Top 5 Chardonnay Wines from 2011

Rediscovering a versatile varietal


I don’t know what is happening to me, this past year has seen my consumption of Chardonnay explode from close to zero to several bottles a month!

What happened you ask? Perhaps it’s just that I taste many more than I used to, or perhaps it’s that I taste so much red wine that I appreciate the rest a white affords my palate, but I perhaps it’s something else entirely. I think I’ve finally started treating Chardonnay correctly by pairing it with food. ABP: Always Be Pairing, your Chardonnay that is. I’ve really come to appreciate the ease with which Chardonnay has paired with so many dishes and cuisines, and it just goes to show you that you can teach an (almost) old dog new tricks after all!

Just a reminder, these are the wines I tasted in 2011 that I most look forward to trying again.

Photo courtesy JB London via Flickr/CC

2009 Pfendler Vineyards Chardonnay


Smoke, worn wood, butcher’s wax and lemony, almost grapefruity and lightly peppery fruit greets the nose. This is fairly rich but not heavy. In fact, this has fine mineral cut on the palate with a great balance of savory and fruit-driven elements on the mid-palate. The balance is impressive with intense flavors in an elegant package. The oak is a touch aggressive today, but the fruit claws it way back on the finish which is zesty and minerally. This is great. 93pts

2007 Perception Chardonnay Sangiacomo Sonoma Coast California


Lots of caramel and smoky hickory nuts and raw almonds on the nose over floral-tinged pineapple and lime cream fruits.  Nicely layered on entry with a wood treatment that neatly frames the tense, clear dried tropical fruits of the mid-palate. This is marked by oak but more in the nutty, smoky vein than anything overly sweet or spicy. Finishing with elegance and length this is rich and full, creamy yet bright with moments of brilliance. 93pts


2008 Neudorf Chardonnay Moutere

Crisp and hard on the nose with orchard fruits and smoky oak in a linear, focused style. Bright and focused in the mouth with a really precise feel. This shows lovely finesse and balance and, while the oak is obvious, it is balanced by clear, transparent, mineral-laden fruit that keeps this from seeming sticky or sweet. The mid-palate displays peach and apple fruit tones with wonderfully ripe freshness that follow through on the long finish. This is a strict and unforgiving wine! 92pts

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2009 Domaine Duc de Magenta Chassagne Montrachet Morgeot 13.5%

Oaky on the nose, but lightly so with caramel and cedary overtones to the rather earthy core of fruit. Lovely mouthfeel, elegant if powerful with excellent depth but no extra fat to weigh this down. Nice bitter almond core on entry is followed by acidity that is bright, lending this a crisp orchard fruit quality in the mouth that turns ripe and almost peachy on the back end. Excellent oak integration, though on the long finish it plays a prominent role, contributing layers of flavor as well as some tannin. Very young but already showing great potential. 93pts

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2009 Dutton-Goldfield Winery Dutton Ranch Chardonnay 13.5% $35

Very pretty on the nose, subtle but complex with notes of flowers, integrated wood, cheese rind, lightly waxy orchard fruits and a little tropical citrus. Love this on entry, bright, broad and tall, but really clear and well defined. The fruit here is fresh and pure with the orchard fruit of the nose framed by light dried tangerine peels and a hint of vanilla cream. The texture turns a bit creamy with air but never gets weighty and the subtle spice of wood adds some nice accents on the back end and pops on the long finish, accenting the almost peachy fruit on the finale. Delicious. 92pts

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