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Professional Ratings: 94 International Wine Cellar, 93 The Wine Advocate, 93 Wine Enthusiast
Region: Sonoma County, California
Other Info: Boutique Wines
Style: Rich & Creamy
Alcohol By Volume: 14.3%
Item no. 119680
As the name would suggest, although this site lies at a high elevation, its bench-like exposure allows a pronounced richness to develop in the grapes. Here on the gravel soils, aromas and flavors of baked apple, shortbread, warm spice and roasted almond open to a powerful, richly textured palate; all that generosity is held in check by the structural signature of the mountain - liquid minerality.
Bright yellow. Complex, vibrant aromas of musky lemon-lime, minerals, iodine, hazelnut oil and oak char lifted by a note of lavender; I would have picked this blind as Burgundy. Suave on entry, then juicy, peachy and uncompromisingly dry without being austere. This broad, airy wine finishes very suave and light on its feet, with a lovely touch of sweetness and a whiplash of brisk pineapple. Like something from the Puligny/Meursault border.
All the Chardonnays are 100% Chardonnay aged in anywhere from 50% to 100% new French oak for nearly 11 months prior to being bottled. The Alexander Mountain Estate is a superb high elevation vineyard source and the Upper Barn (made famous by Helen Turley and John Wetlaufer in the decade of the nineties) is a true grand cru site for Chardonnay. The other blocks, which vary from 900 feet to a whopping 1,800 feet elevation, producing stunning Chardonnays that have abundant characteristics in common. As the scores indicate, my favorite is the 2009 Chardonnay Upper Barn simply because there is always a little more to this offering. From an 1,800 foot elevation, it reveals lots of honeyed pear, tropical fruit, brioche, nectarine and marmalade notes along with terrific acidity as well as richness. Moreover, little oak can be detected despite the fact that it (as well as its siblings) sees 50% new oak. A handful of these Chardonnays (Gravel Bench and Gold Run) see 100% new oak. Of the other 2009 Chardonnays, the Red Point, Broken Road, Bear Point and Gravel Bench are similar to the Upper Barn, with the Gravel Bench perhaps having a more flinty character and the Bear Point slightly more structure. The Gold Run and Solitude (both from vineyards planted at 1,000 feet) are dead-ringers for the Upper Barn. The only offerings that seemed somewhat lean, austere and closed are the Grandstone and the Windswept. All of these Chardonnays are capable of lasting 5-7 years, perhaps a decade or more in some cases. To reiterate, I don’t understand the point of making 9 separate Chardonnays when in fact there could be three distinct styles, the Upper Barn style, the Grandstone/Windswept style and the Gold Run/Bear Point style.
Full-throttle Chardonnay, creamy and opulent, showing lemon custard, orange honey, buttered toast and cinnamon spice flavors, brightened with crisp, zesty acidity. Exceptionally rich and balanced, it's a beautiful wine for pairing with shellfish entrees.