In The Press

The Great White
2010 Stony Hill Chardonnay

I broke up with Chardonnay 15 years ago. For some of us, the ABC (anything but Chardonnay) crowd, it became the wine we loved to hate, decked out in new oak, tongue-coating butter, and in-your-face sweetness. And with food? Diva Chard was a train wreck...

Stony Hill 2010 ($42)

An angular and intensely minerally Chard set off by green melon, hints of pineapple, and kumquat.

Napa Valley's Old Guard

Among Napa Valley producers, Fred and Eleanor McCrea, Philip Togni, Randy Dunn, and Bob Travers–along with a handful of others, including Heitz Wine Cellars and Diamond Creek–share a common bond. All are tenacious old timers who isolated themselves from the glitz of valley-floor production to make wines that expressed terroir in a place where ripeness, fruit, and power have taken precedence. What is remarkable about these visionaries is that they have remained true to their sense of place and to their personal tastes after more than 25 vintages each; they haven't been swayed by the whims of the critics or of the consumers who follow them.

I set about to discover what sets these old-guard winemakers apart.

Wine of the Week: Stony Hill Vineyard 2007 Chardonnay
2007 Stony Hill Chardonnay

A group of us sat down to lunch on a rainy day last week and I started to scour the wine list for a red to ward off the chill. When half of the diners mentioned their preference for white wine, I panned to the chardonnay options hoping for a richly textured but un-oaked version.

And there it was — the Stony Hill Chardonnay ($42). For anyone wanting a crisp and complex chardonnay, Stony Hill should be on your shortlist. The 2007 even trumped all expectations. There was a striking flintiness and minerality with nice acidity in the wine, but also rich red apple, pear and juicy peach flavors that lingered on.