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Wine selections.

The Beverage Dynamics National Retailer Wine Panel recommends a lineup of top quality/value chardonnays.

FOR THIS ISSUE, we asked members of the Beverage Dynamics National Retailer Wine Panel to recommend some of their favorite chardonnays. As always, these selections include brief tasting notes, a rating and the wine's retail price (which varies from store to store and market to market). If you're a retail beverage professional who would like to learn about participating in our panel, call Richard Brandes at 212-353-3832, or email him at


***** (97) Scott Family Estate Arroyo Secco Chardonnay 2012 (California). All estate grown fruit from Arroyo Secco area in the Monterey AVA; intense, rich, concentrated viscous fruit; Dijon clones offer fresh notes of vanilla, pear and orange zest; butterscotch flavors at the finish after waves of tropical fruit; great long lingering finish; over-delivers for the money. ($36)

***** (97) Frank Family Vineyards Char-donnay 2012 (California). Classic new-world style; fruit forward, rich creaminess, long finish; very balanced; Cameros fruit over-delivers; floral notes of honeysuckle and fresh bread dough; tropical fruit flavors dominate. ($48)

***** (95) Alexander Valley Vineyards Sonoma Chardonnay 2012 (California). Estate grown, night harvested; interesting approach to blending stainless steel with no malolactic fruit with whole cluster fruit, aged in French oak with malolactic fermentation; rich mouth feel, very balanced, good acidity; toasted oak, rich butterscotch and tropical fruit flavors blend harmoniously. ($40)

***** (94) Robert Mondavi Carneros Napa Valley Chardonnay Reserve 2011 (California). A rich, yellow gold in the glass, showing its weight and viscosity; the nose is full of ripe tree fruits, with hints of toast and oak; rich and full, with balancing acidity, and a long, lingering finish; very classy and fine. ($60)

***** (94) Shafer Red Shoulder Ranch Napa Valley Carneros Chardonnay 2009 (California). Serious, classically styled chardonnay; rich apple, pear, and pineapple fruit with barely any RS; lees-focused creaminess, smooth tannins and acidity in perfect balance. ($55)

***** (94) Girard Russian River Char-donnay 2011 (California). Delicious char-donnay from Russian River: fresh fruit on the nose with a beautiful vanilla undertone; light to medium in body: will pair well with all light to grilled foods. ($25)

***** (94) Domaine Renaud Macon Village Burgundy 2012 (France). Classic Old-world style chardonnay; very clean and crisp with rich minerality; lighter in style and very user- and food-friendly; perfect first white burgundy for the consumer. ($28)

***** (94) Montes Alpha Casablanca Valley Chardonnay 2012 (Chile). A bright gold, with the faintest hints of green, in the glass; tropical fruit notes dominate the nose, with a trace of oak; the mouthf eel is luxurious, with flavors that echo the nose: the finish is long, and lingering. ($23)

***** (93) Chateau Ste. Michelle Canoe Ridge Estate Horse Heaven Hills Chardonnay 2012 (Washington State). A medium yellow/ gold in the glass, with great brightness; the nose is more dominated by tree fruit then any other component, with a nice touch of spice and oak; the palate is bright, clean, and fresh, with good weight; the finish maintains this balance for a long time. ($30)

***** (93) Pride Chardonnay 2011 (California). Lemon, crushed rocks, spices and white flowers all come to life in the glass: partially done in steel(15%) and the malo was not fully completed; two choices that show Pride moving towards a fresher, more vibrant style of chardonnay; superb. ($43)

***** (93) Whitehall Lane Carneros Chardonnay 2011 (California). Full-bodied and concentrated with a juicy core of apple, pear, zesty lemon and pineapple flavors that are intense and focused; excellent depth, finishing with a long, persistent aftertaste. (S30)

***** (93) Olivier Morin Constance Chitry Bourgogne Blanc 2011 (France). Chitry is west of Chablis and has the same Kimmeridgian soil; the classic minerality displayed in good Chablis shows here along with aromas and flavors of under-ripe apple, pear and citrus; excellent Bourgogne Blanc to pair with shellfish. ($20)

***** (93) Round Hill Chardonnay 2012 (California). Light to medium bodied, but surprisingly rich; minimal oak, citrus hints, with touches of vanilla, spice and butterscotch; perfect as a first chard for the beginner, but will surprise your friends in a blind tasting. ($15)

***** (93) Moniker Mendocino Chardon-nay 2012 (California). The Russian River actually starts up in Mendocino; the primary source for this wine is the La Ribera vineyard, family owned on the banks of the river; viognier from Hopland, and a different lot of chardonnay are blended in and barrel fermented; great minerality, with pear and apple flavors; rich and creamy. ($22)

***** (93) Logan Chardonnay 2012 (California). From Talbott's Sleepy Hollow Vineyard, Logan delivers a food-friendly chardonnay with ripe peach, pear and hints of French Oak; subtle complexity develops with each tasty sip; try with lobster. ($19)

***** (93) Casa Lapostolle Grand Selection Casablanca Valley Chardonnay 2011 (Chile). A rich, buttery texture with hints of honey, apricot, peach, and citrus; a nuance of toasty oak rounds out the wine on the finish; stylistic and flavorful. ($14)

***** (92) Heitz Cellars Chardonnay 2012 (California). Lots of citrus and melon with balanced acidity and a whisper of oak. ($21)

***** (92) Stasis Murmur Vineyard Chardonnay 2011 (California). Stunning char-donnay from California's Santa Maria Valley; tiny production; great richness and complexity; nicely balanced. ($40)

***** (92) Mer Soleil Reserve Santa Lucia Highlands Chardonnay 2011 (California). Citrus aroma; citrus flavors with lemon predominating; hints of vanilla and honey; long finish. ($29)

***** (92) Qupe Y Block Santa Maria Valley Chardonnay 2012 (California). Great balance and bright acidity; crisp apple and Asian pear flavors with a lovely savory, buttered toast finish. ($23)

***** (92) Fontanelle Castello Banfi Char-donnay 2012 (Italy). Pale yellow in the glass, with straw hints; the nose is a balance of fresh fruit, tree and tropical, with notes of sweet oak; the palate is a reflection of the nose, with wonderful bright fruit, and good texture; the finish is quite long, with elegance and pedigree. ($20)

***** (92) Cloisonne Napa Valley Char-donnay 2012 (California). Tropical aromas jump from the glass; apple and citrus flavors lead to a near perfect finish with hints of oak; superb value. ($20)

***** (92) Domaine Roux Pere & Fils Pouilly-Fuiss6 2012 (France). A lighter, bright gold, in the glass; the nose is quite fresh, with notes of tree fruit, and hints of nuts and floral components; the palate is fresh, clean, and lively; very well integrated and balanced, this is a wine that is immediately satisfying, and can easily age for the mid-term. ($36)


**** (91) Stuhlmuller Vineyards Estate Alexander Valley Chardonnay 2011 (California). Fresh, vibrant citrus aromas with a little pear and pineapple; sophisticated mouthfeel, boasting pear, citrus and lemon custard with hints of almond and clove; fabulous acidity adds to the elegant, fresh finish. ($26)

**** (91) Kistler Les Noisetiers Sonoma

***** (93) Cecchetti Wine Company Line 39 Central Coast Chardonnay 2012 (California). An excellent example of its AVA; lush tropical fruit balanced with a nuance of oak; lively sweet/tart acidity makes it a refreshing style that will complement most any light cuisine; easy to enjoy and a great value. ($12)

Coast Chardonnay 2011 (California). Full bodied; supported by a baked citrus acidity; ripe pear fruit, a bit of sea salt minerality, a delicate creamy undertone with a long complex finish. ($60)

**** (91) Columbia Winery Chardonnay 2012 (Washington State). Medium yellow-gold to the eye, with good weight; the nose is a heady mix of tree and tropical fruits, with a touch of yeastiness; the fruit and yeast are well integrated, in flavor and texture; the finish extends for quite some time, balanced and supple; good value. ($14).

**** (91) Catalpa Tupungato Chardonnay 2012 (Argentina). Golden color with aromas of pineapple, apple and tasty oak; well balanced with mineral notes and a lingering finish. ($20)

**** (91) Bearboat Chardonnay 2011 (California). Hints of toast, creamy smooth with a fruity sweetness on the finish; good with chicken and a tarragon cream sauce. ($16)

**** (91) Antica Napa Valley Chardonnay 2011 (California). This chardonnay has richness, yet remains elegant and delicate; generous flavors of pear, melon and nectarine that are focused and linger on the palate; the finish is complex, adding to the wine's persistence and freshness. ($36)

**** (91) Butternut Chardonnay 2011 (California). A luscious chardonnay with big flavors of butter, caramel and a hint of granny smith apple, topped off with a hint of smokiness; for serious chardonnay fans. ($18)

**** (91) Rutherford Ranch Napa Char-donnay 2012 (California). Classic Napa char-donnay sourced from four distinct sub AVA's in the valley; primarily done in stainless steel for fermentation, they add just a hint of oak aging to the mix; rich mouth feel with bright acidity; Apricots, pear and vanilla dominate the nose with rich flavors of pears, melon, and white peaches. ($25)

**** (91) Rock View Reserve Mendocino Chardonnay 2012 (California). Rich with depth in flavor and creamy roundness on the palate; pretty layered notes of honey, fig, vanilla and hazelnut; great long finish lingers. ($25)

**** (91) St. Francis Sonoma County Chardonnay 2011 (California). Medium bodied; butterscotch and pineapple notes with crisp acidity and rich lingering finish. (S17)

**** (91) Benziger Sonoma County Char-donnay 2011 (California). Sustainably certified, this is refreshing and evokes notes of lemon, pear apricot while finishing with a creamy texture. ($18)

**** (90) Talbot Kali Hart Chardonnay 2011 (California). A light and fresh chardonnay typical of the Monterey styles: the mid palate brightness almost makes your palate forget about the delicate butter and slight caramel notes. ($21)

**** (90) Decoy Sonoma County Chardon-nay 2012 (California). Made with an emphasis on grapes from the cooler Sonoma Coast, this fresh and attractive wine displays aromas of green apple and pear, alongside citrus-inspired notes of tangerine and orange blossom; a plush mid-palate, perfectly integrated oak and balanced acidity. ($18)

**** (90) Silver Buckle Lodi Chardon-nay 2011 (California). Another cooler climate example of Lodi fruit, light oak aging lets the flavors shine; crisp apples, pineapple, and ripe pears; lighter style, easy drinking, clean crisp finish. ($27)

**** (90) Parducci Small Lot Chardonnay 2012 (California). Definitely cool climate char-donnay; sourced from select lots in Mendocino, it undergoes a balance of stainless steel fermentation with minimal oak aging; clean, crisp, lighter in style; hints of vanilla, caramel and but-terscotch.($18)

**** (90) Angeline California Chardonnay 2013 (California). A solid value, this chardon-nay starts off with a burst of tropical fruit that transitions to a decadently textured toasty oak and vanilla; full-bodied and creamy with a cit-rusy, crisp finish. ($12)

**** (90) Wildhaven Columbia Valley Chardonnay 2012 (Washington State). A pleasantly refreshing chardonnay that contains subtle notes of baking spices, butterscotch and peach: the finish has a citrus-laden crispness. ($11)

**** (90) Cruz Alta Reserve Chardonnay 2013 (Argentina), The grapes for this chardonnay were grown at the foot of the Andes Mountains; a crisp style that has generous apple and pear notes; a light touch of oak ties everything together nicely and the wine ends with a refreshingly long finish. ($11)

**** (90) Muirwood Reserve St Lucia Chardonnay 2013 (California). Tropical fruit flavors layered with creamy vanilla and butterscotch notes; elegant and heavy on the palate with a nutty spice that extends through the long finish. ($17)

**** (90) Estancia Monterey County Chardonnay 2011 (California). Lush tropical fruits and soft creamy finish. ($15)

**** (90) Los Vascos Chardonnay 2012 (Chile). From one of the oldest wine estates in Chile, the 2012 Los Vascos Chardonnay is an elegant offering wIth notes of pineapple, banana and apricot framed by vibrant acidity and a crisp finish.($12)

**** (90) DeLoach Central Coast Chardonnay 2012 (California). Beautifully crafted with lovely flavors of lemon, pear and pineapple supported with pleasant minerality and nice, balanced acidity. ($13)

**** (90) Pierre Labet Beaune Blanc Des-sus Marconnets 2010 (France). Mouth-watering freshness with zippy lemon acidity; balanced with hints of white peaches and a slight pineapple note: nice minerals in the middle with soft hint of barrel aging. ($30)

**** (90) Tolosa Unoaked Central Coast Chardonnay 2012 (California). Mostly estate grown fruit, this wine is done in a un-oaked style; night-harvested, cold pressed, stainless steel fermented; clean, crisp, fresh; hints of coconut and nutmeg on the nose lead to pineapple and melon flavors. ($28)

**** (90) No/Co North Coast Chardonnay 2011 (California). Sustainable Sonoma and Mendocino vineyards provide the fruit for this very interesting wild-yeast fermented. unoaked style; richly textured, yet not buttery: ihnts of peach, melon, and grapefruit are balanced with a slight minerality and crisp, zesty acidity. ($16)


***** Five Stars (92-100) A topflight wine. Superior in taste and character and providing an outstanding price/value relationship.

**** Four Stars (86-91) A very good wine and an excellent value. A wine for which customers will keep coming back.

*** Three Stars (80-85) An above-average wine, at a reasonable price point, which many customers will enioy.

** Two Stars (70-79) An average wine.

* One Star (50-69) A below-average wine.

**** (90) Clos La Chance Santa Cruz Mountains Chardonnay 2009 (California). Surprisingly well balanced walking a fine line between fruit, oak, acid and cream; ightly oaked; pleasant apple/pear fruit; thirst-quenching acidity, and just enough creaminess to give it a nice depth. ($15)

**** (90) Canoe Ridge Vineyards The Expedition Horse Heaven Hills Chardonnay 2011 (Washington State). Aromas of peach and honeydew melon are swathed in scents of butterscotch and subtle toasty oak; the palate is rich and creamy yet maintains the balancing acidity to pair well with food; lemongrass flavors give way to tangerine and peach, glazed in buckwheat honey and butterscotch. ($20)

**** (90) Franciscan Chardonnay 2012 (California). A little citrus on the nose followed by toasted oak on the palate; full bodied with a nice creamy finish. ($17)

**** (90) Kunde Estate Chardonnay 2012 (California). A hint of melon on the nose, medium in body; rich and creamy finish. ($17)

**** (90) D'Autrefois Chardonnay 2012 (France). VdP from Languedoc provides a great wine for the price; all the elements of a fine chardonnay are there in moderation; ripe apple, lemony acidity, a touch of oak; mid weight on the palate. ($11)

**** (90) Hindsight Russian River Chardonnay 2012 (California). Lovely pineapple, peach and pear flavors, nice acidity and weight with a long lingering finish. ($17)

**** (90) Jarvis Tomeii Lotus Carneros Chardonnay 2012 (California). Just a wee bit of oak here, mostly wonderful flavors of fresh pear, apple and lemon; great balance, nice acidity, and a bit of hazelnut on the finish. ($18)

**** (90) La Playa Block Selection Reserve Block No. 13 Chardonnay 2011 (Chile). Partial oak-fermentation and eight months aging in stainless steel tanks and oak barrels result in a lightly toasty style with hints of toffee, honey, and dried tropical fruits; an intriguing wine, surprisingly well-priced. ($12)

**** (90) Henri Darnat Bourgogne La Jumalie Chardonnay 2012 (France). Dry and elegant with nice acidity and bright ripe citrus aromas and flavors. ($22)

**** (90) Bogle Chardonnay 2012 (California). Bogle always over-delivers on quality and price; creamy with hints of apple and pear: affordable everyday quaffer ($10)

**** (90) Foxglove Central Coast Chardonnay 2011 (California). Rich, ripe tropical fruit but no malolactic fermentation so it maintains a very clean and approachable profile; wonderful value. ($14)

**** (89) Columbia Crest, Grand Estates Unoaked Chardonnay 2012 (Washington State). Displays aromas of lemon pith and white peach offset by nuances of limestone; a crisp, lively white with surprising richness and bright flavors of lemon meringue, yellow delicious apple and subtle peach; a chalky minerality cuts through the fruit and plays out on the persistent finish; a notable value. ($11)

**** (89) Waterbrook Reserve Columbia Valley Chardonnay 2012 (Washington State). This full-bodied chardonnay displays abundant caramelized, toasty oak aromas reminiscent of roasted almonds and the crunchy top of creme brulee; the smooth texture envelops ripe pear and red apple flavors surrounded by vanilla and caramel; the finish is like popping a white chocolate truffle into your mouth. ($16)

**** (89) Antinori Castello della Sala. Bramito del Cervo Umbria Chardonnay 2012 (Italy). Golden color with ripe tropical fruit aromas; full mouthfeel with flavors of stone fruit, honey, butterscotch and a hint of toasty oak that linger with a long, persistant finish. ($15)

**** (89) La Crema Sonoma County Chardonnay 2011 (California). Citrus aroma of lemon; citrus flavors of lemon, lime and some vanilla; medium long finish. ($20)

**** (89) Cameron Hughes CAM Collection Monterey County Chardonnay 2012 (California). Ripe tropical fruits fill the nose and a buttery cloak drifts in along with a touch of balsam; medium bodied, smooth and supple on the palate, it is understated at first but slowly unfolds into a smooth, almost silky feel; honey frames the tropical fruit flavors and a touch of vanilla pops up in the aftertaste. ($15)

**** (89) De Wetshof Danie de Wet Chardonnay 2013 (South Africa). Non-oak treated chardonnay allowed to rest on the dead yeast cells that yields a bright zippy lemon/grapefruit acidity; balanced with a full mouth feel; slight nuttyness. ($13)

**** (89) The Dreaming Tree Chardonnay 2011 (California). A wonderfully balanced chardonnay with soft butter and tropical fruit; the acidity helps make this a worthy complement to a variety of foods. ($15)

**** (89) Starmont Napa Valley Chardonnay 2011 (California). Lightly oaked with 100% malolactic; nice flavors of apple, citrus and stone fruit and finishes with loads of toast and a hint of spice. ($18)

**** (89) Coastline Monterey Chardonnay 2012 (California). Full-bodied and rich with plenty of melon, citrus and pear fruit; there is touch of oak and vanilla but overall this is a chardonnay that represents the crisp, fruit-driven side of the variety. ($11)

**** (89) Red Pony Ranch Chardonnay 2012 (California). This crisp, medium-bodied chardonnay has a fascinating medley of guava, fig, star fruit and pear; the finish is rich and creamy with the perfect amount of oak. ($15)

**** (89) Eden Ridge Mendocino Chardonnay 2012 (California). Oaky. buttery and smooth; flavors of lemon, pear and creme brulee add some complexity; the crisp, palate-cleansing finish ties everything together; an excellent value. ($13)

**** (89) Bridgman Chardonnay 2012

(Washington State). Appealing aromas of caramel, vanilla and pear fruit; on the palate the wine is silky smooth, medium-bodied, and laced with tropical fruit. ($11)

**** (89) Mash juga Santa Barbara Chardonnay 2012 (California). Clean crisp chardonnay with tropical aromas and flavor; excellent lingering finish. ($13)

**** (88) Dreyer Sonoma Chardonnay 2011 (California). The medium golden color leads into a surprising green ifo apple and citrusy nose; lightly oaked with bo a nice melon finish. ($14)

**** (88) Radius Chardonnay of 2012 (California). A rich chardonnay in that shows off flavors of apple, oak and spice; no hard edges with just a touch of creaminess: notes of honey and pear also appear on the crisp finish. ($11)

**** (88) Harbor Front Chardonnay 2012 (California). Creamy and rich with plenty of stone fruit, butter and honey characteristics; for those who like full-bodied, fruit-driven white. ($10)

**** (88) Toasted Head Chardonnay 2012 (California). Oak bomb with rich and complex tropical fruit, peaches and pineapple; well rounded finish with toasted coconut and butterscotch notes. ($16)

**** (88) Acre Twenty One Columbia Valley Chardonnay 2012 (Washington State). The bouquet is mild and there is a light oak frame to ripe melon and pear aromas with a whiff of butterscotch; medium bodied and juicy pear and green apple flavors lead off the palate, with a shot of pineapple popping in mid-palate and some lemony acidity wrapping things up; good balanced, moderate finish. ($13)

**** (88) Sebastiani Sonoma County Chardonnay 2012 (California). Fruity nose with apple accents; apple, pear flavors with some butterscotch: medium finish. ($12)

**** (88) Fog Head Chardonnay 2012 (California). There is a touch of sweetness in the bouquet, with honeydew and pear aromas dominating: soft, fresh and nicely juicy on the palate, with pineapple, grapefruit and some tropical notes offering sweetness, but crisp acidity keeps things in balance. ($9)

**** (88) Alamos Chardonnay 2011 (Argentina). Smooth and round: tropical fruits with a clean, bright fresh finish. ($9)

**** (88) Francois Labet Pouilly Fuisse 2012 (France). Full bodied and dry with crisp acidity that has hints of apples and stone fruits: a well-defined minerality that leaves the palate clean and refreshed. ($22)

**** (88) Giguiere Musque Dunnigan Hills Chardonnay 2011 (California). This Musque clone chardonnay has beautiful aromas of honeysuckle and orange with flavors of apricot and honey. ($15)

**** (88) Route Stock Chardonnay 2011 (California). Carneros fruit. medium-bodied with nicely balanced peach, butter and oak notes: a fine value. ($12)

**** (87) Ghost Pines Chardonnay 2010 (California). A fair amount of tropical fruits and a little bit of oak lead into crisp clean finish; pair with a great piece of grilled salmon. ($18)

**** (87) Hardy's South Eastern Australia, Nottage Hill Chardonnay 2012 (Australia). Mild melon and balsam aromas fill the nose and there is a light hint of cream; medium bodied with balsam note framing the palate while slightly tart pear and peach flavors mingle with tropical fruit flavors; a bit of meringue in the aftertaste. ($12)

**** (87) Frusion Orange Chardonnay NV (California). A pale bouquet of flower petals leads into a palate that is straight-up orange, but like freshly peeled fruit as opposed to a sugary drink; it deftly avoids being overwrought or flabby, and lingers quite nicely in the aftertaste; traditionalists may snicker, but for what it is, it does the job nicely. ($9)

**** (86) Four Vines Santa Barbara County Naked Chardonnay 2011 (California). Citrus aroma; citrus flavors of lemon, lime and some peach. ($11)
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Publication:Beverage Dynamics
Article Type:Restaurant review
Geographic Code:1U9CA
Date:Mar 1, 2014
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