95 points. 96 points. These are not Parker scores for First Growth Bordeaux, these are the scores garnered by the dynamic duo Jim and Bob Varner for their impeccable single-block Chardonnays from the Spring Ridge Vineyard, located along the slopes of the Santa Cruz Mountains. Varner Chardonnays are unquestionably among the very best that California has to offer. One sip and you’ll instantly grasp why Varner Chardonnays are so adored. –Anya Balistreri
*Notes from Robert Parker’s Wine Advocate, Aug 2011:
(The) Chardonnays from Jim and Bob Varner are made from three blocks the Varners planted in the early 1980s in the Portola Valley. They are fairly large-scaled wines that at the same time retain considerable minerality and structure in a style that is distinctive of the Santa Cruz Mountains, but that stands apart from the lusher, oakier style of wine many people associate as typical California Chardonnay… Readers should do whatever they can to taste these majestic Chardonnays – Robert Parker.
2009 Amphitheater Block Chardonnay – 96 POINTS
Emerges from the glass with layers of fruit. It shows gorgeous up-front richness, then finds its center of minerality on the mid-palate. It is a large-scaled, beautifully balanced wine loaded with personality. Smoke, minerals, and citrus linger on the multi-dimensional, saline finish.
2009 Bee Block Chardonnay – 96 POINTS
The Bee Block is the most overt of these 2009 Chardonnays from Varner. Here the fruit moves toward the tropical end of the spectrum, perhaps owing to a richer layer of topsoil. Nevertheless, this is the closest wine to what readers are likely to identify as California Chardonnay. Once again, the integration of French oak is nothing short of masterful. The long, textured finish is striking.
2009 Home Block Chardonnay – 95 POINTS
Home Block is fabulous. It is rather inward and reticent, but the wine’s personality is impossible to miss. Ash, minerals, earthiness are some of the notes that add complexity to the intense fruit. This is another sweeping, totally elegant wine from Varner.