Best New Zealand: 2017 Dog Point Chardonnay
Courtesy of Wine.com
Dog Point is known not just for employing organic growing practices, but also for being one of New Zealands most lionized winemakers. New Zealand as a whole gets oceanic climates with plenty of cool fog and marine layer, but the Marlborough region at the northern tip of the South Island is one of the nations rare dry and warm spots, making it a popular place for winemaking. Its just one of the factors that make Dog Point a top-dog chardonnay.
The faint oakiness in this wine makes room for other notes to shine, like vanilla, lemon, grapefruit, apple and peach. Minerals abound, painted with a nutty cashew brush. This is bold and dry with a citrus burst on the finish.
Chamisal Vineyards Sta Rita Hills Chardonnay 2018
This Chardonnay is all about texture, with creamy, buttery aromas previewing the experience that awaits in glass. Each soft and velvety sip arrives with mild acidity, amplifying subtle mineral notes that reign in its weighty viscosity. Enjoy with a rich risotto or classic roast chicken dinner. Average price: $38. Rating 89.
More Facts About Napa Valley Chardonnay
The region has a dry, Mediterranean climate which makes it perfect for growing grapes. In addition to that, you will find several microclimates that change how the grapes ripen on the vines. In the summer, the southern end can be as much as 10 to 15 degrees cooler than the northern end of the valley which changes can change the flavor profile for this white wine.
Climate and temperatures create a variety of Napa Valley Chardonnay wines. The cooler regions on the southern end will have wines with more apple and pear flavors. In the warmer regions, you will find more hints of pineapple and papaya.
You will also find wineries in all climates that either age them in oak or stainless steel tanks. I’m sure you are starting to see why there are so many different wines with unique flavor profiles.
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Zuccardi Valle De Uco Fosil Chardonnay 2020
Grown at close to 1,500 meters above sea level in Argentinas Uco Valley, this bright, grippy wine showcases both elevation and the complex composition of the soil in which the grapevines are planted. Minerality is a constant theme throughout and is afforded prominence in the wine by muted stone fruit notes that let rocks and texture do all the talking. Its a little pricey but wine lovers and soil nerds will devour this one. Average price: $65. Rating: 90.
The Ai Executive Whos Just Getting Started
Juan Pablo Torres Padilla
40 acres in Napa Valley
Winery: Sullivan Rutherford Estate
By the time Juan Pablo Torres Padilla purchased a winery out of bankruptcy in 2018, hed been on the hunt for a Napa estate for 12 years. He wanted to buy something that had some history attached to it, he said: I dont believe in building something overnight, he told The Chronicle in 2021. That led him to Sullivan Rutherford Estate, which had been producing wine since the 1970s in one of the valleys most sought-after neighborhoods but had never built a national reputation leaving some value that Torres Padilla figured he could still add. Hes since purchased the Criscione Vineyard, another property thats under the general publics radar but is well known to industry insiders. Torres Padilla, the former CEO of an artificial-intelligence company and current CEO of a capital management group, is amassing his holdings slowly and methodically. Dont expect to see big, dramatic acquisitions from him going forward. Count instead on seeing him seize on properties that have been overlooked and undervalued.
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Quilt & Co Tasting Room
807 Main Street, Napa, CA 94559, 777-8198
Located in the heart of downtown Napa, this new tasting room concept is the passion project of fifth-generation winemaker and Napa Valley native Joseph Wagner. Visitors can taste through Josephs full portfolio of wines under one roof, exploring the diverse expressions of the chardonnay grape. A flight of Belle Glos, Napa Valley Quilt, Böen, Elouan, and others all on offer here will highlight the distinct acidity, aromas, oak influence, and flavor profiles of a wide range of chardonnay styles. Experiences include curated wine flights, sharable charcuterie boards, and food and wine pairings in collaboration with Quilt & Co.s sister restaurant next door, Avow.
Insider Tip: Cant make it to the tasting room? Book a guided virtual tasting experience with one of Quilt & Co.s knowledgeable staff members, complimentary with the purchase of six bottles.
Courtesy of Oasis by Hoopes
Mayacamas Vineyards & Winery
1155 Lokoya Road, Napa, CA 94558, 224-4030
This historic property dates back to 1889, when it was built into the side of a dormant volcano crater in the shadow of Mount Veeder. Known for their incredible consistency through generations of ownership, as well their reflection of classic winemaking traditions, Mayacamas wines are widely recognized for their outstanding quality. Their chardonnay is no exception, regularly heralded as one of the greatest examples of American chardonnay, and celebrated for its remarkable ageability.
Insider Tip: Visits to this iconic winery are reservation-only. Guests can book a tasting in advance at either the Mayacamas Downtown Tasting Room or the Vineyards Estate through the winerys online reservation system.
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Chteau Ste Michelle Canoe Ridge Estate Chardonnay 2018
A juggernaut of American winemaking, its somewhat fitting that this Château Ste. Michelle wine encapsulates the type of Chardonnay thats associated with this nation. At 14.5 percent ABV, and with 96 percent of the wine encountering some form of oak, its an undoubtedly heady white. But the rich influence of oak, and the creamy texture provided by malolactic fermentation, are tempered by pronounced Meyer lemon notes. Each sip finishes with harmony and balance. Average price: $30. Rating: 88.
Oasis By Hoopes Hoopes Vineyard
6204 Washington Street, Napa, CA 94558, 944-1869
Led by second-generation proprietor Lindsay Hoopes, who learned about farming and cultivated a deep respect for Napa Valley terroir through her father Spencer, Oasis by Hoopes is a welcoming retreat from everyday life. More than just a winery, this regenerative farm and animal sanctuary is a family- and pet-friendly destination for wine fans young and old to immerse themselves in California wine culture. Here, guests can sip multiple vintages of Hoopes Gennys Vineyard Carneros Chardonnay, which blends an old-world approach to production and farming, with a respectful nod to Napa terroir.
Insider Tip: For a total Wine Country getaway, book a stay at the Hoopes Farmhouse, a picturesque 1890s farmhouse that sleeps up to eight, featuring a full kitchen, pool, and wraparound porch overlooking the fruit orchard and vineyards.
Courtesy of Mayacamas Vineyards & Winery
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The Salon At Heitz Cellar
The small Heitz tasting lodge on Highway 29 leading into St. Helena, on the property Joe and Alice Heitz originally purchased in 1961, feels like a fixture here, its old-seeming stones conjuring the history of the valleys ghost wineries. In reality, these stone walls go back only some 20 years, but this year, they have been reimagined by renowned architect Peter Fleming into spacesinside and outthat add an all-new dimension of luxury and hospitality to an afternoon of discovering the iconic single-vineyard Cabernet Sauvignons that Joe Heitz pioneered in Napa .
Chateau Montelena Napa Valley Chardonnay 2019
From the producer that put Cali Chardonnay on the map, following success in the 1976 Judgment of Paris tasting, this is an exceptional bottle. Oak influence is finely woven into vibrant peach and honeysuckle aromas. An incredible depth of fruit on the palate is seasoned by chalky mineral notes and zingy acidity. This bottle is a must-buy. Average price: $59. Rating: 97.
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Crafting Wines Of Distinction
Stonestreet was founded by Jess Stonestreet Jackson and Barbara Banke in 1995 to focus on high elevation Cabernet Sauvignon, Sauvignon Blanc and Chardonnay from the Mayacamas Mountain Range above Alexander Valley.
The Alexander Mountain Estate is indeed extreme. Up to 2,800 feet in elevation and stretched across 5,100 acres, it is now run by Jackson and Bankes son, Christopher, and his wife, Ariel.
Chardonnay has always been my number one love because of how stimulating it is from a winegrowing perspective, says Weerts. There are grapes that talk about themselves and others that talk about soil. Chardonnay talks about soil and that makes it a conduit for understanding terroir.
After working a harvest at Vérité Winery in Sonoma County, cofounded by Jackson with Pierre Seillan, he became the winemaker at Stonestreet in 2004. Weerts also serves as senior vice president of vineyard operations for Jackson Family Wines.
There are grapes that talk about themselves and others that talk about soil. Chardonnay talks about soil and that makes it a conduit for understanding terroir. Graham Weerts, Stonestreet Estate Vineyards and Winery
The wines seamlessly combine power and elegance, with balanced acidity and weight, and structure that suggests plenty of time for aging.
Hirsch Vineyards Hirsch Estate Chardonnay 2020
Simply put, this is one of the finest American Chardonnays available right now. Produced from 100 percent estate fruit, native yeasts propel fermentation, while the majority of aging takes place in French and Austrian oak. Savory dried herbs and green leaf notes build layers of complexity upon its tart fruit and floral core. The wines texture is round, its alcohol content does not register, and the finish doesnt linger but instead sets up camp for the long haul. What a fine Chardonnay this is. Average price: $65. Rating: 96.
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Well Make The Wine You Make The Occasion
Its our namesake. And for good reason. This estate-bottled Napa Valley Chardonnay is rooted in four decades worth of perfected traditions across our Coombsville vineyards nestled against the Vaca Mountains east of the city of Napa. The temperate climate and volcanic ash soils create the ideal environment for producing the subtle, tropical flavors and complex aromas that are Far Niente Chardonnay. Made with an absence of malolactic fermentation, which retains the grape’s natural acidity, this iconic Napa Valley wine neverfails to captivate with its beautiful structure, well-developed fruit, and potential for aging. The arrival of each new vintage brings stunning new wines.
Black Stallion Estate Winery Heritage Napa Valley Chardonnay 2020
Talk about a steal: This is a barrel-fermented, Napa Valley Chard that comes in at less than $25. Aged for up to seven months in oak, the wine received twice-monthly stirring on lees to enhance its creamy texture. That richness is offset by tropical fruit and flinty aromas, as well as lively acidity. This wine is an exhibition in balance and restraint. Average price: $24. Rating: 89.
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Rodney Strong Chalk Hill 2019
In 1965, Rodney Strong introduced the first plantings of Chardonnay to the area that would eventually become the Chalk Hill AVA. The producers familiarity with variety and region are clear to appreciate in this rich, oaky, and balanced white. Consider this bottle a dependable, well-priced pick that you can easily find in stores. Average price: $16. Rating: 88.
Balletto Vineyards Twin Ridges Vineyard Chardonnay 2019
A shining example of responsible oak use, this Chardonnay treads a delicate path between bright fruit notes and subtle richness. White flowers combine with a sprinkling of vanilla on the nose, while the palate serves racy acidity and well rounded texture around a stone fruit core. This release is a wine club exclusive, but Balletto consistently produces excellent wines, so signing up might not be such a bad idea. Average price: $39. Rating: 92.
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Shannon Ridge High Elevation Chardonnay 2020
From Lake County, Calif., this is an austere, fruity Chardonnay. Pear springs out on the nose, followed by muted mineral notes. The palate is soft and dry, and once again gives center stage to orchard fruit. Stick this refreshing wine in the cooler for your next picnic. Average price: $23. Rating: 88.
Evening Lands Seven Springs Chardonnay 2019
From Oregons Eola-Amity Hills AVA, tropical fruit and banana runt aromas spring from this Chardonnay with lovely elegance. Generous acidity on the palate makes the wine extremely refreshing and complements its broad texture. On the finish, expect notes of sherry and yeasty brioche. Average price: $35. Rating: 90.
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A Brief History Of The Chardonnay Grape
Chardonnay is the most planted white wine grapes in the world. The reason why is that its easy to grow in a wide variety of climates and soils. It’s also an easy wine for the winemakers to work with after it’s harvested. Last but not least, they can add their unique touches and create a wine that is quite a bit different from other Chardonnays.
You will find they range from light and fruity to full bodied and buttery. They have hints of fruit flavors such as apple, lemon, and pineapple. In the oaked versions, you will also taste hints of vanilla, butter, and coconut.
In addition to Napa Valley Chardonnay, you will also find it grown in top regions around the world. It’s the white you will see in France’s Chablis region, the main grape in White Burgundy, and in Champagne. You will also find it in several regions around the world in countries such as Australia, New Zealand, South Africa, Italy, Canada, and other regions in the US.
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Proof That A 40th Anniversary Can Be Golden
For 40 years, we have been producing Chardonnay of such extraordinary taste, character, and consistency, that youd be hard-pressed to choose a favorite among each sublime vintage. Perhaps thats a testament to our magnificent vineyards. Maybe it reflects the abundant expertise our winemakers bring to their labors. It simply could be the result of standards set astonishingly high for 40 years. Or, it might be all of the above.
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Best Australian: 2017 Vasse Felix Heytesbury Chardonnay
Courtesy of Wine.com
Between the regulating ocean breezes, the warming coastal current, and the oldest gravel loam soils in the world, Australias Margaret River region on the continents south-western tip has a confluence of ideal conditions for making excellent wine. The folks at Vasse Felix exploit this pristine landscape to their best advantage with their Heytesbury Chardonnay. The 2010 vintage won 11 wine show trophies and put their chardonnay on the map. This 2017 vintage is a delicious continuation of that tradition of excellence and acclaim.
Oaky and buttery, with notes of lemon, grapefruit, peach and honeydew, this bottle harbors both nutty and toasty elements with a crisp acidity. The fruit flavor is strong with this one and its immensely satisfying, boasting a hearty finish on the way down.
Best Art And Wine Integration
Courtesy of Facebook: Hall Wines
401 St. Helena Highway South, St. Helena, CA 94574, 967-2626
Yelp: 4 stars, 635 reviews Tasting price: Starting at $40
The moment you see the 35-foot-tall polished stainless steel Bunny Foo Foo by acclaimed artist Lawrence Argent, you know youre in for an aesthetic treat. Here, wine and art blend in perfect harmony, but to really take it all in, book the HALLmark Tour, which includes history of the property, a guided tour highlighting some of the artwork, and a seated tasting of four wines.
Insider tip: Napa Valley cabernet sauvignon fans will want to spring for the The Ultimate Cabernet experience, a premiere tasting of HALLs highly rated and allocated cabernet wines, accompanied by artisan cheeses and insights on the terroir and winemaking techniques.
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Seghesio Family Vineyards Chardonnay 2020
Like a delicious lemon tart, this Chardonnay invites with sweet, zesty, citrus aromas. The similarities between wine and desert continue on its creamy palate, where acidity retains freshness and its 14 percent alcohol content is seamlessly incorporated. This is a standout value pick. Average price: $22. Rating: 90.
Domaine Skouras Almyra Chardonnay 2020
Greece has gifted the world some exceptional native white varieties but this Chardonnay from Domaine Skouras deserves a slight detour from that path. Clean and focused, its fruit character spans citrus pith, pink grapefruit, and underripe white peaches. Those notes arrive concentrated on the palate, with a refreshing spray of citrus providing a zesty crescendo. Average price: $20. Rating: 90.
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Best Napa Valley Wineries
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At this 50-year old famiy-owned winery on Silverado Trail, the cabs are voluptuous, the merlots bold and the sauvignon blancs bright and crisp. In late 2018, Clos du Val opened the Hirondelle House, a stunning tasting space with floor-to-ceiling windows and a massive patio with comfortable seating that overlooks endless acres of vineyard. Tastings range from the $35 Social Circle, to a $65 seated tasting that comes with a cheese and charcuterie board.
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Founded by Swiss entrepreneur Donald Hess, this winery on the rugged slopes of Mount Veeder is best known for its Cabernet Sauvignon and Chardonnay, but its equally renowned for Hess museum-caliber collection of contemporary art, displayed on-site in a 13,000-square-foot gallery. The gallery focuses on living artists, including work from Franz Gertsch, Francis Bacon, Magdelena Abakanowicz, and Leopold Maler.
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Its all about the bubbly at Domaine Carneros. The building, inspired by the Tattinger familys 18th century home in Champagne, France, features a Instagram-worthy grand staircase, manicured gardens, multiple outdoor terraces, and a fireside salon with views overlooking the vineyards. And while sparkling wine is the estates main event, more recently it has expanded its Pinot Noir offerings. Dont miss the Le Rêve Blanc de Blancs, which you can pair with cheese or caviar for a seriously decadent flight.
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