2012 Talley Vineyards Chardonnay Estate Arroyo Grande Valley
 
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Talley Vineyards, Arroyo Grande Valley Michael Madrigale's #1 Under-$30 American Chardonnay

Michael Madrigale, the recently named Sommelier of the Year, called Brian Talley's estate-grown gem "the best under-$30 Chardonnay in America" — something not lost on Stephen Tanzer, the stingiest and most respected Chardonnay critic in the world.

Madrigale spends his nights popping corks at 63rd and Broadway, as Tanzer frequents the ruelles of Beaune — alleys he knows better than the Upper East Side. Both the sommelier and the critic are ardent Francophiles, with little patience for so many of the ponderous, overblown Chardonnays of the coast. But when it comes to Talley's stunningly mineral renderings drawn off these windswept hillsides of Arroyo Grande, two of the most sophisticated Burgundian palates in Manhattan see things much the same way.

"When you serve a bottle of Talley Chardonnay, diners say one of two things," Madrigale told us Saturday night at a jam-packed Bar Boulud. If they are California Chardonnay drinkers, they assume the wine is priced like Kistler or Peter Michael, and that the sommelier is setting them up for a bad case of sticker shock. "But if they're Burgundy drinkers," America's top wine steward told us, "they ASSUME they're drinking white Burgundy! That's what sets Talley so apart."

As to Stephen Tanzer, over the last seven years, the International Wine Cellar has dropped FIFTEEN 92-94 point scores on Brian Talley's Chardonnays, putting Talley into the rarefied air of Kistler, Ramey, Kongsgaard, Morlet and Peter Michael. But with the release of the truly phenomenal 2012s, Tanzer seems poised to pad the Talley scorecard like never before.

Up and down the coast, 2012 was a magical growing season, absent any of the heat spikes and stormy drama of 2011 and 2010. The Chardonnay vines at Talley Vineyards got off to a promising start with a dry, sunny spring. Summer ushered in a bevy of blue-sky days, with mild daytime highs and cool nights. While some in Arroyo Grande and Edna Valley delighted in the large crop set, and chose not to "green" harvest, the Talleys did as they always do, dropping crop aggressively so as to spike maturity and concentration. The call to pick came under perfect conditions. Berries were small. Natural sugars were high, while acids remained electrifying.

The 2012 Talley Vineyards Chardonnay is one of the finest to come off this world-class property since the turn of the century. Pale green/gold to the rim with piercing aromas of ripe apple and wet-stone pear. Rich, juicy and beautifully focused on the attack, as always Talley straddles the line between New World opulence and classic Burgundian cut, making for a brilliant 2012 that's drinking well out of the gate, but will also continue to age for another 6-8 years in a cool cellar.

We've saved the "less" for last. Ask Parker. Ask Tanzer. Or ask Madrigale. Dollar for dollar, Talley Chardonnay has no match in California — most of all with this just-released 2012.

Tasting Notes

2012 Talley Vineyards Chardonnay Estate Arroyo Grande Valley
"(62% Rincon Vineyard, 29% Rosemary's Vineyard, 5% Las Ventanas Vineyard, 4% Monte Sereno Vineyard. Barrel Fermented. Aged 10 months in French cooperage) The 2012 Talley Vineyards Chardonnay is one of the finest to come off this world-class property since the turn of the century. Pale green/gold to the rim with piercing aromas of ripe apple and wet-stone pear. Rich, juicy and beautifully focused on the attack, as always Talley straddles the line between New World opulence and classic Burgundian cut, making for a brilliant 2012 that's drinking well out of the gate, but will also continue to age for another 6-8 years in a cool cellar."
-- WineAccess Travel Log

 

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