Retailer Wine Selections

For this issue, we asked members of the National Retailer Wine Panel to recommend their favorite chardonnays, a wine that is made successfully all over the world. These selections represent a host of styles, from young and oaky versions to multilayered wines with some age. 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 rbrandes@m2media360.com.

FIVE STARS

(96) Paul Pernot Batard Montrachet 2005 (France). Creamy aromas of apples and minerals; rich and silky as the wine crosses over your palette; complex, lingering finish that will put a smile on your face. ($225)

(96) François Mikulski Meursault Burgundy 2005 (France). This wine is an amazing representation from the heart of Burgundy; massive and powerful yet round and balanced in the true Burgundian fashion; dried apricot and green pear dominate the palate followed by a pronounced note of a minerality mimicking slightly wet rocks; a truly impressive and complex nose. ($60)

(95) Antica Napa Chardonnay 2008 (California). Beautifully crafted with big rich flavors of citrus, pear, apricot, melon, vanilla and a hint of spice; great depth, concentration and a long persistent finish. ($37)

(95) Catena Alta Chardonnay 2007 (Argentina). Those of you who like that big, bold, hit-you-in-the-face buttered popcorn and lemon butter flavored chardonnay, look no further; tremendously expressive on the nose yet seamless on the palate, combining beautiful acidity, nice flavors of baked apple, butter, lightly roasted nuts, and an underlying mineral stream that ties it all together; long finish and weighty mouthfeel that leaves you wanting another sip. ($29)

(95) Porter Creek Russian River Chardonnay 2008 (California). This wine comes into its pure expression in this bio-dynamic gem from winemaker Alex Davis; aromas of tropical fruit, lime zest and earth-driven minerality that lead into an elegant, round and integrated finish. ($33)

(95) Stonestreet Red Point Alexander Valley Chardonnay 2007 (California). A great single vineyard expression from a solid producer; the Red Point vineyard provides a wine that has powerful flavors of peach and red apple that are rounded out with hints of fresh wild flowers to make an elegant style of chardonnay. ($40)

(95) Mer Soleil Silver Unoaked Chardonnay 2007 (California). Crisp mineral-driven Santa Lucia Highlands fruit is unencumbered by oaking, malolactic fermentation and sur-lies aging; the bright acidity and tropical fruit notes are food-friendly; pecially designed cement aging tanks hearken to old world style and taste. ($24)

(94) B Cellars Blend 23 Chardonnay 2009 (California). Zesty citrus jumps out of the glass; flavors of pineapple and grapefruit extend to sweet lemon grass and minerality with a crisp acidity and a long lingering finish; world class wine. ($35)

(93) Stuhlmuller Alexander Valley Chardonnay 2008 (California). A wonderful chardonnay offering a nice variety of fruit flavors such as pineapple, peach, pear and a hint of lemon; nice structure with a great deal of body, finesse and a lingering finish. ($25)

(93) Domaine Serene Cote Sud Chardonnay 2007 (Oregon). Bright and floral aromas of citrus flower, tangerine, jasmine, spearmint, flint, pear, spiced apple, lemon custard and vanilla; the luscious palate shows ripe apricot, green apple, kiwi, lemon-lime, mineral, toast and caramel with excellent structure and beautiful, well-balanced acidity. ($45)

(93) Grgich Hills Napa Valley Chardonnay 2006 (California). Grgich does not allow this chardonnay to undergo malolactic fermentation, which keeps the wine clean, crisp and perfect for the early autumn months; vibrant and bright; flashes of crisp green apple and lemon balance well with the subtle oakiness; very complex without overdoing it. ($45)

(93) Kendall-Jackson Estate Grand Reserve Chardonnay 2007 (California). This estate grown wine is a perfect well-made example of the big, buttery vanilla-oak California Chard. Equal parts Monterey and Santa Barbara fruit from Dijon clones bring equal measures of citrus and lush topicality. Sur-lie aging, battonage and French oak make this an exceptionally well made example of the style. ($15)

(93) Kali Hart Chardonnay 2008 (California). Crisp citrus and lush tropical fruit and pear overtones drive this youthful Monterey food-friendly Chard. Stainless steel and neutral oak aging keep this wine vibrant and delightful. ($17)

(93) Frei Brother’€™s Russian River Chardonnay 2008 (California). Sonoma’€™s Russian River AVA is one of the world’€™s premier chardonnay growing areas; a lush mouthfeel yet a crisp finish; nuances of pear, peach and citrus finish with hints of vanilla and toasty spice, without being over-oaked; food-friendly. ($17)

(92) Landmark Overlook Chardonnay 2007 (California). Fresh and wonderfully balanced; ripe apple and pear on the nose carried through on the palate; full-bodied and a nice lingering finish; great with food. ($29)

(92) Lake Sonoma Winery Russian River Valley Chardonnay 2008 (California). Beautifully balanced with hints of peach, mango and citrus on the nose and palate; a racy acidity on the finish; very refreshing. ($14)

(92) Morgan Metallico Un-Oaked Chardonnay 2008 (California). One of the best of the trendy ‘€œoak-free’€ styles; lovely under-ripe fruit aromas and flavors with a hint of minerality on the long finish; reminiscent of Chablis. ($20)

(92) River Road Chardonnay Hopkins Vineyard Russian River Valley 2008 (California). Richly aromatic notes of baked bread and ripe pears are combined with lemon meringue-like flavors that are concentrated yet elegant and refined; sourced from a single vineyard in the Russian River Valley, it’€™s hard to believe this impeccably balanced wine is not $35. ($25)

(92) Rodney Strong Reserve Chardonnay 2007 (California). Full-bodied wine, rich, plush mouth feel, balanced with vibrant acidity; powerful aromas of spiced apple, pear, and pie crust join minerally lemon-cream and toasty oak on the palate, adding up to a compelling and thoroughly satisfying experience for true chardonnay lovers. ($28)

(92) Foley Santa Rita Hills Chardonnay 2007 (California). Rich, toasty chardonnay with nice underlying acidity; fermented and aged in primarily new French oak barrels and marked by tropical fruit, citrus and pear notes, with a luscious texture and caramel flavors to match the sweet, buttery fruit. ($25)

(92) Domaine Chene Macon LaRoche 2008 (France). Rich with aroma and inviting fruit ‘€“ only one year in French oak; easy on the palate; absolutely delightful to drink; a classy wine for a great price. ($15)

(92) Jean Leon Viña Gigi Penedès Chardonnay 2007 (Spain). This wine has a brilliant yellow color with green hues; on the nose there are toasted almonds, grapefruit rind, brown butter and river stones; crisp with a round feeling of ripe Anjou pears and candied apples and lemons; a lingering finish. ($27)

(92) Merryvale Silhouette Napa Valley Chardonnay 2005 (California). On the nose this wine shows hints of mango, vanilla and apricot; in the mouth it opens with bright citrus tones of Clementine, lemonade and crème brûlée; crisp acidity with light minerality finishes pleasantly and fresh. ($46)

(92) Xavier Monnot Bourgogne Blanc 2007 (France). This wine is great Burgundy at a value price point from a top tier producer; the wine is rich and full yet still crisp and fresh; flavors of green apple and pear dominate the wine with hints of fresh bread. ($20)

FOUR STARS

(91) Guarachi Family Chardonnay Classic Sonoma Chardonnay 2008 (California). Rich, creamy and round with intense buttery aromas balanced by flavors of pears and golden delicious apples; a long finish completes the package. ($32)

(91) Sonoma-Cutrer Sonoma Coast Chardonnay 2006 (California). Straw golden color with a vanilla/lemon/pear nose; palate has an oak frame but with a nice fresh mid-palate; fairly seamless wine showing mild nutty coconut flavors surrounding a lemon and orange peel core; medium to full bodied with refreshing acidity that gives the wine real lift and keeps the flavors bright; very good balance and good length. ($29)

(91) Jackson Hills Santa Barbara County 2008 Chardonnay (California). Fresh mango and melon aromas under a lilt of balsam; full and ripe, this is forward, almost aggressive, with its fruit flavors, as those exotic notes from the bouquet carry through to the palate, joined by apricot marmalade, tangerine and light vanillin notes; the finish is quite long. ($25)

(91) Montes Alpha Casablanca Valley 2008 Chardonnay (Chile). The bouquet is smooth and supple, a tad reticent at first, but with time a complex arrangement of leafy greens, citrus rind and melon aromas emerge, along with a very light spice note; ull and round, it has a wonderful, caressing mouthfeel, then pinpoint acidity arrives to firm up the grip and give rise to an array of fresh melon flavors; a rich wine, but it stays decidedly dry. ($22)

(91) Acacia Carneros Chardonnay 2008 (California). The amazing thing about the wines from this producer is the practice of using native or wild yeast; this chardonnay remains a shining example of balanced fruit, acidity, and subtle oak on the palate; tropical fruits abound and a medium body gives a supple texture that is impressive. ($18)

(91) Claar Cellars Columbia Valley Chardonnay 2008 (Washington State). Unoaked; smooth and appealing; ripe pear and apple; subtle cream on finish. ($13)

(91) Adler Fels Russian River Valley Sonoma Chardonnay 2009 (California). A ripe, rich and full-bodied style of chardonnay that laces the honey, pear and tropical fruit flavors with hints of spice and toast; this concentrated white has a long, lingering aftertaste combining the finesse of great Burgundy, with the ripe fruit of the Russian River Valley. ($17)

(91) Folie a Deux Napa Valley Chardonnay 2008 (California). Sultry and smooth; flavors of butter and a subtle touch of earthiness give this wine another level of flavor and enjoyment; will match well with big savory butter sauces. ($15)

(91) Calistoga Cellars Napa Valley Chardonnay 2008 (California). The nose opens with subdued green apple and pear notes; on the palate, the wine is very balanced with a caramel creaminess; apricot and pear flavors reach out, and there’€™s a comforting oakiness in the background reminding you that you’€™re in Napa without beating you over the head. ($20)

(91) Foxglove Central Coast Chardonnay 2008 (California). With no oak or malolactic fermentation, this wine from Paso Robles has aromas of apples and pears leading to loads of tropical fruit taste; crisp acidity. ($13)

(91) Massolino Langhe Piedmonte Chardonnay 2008 (Italy). A clear yellow color; its bouquet is of green apples, hay, lemon flowers and leaves; on the mouth, ash as well as balanced acidity are present and play with the lemon leaves, green apples and orange peel that finish with a pleasant minerality. ($27)

(90) Buehler Vineyards Russian River Valley Chardonnay 2008 (California). Ripe pineapple, cactus fruit and honey dew melon on the nose; the fresh pineapple becomes grilled pineapple in the mouth and the melon acquires a honey ripeness accompanied with and elegant acidity and minerality. ($25)

(90) Garcés Silva Amayna, Leyda Valley Chardonnay 2006 (Chile). From the most impressive region in Chile for chardonnay, the Leyda Valley produces a Burgundian style of wine; full flavors of cantaloupe and apple; powerful; a good value. ($19)

(90) Rusack Santa Barbara County Chardonnay 2007 (California). A great representation from California; the wine has bold flavors of ripe, red apple and fresh honeydew melon; there are notes of vanilla and caramel rounding out the wine. ($19)

(90) Ferrari Carano Sonoma County Chardonnay 2008 (California). Juicy and fresh, citrus, apple, and caramel on the nose with a baked lemon, yellow apples and hints of vanilla; very clean and elegant, this wine will surprise you. ($18)

(90) Domaine Alain Gautheron Chablis 1er Cru Les Fourneaux 2007 (France). Pale gold color; nose of lemon with a hint of pear; wonderful attack of pure lemon; minerals are fully integrated in the fruit with a bit more presence at the dry finish; a subtle nutty note to the wine lingers at the finish; medium bodied with good length. ($29)

(90) River Road Chardonnay Sonoma County 2009 (California). The lively tree fruit flavors of Asian pear and apple are soft and smooth; he easy drinking style lends itself well to an affordable price; great value for a wine of this quality; pairs well with lighter fare such as broiled seafood or chicken. ($15)

(90) Coppola Diamond Collection Gold Label Monterey County Chardonnay 2008 (California). Tropical fruit aroma with a hint of mineral on the nose; a big, creamy chardonnay reminiscent of Golden Delicious apple and pear with a touch of spicy oak and butter on the finish. ($15)

(90) Hart & McGarry Napa Chardonnay 2008 (California). This delicious Napa Valley chardonnay has aromas and flavors of tropical fruits, apples and a touch of citrus; crisp and pure with a nice balance, this wine is a bargain and well worth the price. ($13)

(90) Macon-Lugny ‘€œLes Charmes’€ Chardonnay 2008 (France). From 60-year-old vines, this classic is stylistic and consistent year after year; a creamy texture with hints of apple, pear and some ‘€œterroir’€; an excellent value. ($15)

(90) Muirwood Chardonnay 2008 (California). Golden yellow, medium body wine with notes of citrus and pear, moderate acidity with a buttery mouthfeel and pleasant finish. ($14)

(90) Red Car Boxcar Chardonnay 2008 (California). Light, bright yellow; musky citrus pith, peach pit, iodine and smoky lees on the ripe nose, along with a suggestion of spicecake; densely packed and spicy, with a restrained sweetness and a strong smoky undertone to its lemon and pit fruit flavors. ($22)

(90) Columbia Crest Grand Estates Chardonnay 2008 (Washington). Beautifully balanced fruit with nice rounded acidity and savory mouthfeel; the butter and hints of caramel are offset by a soft flavor of apple and tropical fruit. ($11)

(89) Andeluna Chardonnay 2009 (Argentina). Aromas of peach apple and pineapples lead to flavors of tropical fruit and citrus; clean, crisp finish; good value. ($14)

(89) Abbey St Hilaire Chardonnay 2007 (France). Clean and bright, a refreshing style of chardonnay; the apple and pear aromas pair off with an intriguing minerality; the balance and complexity is wonderful, especially for the price. ($12)

(88) Frank Family Vineyards Napa Valley Chardonnay 2007 (California). A beautiful gold color; yellow apples, mild vanilla tones and green papaya in the bouquet; in the mouth, the vanilla becomes more evident and has a marked acidity that balances the richness of this wine; a rich, dry finish. ($25)

(88) McManis Family Vineyards River Junction Chardonnay 2009 (California). The bouquet is soft and inviting, with those classic notes of vanillin and light butter leading off and tasty tangerine, green melon and citrus pith following; zesty and bright on the palate entry, with a good kick of acidity; the flavor profile mimics the bouquet nicely and it keeps a firmly dry, almost steely edge, through to the finish. ($11)

(88) Four Vines Naked Santa Barbara County Chardonnay 2008 (California). The light nose has a leesy edge to some mild, slightly unripe green tree fruit aromas; with time those fruit notes ripen a bit; medium bodied, soft and initially on the sweet side, but some firm acidity moves in mid-palate to sharpen things, bringing focus to the ripe citrus flavors; moderate finish. ($11)

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