Mark Aubert has quite the resume: Rutherford Hills, MontiCello Cellars, Peter Michael Winery, Colgin Cellars, and since 2000, proprietor of his own label. In the decade and a half that he's been making wines, he's churned out his share of blockbusters to the accolades of Parker and Tanzer and the rest.
This week I had the opportunity to taste his recent efforts in the Chardonnay category, and even though this review is about only one of his wines, honestly I can't decide which one I like better. These wines also define a point where Mr. Parker and I see eye to eye. Here is his review of this wine (in the previous vintage):
"The 700-case lot of 2001 Chardonnay Ritchie Vineyard is smoky and hazelnut-like, with a liquid minerality. It is produced from a 38-year old Wente clone of Chardonnay. There is no doubting its similarity to a Batard Montrachet. The wine is stacked and packed, possessing impressive glycerin levels, intense fruit, and great purity and length. It will drink well for 4-5 years." 93-95
I have no idea what "stacked and packed" actually means nor where he's getting the smoky aromas -- but I agree with the sentiments. Here's what I think:
This wine is everything a Chardonnay should be. Silky pale yellow gold and viscous in the glass, lifting itself up and into your nose with amazing scents of butter cream, golden delicious apples, and spring flowers (species indeterminate). In the mouth it's a model of perfection with a balance of acid and cool fruit supported by light brushings of oak and nuts. The finish is gorgeous with hints of spice, orange zest, and amazingly, the smell of the air just before it rains. This sounds outrageous, but honestly, it's a very distinct aroma, and it's in this wine. I love it.
So, I also want to throw in a note about the other Chardonnay (Quarry Vineyard) which is equally good: It is similar in structure with more apricot in the nose, a touch more acid, and more honeysuckle and pear flavors in the body of the wine. Impressive.
This wine can stand up to a lot of things that many Chardonnays could not. Because of its fruit component and oak I'd love to have it with anything that is creamy and buttery especially pastas and soups. Since its spring, and I've put away the creamy soup recipes until the fall, if I were going to drink this tomorrow I would have it with poached salmon with truffles and shimp in cream sauce.
Overall Score (for both wines):10
How Much?: $65 - 85 (both wines)
These wines are hard to get as they are immediately on allocation when released (no retailer gets as much as they want). As a result the price varies, and can be as high as $100. Wine Searcher shows a few Internet retailers carrying these wines.
A wine book like no other. Photographs, essays, and wine recommendations. 2015 Roederer Award Winner.Learn more.
Holiday Gift Guide for the Wine Lover Who Has Everything I'll Drink to That: Andrew McNamara of The Court of Master Sommeliers Vinography Unboxed: Week of November 22, 2015 I'll Drink to That: Bruce Neyers of Neyers Vineyards Vinography Images: Rows of Gold A Lonely Hillside: The Wines of Alto de la Ballena, Uruguay I'll Drink to That: Karen MacNeil The Most Untrustworthy Wine in the World Wine News: What I'm Reading the Week of 11/22 I'll Drink to That: CP Lin of Erewhon
Wine Will Never Smell the Same Again: Luca Turin and the Science of Scent Forlorn Hope: The Remarkable Wines of Matthew Rorick Debating Robert Parker At His Invitation Passopisciaro Winery, Etna, Sicily: Current Releases Should We Care What Winemakers Say? The Sweet Taste of Freedom: Austria's Ruster Ausbruch Wines 2009 Burgundy Vintage According to Domaine de la Romanée-Conti Charles Banks: The New Man Behind Mayacamas Wine from the Caldera: The Incredible Viticulture of Santorini Why Community Tasting Notes Sites Will Fail Chateau Rayas and the 2012 Vintage of Chateauneuf-du-Pape A Life Indomitable: The Wines of Casal Santa Maria, Portugal Bay Area Bordeaux: Tasting Santa Cruz Mountain Cabernets Forgotten Jewels: Reviving Chile's Old Vine Carignane The First-Timer's Guide to Les Trois Glorieuses of Hospices de Beaune