The Wine Advocate Issue 222, December 2015

Robert Parker, Jr., The Wine Advocate Issue 222

2014 Chardonnay CIX Estate Vineyard Sonoma Coast
Score: 98-100 Points

The 2014 Chardonnay CIX looks killer and may even eclipse the 2013. It is even denser, richer and fuller, with much of the same character, but there’s an even stronger core of fruit, slightly more glycerin, and thrilling aromatics and flavors.

2014 Chardonnay Eastside Vineyard Sonoma Coast
Score: 98-100 Points

The 2014 Chardonnay Eastside may also flirt with perfection. This wine is fashioned in the same style, but incredibly may be even more concentrated, intense and full. It is remarkable what Mark Aubert is doing so brilliantly with his winemaking program, and if readers haven’t beaten a path to his door (or mailing list), it’s about time, as these are some of the most complex and satisfying wines on Planet Earth.

2014 Chardonnay Hudson Vineyard Carneros
Score: 95-97 Points

A new baby for Mark Aubert in 2014 is the 2014 Chardonnay Hudson Vineyard. Made from 20-year-old Wente clones, Aubert says this wine is a throwback to the old Helen Turley Hudson Vineyard Chardonnays from the early 1990s. This wine displays tremendous amounts of tropical fruit, honeysuckle, poached pear and pineapple. Drink it over the next decade.

2014 Chardonnay Larry Hyde & Sons Vineyard Carneros
Score: 95-97 Points

The 2014 Chardonnay Larry Hyde and Sons is a bigger wine, no doubt the alcohol slightly higher, but the acids are present. The wine reveals terrific white peach and honeysuckle notes along with some quince and marmalade. Rich, full, powerful and long, it is a stunner that should drink well for 10-15 years.

2014 Chardonnay Lauren Estate Vineyard Sonoma Coast
Score: 95-98+ Points

The 2014 Chardonnay Lauren Estate is even more concentrated by the drought, has great acidity (one of the characteristics of 2014 Chardonnays at Aubert), huge extract and richness, but also zesty, high acids. This big, bold Chardonnay should easily last 10+ years as well.

2014 Chardonnay Ritchie Vineyard Sonoma Coast
Score: 95-97 Points

The 2014 Chardonnay Ritchie (the vines this year were 42 years of age) displays terrific ripeness, plenty of acidity, fabulous density, a multi-dimensional mouthfeel and a full-bodied finish. It should drink well for a decade as well.

2014 Chardonnay Sugar Shack Estate Vineyard Napa Valley
Score: 96-98 Points

The 2014 Chardonnay Sugar Shack…was harvested extremely early (on August 18) and has wonderful pineapple, candied Granny Smith apples, honeysuckle and loads of peach marmalade in a full-bodied, dense style, but again with zesty acid. In many ways, these are the most extroverted and exuberant of the Aubert Chardonnays year in and year out.

2014 Chardonnay UV-SL Vineyard Sonoma Coast
Score: 96-100 Points

The 2014 Chardonnay UV-SL may flirt with perfection when all is said and done. This dry-farmed vineyard, which had tiny yields in 2014 because of the drought, displays great intensity in its notes of lemon oil, wet rocks, honeysuckle, pineapple, and peach and apricot marmalade. Some brioche and caramelized apples also make an appearance in this full-throttle, full-bodied Chardonnay that must be close to 15.5% natural alcohol, although there’s not a trace of heat. Drink it over the next ten years.

2014 Pinot Noir CIX Estate Vineyard Sonoma Coast
Score: 96 Points

Made entirely from a clone from the most famous vineyard in Burgundy, the 2014 Cix offers crisp acid, loads of black raspberry, forest floor and blueberry fruit, and tremendous density, richness, and intensity. (It’s interesting to note that these 2014s are all in bottle while the Chardonnays are still in tank awaiting bottling.) This is a wine with great fruit, terrific acids and a long finish. It should evolve for 10 or more years.

2014 Pinot Noir Ritchie Vineyard Sonoma Coast
Score: 92 Points

I tasted the four cuvées of Pinot Noir in 2014. These wines are aged in about 70% new oak, often see some whole clusters, but rarely more than 15-20%, and are given a cold pre-fermentation maceration of 5-7 days. The clonal material varies according to the source. The 2014 Pinot Noir Ritchie Vineyard, which has 15-20% whole clusters and comes from the Calera clone of Pinot Noir, reveals loads of Asian spice, sassafras, pomegranate, black and red currants, some underbrush and forest floor. It is deep, dense, rich and just gorgeous. Drink it over the next 10-15 years.

2014 Pinot Noir UV Vineyard Sonoma Coast
Score: 94 Points

As for the 2014 Pinot Noir UV, this wine comes two-thirds from the Calera clone of Pinot Noir and the rest from a Vosne-Romanée clone (which we all know, but no one’s saying, probably emanated from the famous Domaine de la Romanée Conti estate). Lots of soft strawberry, sweet cherry and blueberry notes emerge from this wine, giving it a Côte de Nuits-like character. Slightly lighter than the Ritchie, feminine, fragrant, and beautifully round and juicy, this wine should drink well young and last ten or more years.

2014 Pinot Noir UV-SL Vineyard Sonoma Coast
Score: 98 Points

The 2014 Pinot Noir UV-SL is made from both the Vosne-Romanée and Calera clones of Pinot Noir. This is pure Sonoma Coast Pinot, with a sweet nose of root beer, blackcurrants, black cherries, and forest floor. It is the most densely colored of all four Pinot Noirs, and shows the biggest body, structure and richness. I also think it’s the most concentrated. This is an amazing wine and may have been the best 2014 Pinot Noir I tasted on this last trip. It should drink well for 10-15+ years.

2013 Chardonnay CIX Estate Vineyard Sonoma Coast
Score: 97 Points

The 2013 Chardonnay CIX Estate, also from a Montrachet clone planted on Goldridge soils, displays plenty of peach, apricot, caramelized apples, citrus blossom and wet stones in a full-bodied, powerful, rich and pure, precise style. This is another beauty from 2013 that should easily age for 10+ years.

2013 Chardonnay Eastside Vineyard Sonoma Coast
Score: 100 Points

The 2013 Chardonnay Eastside…displays terrific intensity, plenty of stony minerality, and great precision in its notes of subtle white peach, pineapple, almond paste, brioche and crème brûlée. This is a killer wine and a perfect example of 2013 Chardonnay at its best. I never thought this wine could hit this peak, but the proof is in the tasting, and the wine, which was somewhat shy and reserved after bottling, has truly come to life over the last three to four months. This five-acre vineyard sits on a west-facing hill on Eastside Road in the Russian River. Drink it over the next 10-12 years.

2013 Chardonnay Larry Hyde & Sons Vineyard Carneros
Score: 96 Points

The 2013 Chardonnay Larry Hyde and Sons, like most of Aubert’s Chardonnays, always seems to have a greenish hue to its light straw/gold color. This wine comes from one of the coldest vineyards in the Aubert portfolio. The 2013 does offer some delicate pineapple, damp earth and wet stones as well as a touch of white currants and quince. This beautifully fruited wine is medium to full-bodied, has great acidity, and should continue to drink well for at least another decade.

2013 Chardonnay Lauren Estate Vineyard Sonoma Coast
Score: 98+ Points

The 2013 Chardonnay Lauren Estate is made from 15-year-old vines from the old Wente and Mt. Eden clones of Chardonnay planted in Goldridge soils. This wine offers loads of nectarine, honeysuckle, liquefied rock, quince and white currants. The wine has incredible richness, no real evidence of any of the 100% new oak it is aged in, and a multi-dimensional, long finish. This compelling Chardonnay is still young and capable of lasting 10-15 years.

2013 Chardonnay Ritchie Vineyard Sonoma Coast
Score: 96 Points

From the oldest vines that Aubert works with, the 2013 Chardonnay Ritchie Vineyard is made from the old Wente clone favored by so many of the top winemakers for Chardonnay. It boasts the wet rocks and candied citrus, the white peach and pineapple notes, has a strong green hue to the light gold color, and a full-bodied, powerful finish. It is a ten-year wine at the minimum.

2013 Chardonnay Sugar Shack Estate Vineyard Napa Valley
Score: 98 Points

One of the sexiest Chardonnays in the entire portfolio seems to emerge from the only Napa vineyard Mark Aubert has, the Sugar Shack Estate in Rutherford. The 2013 Chardonnay Sugar Shack offers caramelized apples, brioche, crème brûlée, honeyed citrus, white currants, some liquefied stones, a touch of clove, and fabulous, full-bodied ripeness. This tips the scales at nearly 15.5% alcohol, so it is no wimp. Made exclusively from the Montrachet clone of Chardonnay, it can be expected to drink well for another ten years.

2013 Chardonnay UV-SL Vineyard Sonoma Coast
Score: 97+ Points

The UV-SL Vineyard is another Sonoma Coast vineyard planted with old Wente clones on the classic deep Goldridge sandy soils of the region. The 2013 Chardonnay UV-SL, with loads of nectarine, tangerine oil, mango and caramelized citrus, has a super-core of fruit and tips the scales at 15.8% alcohol. It also offers great structure and a liquid stone minerality. This big, fascinating wine was totally closed when I first tasted it, but is now expressing itself in a dramatic and compelling way. Its should drink well for 10-12+ years.