Vinous – January 2020 – 2017 & 2018 Napa Valley In Depth

I didn’t think Mark Aubert and assistant winemaker, Laura Jones, could top their brilliant 2017s, but they may have done so with these stellar 2018s. The Chardonnays in particular are brilliant. The even, cool growing season yielded Chardonnays that are bright, focused and so expressive of site, with lively acids and phenomenal length. Whether it is a reflection of recent vintages or more of a stylistic evolution, over the last few years, the Chardonnays have moved towards greater finesse. That’s important to note because the Pinots remain pretty rich and exuberant in feel, a difference that has become more apparent in recent vintages. I tasted all of these wines in October 2019. The Chardonnays were in tank, being prepared for bottling, while the Pinots were bottled in July.

2018 Aubert Chardonnay CIX Estate Vineyard Sonoma Coast
Score: 94-97 Points

The 2018 Chardonnay CIX Vineyard is a seamless, gorgeous beauty. Orchard fruit, mint, white pepper and floral notes all run through this super-expressive, alluring Chardonnay from Mark Aubert. In the glass, the CIX is understated and nuanced rather than overt. I find it absolutely mesmerizing.

2018 Aubert Chardonnay Eastside Vineyard Russian River
Score: 95-98 Points

The 2018 Chardonnay Eastside Vineyard is a total stunner. Rich, ample and phenolic in feel, the 2018 possesses tremendous resonance in all of its dimensions. Orange peel, spice, mint, toast and hazelnut all build in this creamy, super-expressive Chardonnay. Today, the Eastside Vineyard just dazzles.

2018 Aubert Chardonnay Hudson Vineyard Carneros
Score: 94-97 Points

The 2018 Chardonnay Hudson Vineyard is another superb wine in this range. Unctuous and creamy, with striking freshness, the Hudson has so much to offer. White pepper, mint, orchard fruit and lemon confit are all given an extra kick of intensity in this racy, beautifully layered Chardonnay from Aubert.

2018 Aubert Chardonnay Larry Hyde and Sons Vineyard Carneros
Score: 93-96 Points

The 2018 Chardonnay Larry Hyde and Sons is the result a larger-than-normal crop. Hyde Chardonnays are typically exuberant, but in 2018, the wine is subtle, nuanced and wonderfully understated. I don’t think I have tasted a Hyde Chardonnay with this much precision. Lemon confit and bright floral notes perk up this beautifully expressive Chardonnay from Mark Aubert.

2018 Aubert Chardonnay Lauren Estate Vineyard Sonoma Coast
Score: 95-98 Points

The 2018 Chardonnay Lauren Vineyard is the wine that, for me, brings together all the best elements of the Aubert style. Nuanced and silky, the 2018 is pure class from the very first taste. Lemon oil, white flowers and mint accents add complexity, but there is something about the wine’s textural feel that just elevates it.

2018 Aubert Chardonnay Powder House Estate Vineyard Sonoma Coast
Score: 92-95 Points

The 2018 Chardonnay Powder House is a bit nervous today. Bright mineral notes give the 2018 a good bit of energy and tension to drive the citrus and floral flavors. I am really looking forward to tasting the 2018 after bottling, as I imagine it will be a bit more relaxed.

2018 Aubert Chardonnay Sugar Shack Estate Vineyard Napa Valley
Score: 93-96 Points

The 2018 Chardonnay Sugar Shack is wonderfully alluring from the first taste. The Sugar Shack is typically among the more overt wines in this range. The 2018 has plenty of that, but the cool, even growing season and bright acids temper some of that natural exuberance nicely. Orange peel, spice, butter and sweet vanillin all meld together in this wonderfully open-knit, luscious Chardonnay from Mark Aubert.

2018 Aubert Chardonnay UV-SL Vineyard Sonoma Coast
Score: 94-97 Points

The 2018 Chardonnay UV-SL Vineyard is ample, dramatic and textured in the glass, with tons of volume as well as resonance. Lemon peel, pineapple, white flowers, orchard fruit and mint all flesh out in this unabashedly opulent, richly textured Chardonnay. The UV-SL is bold and beautiful to the core.

2018 Aubert Pinot Noir CIX Vineyard Sonoma Coast
Score: 93
Drinking Window: 2022 – 2030

The 2018 Pinot Noir CIX Vineyard is rich and heady. Blueberry, chocolate, espresso and copious new oak add to a feeling of real density and resonance. Here, too, the tannins are pretty imposing in the early going. This is an especially dark, brooding Pinot.

2018 Aubert Pinot Noir UV Vineyard Sonoma Coast
Score: 93
Drinking Window: 2022 – 2030

The 2018 Pinot Noir UV Vineyard is the darkest and richest of the three Pinots in Mark Aubert’s lineup. Black cherry, chocolate, licorice and herbs are all broad and ample in the glass. The UV is a Pinot of gravitas, power and textural intensity.

2018 Aubert Pinot Noir UV-SL Vineyard Sonoma Coast
Score: 96
Drinking Window: 2021 – 2033

The 2018 Pinot Noir UV-SL Vineyard is one of the very best Pinots I have ever tasted from Mark Aubert. What I like most is the interplay of aromatics, energy and overall freshness, all of which balance the richness Aubert coaxes from Pinot. In the glass, the UV-SL is so beautiful, so vivid and so compelling. A rush of red/purplish berry fruit, sage, mint and lavender builds into the precise, delineated finish. Not only is the UV-SL the most complete of the three Pinots, it is also very clearly the most stylistically aligned with the Chardonnays. I loved it.