© Copyright 1997 by Robin Garr. All rights reserved.
Stony Hill 1992 Napa Valley Chardonnay ($27.99)
I thought this "cult" bottling was a mailing-list-only item, so imagine my surprise when I saw a stash of it on the retail shelf in Kentucky. The price was breathtaking by my usual budget standards, but based on its reputation -- and limited tasting experiences -- I couldn't resist springing for one, not least to celebrate my wife's birthday this week.
I did make a calculated decision to open it now rather than hold it. I've been rather unimpressed with the condition of even well-cellared examples at a decade and up, so I figured if it's not ready on its fifth birthday, it never will be. It was a good decision, I think. It may not start to decline for a long time, but in my opinion it's mature and ready to drink.
It's a clear, pale gold color. Winesap apples and fresh honeysuckle aromas, appetizing and fresh; no hint of oak. Dry and crisp, surprisingly lean and dry for a California Chardonnay. Full-bodied and textured, but there's no fat on this frame; in fact, it's at such an opposite pole from the typical "flabby" CalChard as to inspire the adjective "muscular." Very fine wine, no budget special but certainly appropriate (and then some) for the price. (Aug. 1, 1997)
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