'Exuberant' Chardonnay will keep getting better

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The cool, fog-driven and temperate climate of Carneros allows Chardonnays to retain their vibrant character.| Larry Ruehl~Sun-Times Media

2009 Patz & Hall Hyde Chardonnay

Carneros, California

Suggested retail: $45.99

In the realm of wine, Don Patz and James Hall are two figure heads that have retained a steadfast group of strong and devoted followers throughout the years. They have become recognized as skilled artisans behind identity-driven Chardonnays and Pinot Noirs.

Their beginnings began with a friendship at Flora Springs Winery where James Hall was an assistant winemaker focused on small lot, barrel fermented Chardonnay and Don's endeavor, as national sales director, was to introduce the public to Jim's achievements. Patz & Hall winery was forged in 1988 and today their portfolio continues to maintain a core group acclaimed growers whose distinct vineyard characteristics are expressed in each of the Patz & Hall bottlings.

Within their white portfolio they have introduced a Sonoma Coast appellation Chardonnay wine along with two distinctive Chardonnays from Larry Hyde and Lee Hudson's vineyards in Carneros along with a Dutton Ranch designation from the Russian River Valley in Sonoma.

This is a modest representation of their depth in whites and fails to identify their significant strengths and accomplishments with Pinot Noir, including the famed Pizoni Vineyard Pinot. Many producers vie for the same fruit as Patz & Hall but it is their consistency that has endured through the years.

The fruit for the 2009 Patz & Hall Hyde Chardonnay is sourced from Larry Hyde's vineyard of red clay soils in the rolling hills of Carneros. It is the cool, fog-driven and temperate climate of Carneros that allow these Chardonnays to retain their vibrant and long-lasting character.

This is an exuberant and powerful white that may be modeled after a great white Burgundy. This wine opens to a floral essence of pungent peach and baked apple spice along with nut oils of almond and hazelnut.

Inside there are overtones of pineapple marmalade with impressive amount of citrus orange zest and minerality. This wine is meant to endure and will only improve with patience and additional bottle age.