Jan 2016 Vinous – Antonio Galloni

This is a fabulous set of wines from Mark Aubert. The Chardonnays in particular are exceptional. In my view, Aubert’s wines, especially the Chardonnays, have become more refined over last few years, something Mark Aubert attributes to moving into his new winery. As of the 2011 vintage, the team has total control over all aspects of production. Previously, the wines were made in a custom crush facility, which almost always involves compromises and imposes constraints. As was the case throughout the region, Aubert saw low yields in 2014, the third year of the drought cycle, which is one of the reasons the wines are so intense. The Chardonnays were aged in 100% new oak, all of which they have handled effortlessly. All of the Pinots were done with around 10-15% whole clusters, but, here, too, it is the purity of the fruit that comes through above all else. The Chardonnays were bottled in late August/early September, while the Pinots were bottled in July. Stylistically, there also appears to be a widening gap between the Chardonnays and the Pinots, which are excellent, but made in a much more overt, powerful style, with long periods of skin contact and less overall subtlety. Still, those are pretty small critiques at this lofty level.

2014 Aubert Chardonnay CIX Estate Vineyard Sonoma Coast
Score: 94
Drinking Window: 2016 – 2025

Dense and racy in style, the 2014 Chardonnay CIX Vineyard is one of the more approachable wines in this lineup. Here the Montrachet clone gives a Chardonnay with good up-front intensity and plenty of power. Although attractive, the CIX doesn’t quite have the complexity, nuance or persistence of the best wines in the range.

2014 Aubert Chardonnay Eastside Vineyard Russian River
Score: 96
Drinking Window: 2017 – 2025

Aubert’s 2014 Chardonnay Eastside Vineyard is one of the most intriguing wines in this range. Initially a touch reduced, the Eastside is slow to get out of the gate. Of all the wines in this range, the Eastside has the lowest pH and highest acidity. Although wine can rarely be reduced to a simple number, those readings partly explain why the Eastside is slow to awaken in the glass. When it does, the wine is striking, with superb aromatic and chiseled fruit, all supported by beams of salinity. Most of Mark Aubert’s 2014 Chardonnays can be enjoyed with minimal cellaring. The Eastside is not one of them. Readers need to be patient here.

2014 Aubert Chardonnay Hudson Vineyard Carneros
Score: 96
Drinking Window: 2017 – 2025

The 2014 Chardonnay Hudson Vineyard is an addition to the range. A wine of depth, creaminess and intensity, the 2014 boasts superb richness and depth. Ginger, orange blossom and candied lemon are some of the signatures, but above all else, the Hudson is a wine of vertical intensity and power. The wine gets better and better with time in the glass. Mark Aubert’s Hudson Chardonnay comes from the parcel that David Ramey used to get, in what is considered the heart of the vineyard.

2014 Aubert Chardonnay Larry Hyde and Sons Vineyard Carneros
Score: 95
Drinking Window: 2017 – 2026

The 2014 Chardonnay Larry Hyde and Sons opens with strikingly beautiful aromatics. Sensual, layered and polished, the Hyde boasts fabulous purity, nuance and class. Apricot pit, honey, candied lemon, crème brulee, wild flowers, mint and lightly buttered notes meld into the supple, radiant finish. This is a great example of Hyde.

2014 Aubert Chardonnay Lauren Estate Vineyard Sonoma Coast
Score: 97
Drinking Window: 2018 – 2025

The 2014 Chardonnay Lauren Vineyard is one of the most brilliant wines in this range. Subtle, nuanced yet also deep, the 2014 blossoms with time in the glass. As good as the Lauren is today, experience has taught me that a few years in bottle can be transformational. This is yet another captivating Chardonnay from Mark Aubert.

 

 

2014 Aubert Chardonnay Ritchie Vineyard Sonoma Coast
Score: 96
Drinking Window: 2017 – 2025

The 2014 Chardonnay Ritchie Vineyard is one of the most refined, perfumed wines in the range. White flowers, orchard fruit, petrol and mint are some of the signatures in the 2014 Ritchie. Light on its feet yet wonderfully expressive, the 2014 has it all. This is a very pretty Ritchie Chardonnay that will delight readers lucky enough to find it for a decade or more. Mark Aubert adds that this is the smallest crop he has ever had at Ritchie.

 

 

2014 Aubert Chardonnay Sugar Shack Estate Vineyard Napa Valley
Score: 95
Drinking Window: 2017 – 2025

One of the most flamboyant, exotic wines in this range, the 2014 Chardonnay Sugar Shack wraps around the palate with serious depth and raciness. Apricot jam, honey, candied lemon and white flowers meld together. This is an especially seamless, sweet Chardonnay built on silkiness.

2014 Aubert Chardonnay UV-SL Vineyard Sonoma Coast
Score: 97
Drinking Window: 2017 – 2025

The 2014 Chardonnay UV-SL Vineyard is rich, phenolic and intense, with striking interplay of aromas, flavors and textures. Seamless and impeccably layered in the glass, the 2014 speaks to balance and finesse. Today, the UV-SL is creamy, unctuous and absolutely stunning in its beauty. Yields were just one ton per acre at UV-SL, the most coastal of the sites Mark Aubert works with.

2014 Aubert Pinot Noir CIX Vineyard Sonoma Coast
Score: 93
Drinking Window: 2018 – 2024

The 2014 Pinot Noir CIX Vineyard is a powerful, embryonic wine that needs time to come together. This is a prototypical Mark Aubert Pinot built on intensity and power. The effects of the drought are evident in the wine’s tannin profile, but there is also good freshness to play off the richness of the fruit. CIX is planted with a specific Vosne-Romanée suitcase clone Aubert is especially fond of.

2014 Aubert Pinot Noir Ritchie Vineyard Sonoma Coast
Score: 94
Drinking Window: 2017 – 2024

The 2014 Pinot Noir Ritchie Vineyard is bright, focused and nuanced throughout, with plenty of supporting acidity to balance the intensity of the fruit. Sweet dark cherry, lavender and cloves are all pushed forward. This is an especially linear, energetic Ritchie Pinot with everything in the right place. The Ritchie is also the most structured of these Pinots, although there is plenty of the richness that Mark Aubert coaxes from his vineyard sites.

2014 Aubert Pinot Noir UV Vineyard Sonoma Coast
Score: 92
Drinking Window: 2017 – 2024

The 2014 Pinot Noir UV Vineyard has a lovely immediacy, but it also comes across as ample and at times a bit heavy. Then again, this site is rich in clay, which tends to confer breadth. Dark red cherry, plum, leather, mint and spices meld into the powerful, resonant finish. This supple, engaging Pinot will drink well pretty much right out of the gate. UV is planted with a mix of Calera and Vosne-Romanée clones.

2014 Aubert Pinot Noir UV-SL Vineyard Sonoma Coast
Score: 94
Drinking Window: 2018 – 2024

The 2014 Pinot Noir UV-SL Vineyard is the most complete of the Pinots. Exquisite, subtle and nuanced, the UV-SL has a level of translucent and crystalline purity that separates it from the other Pinots. Scents of graphite, licorice, cherry jam, lavender and rose petal leave a lasting impression in a wine that deftly balanced aromatic intensity, pliant fruit and structure.