Oh Chardonnay, how do I love thee?
Let me count the ways…
Here they are, our Top 10 Chardonnay’s of 2015. The best of the best.
Whether you love Chardonnay or are a firm believer in ABC (Anything But Chardonnay), these are all wines you should try. On this list you’ll find some names you may recognize, and some you may not. All the wines on this list come from California producers (Look for White Burgundy on 1/18 on our International wines list.).
Unlike our Top 100 which was based upon our staff’s ratings during tastings, as well as popularity with our clients, our top varietal countdowns are based purely upon score (In the event of ties, we award the higher ranking to the more popular wine with our clients). We took the thousands of wines that we tasted and narrowed it down to the best of the best.
It’s not just Chardonnay we are counting down, take a look at the bottom of this post for full countdown schedule.
*If you are curious on how we tabulate our scores, please see the bottom of this post.
1 – 2013 Ferren ‘Lancel Creek Vineyard’
Chardonnay | Sonoma Coast | Inquire Here
Wine Spectrum Rated 96: Ferren is a winery dedicated to tiny lots of artisanally made single-vineyard Chardonnay and Pinot noir wines from the far Sonoma Coast of California. Each of the vineyards in the portfolio is a jewel of the true Coast, has been hand picked based on its potential of producing profound, age-worthy wines, and is farmed to the highest standards of sustainability and wine quality.
The 2013 ‘Lancel Creek Vineyard” Chardonnay is farmed by Ulisses Valdez, and is a pale translucent gold color. Aromas of apples, green melons and flinty minerality lead to a rich, yet clean, palate. Flavors of green apples, nutmeg, and citrus fruits are beautifully balanced with wonderful acidity and a long, refreshing finish. Just 60 cases produced!
Winemaker Matt Courtney founded Ferren with old friend David Wherritt after an eight-year apprenticeship with Helen Turley at Marcassin Vineyard on the Sonoma Coast. The wines are made using traditional Burgundian methods without fining or filtration, and fermentations are carried out exclusively by native flora that arrive on the grapes from the vineyards.
2 – 2013 Bevan Cellars ‘Ritchie Vineyard’
Chardonnay | Russian River Valley | Inquire Here
Wine Spectrum Rated 95+: The 2013 Ritchie Vineyard Chardonnay is a red-wine-drinkers Chardonnay. It has an expansive mid-palate texture that you normally only get in red wines, but the flavors are pure Chardonnay. It starts with orange blossoms, but quickly turns to white peaches and an intense minerality. The finish is long and lively as the acidity keeps the wine alive on the tongue.
3 – 2006 Ramey ‘Hudson Vineyard’
Chardonnay | Carneros | Inquire Here
Wine Spectrum Rated 95+: Also north of the Carneros Highway, but further west, the terrain here is more rolling than that of Hyde, the soil lighter and more friable. This year’s bottling is the first to come entirely from B-block, planted in 2001 to a Wente selection from the Hyde Vineyard, so the vines were seven years old this vintage and just coming into their maturity. Hudson Vineyard wines tend to a more muscular, masculine character—broad-shouldered, if you will.
Connoisseurs’ Guide to California Wine 96: Clean, bright, layered and well-defined apple, sweet citrus and creme brulee scents introduce this impressive Chardonnay, yet for all of their immediacy, the aromas also still on the youthfully tight side. The wine reiterates is twin themes of still nascent fruit and deep, promising character in its flavors that are both compelling in the near term yet capable of further knitting together to deliver all of their impressive potential. A year in bottle would be useful, but three years would be even better and are certain to be rewarding.
4 – 2013 Tantara ‘Dierberg Vineyard’
Chardonnay | Santa Maria Valley | Inquire Here
Wine Spectrum Rated 95+: A glassy straw yellow full-bodied Chardonnay with aromatics of butterscotch, lemon blossom, and pears. Hints of pineapple and melon dominate the palate, complemented by clean minerality, bright acid and a long, refreshing finish.
Only 90 cases produced.
5 – 2013 Darms Lane
Chardonnay | Oak Knoll | Available Online
Wine Spectrum Rated 95: Subtle and nuanced, our 2013 Chardonnay offers aromas of Asian pear, brioche with hints of caramelized apple and fig. The rich yet balanced palate presents more pear and apple flavors. Moderate acidity and a good mouthfeel, our 2013 is round, soft with excellent texture that should pair nicely with food especially cream dishes. 800 cases produced. 100% Chardonnay – 65% Estate Bon Passe Vineyard – 35% Trefethen Vineyard.
Chardonnay | Sonoma Coast | Available Online
Wine Spectrum Rated 95: This is the inaugural release of Chardonnay for La Pitchoune. Winemaker Andrew Berge simply outdid himself with this gorgeous 2013 offering. Sourced from the Cameron Vineyard in Sebastopol Hills and the Bootlegger Vineyard owned by Michael Browne (of Kosta Browne and Cirq), just 180 cases of this wine were produced. Fresh aromas of sea salt, meyer lemon chiffon, and limestone minerality are strikingly similar to a Grand Cru Meursault. On the palate, prominent flavors of lemon zest, limeade, and crushed rocks intermingle with a faint hint of vanillin and toasty oak. This Chardonnay is elegant, clean and mouth-watering, with bright, balanced acid and a long finish. With such a limited production, this wine is sure to sell out lightening fast. La Pitchoune wines are made by Andrew Berge, formerly the assistant winemaker at Chasseur , and the current winemaker at Spell Estate.
Chardonnay | Sonoma Mountain | Available Online
Wine Spectrum Rated 95: Saint Helena Winery’s Chardonnay fruit is grown on Scopus Vineyard in the Sonoma Mountain appellation of California, farmed by Ulises Valdez, one of California’s most respected vineyard managers. The Scopus vineyard is 15 acres, all Chardonnay, sitting at roughly 700 feet above sea level, sloping eastward above the town of Glen Ellen. During summer, the Pacific coastal fog lingers here, creating cool nights and mornings. The soils are very rocky with volcanic red earth on the hillside.
8 – Lewis Cellars ‘Reserve’
Chardonnay | Napa Valley | Inquire Here
Wine Spectrum Rated 95: Unusually warm, dry conditions followed by excellent weather throughout harvest yielded an opulent and classically rendered Reserve Chardonnay in 2013. Ripe and sweetly fragrant Bosc pear, batard and caramel aromas are threaded with toasty oak, hazelnut and gunmetal. This provocative array enveloped in tantric satiny texture, lingers on the palate with Burgundian lees character before finally tailing off to a toasty finish. 550 cases produced.
9 – 2013 Maldonado ‘Los Olivos’
Chardonnay | Napa Valley | Inquire Here
Wine Spectrum Rated 95: The 2013 vintage is expressive and multi-dimensional with aromas of vibrant citrus, cardamom, banana, pineapple, and delicate floral notes. A bright fleshy entrance with complex layers of ripe green fig, lemon curd, citrus peel, vanilla, and barrel spice. Possibly the most exuberant vintage of this vineyard produced yet!
10 – 2013 TOR ‘Durrell Vineyard’
Chardonnay | Sonoma Valley | Inquire Here
Wine Spectrum Rated 95: As always the Durell Vineyard Chardonnay is the more gold colored of the Chardonnays and shows its California heritage in full glory. The 2013 is perhaps the biggest and richest Durell we have had since the 2007 vintage. This is very rich and silky on the palate with hazelnut, cream, brioche and a long, complex lingering finish. Though clearly drinkable now this wine should easily hold and improve over the next five years. 250 cases produced.
Robert Parker Rated 95: The 2013 Tor Chardonnay Durell Vineyard has plenty of buttered pineapple and honeysuckle, but more minerality than the Hudson Vineyard. The wet, pebbly, steely character of this wine reminds me somewhat of a New World version of a grand cru from Burgundy, such as Chevalier-Montrachet. The light straw color, intensity and full-bodied richness are all very impressive, and this wine seems capable of aging for 5-7 years.
Q. Why should I pay attention to the Wine Spectrum score?
A. The reason is simple. We taste and score wines with our entire sale’s team – the owner, the wine buyer, the sales manager, and all of our sale’s advisors. It’s not only one person’s opinion and rating of the wine, but a total average of the whole tasting panel. That adds up to decades of combined tasting experience to ensure that we bring only the BEST wines to our clients.
It is because of this and many other factors that our clients have come to respect our score and use it to help determine what wines they want to procure for their cellars and display on their tables. At Wine Spectrum you get a much better representation of how people will ENJOY a wine.
2015 wines of the year release schedule
12/15: #2 ranked wine
12/16: #1 ranked wine
12/18: #11 – #25 ranked wines
12/21: #26 – #50 ranked wines
12/21: 2015 Winemaker of the Year
12/22: #51 – #75 ranked wines
12/23: #76 – #100 ranked wines
1/4: Top Chardonnay’s of the Year
1/7: Top Pinot Noir’s of the Year
1/11: Top Cabernet Sauvignon’s of the Year
1/14: Top Other Domestic Red’s of the Year
1/18: Top International Wines of the Year
1/21: Top Wines of the Year under $60