Chardonnay

Belle de Jour

Hilliard Bruce Vineyard, Chardonnay, 2013 ($60)

Vibrantly golden in the glass, this nuanced Chardonnay exhibits bright notes of stone fruit, while the pleasing oak contributes hints of marzipan and a subtle nuttiness. Lovely notes of baked bread and lemon peel linger for minutes as the acid expands upon the palate. Delicate, supple, and exceedingly fine.

Jeb Dunnuck, WA: “While the most elegant and silky of the Chardonnays, it has terrific fruit intensity and is a joy to drink.” 96 points

Belle du Jour

Hilliard Bruce Chardonnay, 2012

Golden bright in the glass, this lean, Chablis-like Chardonnay is lace-fine with vibrant notes of lemon and a touch of grapefruit on the nose. Supple and acid-driven, the palate is complemented by a limestone minerality that supports the fruit through a lengthy finish. Perfect as the starter of a meal and with fish or seafood. 45% new oak.

Belle du Jour

Hilliard-Bruce Chardonnay, 2011

Immediately pleasing with a Burgundian nose, the palate offers a bright acidity with green apple tonalities and sea minerals. Complex, handcrafted yet seamless, this is Chardonnay at its best. 45% new French Oak.

Belle du Jour

Hilliard-Bruce Chardonnay, 2010

This is my first vintage of Chardonnay from this great site. A bigger and richer wine, fermented with native yeasts, full of life and bright acidity. A great California chardonnay with style and elegance. 70% new French oak. Full malo, unfiltered.

East of Eden

Pisoni Vineyard, Chardonnay, 2013 ($70)

This resplendent wine nearly glows in the glass as aromas of stone fruit, wet granite, and sea water emerge. The mouthfeel is extraordinarily encompassing, leaving tingles of fresh lemon and ambrosia apple at the finish. As usual for fruit from the low-yielding Pisoni Vineyard, this white has real muscle but remains elegant, and is deeply satisfying in that balance.

Jeb Dunnuck, WA: “Full-bodied, beautifully textured, layered and pure, it’s always lively and graceful on the palate, with a crisp finish.” 97 points

East of Eden

Pisoni Chardonnay, 2012

The low-yields of the blustery Santa Lucia Highlands contribute a muscular, razor-sharp, and refined character to the Pisoni fruit. Several French customers have compared this wine to “Corton,” but the almost tannic structure here belies a true elegance of form. 60% new French oak beautifully integrated with notes of Granny Smith apple and lemon rind. The James Bond of my Chardonnay portfolio: muscle and brains in a tight package.

East of Eden

Pisoni Chardonnay, 2011

Comprised mostly of Wente clone from one of the most famous vineyards in California, this big yet beautifully-balanced Chardonnay bears notes of wet fur, vanilla, and a touch of smoke on the nose. Very pleasing; structured with good acidity, and the 75% new French oak is very well integrated. My French sommelier friend described it as “Corton”-like.

Le Souvenir

Sierra Madre Vineyard, Chardonnay, 2013 ($65)

White flower, wet stone, and hints of tropical fruit arise on the nose of this classic Chardonnay, which comes from 20 year old Wente clone vines. The lithe acidity is seamless as it cuts through the entire palate, right through a finish of fresh vanilla bean and candied apple. Precise and graceful.

Jeb Dunnuck, WA: “Medium to full-bodied, lively, full-flavored and with vibrant acidity, it offers up ample, mineral-laced notes of apple blossom, citrus, honeysuckle and classy oak.” 96 points

Le Souvenir

Sierra Madre Chardonnay, 2012

20-year-old Wente clone vines provide the foundation of this classic Chardonnay. An aroma of alpine flowers rise through mineral notes of broken stone and granite. The palate is velvety and generous but is light on its feet with a zesty, refreshing acidity, with a touch of vanilla and a long finish. Succulent and fresh. 65% New French oak yet the oak is nuanced.

Le Souvenir

Sierra Madre Chardonnay, 2011

This classic Chardonnay exhibits light vanilla, Acacia flower, and wet stone notes on the nose. The silky texture and zesty acidity work towards a long finish.

Le Souvenir

Sierra Madre Chardonnay, 2010

This is a Burgundian style of wine. Great balance, harmony and structure. Gentle yet long on the finish. Seamless oak integration with citrus-y and mineral notes. Full malo, barrel fermented in 60 % new French oak, unfiltered.

Le Souvenir

Sierra Madre Chardonnay, 2009

Robert Parker Jr, The Wine Advocate: …might easily be mistaken for a top-flight white Burgundy. The wine blossoms on the palate with layers of varietal fruit, minerals and flowers. It is a strikingly pure Chardonnay loaded with class and pedigree. The fruit is ripe and quite generous, but never tropical or heavy in any way. The wine was fermented and aged in barrel (with no stirring of the lees), and was not racked until it was prepared for bottling. There is more than enough depth and sheer pedigree to handle the 70% new barrels. Frankly, this is a must-have wine from Paul Lato. 95 points

Le Souvenir

Sierra Madre Chardonnay, 2008

Robert Parker Jr, The Wine Advocate: …exquisite. Bottled with minimal fining and no filtration, it displays wonderful notes of sweet white currants, crushed rocks, pineapples and acacia flowers. Medium to full-bodied with beautifully integrated wood, a striking minerality, a honeyed richness and superb purity, texture and length, it will provide immense pleasure… 95 points

Le Souvenir

Sierra Madre Chardonnay, 2007

66% new French oak, full malolactic, Wente clone, low yields. Beautiful balance and integration, ver good mid palate and a long refreshing finish.This wine has a lot of flavor and yet it is light on its feet. Only 3 barrels made.

Kokoro

Santa Barbara County, Chardonnay, 2013 ($75)

Originally produced solely as a wine for the high-end Japanese market, “Kokoro” is now being offered exclusively to the mailing list as a sign of appreciation. This very-limited wine is sourced from a number of vineyards that are already exceptional on their own, finely balancing what makes each site so important to me. The aromatics are up-front and very pleasing, with notes of citrus rind, tangerine, and warm caramel. New French oak on the palate is threaded through via hints of almond paste and toasted agave, and the acid ties everything together with real clarity.