From a site made famous by Helen Turley when she was buying its fruit, the 2014 Chardonnay Upper Barn is at an 1,800-foot elevation and spent 11 months in 52% new French oak. A killer Chardonnay (as it always has been), the wine offers up notes of wet gravel, citrus oil, apple blossom, orange marmalade, honeysuckle, and a hint of almond paste. Fabulous fruit on the attack, mid-palate and finish characterizes this dry, gorgeous, compelling Chardonnay that should age effortlessly for a decade or more. Over the last half-dozen or so years, the Jackson family have dramatically and consistently upgraded the quality of Stonestreet Estate Vineyards. All of these wines come from their huge Alexander Valley mountain estate, and the winemaker of recent vintages has been Lisa Valtenbergs. She and her predecessor began decreasing the amount of new oak on the wines, and it has been a perfect marriage with the great fruit they get from their diverse terroirs spread over this mountain vineyard, ranging from 800 to over 2,400 feet in elevation in the case of some of the Cabernet Sauvignons. There are seven separate cuvées of Chardonnay, all of them exceptional... To reiterate, all seven Chardonnays emerge from various vineyards at different elevations, and all are fermented with indigenous yeasts. For the most part, every one of them is aged 11 months after being fermented with native yeast. (RP)
The 2014 Chardonnay Upper Barn is one of the most aromatic, lifted wines in the range. White flowers, orchard fruit, mint, spice and cantaloupe form an attractive fabric of aromas, flavors and textures. The 2014 is a bit closed today, perhaps because it has the lowest pH of these Chardonnays. Still, there is plenty of intrigue. Winemaker Lisa Valtenbergs has done a terrific job with these new releases from Stonestreet. The 2014 Chardonnays, essentially essays into the unique characteristics of various blocks on the property, are more than worthy follow ups to the 2013s, while the 2013 Cabernets show once again just how special this vintage is. As always, both the Chardonnays and Cabernets are big, structured wines endowed with considerable mountain character. Even though Stonestreet is part of the Jackson Family's empire, these wines seldom receive the attention they deserve. (AG)
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