+st

Tor Kenward Torchaiana 2012          

384 cases made. “The 2012 Chardonnay Torchiana Beresini Vineyard is a wine of extraordinary intensity made from another Old Wente clone. It exhibits copious aromas of honeyed citrus, orange marmalade, crushed rocks, white currants and spring flowers. This terrific world class Chardonnay combines the focus and precision of a great white Burgundy with the opulence and ripe fruit of California.” 93-95rp

Lewis Race Car 2012        

400 cases made. Race Car White is back on the track and it’s a winner! Sourced from an exciting new block of Dutton Ranch grapes the 2012 packs high-octane fruit with a polished smooth chassis that smokes the competition. Take the wheel and enjoy the ride.

Melville Inox 2012    

535 cases made.”Fresh lemon and orange zest on the nose, with hints of white flowers and chalky minerals gaining strength with air.  Sappy citrus fruit and melon flavors are complemented by musky iodine and floral qualities and firmed by a bright mineral underpinning.  Impressively vibrant chardonnay, with excellent finishing clarity and persistence.” 91st

Fantesca 2010          

“Pale straw in color with aromas of pears and ripe green apples. There’s a touch of grapefruit citrusy notes layered with a light kiss of oak. Across the palate the wine is lush yet crisp with slight mineral notes and a long clean finish. This is a medium bodied, fruit forward Chard, not heavy handed in any way. Should pair delightfully with a variety of foods.” Heidi Barrett, Winemaker

Miner Wild Yeast 2010            

Generous layers of spiced fruit and creamy, toasty oak combine seamlessly on the palate of this Chardonnay. Fermented using native “wild” yeast cultures, this complex wine was crafted to age gracefully and is the purest expression of our exceptional vineyard sources in the Napa Valley.

Patz & Hall Sonoma Coast 2012     

“The 2012 Chardonnay Sonoma Coast is a big-time winner. Beautiful notes of ripe pineapple, orange marmalade, honeysuckle and white currants jump from the glass of this wine, which was made from a combination of clones such as the old Wente as well as the newer Burgundy Dijon clones. This wine has full body, great acidity, and is a fresh, gorgeous Chardonnay.” 93rp

Lewis Sonoma 2012           

“A full-blown style, rich and complex, offering deeply concentrated tiers of ripe fig, melon, honeysuckle and honeydew melon notes. Ends with smoky, toasty oak and good length, expanding on the finish. Should only get smoother with time. Drink now through 2021.” 93ws

Melville Estate 2012            

“Powerful scents of tangerine, pear skin and iodine, with a racy streak of smoky minerals adding vivacity.  Pure, focused and linear on the palate, offering fresh lemon, orange and orchard fruit flavors and a musky floral quality.  Very deep but refreshingly brisk, with a penetrating note of dusty minerals on the long, focused finish.” 91st

Miner Napa 2012            

Sourced from select low-yielding vineyards, this classic Napa Valley Chardonnay shows depth of character with bright fruit flavors and spice nuances framed by toasty French oak. Our winemaker uses malolactic fermentation in moderation to retain Chardonnay’s natural crispness.

Steele Cuvee Steele 2012

The Cuvee consistently exhibits excellent depth of flavor, wonderful acidity and complex aromas. The Santa Maria vineyards add a tropical fruit character to the wine, flavors and aroma of mango, pineapple, and papaya. The Sonoma vineyards attribute citrus character and acid to the cuvee. The Mendocino vineyards flavor profile leans toward citrus fruit and minerality from DuPratt and Lolonis contributes the warmest-climate grapes to the cuvee with flavors and aromas of baked apples and cinnamon.


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