Kongsgaard Chardonnay 2010
Chardonnay from Napa Valley, California
#5 Wine Spectator Top 100 of 2013
John Kongsgaard is at the top of the Chardonnay game in California, with wines that feature balance, grace and elegance. Refining his winemaking style over the years, he focuses on low yields and barrel fermenting with native yeasts. Kongsgaard, now with his son Alex by his side, lets this wine age in barrel for two years, which adds nuance and gives the wine a chance to settle naturally, so that it can be bottled unfiltered.
Wine Spectator - "A tour de force that stretches the range of flavors, rich and laden with roasted, smoky marshmallow, showing tiers of marmalade, tangerine, roasted fig and fig tapenade, sailing along seamlessly through the finish."
International Wine Cellar - "Very bright yellow-gold, a bit less deep than the 2011. Expressive aromas of tangerine, hazelnutty lees and sexy oak. The palate boasts great richness and sweetness, with a wonderfully sappy character to its explosive soft citrus and stone fruit flavors. Comes across as sweeter than the 2011, but harmonious acidity gives it beautiful balance. The 2010s finished their alcohol fermentations up to 16 months after the vintage, later than the malos, noted Kongsgaard, adding that this has given them a lot of weight. But this wine finishes bright and very long, with a firm spine of acidity."
Vinous / Antonio Galloni - "Kongsgaard’s 2010 Chardonnay wraps around the palate with juicy, yellow, fleshy fruit, smoke and spices. There is pungent, aromatic intensity in the bouquet of these old Wente Chardonnay clones that gives the wine its aromatic heft. Layers of fruit build to the textured, inviting finish. In another year, the oak should be even better integrated than it is today. "
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About Napa Valley
It's hard not to think of Napa Valley when thinking of California wines. The region is, after all, the one that brought world recognition to California wine making. The area was settled by a few choice wine families in the 1960's who bet that the wines of the area would grow and flourish. They were right. The Napa wine industry really took off in the 1980's, when vineyard lands were scooped up and vines were planted throughout the county. A number of wineries emerged, from large conglomerates to small boutiques to cult classics. Cabernet Sauvignon is definitely the grape of choice here, with many winemakers also focusing on Bordeaux Blends. Whites are usually Chardonnay and Sauvignon Blanc.
Notable FactsWithin the Napa Valley lie smaller sub-AVAs that lend even more character specifics to the wines. Furthest south is Carneros, followed by Yountville, Oakville & Rutherford. Above those two is St.-Helena and finally, just grated an AVA, Calistoga. These areas are situated on the valley floor and are known for creating rich, smooth Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot and Chardonnay. There are a few mountain regions as well, nestled on the slopes overlooking the valley AVAs. Those include Howell Mountain, Stags Leap and Mount Veeder. Wines from the mountain regions are often more structured and firm, benefiting from more time in the bottle to evolve and soften.
About CaliforniaIt's not rare to see a wine's country of origin listed as "California." A country into itself in the wine world, California makes enough varieties and styles to match many European wine countries. It produces a diverse range of wines that span the quality spectrum.
The most famous of the California wine regions is Napa Valley, and these wines are certainly outstanding – but it's not as broad and diverse as its larger neighbor, Sonoma County. Down south, Santa Barbara's Santa Maria Valley is well-known for its Rhône blends, as well as cool-climate varieties like Pinot and Chardonnay. The Central Coast, the largest California AVA, has many different microclimates that lead to a wide range of wines with many sub-AVAs.
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Alcohol By Volume GuideMost wine ranges from 10-16% alcohol by volume. Some varietals tend to have higher (for example Zinfandel and Cabernet Sauvignon) or lower alcohol levels (Pinot Noir and many white varietals), but there is always some variation from producer to producer. Some wine falls outside of this range, for instance Port weighs in closer to 20%, while Muscat and Riesling are usually a bit below 10%.
Wine Style Guide
Light & Crisp
- Light to medium bodied wines that are high in acid and light to medium fruit. Typically no oak.
Fruity & Smooth
- Light to medium bodied wines with lots of juicy fruit, typically medium acid and medium oak.
Rich & Creamy
- Full bodied wines that have typically undergone malo-lactic fermentation and/or spent time in oak.