Super Premium Chardonnay is Full of Surprises

Taking a look at some of the best wines on offer




2011 Patz & Hall Chardonnay Dutton Ranch RRV 14.2% $40

Bright and juicy on the nose with note of lime, peach, caramel and a hint of flint under the nutmeg  top notes. This is elegant and rich with lots of power but at the same time there is a lovely sense of transparency and lift to the palate. Rich with lightly toasty and honied orchard fruits, the deft use of oak here leaves only attractive framing notes supporting the fruit. The acidity is nicely integrated but firm, adding the needed backbone to help drive the mineral tinged flavors through the long, layered finish. 91pts

2011 La Crema Chardonnay Russian River Valley 14.5% $30

Tight on the nose with a decidedly leesy, floral aroma but then this is rather relaxed in the mouth, broad yet focused and transparent with  lots of lovely precise crisp apple, pear and apricot fruits. Turning rather crisp and mineral on the backend, this ends with a super clean finish that highlights layers of apple and citrus flavors followed by a hint of wood spice on the finale. 90pts

2011 Frank Family Chardonnay Napa Valley 14.2% $35

Bright on the nose and  a bit waxy with some banana aromas floating under the perfumey oak. Entering the mouth with strong lemon curd, melon and peach flavors in a soft, moderately creamy style that is broad in the mouth, this is silky and fairly rich, with lots of flavor but not overpowering weight. The midpalate shows a blip of tannin along with notes of ripe apples and almond butter leading to a nice, long, soft finish. 89pts

2011 Chappellet Chardonnay Napa Valley 14.5% $35

Smoky oak greets the nose along with bright base notes of slightly exotic white fruits but today this is dominated by notes of caramel and vanilla. Creamy on entry,and  medium full,bodied, yet a bit simple in the mouth; this offers up  nutty and vanilla flavors along with clear notes of tense citrus and pear flavors. Elegant and rather powerful if not particularly large scaled in the mouth, this needs time for the oak to better integrate. 89pts

2010 Chateau Montelena Chardonnay Napa Valley 14.1% $50


Very fragrant with an early note of lychee followed by very clear and pure fruit that shows notes of lemon verbena, crushed stone and orange tinged citrus fruits over a light base of oak spice and butter. Smooth and polished on entry, this quickly gains focus and shows off a bit of a steely edge to the mineral infused crisp apple and peach flavors on the palate. the oak is very well integrated and helps frame the fruit well adding a lightly spice on the backend. Besides a little bitter spice and a touch of warmth there is surprisingly little to be found on the finish. Perhaps that will come with a bit more age. 89pts

2011 Patz & Hall Chardonnay Hudson Vineyard Carneros, Napa Valley 13.7% $60

Tight and focused on the nose, this smells leesy with almond, floral and dried apple aromas over a base note of butcher’s wax, dried lemon peel and a hint of vanilla. Soft and rich on entry, this has honeycomb edges to the lush core of ripe apple and pineapple fruit. There’s a nice accent of wood spice adding additional complexity but the oak is very well managed. The acidity seems a bit low here, and while that certainly makes this smooth and easy to drink, it also makes it a bit loose and short with nothing to drive the creamy, almost butterscotch and toast driven flavors through the finish, though this does manage to stick to the palate a bit through sheer natural weight.  89ps

2010 La Crema Chardonnay Los Carneros 14.5%  $30


Sweet apple  fruit on the nose is paired with nicely judged oak that adds nuanced spice and toast aromas. This is full of  green apple flavor early on the palate in a  round and lush style  with good supporting acids, gaining flavors of nectarine and wood spice on the slightly creamy backend before returning to nice sweet apple butter flavors on the moderately long finish. 88pts

2011 Patz & Hall Chardonnay Sonoma Coast 14.2% $35


A bit buttery and floral on the nose with a top note of caramel, this seems a bit subdued with a powdered vanilla sugar quality on the nose along with subtle baked apple, cantaloupe melon and flint aromas.  This very much weighted towards the back of the palate in though mouth, almost as if it’s crawling along my tongue. It’s round, and smooth but it lacks a center and while it delivers a nice blend of spice and apple fruit that lingers on the moderately long finish this is bit of a one trick pony. Still it offers plenty of weight and richness in the mouth. 88pts



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Top Super Premium Chardonnay Tasted 7/2013

1.
Gary Farrell Russian River Chardonnay (2010)
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2.
Topel Chardonnay Reserve Classique Mendocino (2009)
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3.
Paul Hobbs Chardonnay Russian River Valley Crossbarn (2011)
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4.
Frank Family Chardonnay Reserve Lewis Vineyard Carneros (2011)
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5.
Stuhlmuller Vineyards Estate Chardonnay (2011)
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6.
Topel Chardonnay Classique Mendocino (2010)
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7.
Patz & Hall Chardonnay Dutton Ranch (2011)
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8.
La Crema Russian River Valley Chardonnay (2011)
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Comments

  • Snooth User: Liz Fraser
    1086947 1

    Any wines under $20.00?

    Jul 23, 2013 at 3:17 PM


  • Snooth User: ssolot
    468011 33

    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 3,019

    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

    Hanzell!

    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 5,036

    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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