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Sixto Frenchman Hills Chardonnay 2013

Chardonnay from Columbia Valley, Washington
  • RP94
  • WS93
  • WE92
14.2% ABV
  • RP93
  • JD93
  • WS91
  • WE91
  • RP93
  • WE93
  • WS90
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4.1 14 Ratings
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4.1 14 Ratings
14.2% ABV

Winemaker Notes

First impression has to be minerals. Grown at 1650 feet, it has a nearly undissectable layer upon layer of complexity. One can only add GREAT!

Critical Acclaim

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RP 94
Robert Parker's Wine Advocate
Seeing 15 months in roughly 20% new puncheons, the 2013 Chardonnay Frenchman Hills Vineyard is absolutely smokin’ Chardonnay that needs to be tasted to be believed. From a high elevation site and tiny yields, it offers fresh, lively and juicy notes of orchard fruits, citrus blossom, mineral, crème and sappy green herbs to go with a medium to full-bodied, elegant, beautifully layered style on the palate. I’ve struggled with Chardonnay from Washington in the past, but this goes a long way in convincing me that there’s incredible potential for this variety in the state. I’d drink bottles over the coming 2-4 years, but wouldn’t be surprised to see this evolve nicely for longer either.
WS 93
Wine Spectator
Supple and silky in texture, with refinement to the display of pear, honey, mineral and spice flavors, gliding harmoniously through a long and expressive finish. Drink now through 2021.
WE 92
Wine Enthusiast
Half-fermented in puncheon with the rest in concrete, this thoroughly enchanting wine offers aromas of cardamom and baking spices. The flavors are broad yet supple, rich yet restrained, displaying impeccable balance and a finish that glides.
Editors' Choice
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Sixto, Columbia Valley, Washington
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SIXTO, the Chardonnay-only label from Charles Smith and Brennon Leighton. Inspired by the story of musician Sixto Rodriguez (featured in the acclaimed documentary "Searching for Sugar Man"), Charles similarly wanted to resurrect something that was always great, but was waiting to be rediscovered as in the old Chardonnay vines in Washington State. Being the sixth label that Charles has created (sextus translates to "sixth" in Latin), the name SIXTO was a perfect fit.

Columbia Valley

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A large and geographically diverse AVA capable of producing a wide variety of wine styles, the Columbia Valley AVA is home to 99% of Washington state’s total vineyard area. A small section of the AVA even extends into northern Oregon!

Because of its size, it is necessarily divided into several distinctive sub-AVAs, including Walla Walla Valley and Yakima Valley—which are both further split into smaller, noteworthy appellations. A region this size will of course have varied microclimates, but on the whole it experiences extreme winters and long, hot, dry summers. Frost is a common risk during winter and spring. The towering Cascade mountain range creates a rain shadow, keeping the valley relatively rain-free throughout the entire year, necessitating irrigation from the Columbia River. The lack of humidity combined with sandy soils allows for vines to be grown on their own rootstock, as phylloxera is not a serious concern.

Red wines make up the majority of production in the Columbia Valley. Cabernet Sauvignon is the dominant variety here, where it produces wines with a pleasant balance of dark fruit and herbs. Wines made from Merlot are typically supple, with sweet red fruit and sometimes a hint of chocolate or mint. Syrah tends to be savory and Old-World-leaning, with a wide range of possible fruit flavors and plenty of spice. The most planted white varieties are Chardonnay and Riesling. These range in style from citrus and green apple dominant in cooler sites, to riper, fleshier wines with stone fruit flavors coming from the warmer vineyards.


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One of the most popular and versatile white wine grapes, Chardonnay offers a wide range of flavors and styles depending on where it is grown and how it is made. While practically every country in the wine producing world grows it, Chardonnay from its Burgundian homeland produces some of the most remarkable and longest lived examples. As far as cellar potential, white Burgundy rivals the world’s other age-worthy whites like Riesling or botrytized Semillon. California is Chardonnay’s second most important home, where both oaky, buttery styles and leaner, European-inspired wines enjoy great popularity. Oregon, Australia and South America are also significant producers of Chardonnay.

In the Glass

When planted on cool sites, Chardonnay flavors tend towards grapefruit, lemon zest, green apple, celery leaf and wet flint, while warmer locations coax out richer, more tropical flavors of melon, peach and pineapple. Oak can add notes of vanilla, coconut and spice, while malolactic fermentation imparts a soft and creamy texture.

Perfect Pairings

Chardonnay is as versatile at the table as it is in the vineyard. The crisp, clean, Chablis-like styles go well with flaky white fish with herbs, scallops, turkey breast and soft cheeses. Richer Chardonnays marry well with lobster, crab, salmon, roasted chicken and creamy sauces.

Sommelier Secret

Since the 1990s, big, oaky, buttery Chardonnays from California have enjoyed explosive popularity. More recently, the pendulum has begun to swing in the opposite direction, towards a clean, crisp style that rarely utilizes new oak. In Burgundy, the subregion of Chablis, while typically employing the use of older oak barrels, produces a similar bright and acid-driven style. Anyone who doesn't like oaky Chardonnay would likely enjoy its lighter style.

RPT78272397_2013 Item# 312669