Cazar: Hunting For Quality

The latest offerings from Cazar, the 2011 Chardonnay Russian River Valley and the 2012 Pinot Noir Sonoma Coast, may in fact be the best values in Chardonnay and Pinot Noir from California. A strong case can be made for this opinion. Under the Chasseur label, winemaker William Hunter has been widely recognized for making some of the finest Chardonnay and Pinot Noir from “West County”, Sonoma County’s western edge of the Russian River Valley and Green Valley and the ocean-influenced Sonoma Coast. Taking his cue from Burgundy, William makes small lots of vineyard-designated wines. His wines are expressive and opulent. A few vintages back he created another label, Cazar, utilizing wine that doesn’t quite fit into his Chasseur offerings. His approach to making Cazar is not unlike his approach to making his vineyard-designated wines save for the oak regiment, which can dramatically impact cost. In essence, what you get with Cazar is something far more compelling and delicious than the majority of Chardonnay and Pinot Noir available for under $25. Seriously.



The 2011 Chardonnay is sourced entirely from the Russian River Valley. Aged in oak, this Chardonnay is full-bodied and rich. Golden-hued in color with notes of roasted hazelnuts, honey, ripe apple and pear, with a delectable, texturally rich, long-lasting finish. The intensity of this Chardonnay is bounded by the vintage’s trademark minerality. It is fancy through and through. The Cazar Pinot Noir has the coveted Sonoma Coast designation and comes from the picture perfect 2012 vintage. It is an intense Pinot Noir with notes of cherry and the sweet tangy goodness of ripe pomegranate seeds. Stylistically full and lush, this could easily be another winery’s flagship offering. I imagine there are probably wineries out there cursing William Hunter for offering wine of this quality for such a price. I just relish in knowing that bargains can still be found in the crowded wine market.


The appeal for these Cazar wines is not based solely on price. This pair successfully deliver the goods for a full-bodied, plush tasting experience. It was wise for William Hunter to create a separate label for Cazar as these wines are not sloppy seconds to his Chasseur wines, but can stand on their own. TWH has been carrying the Cazar wines for several vintages now and yes, they’ve all been great. However without a doubt, these new offerings are the very best yet. Stunning. Perhaps not collector’s wine, but if you are a devotee of sun-soaked California Chardonnay and Pinot Noir, these wines should not be passed by.



It was Back to School Night this week at my daughter’s school. They sure get you for fundraising, donations and volunteering. But it is all good – the school’s wonderful. We had to guess our child’s self-made profile which included a family portrait, favorite things, etc. Besides recognizing her hand-writing, I immediately knew which one belonged to Sascha because she listed baking and cooking as her favorite activities. I was relieved that wine tasting was left off, but I know now that I am raising a Foodie! —Anya Balistreri

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Filed under Anya Balistreri, Pinot Noir, Russian River Valley, Sonoma Coast

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