TN: 1980 Heitz Cellars Chardonnay - WOW!!

My folks had a little birthday dinner for me at their house so naturally I wanted to bring a birth-year wine to share. My Mom mostly drinks whites so I grabbed this 1980 Heitz Chardonnay with somewhat low expectations. Wow. This wine was absolutely amazing! The cork was pristine and came out easily with my Durand (they always do), and poured a beautiful golden yellow color. You could tell we were in for a treat just by the nose which was full of apples and really leapt from the glass. In the mouth the wine was absolutely stunning. Apples and citrus with a distinct streak of minerality on the mid palate and a very long finish. It was so incredibly fresh and bright with zero mustiness or any of that ‘cidery’ note that can often times plague older/tired whites. Just a real treat to enjoy a delicious 38 year old bottle of Napa chardonnay with my fam on my birthday. Life is good!!

[media] Rich Brown on Instagram: "1980 Heitz Cellars Chardonnay, Napa Valley" [/media]

Great post!

Happy birthday! champagne.gif

By the way, I hate you for being young. [wink.gif]

Ha! Thanks Anton…although I’m definitely not that young anymore :wink:

Not surprised…a 68 Heitz “pinot chardonnay” a couple years ago was one of my wines of my life!

A recent buy, or have you cellared?

Happy Bday! [cheers.gif]

Thanks man!

I snagged 2 bottles at auction recently and got super lucky, as they were obviously stored really well!

And I would love to try that 68 pinot chard! This 80 chard is a strong candidate for my WOTY. Already looking forward to the second one!

Happy Birthday!

Have you tried any other bottles of this wine since 2001? And are you aware of differences in winemaking “way back” in the 1980s at Heitz? I just wonder at the longevity of the more modern Heitz. I know that in my hopeful opinion some of my Marcassin and Aubert bottles have a chance of lasting that long but only my kids will know. I could only find a wine rating of the 1980 Chardonnays from Chalone. Both the regular and reserve chards were rated 96 by Parker in 1993 with no tasting notes attached.

Thanks Dennis!

Unfortunately my other experiences with Heitz chardonnay is pretty limited. I tried a recent vintage a few months back that I bought at Costco (2015 maybe) and it was nice, in a fairly restrained style with bright fruit…but I’m not sure about it aging as well as this 1980 did. I’m sure others here have way more experience/insight into this so hopefully someone will weigh in.

If you ever come across any of their Trailside Cabernet from the 80s or early 90s they were quite good, and a fraction of Martha’s $.

Nice work, Rich! My only experience with 1980 Cali chard was Chalone, a few years back, and it was one of the best whites I’ve ever tasted. I remember thinking it was ageing more like a riesling than a typical chard. Great acid.

YES!! Amazing acid for sure! Just so fresh and pure even at 38 years.

I also grabbed a 1980 Chappelet chard and two Montelena chards. Hoping for a Heitz-like experience from those as well.

Happy belated birthday, Rich. Great to hear another '80 vintage wine is alive and well. '80 is also my birth vintage and I always ignored them until last month:

I’ve always thought that it being an off vintage that I shouldn’t bother. I’m glad to see that your wine was worth the gamble.


  1. Best year ever!! :wink:

Love that note - awesome it showed so well for you! Fyi, I have had really good luck with random bottles of CA cab from mid-range producers. With it not being considered a great vintage, I’ve scored them for really cheap and they usually over-perform. Of course some are totally DOA…but those are the breaks when you’re buying older wines at auction anyway.