Wine & Spirits - October 2017 - 60

YEAR'S BEST US CHARDONNAY
Our blind panels tasted 695 new-release US chardonnays over the past 12 months. Our critics rated 55 as exceptional (90+) and 21 as
Best Buys. Luke Sykora covers California, except Napa Valley, which is covered by Joshua Greene. Patrick J. Comiskey covers New
York, Oregon and Washington. Find a complete list of wines tasted and all reviews at wineandspiritsmagazine.com.

C a l i fO rN i a

flavor. This would be awesome for a dim sum
brunch, next to shrimp and chive dumplings.

447721

94 | lafond

$32

2014 Sta. Rita Hills Hilltop Ranch Vineyard Chardonnay ^ This comes from 34-yearold, own-rooted vines planted in riverbed
soil dominated by sand and gravel. It has
the gravitas you might expect from mature
vines-chardonnay on a grand scale, the
intensity of the fruit immediately apparent
in vivid scents of bee pollen and mineral
dust. It's a concentrated wine, but more sleek
than fat, its substantial texture and golden
fruit flavor returning to lifted floral tones in
the end. You could decant it now or age it a
few more years. It wants decadent food, like
sautéed sweetbreads or a risotto with white
truffles. (W&S 4/17; 247 cases)
508094

94 | lioco

$50

2015 Santa Cruz Mountains La Marisma
Chardonnay ^ Protracted drought made for
extremely low yields at this vineyard in a
foggy valley on the west side of the Santa
Cruz Mountains, just six miles from the
ocean-and the result is a wine with a precise, concentrated freshness. At first, it feels
like a well-balanced, typical California chardonnay: warm, spicy fruit and biscuity richness. As it takes on air, it reveals more intensity and depth of flavor, building toward
flashes of succulent peach flesh and stony
peach pit, and the snappy spice of nectarine
skin. Age it for a few years and you'll have a
stunning bottle of chardonnay. (325 cases)
450073

94 | red Car

$58

2014 Sonoma Coast Hagan Vineyard Chardonnay ^ While many California chardonnays
bring butter to mind, this one instead suggests the floral richness of fresh milk from a
cow browsing in a mountain meadow. It's the
third vintage Carroll Kemp has made from
a young vineyard planted to the Old Wente
selection on the coastal end of Taylor Lane
ridge-a tiny block of chardonnay in a sea
of cool-climate pinot noir. Made without any
new oak, it's pretty stunning, with a wonderfully lacy texture, a vibrant scent of chamomile and a sunny burst of yellow raspberry
60

WINE & SPIRITS

OCTOBER 2017

the flavor as the fruitiness of a green olive.
That fruit character is crunchy and dynamic,
the texture pampered by oak, its time in barrel adding a satiny gloss without taking over
the wine. It's a chardonnay that speaks of
Napa Valley rather than holding to a sweet
and tropical New World style, offering a
bridge to bring wine geeks and chardonnay
moms together at one table. (W&S 8/17;
4,500 cases)

449311

93 | frog's leap

$32

2015 Napa Valley Chardonnay ^ On several
recent visits to Frog's Leap, John Williams
has detoured me from queries about cabernet and zinfandel to taste his chardonnay.
He and his team have been developing a
new strategy: pick at the underside of ripeness; whole-cluster press; settle for two days,
then rack into new oak barrels; allow the fermentation to begin on its own and reach its
peak (four or five days); then, with half the
sugar remaining in the grapes, rack the wine
to lined cement tanks to finish whatever it's
going to do, undisturbed for another nine
months. Up until now, I've been more curious about his quixotic focus on chardonnay
from Napa Valley, of all places, than about
the wine itself. This vintage comes from
Truchard and a nearby vineyard on Stanly
Road, picking up on the best aspects of
Carneros fruit-desert citrus cooled by the
fog. It's tart with baked lemon and grapefruit
flavors, zesty in the middle and then richer in
the end. The finish tastes like salted caramels
but it's completely savory...and brisk. Williams's goal is to make a great chardonnay
that's expressive of its origins in Napa Valley
and his 2015 may give you a new perspective
on that possibility. (W&S 6/17)
450266

93 | Groth

$30

2015 Napa Valley Hillview Vineyard Chardonnay (Best Buy) ^ A tightly focused, earthdriven chardonnay, this wine is savory and
briny. If you're searching for fruit, you might
find a little lemon pith, or you could think of

507959

92 | Deovlet

$32

2015 Santa Barbara County Chardonnay
(Best Buy) ^ Ryan Deovlet's Santa Barbara
appellation blend, sourced from vineyards
in the Santa Rita Hills and Santa Maria Valley, overdelivers in 2015. It's salty, refreshing
and vinous, a chardonnay with vibrant scents
of Meyer lemon and grapefruit peels. That
citrus character is spicy and lasting, ready to
brighten pan-seared trout. (230 cases)

507881

92 | Dutton-Goldfield

$38

2015 Russian River Valley Dutton Ranch
Chardonnay ^ The Dutton family farms over
eighty vineyards in the Russian River Valley,
but for this blend, Dan Goldfield focuses
on a few older blocks of chardonnay in the
cool Green Valley (most of the fruit comes
from vines at least thirty years old, planted
to heritage chardonnay selections like Old
Wente). The 2015 is substantial and fresh at
once, with a regal richness, notes of hazel-


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Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Wine & Spirits - October 2017

Contents
Wine & Spirits - October 2017 - Cover1
Wine & Spirits - October 2017 - Cover2
Wine & Spirits - October 2017 - 1
Wine & Spirits - October 2017 - 2
Wine & Spirits - October 2017 - 3
Wine & Spirits - October 2017 - 4
Wine & Spirits - October 2017 - Contents
Wine & Spirits - October 2017 - 6
Wine & Spirits - October 2017 - 7
Wine & Spirits - October 2017 - 8
Wine & Spirits - October 2017 - 9
Wine & Spirits - October 2017 - 10
Wine & Spirits - October 2017 - 11
Wine & Spirits - October 2017 - 12
Wine & Spirits - October 2017 - 13
Wine & Spirits - October 2017 - 14
Wine & Spirits - October 2017 - 15
Wine & Spirits - October 2017 - 16
Wine & Spirits - October 2017 - 17
Wine & Spirits - October 2017 - 18
Wine & Spirits - October 2017 - 19
Wine & Spirits - October 2017 - 20
Wine & Spirits - October 2017 - 21
Wine & Spirits - October 2017 - 22
Wine & Spirits - October 2017 - 23
Wine & Spirits - October 2017 - 24
Wine & Spirits - October 2017 - 25
Wine & Spirits - October 2017 - 26
Wine & Spirits - October 2017 - 27
Wine & Spirits - October 2017 - 28
Wine & Spirits - October 2017 - 29
Wine & Spirits - October 2017 - 30
Wine & Spirits - October 2017 - 31
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Wine & Spirits - October 2017 - 38
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Wine & Spirits - October 2017 - 40
Wine & Spirits - October 2017 - 41
Wine & Spirits - October 2017 - 42
Wine & Spirits - October 2017 - 43
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Wine & Spirits - October 2017 - 45
Wine & Spirits - October 2017 - 46
Wine & Spirits - October 2017 - 47
Wine & Spirits - October 2017 - 48
Wine & Spirits - October 2017 - 49
Wine & Spirits - October 2017 - 50
Wine & Spirits - October 2017 - 51
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Wine & Spirits - October 2017 - 53
Wine & Spirits - October 2017 - 54
Wine & Spirits - October 2017 - 55
Wine & Spirits - October 2017 - 56
Wine & Spirits - October 2017 - 57
Wine & Spirits - October 2017 - 58
Wine & Spirits - October 2017 - 59
Wine & Spirits - October 2017 - 60
Wine & Spirits - October 2017 - 61
Wine & Spirits - October 2017 - 62
Wine & Spirits - October 2017 - 63
Wine & Spirits - October 2017 - 64
Wine & Spirits - October 2017 - 65
Wine & Spirits - October 2017 - 66
Wine & Spirits - October 2017 - 67
Wine & Spirits - October 2017 - 68
Wine & Spirits - October 2017 - 69
Wine & Spirits - October 2017 - 70
Wine & Spirits - October 2017 - 71
Wine & Spirits - October 2017 - 72
Wine & Spirits - October 2017 - 73
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Wine & Spirits - October 2017 - 76
Wine & Spirits - October 2017 - 77
Wine & Spirits - October 2017 - 78
Wine & Spirits - October 2017 - 79
Wine & Spirits - October 2017 - 80
Wine & Spirits - October 2017 - 81
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Wine & Spirits - October 2017 - 86
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Wine & Spirits - October 2017 - 89
Wine & Spirits - October 2017 - 90
Wine & Spirits - October 2017 - 91
Wine & Spirits - October 2017 - 92
Wine & Spirits - October 2017 - 93
Wine & Spirits - October 2017 - 94
Wine & Spirits - October 2017 - 95
Wine & Spirits - October 2017 - 96
Wine & Spirits - October 2017 - 97
Wine & Spirits - October 2017 - 98
Wine & Spirits - October 2017 - 99
Wine & Spirits - October 2017 - 100
Wine & Spirits - October 2017 - 101
Wine & Spirits - October 2017 - 102
Wine & Spirits - October 2017 - 103
Wine & Spirits - October 2017 - 104
Wine & Spirits - October 2017 - 105
Wine & Spirits - October 2017 - 106
Wine & Spirits - October 2017 - 107
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Wine & Spirits - October 2017 - 109
Wine & Spirits - October 2017 - 110
Wine & Spirits - October 2017 - 111
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Wine & Spirits - October 2017 - Cover3
Wine & Spirits - October 2017 - Cover4
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