For this month’s wine tasting, we asked the Cheers/Beverage Dynamics National Wine Panel, a distinguished group of restaurant, hotel and retail beverage professionals, to select a lineup of recently tasted chardonnays, a varietal wine whose fruit and texture has propelled it into becoming the white wine of choice for American consumers. As always, these selections all include brief tasting notes, a rating and the wine’s suggested retail price (which varies from market to market).
If you’re a beverage professional who would like to learn more about participating in our panel, call Jack Robertiello at 718-857-3660, or email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.
*****Five Stars (92-100)
A top-flight wine. Superior in taste and character and providing an outstanding price/value relationship.
****Four Stars (86-91)
A very good wine and an excellent value. A wine for which customers will keep coming back.
***** 96 2001 Ramey Cellars Russian River Chardonnay (California). Even though the expression of fruit screams Russian River, it still leads to a very Burgundian character of lush flavors with great acidity. $35
***** 95 2002 Shafer Red Shoulders Ranch Chardonnay (California). Big, lush weighty wine with pear, golden apple, honeysuckle and honey; well-balanced deep core of fruit that appeals to a wide range of wine drinkers. $38
***** 94 2001 Chateau Souverain Winemakers Reserve Russian River Chardonnay (California). Tropical fruit with hints of orange blossoms and sur lies aging adding delightful nuances of vanilla; a real treat $26
***** 94 2001 Landmark Overlook Chardonnay (California). A consistently awesome chardonnay, in every way; great with lobster. $28
***** 94 2001 Hartford Court Stone Cote Vineyard Chardonnay (California). Aromas of lanolin, nectarine, baked pear and minerals with hints of red apple; very Chablisesque in nose and palate. $35
***** 94 2003 Cloudy Bay Chardonnay (Marlborough, New Zealand). Bold and rich with nice spice and nutty notes adding to the pretty ripe pear, mango and apricot fruit flavors; beautifully balanced with a long, rich finish. $28
***** 93 2002 Chateau Rully, Mercurey Blanc (France). Sourced from 50% Premier Cru vineyards in the fantastic 2002 vintage, this wine explodes on the palate with layers of bright citrus, apples, ripe pears and just a hint of creamy vanilla; medium-bodied, this wine rivals many classified growths from more famous villages in the Cotes de Beaune; pairs with crab imperial. $25
***** 93 2001 Villa Mt Eden Grand Reserve Chardonnay California). Big and lush with substantial weight; deep ripe pear fruit that’s folded into a good balance and structure; stands up to wines three times the price; a good buy. $18
***** 93 2002 Rombauer Carneros Chardonnay (California). Rich chardonnay fruit and a creamy texture surrounded by well-balanced acidity and oak; an outstanding effort. $28
***** 93 2001 Chappellet Chardonnay (California). From a winery whose claim to fame is their cabernet, they have really refined their whites; a wine more reminiscent of a White Burgundy, with golden straw tones and hints of apples and pears in the nose with well defined flavors that display a creamy elegance and a finish that stays on long after you have swallowed. $15
***** 93 2002 Domaine Martelet de Cherisey Puligny-Montrachet Hameau de Blagny Premier Cru (France). Fruit-forward and oily; a very full and lush Puligny. $65
***** 93 2002 Stag’s Leap Wine Cellars Arcadia Chardonnay (California). Chablis style from California; very linear lines, great balance and length. $50
***** 92 2002 Domaine Fevre Chablis Fourchaume-Vaulorent Premier Cru (France). A stellar Chablis vintage with the clean lines that one would expect, with apples and mineral nuances. $40 Clicquot, Inc.
***** 92 2001 Martin Ray Chardonnay (California). Beautiful layers of citrus, spice and tree fruit flow generously from nose and show abundantly in the medium-bodied format; amazingly complex with grace and elegance with all of the above flavors integrated with hints of vanilla; the finish is crisp with a final, refreshing wash of ripe lemon; serve with meaty fish like a broiled salmon filet. $20
***** 92 2001 Dumal Chardonnay (California). Oak and acidity are perfectly balanced in this unfined and unfiltered chardonnay; citrus, apple and honey lead into a long finish $60
***** 92 2002 Patz & Hall Chardonnay Napa (California). Elegant and refined with supple pear and apple flavors. Subtle spice and toasted oak notes complete this complex chardonnay. $33
***** 92 2001 Domaine Chandon Carneros Chardonnay (California). The aromas are complex yet clean and crisp with notes of apple, white peach, cr