June 2018 – Jeb Dunnuck

Located in Napa yet pulling mostly from top sites in Sonoma and Carneros, Mark Aubert continues to work his magic with Chardonnay and Pinot Noir. These latest releases show the elegant, balanced style of the 2016 vintage, yet still have the rich, powerful, yet incredibly pure style that’s the hallmark of this brilliant estate. While the quality of the Chardonnays from Aubert is well known, don’t miss a chance to try his Pinot Noirs. These 2016s are unquestionably the finest to date. While there are few mailing lists worth being on, this is one of them!

2016 Chardonnay CIX Estate Vineyard Sonoma Coast
Score: 98 Points

From an estate vineyard located just beside the Lauren vineyard, in the Sonoma Coast AVA that was planted in 2008, the 2016 Chardonnay CIX Estate comes from volcanic and goldridge soils and was brought up in 80% new French oak. It’s another wine that builds with time in the glass and offers a full-bodied, powerful, yet shockingly elegant profile. Incredible notes of caramelized white peaches, tangerines, white flowers, and ample salty, seaside mineral characteristics, as well as terrific purity, make for a singular, awesome Chardonnay to drink over the coming 4-6 years.

2016 Chardonnay Eastside Vineyard Russian River
Score: 100 Points

Another perfect wine is the 2016 Chardonnay Eastside Vineyard, which comes from a site on the east side of the Russian River Valley. All from a suitcase clone from Montrachet, it has a perfumed, vibrant bouquet of caramelized green citrus, crushed rocks, orange blossom, and candied ginger. While it’s a full-bodied, powerful wine, it has an incredible sense of freshness and purity, with more saline/oyster shell notes developing as it sat in the glass. It’s another tour de force from Mark Aubert!

2016 Chardonnay Hudson Vineyard Carneros
Score: 99 Points

Borderline perfection, the 2016 Chardonnay Hudson Vineyard has a liqueur of rocks-like minerality as well as more Burgundian candied lemon, white flowers, and oyster shell characteristics. Brought up in 80% new French oak, it has a deep, rich, concentrated profile, vibrant acidity, and remarkable purity.

2016 Chardonnay Larry Hyde & Sons Vineyard Carneros
Score: 97 Points

From the “King of Carneros,” the 2016 Chardonnay Larry Hyde & Sons is one of the larger production cuvées from Aubert and comes from two Burgundian clones. Bottled in December, it gives up a huge bouquet of citrus, orange blossom, caramelized ginger, and toasted bread in a rich, opulent style that stays impeccably balanced and fresh. Brought up in 70% new French oak, it’s going to sing for 4-6 years, and last even longer.

2016 Chardonnay Lauren Estate Vineyard Sonoma Coast
Score: 100 Points

My favorite in the lineup (although they’d all qualify as a desert island wine) was the 2016 Chardonnay Lauren Estate. Brought up in 100% new oak and with a vibrant gold color (as well as a hint of green), it boasts off-the-chart aromas of caramelized orchard fruits, marzipan, orange peel, Asian spices and honeyed flowers. Deep, multi-dimensional, layered, and perfectly balanced, it hits the palate with a massive blast of fruit, yet is seamless and weightless. Don’t miss it!

2016 Chardonnay Sugar Shack Estate Vineyard Napa Valley
Score: 99 Points

The 2016 Chardonnay Sugar Shack Estate comes from a site in Napa Valley and is undeniably the most opulent and sexy in the lineup. Huge orchard fruits, lemon curd, white flowers, and orange liqueur notes give way to an opulent, thick and layered beauty that still just glides across the palate, with no sense of heaviness. While it was brought up in 80% new French oak, it’s absorbed every bit of it and is just a heavenly Chardonnay that could come from nowhere else.

2016 Chardonnay UV-SL Vineyard Sonoma Coast
Score: 100 Points

From a cooler site, the 2016 Chardonnay UV-SL Vineyard is a perfect wine any way you look at it. Caramelized pineapple, marzipan, citrus, candle wax, and layers of complex Chardonnay fruit all flow to a beautifully pure, silky, perfectly balanced 2016 that has depth, freshness, complexity, and length. It develops even more complexity with time in the glass and is a brilliant effort from this estate. As with the other releases here, it was brought up in 80% new French oak.

2016 Pinot Noir CIX Estate Vineyard Sonoma Coast
Score: 96 Points

The 2016 Pinot Noir CIX Estate is a darker, earthier effort that has a kiss of Côte de Nuit in its black cherry, savory herbs, scorched earth, and forest floor aromas and flavors. It’s powerful and concentrated, yet also silky and elegant, with fine, fine tannin on the finish. Drink it anytime over the coming decade or more.

2016 Pinot Noir UV Vineyard Sonoma Coast
Score: 100 Points

Leading off the Pinot Noirs, this is unquestionably the finest set of releases from the estate I’ve ever tasted, and it appears some of the magic Mark finds with his Chardonnays is finding its way over to the Pinot Noirs. The 2016 Pinot Noir UV Vineyard is 100% Calera clone from a site in the Sonoma Coast and was brought up in 60-70% new French oak. It also saw around 10-20% whole clusters. Incredible ripe cherries, strawberries, exotic spices, blood orange, and floral notes all soar from this transparently colored, multi-dimensional, layered Pinot Noir that has no hard edges, ultra-fine tannin, and a finish that just won’t quit. It’s the finest Pinot Noir ever made from this address.

2016 Pinot Noir UV-SL Vineyard Sonoma Coast
Score: 99 Points

The 2016 Pinot Noir UV-SL Vineyard flirts with perfect and is another incredible effort from the Sonoma Coast. Deeply colored, with ripe cherries, underbrush, black currants, graphite, blood orange, and forest floor notes, it hits the palate with full-bodied richness, ample tannin, a big mid-palate, and a blockbuster finish. Despite being a rich, powerful wine, it shows remarkable elegance and purity, as well as a weightless, seamless texture. Brought up in 70% new French oak, drink it over the coming decade.