Federal Wine & Spirits

29 State Street, Boston, MA 02109

Read about the wines in this tasting

Read our notes

Focus Group Favorites, including the extraordinary Maritana Chardonnay

Last week they came, they swirled. This is what they liked.
July 7, 2021


#1 2017 Maritana Dutton Ranch Hansen Hill Chardonnay 

One of the most extraordinary California chardonnays I have tasted


Joe D did not like Donald Patz's Maritana Hanson Hill Chardonnay. He might have wanted something fresher and fruitier.

He was a minority of one.

Everyone else loved it. Alex M, a precise taster who has some of our more expensive white burgundies in his cellar, called it "a hell of a chardonnay from California or anywhere - it has a singular quality." He felt compelled to buy it.

It had the depth and resonance of a fine producer's grand cru Chablis. Its notes of barrel, well-integrated wood, and concentrated pear and citrus fruit are complemented by its singular tone of ripeness that gave it an extra dimension and made it one of the most extraordinary California chardonnays I have tasted.

Two years ago, I found it impressive but young. It has evolved and continues to. I think it will undoubtedly be just as good five or more years from now. If you are a fan of West Coast Chardonnay, you will find here a more multidimensional wine than any you have experienced before. If you are a skeptic of New World chardonnays, it might be a revelation.

2017 Maritana Chardonnay Dutton Ranch Hansen Hill; Color: light; Aroma: very bright & rounded very good drive layered with a fine acid line & saline wood depth; Mouth: dense rounded dry, mouth-filling dry flesh, deep barrel and a touch of wood, a fillip of Cal ripeness gives dimension to pear and citrus flavors, Very, very long; Outstanding - $89 Net 

Donald Patz's other Chardonnay was not too far behind. The 2017 Maritana Dutton Ranch Shopblock started with the heavy-laden aromas of barrel that you find in Raveneau Chablis but was lighter, more lively, and more freshly fruity in the mouth. It also had a strong following.

2017 Maritana Chardonnay Dutton Ranch Shopblock; Aroma: very heady the wood shows, older reminds of Raveneau with a sweet ripe note; Mouth: rather broad great depth dry, fine acid ripeness, a piquant center, great depth; Excellent - Outstanding ; $75 Net

The Schlumberger Grand Cru Riesling from the Grand Cru Saering vineyard had aged nicely into a broad, very dry somewhat minerally state of its life. It is extraordinarily well priced for excellent quality Riesling.

2017 Domaine Schlumberger Riesling Searing Grand Cru; Aroma: soft mineral, light, clean firm, a ripe edge; Mouth: dry, rounded fleshy bright acid rather tight, firm, light finish with noticeable flint; - Excellent; $38, case 31.99 

Two white burgundies from Maconnais producer Deux Roches attracted several tasters.

Their Bourgogne Cremant is a Blanc de Blancs Chardonnay, although that is not noted on the label. It had a bit of toast and vibrant, forward fruit that made it a charming sparkling wine with more character than you would expect at its price.

Deux Roches Cremant de Bourgogne; Aroma: fine mousse fresh rather pretty, lifted rather pretty, fine acid; Mouth: clean mineral dry, dry finish, long; Very Good Plus 23.99, 19.99 by the case

It was no surprise that their old Vines Pouilly Fuisse also showed well, as a lighter, prettier white with some depth and tension.

2018 Deux Roches Pouilly Fuisse VV; Aroma: sweet oak, fresh, clean, bright, spicy fruit, oak limned; Mouth: dense, rather pretty and fresh pretty fresh, nicely mineral, especially on a finish of lingering ripeness; Very Good Plus $37, $29.99 by the case


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           - Len Rothenberg




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