The Best California Chardonnay That You've Had In The Last 5 Years?

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Brad Keller
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The Best California Chardonnay That You've Had In The Last 5 Years?

#101 Post by Brad Keller » August 6th, 2018, 2:47 pm

My four favorite producers over the past 5 years are:
Littorai
Dumol
Sleeping Giant
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The Best California Chardonnay That You've Had In The Last 5 Years?

#102 Post by Wes Barton » August 6th, 2018, 3:24 pm

Dan Kravitz wrote:"So many of the wines listed here are SCM."

I guess it's possible to make a case that Napa Valley might have the best California terroir for Cabernet Sauvignon. I don't think it's possible to make a case that any California terroir except for the Santa Cruz Mountains has the best terroir for Chardonnay.

OK, I clearly haven't had all of them from other places, especially not very many of the top-end luxury ones selling in triple digits. But it would be really, really hard to find any SCM Chardonnay that's not at least very good. And great as Mount Eden Chardonnay is, I would put Ridge on or near the same level, especially Monte Bello.

Dan Kravitz
Can't agree on the Napa Cab being the clear best thing. We've had non-Napa ringers from several other regions beat out well regarded Napa producers many times in various blind horizontal tastings of '70s, '80s and '90s Cabs. Not just SCM, but Carmel Valley, Santa Clara Valley, Sonoma, Mendo, Lake, Sierra Foothills and even Paso.

It's certainly hard not to make a good Chard from the SCM, but a few people manage it. As someone with a preference for those characteristics, I am finding more producers making great ones from elsewhere these days as more is learned and unfortunate styles fade.
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The Best California Chardonnay That You've Had In The Last 5 Years?

#103 Post by Mel Knox » August 6th, 2018, 5:37 pm

Other runners up for me would include some Chalones made in the early 90s...Mike Michaud popped a few at a Chambers tasting a few years back.

Chalone is an odd case. It is located in the hills East of Soledad where it is hot and dry. Using techniques Dick Graff learned at DRC, they made many great white wines. Limestone soil?? Winemaking techniques?? Dick and Ric Forman introduced barrel fermentation to the world of California white wine production.

David Bruce winery was another SCM winery renowned for some of its early chardonnays...have no idea what is going on there now. Does anybody remember Noble Hill?? They made a couple of great chardonnays, then got hit by the word Tammy Wynette had to spell out.
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The Best California Chardonnay That You've Had In The Last 5 Years?

#104 Post by Dan Kravitz » August 6th, 2018, 6:23 pm

to Mel Knox,

Great post that left me a little dizzy. I've had very great Chardonnays from Chalone. Amazingly, I had never heard of that particular Mike Michaud, even though I enjoyed many of his wines. The only one I know was a Congressman from Maine, who I also admired. For a few terms, he was the only forklift operator in Congress.

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The Best California Chardonnay That You've Had In The Last 5 Years?

#105 Post by Wes Barton » August 6th, 2018, 6:44 pm

Mel Knox wrote:Other runners up for me would include some Chalones made in the early 90s...Mike Michaud popped a few at a Chambers tasting a few years back.
He's back there, so we'll see how much quality improves... All the Chards out of Brosseau Vyd. these days from various producers are pretty damn impressive.
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The Best California Chardonnay That You've Had In The Last 5 Years?

#106 Post by Mel Knox » August 6th, 2018, 7:40 pm

This Michael Michaud can also drive a forklift...was the winemaker and GM at chalone for twenty years or so, now makes wine under his own label and has his own vineyard next to chalone
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The Best California Chardonnay That You've Had In The Last 5 Years?

#107 Post by Bryan M » August 7th, 2018, 7:49 pm

2012 Kongsgaard The Judge.. Consumed about a year ago without notes.. This was next level (or two) as all the Judge wines are to me-

Disclaimer- I am a year in year out big fan of Kongsgaard Chard. They are rich and might not be for every day drinking but the wines are in a small group of wines that always excite me when I think of pulling the cork-
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The Best California Chardonnay That You've Had In The Last 5 Years?

#108 Post by Sc0tt F!tzger@ld » August 7th, 2018, 7:58 pm

Aubert, Rhys, Ceritas, and Mount Eden.

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The Best California Chardonnay That You've Had In The Last 5 Years?

#109 Post by CJ Beazley » August 8th, 2018, 6:23 am

Bill Sweeney wrote:What I am taking away from this thread is that there are a lot of great Chardonnays I have never tasted!
What I’m taking away is if you want to spend $150+ you can, but you certainly don’t have to. There are some pretty reasonably priced wines here getting great reviews.
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The Best California Chardonnay That You've Had In The Last 5 Years?

#110 Post by Stephen Pepe » August 8th, 2018, 9:13 am

Joe Davis at Arcadian has always done a great job with our fruit. He also uses oak as seasoning rather than a flavor component. [cheers.gif]
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#111 Post by ATaylor » August 8th, 2018, 9:25 am

Mel Knox wrote:David Bruce winery was another SCM winery renowned for some of its early chardonnays...have no idea what is going on there now.
David is pushing into his mid 80s now and the winery has been essentially destroyed by his second wife "General Manager" and her sister who she installed as the "Sales Manager". I don't think they have had stable grower contract for several years now. There are more people working for the onsite dog breeding operation than in the tasting room. It is just sad to see.............
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#112 Post by Steve Brickley » August 8th, 2018, 11:31 am

Ceritas, hands down, usually Porter Bass.
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The Best California Chardonnay That You've Had In The Last 5 Years?

#113 Post by Bryan Carr » August 8th, 2018, 11:54 am

Brennan Anderson wrote:My tasting group did a blind tasting of multiple vintages of Sandhi Sanford & Benedict vs. Roulot Meix Chavaux a few months ago. I was really impressed with how well the Sandhi showed. My go-to Napa Chard is HdV - very nicely walks the line between richness and elegance IMO. For Russian River, Rochioli and Dutton Goldfield have been my stand-outs. Plenty have mentioned Rhys already for Santa Cruz and I'll cast another vote there as well.
Lauren and I drink very little California Chardonnay in general so many of the wines mentioned here we're unfamiliar with, but we were in SB this weekend and tasted through Sandhi's lineup and were quite impressed across the board. I think that for us Chardonnay can be a very intense love it or hate it kind of thing and stylistic variation can be wildly variable between winemakers so I always wonder where in the spectrum many of these wines fall.
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The Best California Chardonnay That You've Had In The Last 5 Years?

#114 Post by Daniel McIntosh » August 8th, 2018, 2:22 pm

Rhys.

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The Best California Chardonnay That You've Had In The Last 5 Years?

#115 Post by Ian Dorin » August 8th, 2018, 2:26 pm

In bottle -
2013 Kongsgaard Judge
2010 Marcassin Marcassin

In barrel -
2015 and 2016 Abreu Chardonnay.... :)
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The Best California Chardonnay That You've Had In The Last 5 Years?

#116 Post by Dan Kravitz » August 8th, 2018, 5:36 pm

I feel a little remiss in not having mentioned Rhys. I posted recently on the 2012 Horseshoe Chardonnay, a very great wine and certainly in the league with Mount Eden and Ridge Monte Bello. I have one bottle of 2004 Alpine. My last bottle, about five years ago, was also great, totally different from the Horseshoe, which is more wiry and mineral vs the Alpine being quite lush by Santa Cruz Mountain standards. In listing mostly Santa Cruz Mountain Chardonnays as my greatest California Chardonnays, I can't help but notice that the greatest wines seem to sell for ~$50 - 80, which makes them values in today's markets. Mount Eden, Ridge and Rhys constitute IMO unbeatable triumvirate of very great Chardonnay producers and values... not just in California, but anywhere on this planet. Can anybody come up with three producers in Puligny, Chassagne and Meursault who can compete for quality and value?

To Merrill Lindquist and Bill Sweeney: Have you noticed the similarities between your critters, and ever considered a swap, or at least a lend-lease program?

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The Best California Chardonnay That You've Had In The Last 5 Years?

#117 Post by Mel Knox » August 8th, 2018, 8:42 pm

Speaking of value in Chardonnay I just looked at the Au Bon Climat website. Sanford and Benedict 35$...2010 ici la Bas 25$...Los alamos 25$
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The Best California Chardonnay That You've Had In The Last 5 Years?

#118 Post by Russ Williams » August 9th, 2018, 8:57 pm

Just had a 2013 Copain Laureles Grade that was fantastic and the best Copain chard I’ve had, which is saying a lot. https://www.wineberserkers.com/forum/vi ... 1&t=153341
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The Best California Chardonnay That You've Had In The Last 5 Years?

#119 Post by Ken Strauss » August 9th, 2018, 10:44 pm

Ian Dorin wrote:In bottle -
2013 Kongsgaard Judge
2010 Marcassin Marcassin

In barrel -
2015 and 2016 Abreu Chardonnay.... :)
Marcassin yes!
Kongsgaard No...although I haven’t had the 2013. I have been disappointed in previous vintages.
Abreu
I am on the list but didn’t know and have not been offered the Chardonnay.
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The Best California Chardonnay That You've Had In The Last 5 Years?

#120 Post by Ian Dorin » August 10th, 2018, 7:57 am

Ken Strauss wrote:
Ian Dorin wrote:In bottle -
2013 Kongsgaard Judge
2010 Marcassin Marcassin

In barrel -
2015 and 2016 Abreu Chardonnay.... :)
Marcassin yes!
Kongsgaard No...although I haven’t had the 2013. I have been disappointed in previous vintages.
Abreu
I am on the list but didn’t know and have not been offered the Chardonnay.
I've had other years of the Judge, and none were close to the 2013. I hate agreeing with Parker, but he nailed it. Sadly the wine is selling for absolutely absurd numbers, $600+ per bottle.

And Abreu Chard hasn't hit the market yet, hence my notes about it being in barrel. I'm VERY impatiently waiting. Wine is absurdly good, and I'm sure it won't be cheap.
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Re: The Best California Chardonnay That You've Had In The Last 5 Years?

#121 Post by Merrill Lindquist » August 16th, 2018, 12:00 pm

Dan Kravitz wrote:
August 8th, 2018, 5:36 pm
I feel a little remiss in not having mentioned Rhys. I posted recently on the 2012 Horseshoe Chardonnay, a very great wine and certainly in the league with Mount Eden and Ridge Monte Bello. I have one bottle of 2004 Alpine. My last bottle, about five years ago, was also great, totally different from the Horseshoe, which is more wiry and mineral vs the Alpine being quite lush by Santa Cruz Mountain standards. In listing mostly Santa Cruz Mountain Chardonnays as my greatest California Chardonnays, I can't help but notice that the greatest wines seem to sell for ~$50 - 80, which makes them values in today's markets. Mount Eden, Ridge and Rhys constitute IMO unbeatable triumvirate of very great Chardonnay producers and values... not just in California, but anywhere on this planet. Can anybody come up with three producers in Puligny, Chassagne and Meursault who can compete for quality and value?

To Merrill Lindquist and Bill Sweeney: Have you noticed the similarities between your critters, and ever considered a swap, or at least a lend-lease program?

Dan Kravitz
Ha! No! My Sir Peter Benjamin recently found himself on the other side of a raccoon. Not pretty. My deck was covered with yellow fur and Petey had cuts on his ears. Petey is the rescue who found me...and a life-time of tuna and crunchies and a warm bed when it rains. He is a bit of an embarrassment, living in the Black Cat household, but every being deserves another chance, I think.

My avatar is the very lovely Lady Sapphire, the polydactyl wonder. Her breeder just lost his house near Lake Elsinore in the Holy Fire. Cats gone, too. My Little Lady is one lucky lady.

Now were we talking about Chardonnay?
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Re: The Best California Chardonnay That You've Had In The Last 5 Years?

#122 Post by Bill S. » August 16th, 2018, 4:35 pm

Hudson Napa Valley, Carneros 2015 at $80ish (reminded me of a Montrachet)

Jaclynn Renee Petaluma Gap Sangiacomo Vineyard 2017 at $50ish (well balanced and smooth)

just my 2 pennies worth

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Re: The Best California Chardonnay That You've Had In The Last 5 Years?

#123 Post by T. Altmayer » August 16th, 2018, 4:45 pm

Had a 2009 Marcassin Vineyard and it was excellent. Pricey, but excellent.
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Re: The Best California Chardonnay That You've Had In The Last 5 Years?

#124 Post by brigcampbell » September 8th, 2019, 10:21 am

Jud Reis wrote:
August 2nd, 2018, 5:32 pm
2007 Arcadian Sleepy Hollow from a mag about two months ago. Just gorgeous.
French opened a mag of this yesterday. It looked like it was in trouble, deep gold.

Awesome acid.

I took the remains home... Thanks Todd. LOL

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Re: The Best California Chardonnay That You've Had In The Last 5 Years?

#125 Post by Howard Cooper » September 8th, 2019, 10:26 am

Leonard Maran wrote:
August 5th, 2018, 6:40 pm
"I would argue that Napa is simply too warm to grow great Chardonnay, at least once you're north of Yountville. But there are plenty of vineyards farther west in Sonoma county, particularly western and true Sonoma Coast, that are well positioned to produce beautiful wines. I might rank the Ridge up there, if they used a bit less oak, but I think the Rhys terroir is even better for Chardonnay (being one ridge to the west, with it's accompanying coolness relative to Ridge."

There will always be an exception and Stony Hill is one.
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Re: The Best California Chardonnay That You've Had In The Last 5 Years?

#126 Post by Mike S. » September 8th, 2019, 12:20 pm

2010 Ramey Hyde
2014 Kutch sc
Michael Silverman

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Re: The Best California Chardonnay That You've Had In The Last 5 Years?

#127 Post by Anton D » September 8th, 2019, 12:23 pm

In the past 5 years...wineries that have wowed me with their Chardonnay...

Aubert

Peter Michael

Hyde Winery

Renteria/Tres Perlas Brown Ranch

Robert Young Winery (and Chateau St. Jean's Robert Young Chardonnay.)

Lynmar

Specifically, Alpha Omega's Reserve Chardonnay.

(For 30-ish dollars, the Ferrari Carano Reserve is shockingly good. *Not tasted in the past few years, so...disclaimer.)
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Re: The Best California Chardonnay That You've Had In The Last 5 Years?

#128 Post by William Kelley » September 8th, 2019, 1:12 pm

I tend to get most excited about older wines these days, as my day job has me over-exposed to current releases, so my vote would go to:

1995 Kalin Cellars CH
1995 Kalin Cellars LV
1980 Chalone Reserve
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Re: The Best California Chardonnay That You've Had In The Last 5 Years?

#129 Post by dcornutt » September 8th, 2019, 1:22 pm

RyanC wrote:
August 2nd, 2018, 5:14 pm
2014 Kutch SCM. It really is that good.
That was a really good one. Several of the Alpines and Horseshoes from Rhys are in there too.
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#130 Post by Gus Siokis » September 8th, 2019, 1:52 pm

Littorai and Chasseur
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Re: The Best California Chardonnay That You've Had In The Last 5 Years?

#131 Post by Eric S n y d e r » September 8th, 2019, 7:35 pm

2016 Whitcraft Presqu’ile Vineyard. Primo

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Re: The Best California Chardonnay That You've Had In The Last 5 Years?

#132 Post by Bill Sweeney » September 10th, 2019, 4:37 am

Merrill Lindquist wrote:
August 16th, 2018, 12:00 pm
Dan Kravitz wrote:
August 8th, 2018, 5:36 pm
I feel a little remiss in not having mentioned Rhys. I posted recently on the 2012 Horseshoe Chardonnay, a very great wine and certainly in the league with Mount Eden and Ridge Monte Bello. I have one bottle of 2004 Alpine. My last bottle, about five years ago, was also great, totally different from the Horseshoe, which is more wiry and mineral vs the Alpine being quite lush by Santa Cruz Mountain standards. In listing mostly Santa Cruz Mountain Chardonnays as my greatest California Chardonnays, I can't help but notice that the greatest wines seem to sell for ~$50 - 80, which makes them values in today's markets. Mount Eden, Ridge and Rhys constitute IMO unbeatable triumvirate of very great Chardonnay producers and values... not just in California, but anywhere on this planet. Can anybody come up with three producers in Puligny, Chassagne and Meursault who can compete for quality and value?

To Merrill Lindquist and Bill Sweeney: Have you noticed the similarities between your critters, and ever considered a swap, or at least a lend-lease program?

Dan Kravitz
Ha! No! My Sir Peter Benjamin recently found himself on the other side of a raccoon. Not pretty. My deck was covered with yellow fur and Petey had cuts on his ears. Petey is the rescue who found me...and a life-time of tuna and crunchies and a warm bed when it rains. He is a bit of an embarrassment, living in the Black Cat household, but every being deserves another chance, I think.

My avatar is the very lovely Lady Sapphire, the polydactyl wonder. Her breeder just lost his house near Lake Elsinore in the Holy Fire. Cats gone, too. My Little Lady is one lucky lady.

Now were we talking about Chardonnay?
Mine was a mother raccoon who was so lazy that she straddled the railing where bird seed was spread, slowly pulling herself along while scooping the bird seed into her mouth. Didn’t occur to me to ask if she wanted some chard to go with the seed.

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Re: The Best California Chardonnay That You've Had In The Last 5 Years?

#133 Post by K John Joseph » September 10th, 2019, 8:15 am

2008 Mount Eden SCM Estate.
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Re: The Best California Chardonnay That You've Had In The Last 5 Years?

#134 Post by Scott E. » September 10th, 2019, 8:41 am

Sc0tt F!tzger@ld wrote:
August 7th, 2018, 7:58 pm
Aubert, Rhys, Ceritas, and Mount Eden.
Not saying that you can't appreciate and enjoy all styles of Chardonnay, but I find Rhys and Ceritas to be made in a much more restrained style than Aubert or Mount Eden. The Aubert and Mount Eden would fit into the "Best" category for me. Cheers!
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Re: The Best California Chardonnay That You've Had In The Last 5 Years?

#135 Post by Mark Golodetz » September 10th, 2019, 9:03 am

I haven’t tasted enough Chardonnay to form a definitive opinion, but I agree with young Kravitz, I do like Santa Cruz wines every time I taste them. And they can age; I have mentioned before the exquisite and timeless Ridge Monte Bello Chardonnays from 1973 and 1974, but I have also loved the wines of Mount Eden and Ceritas, and the Rhys wines from the Santa Cruz vineyards.
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Re: The Best California Chardonnay That You've Had In The Last 5 Years?

#136 Post by K John Joseph » September 10th, 2019, 9:04 am

Scott E. wrote:
September 10th, 2019, 8:41 am
Sc0tt F!tzger@ld wrote:
August 7th, 2018, 7:58 pm
Aubert, Rhys, Ceritas, and Mount Eden.
Not saying that you can't appreciate and enjoy all styles of Chardonnay, but I find Rhys and Ceritas to be made in a much more restrained style than Aubert or Mount Eden. The Aubert and Mount Eden would fit into the "Best" category for me. Cheers!
See this is fun because I agree with your general premises...that being that not all of the wines on Scott's list are similar...but would have gone Rhys, Ceritas, Mt. Eden are restrained while Aubert is absolutely massive.

Mt. Eden is like 13.5% abv while Aubert is like 15.2% abv most of the time. I've got those two in totally different categories.
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Re: The Best California Chardonnay That You've Had In The Last 5 Years?

#137 Post by David Schliecker » September 10th, 2019, 12:02 pm

Mike S. wrote:
September 8th, 2019, 12:20 pm
2014 Kutch sc
This.

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Re: The Best California Chardonnay That You've Had In The Last 5 Years?

#138 Post by Glenn P » September 10th, 2019, 1:05 pm

Ken, you stated it perfectly!

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Re: The Best California Chardonnay That You've Had In The Last 5 Years?

#139 Post by Joe S. » September 10th, 2019, 8:46 pm

Sc0tt F!tzger@ld wrote:
August 7th, 2018, 7:58 pm
Aubert, Rhys, Ceritas, and Mount Eden.
^ This. (except I also agree with another that the Aubert is a bit more (maybe to much) "exuberant". )
I will also throw in Littorai and Liquid Farm as some of my favs.
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Re: The Best California Chardonnay That You've Had In The Last 5 Years?

#140 Post by Bryan Price » September 10th, 2019, 9:30 pm

I think it was a 2010 or 2012 Rhys Alpine vineyard that my father "accidentally" gave to me.
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Re: The Best California Chardonnay That You've Had In The Last 5 Years?

#141 Post by Gabe Berk » September 11th, 2019, 1:10 pm

Bryan M wrote:
August 7th, 2018, 7:49 pm
2012 Kongsgaard The Judge.. Consumed about a year ago without notes.. This was next level (or two) as all the Judge wines are to me-

Disclaimer- I am a year in year out big fan of Kongsgaard Chard. They are rich and might not be for every day drinking but the wines are in a small group of wines that always excite me when I think of pulling the cork-
+1 on the 2012 Kongsgaard Judge Chardonnay. Definitely new world, but great acid, fruit, mouthfeel and a finish that seemed to linger forever.

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Re: The Best California Chardonnay That You've Had In The Last 5 Years?

#142 Post by A Rosen » September 11th, 2019, 1:25 pm

Marcassin
Aubert
Morlet
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T. Melloni
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Re: The Best California Chardonnay That You've Had In The Last 5 Years?

#143 Post by T. Melloni » September 11th, 2019, 1:57 pm

In the past year since this thread started, I add:

2016 Ceritas Chardonnay Porter-Bass Vineyard
2016 Ceritas Chardonnay Porter-Bass Vineyard
2010 Littorai Chardonnay Thieriot Vineyard
2014 Rhys Chardonnay Horseshoe Vineyard
2016 Kutch Chardonnay Sonoma Coast.

I generally drink limited amounts of Chardonnay. But when I do, the ones I enjoy most are Ceritas, Kutch and Rhys.
Limit of 32 characters; I am #33

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Jay Miller
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Re: The Best California Chardonnay That You've Had In The Last 5 Years?

#144 Post by Jay Miller » September 11th, 2019, 1:58 pm

2010 Rhys Alpine for the last year. I don't trust my memory for 5 years.
Ripe fruit isn't necessarily a flaw.

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Sebastian C.
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Re: The Best California Chardonnay That You've Had In The Last 5 Years?

#145 Post by Sebastian C. » September 11th, 2019, 2:02 pm

Jay Miller wrote:
September 11th, 2019, 1:58 pm
2010 Rhys Alpine for the last year. I don't trust my memory for 5 years.
Same. 2010 Alpine was wotn in a recent Rhys tasting I was part of.
C0rr3@

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Steve L Gellman
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Re: The Best California Chardonnay That You've Had In The Last 5 Years?

#146 Post by Steve L Gellman » September 11th, 2019, 2:07 pm

Aubert Eastside or Ferren

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John Glas
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Re: The Best California Chardonnay That You've Had In The Last 5 Years?

#147 Post by John Glas » September 11th, 2019, 2:16 pm

2013 Leeuwin Estate Chardonnay Art Series - Australia, Western Australia, South West Australia, Margaret River (7/6/2019)
Mixed Bag at Kevin's (Minneapolis, MN): Another great showing in as many weeks. Fresh wine with apples, spice, subtle oak, floral and pear. Complex wine and medium to long finish. I have yet to have a bad Leeuwin Chardonnay (94 points)

2014 Evening Land Vineyards Chardonnay La Source Seven Springs Vineyard - USA, Oregon, Willamette Valley, Eola - Amity Hills (6/29/2019)
Chardonnay Wines at Jason's: Wow is this good! Best Chardonnay of the night. Spice, floral, wood, lemon and super complex. Rich Wine and long finish. This should drink well over the next five years. Thanks Ray! (94 points)

2012 Vincent Dauvissat (René & Vincent) Chablis 1er Cru La Forest - France, Burgundy, Chablis, Chablis 1er Cru (7/15/2018)
Wonderful wine! Shells, perfume, lemon and minerals. Very complex wine and medium to long finish. Would love to try a larger pour of this at a smaller tasting. (94 points)

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Re: The Best California Chardonnay That You've Had In The Last 5 Years?

#148 Post by Jeff Rosenberg » September 11th, 2019, 3:40 pm

If not oak averse, I highly recommend Smith Madrone.

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Re: The Best California Chardonnay That You've Had In The Last 5 Years?

#149 Post by Jay Opperman » September 11th, 2019, 4:58 pm

Marcassin Lorenzo 1996.
Kongsgaard Judge 2003.
Ghost Horse Chardonnay 2014.

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Steve L Gellman
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Re: The Best California Chardonnay That You've Had In The Last 5 Years?

#150 Post by Steve L Gellman » September 11th, 2019, 5:32 pm

Steve L Gellman wrote:
September 11th, 2019, 2:07 pm
Aubert Eastside or Ferren
Forgot to add Marcassin!

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