Failla is a small, family-run winery dedicated to handcrafted wine. The 2012 Sonoma Chardonnay is wonderful. There’s a pure, clean nose of apple, melon and pear. On the palate it is a medium body wine with ripe pear and apples. Plus lovely light wood notes towards the back, from a sparing use of 15% new oak. Then a round, balanced finish from the malolactic fermentation. A beautiful wine. $36.
2012 Arnot-Roberts Watson Ranch Napa Valley Chardonnay – (Buy Online)
The Wine Advocate calls them one of the most “exciting young wineries in California.” Roberts is a second-generation cooper who builds the winery’s French oak barrels himself. The 2012 Watson Ranch is a classic Burgundian style wine. It has a beautiful balance of apple, pear and honey and there is a hint of vanilla but not from oak. Only 13 barrels were made. We got lucky and have a little bit on the shelf. But don’t wait – this will go soon. $37.
2012 Kesner Wines Gate Russian River Valley Chardonnay – (Buy Online)
Jason Kesner is one of the top winemakers in California and Chardonnay is his specialty. He worked at Hudson and Kistler before forming Kesner Wines in 2002. Gate is his newest label. This is an eloquent, unabashedly Californian Chardonnay. It is creamy with lemon and pineapple on the nose and palate, with full balance, elegant structure and just the right amount of oak. And check this out – the finish never leaves. A perfect wine for those who love California. $39.
2011 Pahlmeyer Jayson Chardonnay – (Buy Online)
Pahlmeyer is great. We could use more words to say it, but the truth is great says it all. Jayson Pahlmeyer is the classic story of someone giving up a conventional career and laying it on the line to create a “California Mouton.” The dream came true with the Pahlmeyer Proprietary Red, and in the 1990’s the winery expanded to Chardonnay, with the help of Helen Turley. The 2011 Jayson is a triumph. It has a bright golden hue, opens with luscious aromas of apricot, white peach and toasted brioche. Lemon zest turns juicy and creamy on the palate framed by fresh cleaning acidity. $48.
2010 Hudson Napa Valley Chardonnay – (Buy Online)
Stay away from the Hudson, OK? Some of us who work here want to drink it. This winery grows some of the best chardonnay grapes in the valley, and it shows. The winemaking team (Lee Hudson, owner and operator, John Kongsgaard, consulting winemaker and Christopher Vandendriessche, winemaker) has created one of Napa’s more sophisticated Chardonnay. Burgundian in style, slightly nutty on the nose with hints of citrus an minerality. This wine is lush on impact, full in body with an amazing elegance and lively green apples and pear flavors. It is round and bold but very well balanced with a long finish. $60.