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Ancien Chardonnay Carneros is made from 100 percent Chardonnay.
Chardonnay Carneros owes its style, depth, and structure to intensely flavored, low yielding, heirloom clones growing in two Carneros vineyards: on the Napa side, the Toyon Farm and on the Sonoma side, the Sangiacomo Vella Ranch. Ancien Wines hand-selected the cuttings themselves, from older vineyards in the Carneros area. These cuttings are reputed to have origins tracing to Paul Masson who imported them from Burgundy in the early 1940’s, from Louis Latour's renowned Corton Charlemagne vineyard. These selections are often referred to as “Old Wente”or “Robert Young,”denoting the sourced mother blocks in the 1960s.
Notes of ripe apple and honeydew melon greet and are delicately perfumed by notes of freesia and citrus blossom. Brighter notes of lime and Meyer lemon match the refreshing acidity of this wine, balanced by a creamy palate and leading to a finish that will continue to lengthen in the coming months. A wonderfully textured and vibrant Chardonnay displaying the best of Carneros.
Chardonnay Carneros is guided toward a layered, complex, and expressive style that develops gracefully in the bottle and shows enticing minerality, vivacious fruit, length and structure. The watchword is balance. Grapes were pressed as whole clusters, settled and fermented entirely in French oak from four different coopers, chosen for their unique synergism and support of the fruit on the palate. One third of the barrels were new. A variety of yeasts were used, including native strains, and fermentation proceeded evenly and slowly, averaging a cool 55°F. The wine was aged on its yeast lees, which were stirred weekly through the spring.
The Ancien Estate Wines
The Estate is owned by Ken and Teresa Bernards whose combined experience is moving into its 3rd decade, having made acclaimed wines for other producers prior to focusing on their own label, Ancien. Their trips to Burgundy filled them with inspiration drawn from the ancient history and tradition of winemaking. While the techniques have constantly been refined, they have been using the same principles of winemaking for generations.
The Ancien Vineyards
Carneros Chardonnay comes from a plant selection, planted on vineyards at the Toyon Ranch on the Napa side of Carneros and the Vella Ranch. Carneros Pinot Noir is a blend of two very similar vineyards situated near the Napa-Sonoma county line at the southern end of the appellation. The two vineyards, Domaine Chandon and the Ferguson Ranch, were both planted in 1973. Both are austere sites with lean soils and low vigor. The similarity of site, rootstock, clone and vine age (28 year old) ensure a commonality between the wines. Sonoma Mountain Pinot Noir is grown in Steiner Vineyard, at 1100 feet elevation, on the cool northwestern slope, 17 miles from the ocean. The first grapes were planted here in 1973 (making them pioneer of the region). Seeing the unique qualities of grapes grown in this outstanding area, they were a driving force in creating the Sonoma Mountain Appellation. The soils vary through the vineyard changing from clay loamy stuff with fractured ryolite to an austere rocky area. Carneros Pinot Gris is grown on the far southwestern edge at the Sangiacomo family's El Novillero Vineyard (2 acres). The soils and eastern facing orientation are perfect.
Ancien Pinot Noir Carneros is made from 100 percent Pinot Noir.
Pinot Noir Carneros comes entirely from the Toyon Vineyard, located in the Napa side of Carneros. This vineyard was originally planted for Ancien Wines in 1998 with cuttings tracing back to the Swan estate in Sonoma County and Dijon 115 - followed by cuttings from Ed Penhoet’s vineyard in Carmel Valley. Ed’s selection from River Selection is a story into itself, and is sometimes referred as “Pisoni Clone” since Gary Pisoni took cuttings from the vineyard in the early ‘80s.
Baking spice sings in an endless symphony with wild berry notes, complemented by characteristic Carneros notes of cola. Juicy cherry notes grace the palate and combine seamlessly with anise and hibiscus, ending on a savory note. The palate is round and full of textural, mouth-coating tannins balanced by a bright acidity. Broad chewy tannins, earthy spices and minerality complement the fruit and exotic floral notes of this wine. The palate of this delicious wine will continue to develop in opulence over years of aging, revealing even darker layers and an increasingly smooth texture.
Lively in brooding black fruit, this wine is balanced in richness and length, with a lasting wealth of baking spice and black tea. Well integrated, it forms a cohesive experience on the smooth, seductive palate, finding a balance across all its components
-Wine Enthusiast 93 Points
Gaja Gaia & Rey Langhe Chardonnay is made from 100 percent Chardonnay.
The winery's historic Gaia & Rey Chardonnay is a wine that not only reshaped the legacy of the house itself, but also redefined Piedmont as one of the truly great winemaking regions of the world. Named after Lucia and Angelo Gaja's daughter, Gaia Gaja, and Angelo Gaja's grandmother Clotilde Rey (the family's great matriarch and one of its most forward-thinking visionaries), Gaia & Rey was first bottled in 1983 and released the following year. With this historic bottling, Angelo Gaja showed the world that exceptional white wines could be produced in the Langhe Hills, where red wines had been produced almost exclusively before. He also delivered to the world what is now considered one of the greatest white wines of Europe, a truly remarkable accomplishment in a country where red grapes have historically dominated the realm of fine wine. The 2017 vintage proves that great quality sometimes comes from scarcity. Three days of frost at the end of April set back the crop size by 10 percent, then high heat in summer and lack of rainfall presented challenges in managing the vineyards. The good news is that with strict selection and our no-compromise approach, the fruit harvested was healthy and excellent white wines were the result, despite the drop in production.
This wine was first made in 1983, and back then, no malolactic fermentation occurred. Jump forward in time to the 2017 Langhe Gaia & Rey, and this is another vintage in which malo did not start. (Partial malolactic returns in 2018). Since those first years of production, the oak usage has also been tweaked, now with less barrique in favor of more botte grande. Thanks to these changes, the aromatic profile of this wine veers toward citrus and rich tropical fruit, especially in a warm vintage such as this. However counterintuitive, this edition also shows a very bright and precise touch of acidity that serves to give the wine balanced and mouth-cleansing salinity.
- Wine Advocate 93+ Points
Laird Chardonnay Cold Creek is 100% Chardonnay
Our Cold Creek Chardonnay is grown in the slightly cooler microclimate of the Sonoma side of the Los Carneros district to the west, where thick fog and cool marine winds protect its tender skins. Indigenous to the Burgundy region of France, Clones 15 and 95 at a 50:50 ratio exhibit an approachable style and luminous, golden color.
Tasting Notes: The appearance of golden straw leads you through an aromatic journey with notes of tropical fruits, sweet nectarine, melon, and vanilla. The wine has flavors of jasmine, citrus, and ripe Fuji apple that are complemented by a creamy mouthfeel and hints of lemon curd. The finish lingers on the palate, making you yearn for the next sip.
Vineyard: 100% Cold Creek Ranch
Appellation: Los Carneros
Varietal: 100% Chardonnay
50% Malolactic Fermentation
Morlet Coup de Coeur Chardonnay is made from 100 percent Chardonnay.
From the same hillside vineyards as ‘Ma Princesse’ and ‘Ma Douce,’ this unique cuvée was judiciously blended from a strictly limited number of selected barrels displaying truly outstanding features. It is our ‘Heart’s Astonishment’ or ‘Coup de Cœur.’
Straw yellow color. Complex bouquet of candied lemon, citrus oils, Reinette apple and strong notes of hazelnut and white truffle. Mineral driven on the palate, the mouth feel is rich yet delicate. Seamless and classic, it is wonderfully subtle and long on the finish. With a very high ageing potential, this wine can be cellared for over a decade.
The borderline perfect 2017 Chardonnay Coup De Coeur comes from a selection of the best barrels and there are only 150 cases of this elixir. Aged in 40% new French oak, this exotic, powerful Chardonnay offers a heavenly bouquet of honeyed citrus, toasted brioche exotic flowers, and orange blossom. It’s rich, voluptuous, and thrillingly textured, yet has good acidity, remarkable purity, a stacked mid-palate and a finish that won’t quit. Count me impressed; California Chardonnay doesn’t get much better.
-Jeb Dunnuck 99 Points
Coup de Coeur is an über barrel-selection blend of the Morlet’s Chardonnay vineyards, using exclusively Old Wente clone selection. The 2017 Chardonnay Coup de Coeur bursts with spicy notions of allspice and coriander seed over a core of ripe Bosc pears, apple pie and almond croissant with wafts of beeswax and candied ginger. Medium to full-bodied, the palate is tightly wound, offering beautiful tension to offset all the opulent, spicy flavors, finishing very long and incredibly harmonious even at this very youthful stage. 150 cases are due to be made.
-Wine Advocate 99 Points
Morlet Family Vineyards Ma Douce Chardonnay is made from 100 percent Chardonnay.
The cool maritime breeze and mild and sunny mountain climate create ideal conditions for this hillside vineyard located on the second ridge from the Paciﬁc Ocean. Handcrafted using classical Burgundian winemaking techniques, this wine is dedicated to Jodie Morlet. It is ‘My Sweet’ or ‘Ma Douce.’
Full yellow color. Aromas of lemon drop, Crème Brulée and orange zest intermixed with strong notes of minerality (wet stones) and fresh hazelnut. Full-bodied, mineral driven, this wine displays a creamy texture and very long mineral finish. Built to age gracefully for a decade, this wine is already very approachable.
Propietary Name Ma Douce
Name Meaning My Sweet “Douce brize” from the Ocean
Varietal composition Chardonnay
Type of wine Vineyard designated
Appellation Fort Ross-Seaview
Vineyard singularity On the second ridge off Ocean High elevation Goldridge soil
Typical harvest date End of October
Picking Manual, small lugs, refer truck
Sorting Cluster by cluster
Fermentation In barrel through native yeast 100% Malolactic
Upbringing Sur lies with bâtonnage
French oak from selected coopers
Cellaring time 5-10 years
Serving Slightly below room temperature Decanted when served young
Ma Douce comes from a vineyard in Fort Ross-Seaview—not far from Marcassin Vineyard. It is planted mainly to Old Wente clone selection. The 2017 Chardonnay Ma Douce comes bounding out of the glass with exuberant notes of ripe peaches, pink grapefruit and guava plus hints of butterscotch, toasted almonds, orange blossoms and acacia honey. Full-bodied, the palate is laden with exotic fruit and citrus layers, offset by a wicked backbone of freshness and the most seductive creaminess to the texture, finishing very long with tons of savory sparks. 450 cases were made.
-Wine Advocate 98 Points
Patz & Hall Dutton Ranch Chardonnay is made from 100 percent Chardonnay.
Winemaker and Founder James Hall. Since 1988 founder and winemaker James Hall has guided the Patz & Hall winemaking program, instilling it with his own boldness, imagination and trademark perfectionism. Combining a belief in great viticulture, traditional winemaking practices, and the judicious use of innovative techniques, James has earned a reputation for crafting dramatic benchmark Chardonnays and Pinot Noirs that balance vibrant power with vineyard-inspired depth and sophistication. In 1983 James joined Napa Valley’s Flora Springs Winery and Vineyards as assistant winemaker. There, he spent four years developing his expertise crafting barrel-fermented, small-lot Chardonnays. While at Flora Springs, James struck up a close friendship with sales manager Donald Patz, and the two soon discovered that they shared a similar philosophical approach to wine and winemaking. In the spring of 1988, while working as the winemaker and estate manager for Honig Winery, James teamed up with Donald and Heather Patz, and Anne Moses to make and release Patz & Hall’s inaugural Napa Valley Chardonnay.
Aromas of ginger, guava and Crème brûlée with toasted almond, and toffee-brown sugar. Dense, and full bodied, there’s a pleasingly crisp and mouthwatering green apple note on the palate that melds with dried apricot, tangerine flavors along with a hint of toasted oak.
From the Russian River, the 2017 Chardonnay Dutton Ranch is a step up and has more intensity and depth, with a rocking bouquet of honey stone fruits, brioche, toasted hazelnuts, and crushed stone. Rich, medium to full-bodied, and beautifully balanced, with bright acidity, it has a kiss of background oak but is a seriously good, layered effort that will cruise for 5-7 years, probably longer. - Jeb Dunnuck 96 Points
Ottella Lugana DOC Le Creete is made from 100% Turbiano (clonal type of Trebbiano di Lugana)
Louis Roederer Collection 242 is made from 42% Chardonnay, 36% Pinot Noir, 22% Meunier.
The Collection 242 blend is dominated by Chardonnay which was of exceptional quality in the 2017 vintage. The perfectly ripe Chardonnay grapes lend the wine its aromas of ripe, sweet fruit complemented by subtle oaky notes. The palate is rich and ripe with a luxurious texture that coats the palate, the signature of an outstanding Chardonnay. The Pinot noir and Meunier grapes from the Vallée de la Marne complete the wine’s broad, luscious, smooth and juicy character. The finish is energetic and fresh.
Aromas of cooked apple, bread dough and lemon tart follow through to a full body with round, delicious fruit and a rich, flavorful finish. Yet, it remains tight and fine with lovely, compressed bubbles. New energy and freshness. Medium-to full-bodied with layers of fruit and vivid intensity. 42% chardonnay, 36% pinot noir and 22% pinot meunier. 8 grams dosage. Four years on the less. A new-format non-vintage that designates the year of the 242nd harvest, 2017, plus reserve wine of 2009, 2011, 2013, 2014, 2015 and 2016. Drink or hold.
- James Suckling 94 Points