James Suckling, Weekly Tasting Report – December 2020

We rated the 2018 Aubert chardonnays this week and one Aubert wine shares line honors for a perfect 100-point score. The Aubert Chardonnay Sonoma Coast Lauren Estate 2018 is the first white wine from the USA to receive a coveted 100-point rating here at JamesSuckling.com and it makes a statement for the whole category of USA chardonnay that USA chardonnays are right among the best in the world.

James recently caught up with Mark Aubert online and they discussed this flagship wine’s unique weight and impact over Zoom. It is sourced from Aubert’s oldest vines (and named after Mark Aubert’s daughter). “It just builds and is very different to the others,” says James, a feature that is really down to a combination of vine age and a unique site, says Aubert. “What’s amazing is the location,” he says, “it is on this little hill and the sunrise, the sunset, the winds – these all play a really important role in its ripeness.”

The Sonoma chardonnays of Aubert performed extremely well in this week’s tasting and they are clustered around the top of the ratings.

2018 Chardonnay CIX Estate Sonoma Coast
Score: 98 Points

Lots of ripe-nectarine, lemon-curd, dried-mango and smoked-cashew aromas. Salted butter notes. Ash, too. It’s full-bodied, creamy and smooth with a gradual and graceful evolution of ripe fruit to stone and flint on the finish. Solid density. Agile. Better in a year or two.

2018 Chardonnay Eastside Vineyard Russian River
Score: 98 Points

A powerful nose of dried pineapple, lime curd, dried lemon zest, white pepper, clove and a touch of burnt match. Pear blossom, too. Finely crafted, seamless layers of fruit, crushed stones and smoke. It’s full-bodied, tight and compact, elegant and sophisticated all at once. A beautiful wine. Such balance. Drink or hold.

2018 Chardonnay Hudson Vineyard Carneros
Score: 99 Points

Ripe-peach, chalk, smoked-almond, matchstick and phenolic aromas. Floral notes, too. It’s full-bodied, creamy and oily. So balanced and restrained, yet dense and impressive. Minerally. Give this time. Try after 2022, but already fantastic.

2018 Chardonnay Larry Hyde & Sons Vineyard Carneros
Score: 97 Points

Intense lime-curd, smoke, dried-mango and papaya aromas. Ginger, too. It’s full-bodied and creamy with incredibly concentrated flavors. So tight and layered. Clear and focused. Drink or hold.

2018 Chardonnay Lauren Estate Sonoma Coast
Score: 100 Points

Dried apricot, lemon zest, hawthorn and smoke on the nose. It’s full-bodied with concentrated dried and ripe fruit, interlaced with smoke and toast and balanced by tangy acidity. Lots of crushed gravel, too, before an oily finish. Dense and reflective, yet intense and energetic at the end. From the oldest vines of Aubert. Greatest American Chardonnay ever? Drink or hold.

2018 Chardonnay Powder House Estate Sonoma Coast
Score: 96 Points

Lots of aromas and flavors of lime zest and lime curd, dried pineapple, hawthorn and crushed hazelnut. Full-bodied and oily on the palate with lingering notes of lime and flint. Tight ending, but keeps going. Drink or hold.

2018 Chardonnay Sugar Shack Estate Napa Valley
Score: 99 Points

Flinty and steely with dried-apple, cooked-apple, pineapple, stone and honeysuckle aromas and flavors. Full-bodied and layered. Dense and agile with a vivid, flavorful finish. Complex, rich and so long. Still tight. But ever so serious and complex. Another triumph from Aubert from this vineyard. Drinkable now, but better in a year or two.

2018 Chardonnay UV-SL Vineyard Sonoma Coast
Score: 97 Points

Intense aromas of lemon curd, lime zest, white peach, butterscotch and flint. It’s full-bodied and creamy, compact and phenolic. So focused. Crushed flint on a long, mineral and smoky finish. Drink or hold.