TN: 2014 Varner Chardonnay Spring Ridge Vineyard Bee Block

2014 Varner Chardonnay Spring Ridge Vineyard Bee Block - USA, California, San Francisco Bay, Santa Cruz Mountains (3/20/2017)
Wine comes alive in complexity closer to 55 degrees than overly chilled.

Smells of unsweetened baked apples, pie crust, almonds, white pepper, slightly white flowers, and strong minerals.

Palate: wine fills out and grows with air. No detectable levels of oak. Very nutty. Closer to a white burgundy in flavor profile than a fruity, malo, oaked style. Very well balanced with slight bits of tropical fruit, with a well structured mid-palate. Medium to long finish. Not for the acid-heads but enough acid to keep all the other flavors in check and keep it fresh.

Delicious and complex. Reminds me a lot of the LdH Vina Gravonia if it were made in Burgundy by an American. Needs at least 5+ years to come together and develop even more complexity. (92 pts.)

Posted from CellarTracker

Thanks for the post. I’m drinking through my 2011’s right now. Your notes are close to what I would post for the 2011, but comparing to earlier vintages, I’m finding the 2011’s to be more subdued IMHO. I recall the 2009’s and 2010’s to be more intense and even showing some tropical fruit. I haven’t tried anything younger yet, but I wonder if there was style change with the 2011’s or if it is just a vintage thing? Will there be any more Varner’s from Spring Ridge, or is 2014 the last year?

Big Fan !

This year was the last vintage for this vineyard and Varner.

I like the wine a lot, but I don’t know that I quite agree that it is closer to White Burgundy than traditional West Coast Chardonnay.

I am actually not familiar with the older vintages unfortunately, but found the 2014 delicious. Unfortunately, it will apparently be the last vintage. According to the reports the Varners and the Neelys are no longer using the Spring Ridge Vineyard together.

Maybe I should have qualified that statement by saying that I haven’t not had that many white burgundies yet. The few i’ve had that were not complete Chablis-like were similar in style for me. Also, similar to CdP Blanc for me too.

Gotcha, Jerome.

It just about splits the difference for me. I would definitely use it as a gateway for a fan of White Burgundy to try the Cali-style. Ramey is the same for me.

The Spring Ridge wines were a labor of love for Bob Varner. He made these at the Neely place, while their profitable wines are made at their own place. Don’t know what happened, but Bob decided to end the business relationship with the Neelys when the '14s were in barrel. He brought the barrels to the Roar winery in SF to be finished, and gave them instructions and came by for some decisions. The wine was divided between the two labels, as usual.

In '15, with guidance from Bob, the Roar crew made the wines, with Scott Shapley (Roar/Halcon/Flywheel) taking the lead on the Chards and Shalini Sekhar (Waits-Mast & 2015 SF Chronicle Winemaker of the Year for Furthermore) doing the Pinots. I helped bottle these, and tasted some of them on their respective bottling days. Don’t expect any big style change. The '15 Bee Block and Holly’s Cuvee (which is something like 60% Bee Block) are outstanding. The Neelys hired Shalini as their winemaker beginning with the '16 vintage. I tasted through some barrels last week.

Thanks for the insight! The 14 bee block has now made me a fan, so it’s good to hear that what I am tasting is something I will be able to count on.

If you have a chance at some of the other 14 Spring Ridge Block wines, Jerome, grab them. They’re all quite fine and different enough (to me, anyway) that I like having a small assortment.

I think the store near me still has some of the home block