Super Premium Chardonnay is Full of Surprises

Taking a look at some of the best wines on offer

2010 Gary Farrell Chardonnay Russian River Selection RRV 14.2% $30

Smokey and dry on the nose with a rather transparent quality that allow the wood to come through quite distinctly but it’s very fine wood, not sweet and toasty barrel, paired with gentle floral, butter and spice accents. Relatively rich on entry, this packs superb acids and opens with very ripe yet very fresh apple and almost honeydew melony fruit backed up well integrated wood spice that carries the wine onto the long, zesty notably vibrant and peach toned and spicy finish. This is really gorgeous today with a fine combination of power, vibrancy and depth, my only knock is that it does show a touch of heat on the long finish. 93pts

2011 Paul Hobbs Chardonnay Russian River Valley 14.2% $45

Toasty with  plenty of vanilla and spice notes helping to support clean  tea, almond, and beautiful floral aromas. Medium full on entry with a leesy richness, and a bit of sweetness from the oak, the midpalate here  shows good verve,full of  lemon rind and exotic citrussy fruit flavors framed with a bit of peppery spice. Retaining great focus in the mouth with its lean, firm structure, this is really vivid right through the , long tart finish that features nice minerality with a hint of ginger spice. 93pts

2011 Frank Family Chardonnay Reserve Lewis Vineyard Carneros 14.5% $60

Definite jump up in intensity on the nose over the base bottling here with rich aromas of and complexity, almond, peach, buttery croissant,  peach pie and pecan pie. Rich in the mouth, and downright powerful in fact, there’s lots of depth here to the rich suave fruit. Flavors lean towards the apricot end of the spectrum with framing notes of almonds and peach pie that helps to tighten up the long, gently spicy finish. This is large scaled but retains really fine balance that keeps the wine lively and refreshing.  Not my style but really well done. 93pts

2011 Stuhlmuller Chardonnay Alexander Valley 14.1% $25

With a nose slightly marked by barrel fermentation aromas this remains impressively dry and savory, filled with notes of  hay and lightly toasted oatmeal framing very pretty pear and crab apple fruit. With lovely purity and freshness on the palate, this combines super bright acids with lovely old wood textural notes yielding a wine that features  super ripe fruit that reveals the cool climate nature of the vintage with it’s tart pineapple, lime and and pear flavors. Just so clear and pure on the palate, this is California ripe but with etched structure, and a long, tense finish that gain a fine almond note on the finale. Very much in my wheelhouse!  93pts

2009 Topel Chardonnay Reserve Classique Mendocino 14.3% $35

Bright and high toned on the nose with a very fine overlay of oak, a hint of green tea and layers of marzipan, dried orange peel and sweet apple fruit. Bright acids appear on entry followed by a little buttered toast with green apple fruit that gains hints of apple butter, toasted hazelnut and lemon curd on the midpalate. This offers up a lovely mouthfeel, blending brightness with a light leesy richness yet remain fresh and precise through the moderately long finish. 92pts

2010 Topel Chardonnay Classique Mendocino 14.2% $40

Aromatically tight and narrow with a decidedly lemon oil nose that has a slightly floral almost lemon verbena top note. Tense in the mouth with almost a little Chablis character with a touch of stones on the midpalate contrasted against the core of fresh pineapple and lime fruit. There’s a touch of autolytic character on the back end followed by a long finish with excellent tension though perhaps a touch evolved with a hint of wood tannin and toast on the finale. 92pts

2010 La Crema Nine Barrel Chardonnay Russian River Valley 14.5% $70

Tight nose with early notes of well judged wood followed by tight apple and pear fruit, and a little sweet apple pie spice character. Opening with a nice edge of green apple snappiness that leads to a nicely focused mid-palate, this shows lots of white stone fruit and apple character laced with marshmallow and vanilla flavors. The finish shows good length with a suggestion of tannin and fine mineral and apple blossom accents. Deftly blending fruit and tension, this looks as though it should improve over the medium term. 92pts

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Top Super Premium Chardonnay Tasted 7/2013

Gary Farrell Russian River Chardonnay (2010)
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Topel Chardonnay Reserve Classique Mendocino (2009)
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Paul Hobbs Chardonnay Russian River Valley (2011)
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Frank Family Chardonnay Reserve Lewis Vineyard Carneros (2011)
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Stuhlmuller Vineyards Estate Chardonnay (2011)
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Topel Chardonnay Classique Mendocino (2010)
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Patz & Hall Russian River Valley Chardonnay Dutton Ranch (2011)
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La Crema Chardonnay Russian River Valley (2011)
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Mentioned in this article


  • Snooth User: Liz Fraser
    1086947 1

    Any wines under $20.00?

    Jul 23, 2013 at 3:17 PM

  • Snooth User: ssolot
    468011 32

    On any review of Chardonnay's, how could you leave off Kistler????

    Jul 23, 2013 at 4:35 PM

  • Snooth User: JonDerry
    Hand of Snooth
    680446 2,589

    Kistler? Easy, too much oak!

    Interesting list Greg, will try to check out a couple.

    Jul 23, 2013 at 4:45 PM

  • Liz, try the '08 Gundlach Bundschu Chardonnay. Normally $30, it's on sale at BevMo (of all places!) at $19.99. Won' t last at that price...

    Jul 23, 2013 at 5:20 PM

  • Snooth User: aucfan
    1156506 31


    Jul 23, 2013 at 5:56 PM

  • Snooth User: Aly OG
    1323333 27

    How could you leave off Ramey?

    Jul 23, 2013 at 6:14 PM

  • Snooth User: vin0vin0
    Hand of Snooth
    357808 4,358

    Somewhat lesser know Carneros gem that is of the less oak, less butter let the fruit talk family - Bouchaine.

    Jul 24, 2013 at 6:22 PM

  • Does anybody like Rombauer anymore?

    Jul 26, 2013 at 7:57 AM

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