Bottle Notes, Chardonnay

Pick My Next Bottle – Older California Chardonnay

The April Installment of Pick My Next Bottle focuses on Chardonnay with some bottle age. 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. The winning bottle will be opened this Wednesday and a Bottle Note will be published shortly thereafter.

I don’t think there is any question that California Chardonnay can age. Wines like Stony Hill, Hanzell and Chateau Montelena can be glorious at ten plus years of age. What other California Chardonnay have what it takes to improve with years in the cellar? The Chardonnays below are from some of my very favorite producers in the Russian River Valley.

The Contenders:

    • 2005 Williams Selyem Allen Vineyard Chardonnay – The very fine Allen Vineyard, on Westside Road in the tenderloin of the appellation, has produced a high-quality Chardonnay that is capable of some bottle aging. Dry and savory, it shows a strong mineral component to the pie filling limes, lemondrop, apple, fig and roasted hazelnut flavors. Should develop before fading, over the next 5 years. 92 points from the Wine Enthusiast.
    • 2006 Dehlinger Estate Chardonnay – The top cuvee, the 2006 Chardonnay Estate, is fashioned from the vineyard’s finest blocks (primarily old Wente clones). A light straw/gold color is followed by aromas of sweet honeyed grapefruit, quince, poached pears, and a subtle touch of white peaches. Medium to full-bodied with steely acidity, excellent depth, a hint of oak, and a long finish, it can be enjoyed over the next 2-3 years. 93 points from the Wine Advocate.
    • 2007 Rochioli River Block Chardonnay– The 2007 Chardonnay River Block (old Wente and Hanzell clones) has notes of lemon butter, a surprising amount of tropical fruit for this vintage, and terrific acidity. Although it is still somewhat closed, it is very long, rich, and promising. This wine should equal the 2006 and 2005 River Block, but probably needs another year of bottle age given the fact that this vintage seems to have produced wines of slightly more noticeable acidity, not to mention more restrained personalities. 93 points from the Wine Advocate.

Which Chardonnay should I open?

  • 2005 Williams Selyem Allen Vineyard Chardonnay (45%, 17 Votes)
  • 2007 Rochioli River Block Chardonnay (29%, 11 Votes)
  • 2006 Dehlinger Estate Chardonnay (26%, 10 Votes)

Total Voters: 38

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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 May installment of Pick My Next Bottle.

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7 thoughts on “Pick My Next Bottle – Older California Chardonnay

  1. Tom, had to vote for the Rochioli. One if my two last waiting lists. Plus every 07 chard I have had has been off the charts. Cheers!

  2. I’m going with Dehlinger. I could be wrong, but it seems to be the one that could be running out of the drinking window the soonest. Also, I already know the greatness Rochioli brings to the table. Lastly, William-Selyem will be under a new wine maker for my personal foreseeable drinking going forward.

  3. I vote for the elder of the group. I’m just sold more on its description. Has me salivating. Waiting to see if it matches.

  4. I am a huge fan of Williams-Selyem! This past year I had their 2002 Russian River Chardonnay and 2009 Allen Vineyard Chardonnay. Their Chards are always spectacular! ps…currently drinking 2004 Hanzell Chard…a wow wine! (we decanted it and tasted over a 4 hour period…it just kept getting better)

  5. Not familiar with any of the three choices. But, 2005 seems a bit too aged based on my limited experience with California Chardonnay. Thus, my pick is the 05 Williams Selyem Allen Vineyard Chardonnay.

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