Located in the Santa Cruz Mountains south and west of the San Francisco Bay tucked back in the Portola Valley west of Stanford University in the Santa Cruz Appellation, Varner Wines are the product of twin brothers Bob and Jim Varner. This area is not well known for Chardonnay but this 'Amphitheatre Vineyard' Chardonnay is highly regarded and much sought after. The Varner 'Amphitheatre Vineyard' Chardonnay represents a sense of place or "terroir".
Winemaker Bob Varner selects fruit from the "Amphitheater Block" of their Spring Ridge Vineyard, which was first planted in 1980. This area has never been afflicted with Phyloxera so the vines are from the original root stock and plantings. Varner uses non-interventionist farming practices and native yeast fermentation, yielding a pleasant and impressive wine with character that is crisp and citrusy, with plenty of acidity and minerality. This wine is also a considerable value for the money.
This label is less well known perhaps than their Foxglove label, a line of affordable wines, which offer a high QPR - quality to price ratio; this is from their higher end offerings which are single vineyard and in this case single block designated bottlings. The Varner Spring Ridge Vineyard Amphitheater Block Chardonnay comes from a two-acre block of own-rooted, 28-year-old vines and is aged in 30% new French oak on its lees until bottling.
The Varner Santa Cruz Mountains Spring Ridge Vineyard Ampitheatre Block Chardonnay 2009 was subdued and not over the top like so many Cal chardonnays - medium to full body, excellent texture with aromatic notes of honeysuckle, subtle oak, spice and lemon oil, it features flavors of baked apple, lemon and pear with moderate minerality and a crisp, steely component, with balanced acidity.
RM 89 points.
For dessert, Linda prepared warm individual chocolate cakes served with ice cream and fresh red raspberries. We served this with Beringer Vineyards Nightingale Napa Valley Botytised Semillion Sauvignon Blanc 2004 which accented the red berry fruits and chocolate perfectly.
Golden yellow on release, this eight year old is taking on a weak tea honey colored hue that will continue to darken with age. Medium to full bodied, scents and flavors of honey, apricot and melon finish with a subtle layer of smoke that moderates the fruit and sweetness.
RM 89 points.