Bottle Notes, Chardonnay

Pick My Next Bottle – California Chardonnay

California Chardonnay

The May installment of Pick My Next Bottle focuses on California Chardonnay from some of my favorite producers. As I mentioned in the first installment, the purpose of this series is to provide insight into specific wines or producers you may currently have in your cellar.

This installment of Pick My Next Bottle is special as I plan on opening the winning bottle on March 23rd, International Chardonnay Day. I will publish a bottle note some time the following week.

The Chardonnays are all from wineries in the Russian River Valley that are most widely known for their world class Pinot Noirs:

  • Williams Selyem Winery began when Ed Selyem and Burt Williams started making wine as a hobby in 1979 in Forestville, California. Their first commercial release was in 1981, and in less than two decades they created a cult-status winery of international acclaim. Although their Pinot Noir receives the most acclaim one should not overlook their Zinfandel and Chardonnay lineup.
  • Rochioli is one of the true pioneers in Russian River Valley, with a winemaking history dating back to the the late 1950′s. Although best known for their world class Pinot Noir, Rochioli also produces remarkable Chardonnay and Sauvignon Blanc.
  • Dehlinger Winery is located in the Russian River Valley of Sonoma County and was founded in 1975 by Tom and Carole Dehlinger. Eva Dehlinger took over winemaking duties in 2007. Known for their Pinot Noir, Dehlinger also makes Chardonnay, Syrah and Cabernet Sauvignon.

The Contenders

2004 Williams Selyem Chardonnay Allen Vineyard – The impressive 2004 Chardonnay Allen Vineyard reveals deep, concentrated, honeyed flavors along with notions of pineapples, white currants, and smoky oak, superb richness, and a pure, dense character. It is best consumed over the next 3-4 years. 94 points from the Wine Advocate.

2005 J. Rochioli Chardonnay South River Vineyard – Aromas of honeysuckle, lemon oil, and white peach along with superb minerality are found in the 2005 Chardonnay South River Vineyard. With fabulous texture, a flinty character, and great generosity, richness, purity, and length, it should drink well for 5-7 years. Kudos to Tom Rochioli, one of the wine world’s great guys who, without any fanfare, continues to turn out world-class wines of extraordinary aromatic and flavor dimensions. 94 points from the Wine Advocate.

2005 Dehlinger Estate Chardonnay – Perhaps the finest Chardonnay Tom Dehlinger has ever made, the style of the 2005 Chardonnay Estate is mid-way between a grand cru Chablis and a ripe, full-bodied, fruit-laden California Chardonnay. Beautiful lemon blossom, nectarine, crushed rock, and white currant notes soar from the glass of this full-bodied effort. Displaying a gorgeous texture along with a pure, long, intense personality, the oak component is pushed to the background, and the wine’s intense minerality and fruit are beautifully balanced. This stunner should drink well for 4-5 years. 93 points from the Wine Advocate.

Which California Chardonnay should I open?

  • 2004 Williams Selyem Chardonnay Allen Vineyard (44%, 20 Votes)
  • 2005 Rochioli Chardonnay South River Vineyard (31%, 14 Votes)
  • 2005 Dehlinger Estate Chardonnay (24%, 11 Votes)

Total Voters: 45

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Thanks for voting! I’d love to see a comment below on why you picked one bottle over another. Also, let me know if you have any suggestions for the June installment of Pick My Next Bottle.

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14 thoughts on “Pick My Next Bottle – California Chardonnay

  1. I selected Williams Selyem because it’s what I would choose for myself. Although I do like the unoaked Chards, I really enjoy a rich Chard with depth.

    1. If there was a California Chardonnay that might appeal to you I would think Dehlinger would fit the profile. Thanks for weighing in.

  2. I’m not very familiar with the three California chardonnay wines listed here. However, based on what I’ve read about the wineries, my guess is that the 2005 Dehlinger Estate chardonnay might be the most drinkable right now.

  3. I voted for the Williams Selyem because it’s the oldest and all of the wines are outside of their ‘prime’ drinking windows. So, consume the one with the shortest drinking window first.

    1. Perhaps outside their “prime” drinking window but having had Chards from these producers and in particular these vintages within the last year…there is no denying how well these wines are showing right now.

  4. Although the Dehlinger sounded incredible, I tend to like my Chardonnays more Chablis or Cote de Beaune like (flinty & minerals) that are very juditous with the oak. So I voted for the J Rochioli just for those reasons. In fact I have a bottle of 2011 Williams Selyem No Oak Chardonnay I haven’t tried as yet.

    Either way, they are all 3 world class Chardonnays with real pedigree, so I can’t believe you could go wrong with either of these gems!
    Terry Hill
    Texas Wineaux

  5. Went with the Williams Selyem. Love their Pinot, of course, and have enjoyed more recent vintages of Chardonnay, so I am curious how the 2004 will show.

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