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SONOMA CHARDONNAYS

October 11, 1999 • Old Doc's Discount Liquors

We limited ourselves to appellations in Sonoma County and many of them were represented (all except Carneros, Sonoma Mountain and Sonoma Coast). Another group of very nice wines overall (sigh!). All nine earned recommendations, while one deserved "BEST BUY" honors. In addition to ties in the scores for the 1st/2nd and 5th/6th places, a set of duplicate bottles were split in the rankings (1st & 6th), indicating the narrow range of overall scores and the high quality of the wines in general. Panelist's style preferences weighed heavily in the results (not that there's anything wrong with that...).

Brand
Vintage, Varietal or Type Appellation -$ price / Alc. Content

Consensus Tasting Notes
#Rank
Buying Advice

Ferrari-Carano
1997 Chardonnay
Alexander Valley -$20.
/
13.7% alcohol

Medium yellow; complex pineapple, peach, tropical fruit with buttery, smoky, leesy and minerally undertones; very ripe and fat, easy-drinking with faint oak and some leesy, barrel-fermented flavors; very clean, long finish.

#1 (tie)
Very Highly
Recommended

DeLoach
1997 Chardonnay "OFS"
Russian River Valley -$29.
/ 14.5%

Medium yellow; complex pear, apple, citrus, honey, toast, spice and floral aromas with a faint overripe character (Muscat?); very pleasant fruit flavor entry, big with ripe, jammy, complex and balanced flavors throughout; long, pleasant finish (OFS=Our Finest Selection).

#2 (tie)
Very Highly
Recommended

Rodney Strong
1997 Chardonnay
Chalk Hill -$13.
/
13.5%

Deep yellow to light gold; very big, rich, ripe, tropical, lemon and pineapple aromas with slightly buttery, nutmeg and spice barrel-fermented notes and a hint of filter pad; big, rich, creamy, viscous, barrel and ripe pineapple fruit flavors with a touch of pine sap (oxidation?); very long finish.

#3
Very Highly
Recommended
BEST BUY

Matanzas Creek
1996 Chardonnay
Sonoma Valley-$27.
/
13.5%

Light yellow; clean, pleasant lime, mineral,tropical fruit and Granny Smith apple aroma; light fruit flavors, very little oak; elegant style, crisp balance and slightly tart finish.

#4
Very Highly
Recommended

J. Pedroncelli
1997 Chardonnay
Dry Creek Valley "F. Johnson"-$14.
/
13.5%

Medium yellow; attractive smoky-toasty oak, hazelnut (oxidation?) and bread dominate a ripe apple aroma; clean, yet slightly harsh, coarse oak flavors mask fruit; short, tart, faintly tannic finish.

#5 (tie)
Highly
Recommended

Ferrari-Carano
1997 Chardonnay
Alexander Valley -$20.
/
13.7%

Medium yellow; rich, pineapple-tropical fruit with some nutty, toasty, leesy notes; soft, easy entry and well-balanced, clean flavors with a slightly oily texture (bordering on flabby); faintly hot finish.

#6 (tie)
Highly
Recommended

Murphy-Goode
1996 Chardonnay "Reserve"
Russian River Valley -$28.
/ 13.9%

Medium yellow; dried apricot, citrus and apple aroma with a touch of resin; good mouthfeel, ripeness and depth to the apple, butterscotch and oak flavors; balance somewhat sweet; long, though slightly hot and faintly harsh finish.

#7
Recommended

Dehlinger
1997 Chardonnay "Unfiltered"
Russian River Estate -$18.
/
14.2%

Light to medium yellow; honeysuckle and apple aroma with toasty, buttery, diacetyl, leesy elements and full malolactic quality; lots of pleasant upfront oak and leesy flavors, but lacking in fruit flavor.

#8
Recommended

Arrowood
1997 Chardonnay
Sonoma County -$22.
/
13.9%

Medium yellow; light floral, ripe apple fruit aroma with some mineral, musty, pencil shaving and oak hints; pleasant vanilla, somewhat light, almost bland flavors with a slight tannin harshness; comparatively austere, short finish.

#9
Recommended

This Panel included Glenn, Diana, Roy, Marlene,
Jon, Ray, Jim, Ron, Greg and James

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