2015 Etude Grace Benoist Ranch Estate Grown Chardonnay



More than 35 years ago, Tony Soter—the father of Napa’s cult Cabernets—founded Etude Estate.

Tony’s resume includes Stag’s Leap Wine Cellars, Stonegate, Spring Mountain, Chappellet, Sequoia Grove, Robert Pepi, Spottswoode, Niebaum-Coppola, Viader, Dalla Valle, Shafer and Araujo.  In many cases, the 100-point wines that earned these wineries cult status were with Tony as head winemaker.

But way back in 1980, he wanted to try his hand at something new – a balanced, poised, no-new-oak Chardonnay. “New” because nobody made such a thing back then: These were the years of butter bombs and vanilla cream, and the idea that somebody could have White Burgundy as an influence was, well, unheard of.

It was a radical move, one driven by passion.  As Tony himself put it:

“Chardonnay is the most challenging, unforgiving and quixotic of all wine grapes, and yet the most delicate and transparent.  But when Chardonnay is right, it is a glorious and moving thing.” His 2015 Etude Grace Benoist Ranch Chardonnay is just that.

The 2015 glides through the glass with a luxurious mixture of languid melon fruit, hints of limestone and touches of baking spices – ginger, allspice and star anise. The palate is full-bodied and rich, a Chardonnay that while not being oak delivers a textural density that is simply soul-satisfying working perfectly as a cocktail or at the dinner table. The finish builds in waves of that texture, the resulting wine delivers a powerful array of flavors to the sense – citrus zest, almond paste, sea brine and a chalk textural body. At four years of age, it’s in the perfect moment to deliver its wealth of flavors.

As you might guess, Tony Soter’s wines don’t usually come on the cheap. But through a stroke of luck (nee, hard bargaining) we got this lovely Chardonnay at a heck of a price.  I highly doubt we’ll ever see this wine at this price again. I strongly suggest you take advantage.  Cheers!

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