Kistler Reviews

Kistler Spring 2017 Release

Kistler Reviews Reviews

Robert Parker Wine Advocate

Kistler Vineyards remains one of the absolute benchmark producers of great Sonoma Chardonnay and Pinot Noir, sitting right up there with the highest quality examples of these grapes from throughout the world. While the wines come from as wide a range of top terroirs as Sonoma can provide, interestingly nearly all of the Chardonnays are produced from a proprietary selection of Wente clones taken from a Larry Hyde block in the early 1980s. The exception is the Kistler Vineyard, which contains some original Martin Ray Mount Eden clonal material. This can be found in the straight Kistler Vineyard Chardonnay bottling, as opposed to the Cuvee Cathleen, which is mainly Wente selection. All the vineyard-designate Chardonnays are produced in precisely the same manner, meaning the differences between them are almost exclusively down to the differences in terroir. And as readers will see from my notes, the differences are striking.

 

2014 Kistler Chardonnay Kistler Vineyard Cuvée Cathleen

Score: 99

The Cuvee Cathleen Chardonnay comes from a rockier block of the Kistler Vineyard, possessing a lot of broken shale and planted predominately to Wente clone selection with a bit of Mount Eden clone. This wine is a 20-barrel cuvee selection from the best of that block. The 2014 Chardonnay Cuvee Cathleen has a youthfully subdued nose of pebbles and wet slate over a core of grapefruit, peach blossoms and mandarin peel, plus the faintest hint of fresh herbs. Medium to full-bodied, the palate is restrained at this early stage, offering tightly wound citrus and mineral notes off-set by refreshing acidity. It finishes long and multi-layered. It is tempting to drink now, but I’d give it 2-3 years for that real “wow” experience and drink it over the next decade or more.

2014 Kistler Chardonnay Kistler Vineyard

Score: 98+

The 2014 Chardonnay Kistler Vineyard has very pretty white grapefruit, lemon curd and white peach notes over nuances of honeysuckle, allspice and baker’s yeast plus a touch of chalk dust. Full-bodied and packed with finesse, the rich, concentrated citrus and stone fruit flavors are beautifully marked by crisp acidity and it finishes with loads of mineral layers.

2014 Kistler Chardonnay Hyde Vineyard

Score: 94

The 2014 Chardonnay Hyde Vineyard opens with notes of musk melon, lemon curd and baked peaches with hints of cedar, chalk dust and wet pebbles. Medium to full-bodied, it fills the palate with ripe, expressive melon and mineral characters, finishing long and pleasantly oily.

2014 Kistler Chardonnay Trenton Roadhouse

Score: 96+

The 2014 Chardonnay Trenton Roadhouse is youthfully shy, offering glimpses at lemon zest, yuzu and grapefruit notes with a touch of crushed stones. Medium-bodied, very fine and elegant in the mouth, it has compelling citrus intensity with a touch of phenolic texture and minerals on the long finish.

2014 Kistler Chardonnay Vine Hill Vineyard

Score: 96

Opulently scented of exotic fruits and spices, the 2014 Chardonnay Vine Hill Road Vineyard offers up notes of ginger and anise over a core of pineapple paste, passion fruit and green guava. The palate is beautifully structured with a lively backbone of acid supporting the rich, seductive fruit, finishing long and creamy.

Antonio Galloni

2014 Kistler Chardonnay Kistler Vineyard Cuvée Cathleen

Score: 96

A wine of total understatement and class, the 2014 Chardonnay Kistler Vineyard Cuvée Cathleen is bright, lifted and wonderfully detailed. Citrus, white flowers and orchard fruit and soft contours shape this sublime, totally finessed Chardonnay. Along with the Hudson, the Cuvée Cathleen is one of the standouts in 2014. — Antonio Galloni

2014 Kistler Chardonnay Kistler Vineyard

Score: 95

The 2014 Chardonnay Kistler Vineyard shows plenty of its typically deep, phenolic structure. Graphite, candied lemon, mint and sage gradually open up in the glass, with veins of underlying salinity that add brightness throughout. These red volcanic soils in this Moon Mountain side yield a very distinctive Chardonnay. The 2014 is perhaps not as intense as some other vintages, but in exchange it will drink well young. — Antonio Galloni

2014 Kistler Chardonnay Hyde Vineyard

Score: 93

The 2014 Chardonnay Hyde Vineyard is rich, seamless and intense on the palate. It is one of the more overt, tropically-leaning wines in the range. Although not quite as deep or complex as it can be, the Hyde will drink well with minimal cellaring. All the vineyard signatures are present, they just aren’t as delineated as they are in the very best years. Orange peel, lemon confit, spice and a hint of French oak add the last shades of nuance. — Antonio Galloni

2014 Kistler Chardonnay Trenton Roadhouse

Score: 92

The 2014 Chardonnay Trenton Roadhouse is one of the more delicate wines in this range. Orchard fruit, lemon confit, white flowers and mint shape this attractive, understated Chardonnay. I would prefer to drink the 2014 over the next few years, while the fruit remains vibrant. This is an exceptionally polished Chardonnay from Kistler. — Antonio Galloni

2014 Kistler Chardonnay Vine Hill Vineyard

Score: 94

Kistler’s 2014 Chardonnay Vine Hill Vineyard has a real sense of density that distinguishes it from the other wines from Goldridge soils (Trenton Roadhouse and Dutton) in this range. Poised, deep and also gracious – as all the wines are in this vintage – the Vine Hill is wonderfully complete. This is another impeccable, if somewhat restrained, Chardonnay from Kistler. In 2014, this site was dry farmed. — Antonio Galloni

 

Upcoming Spring 2018 Release:

Antonio Galloni’s Reviews

2015 Kistler Chardonnay Hudson Vineyard

Score: 93-96

The 2015 Chardonnay Hudson Vineyard is one of the most vivid and mesmerizing wines in the range. Slightly reductive notes open up first, followed by alluring scents of orchard fruit, mint, slate and chalk that give the 2015 its distinctive personality. Light on its feet but deep in flavor, the Hudson is shaping up to be a real jewel of a wine. — Antonio Galloni

2015 Kistler Chardonnay Laguna Ridge Vineyard

Score: 92-95

An addition to the range, the 2015 Chardonnay Laguna Ridge is also one of the most subtle wines in the range. In most of these wines, something stands out. In the Laguna Ridge, nothing stands out. A hushed, understated Chardonnay, the Laguna Ridge is likely to only reveal itself with time. Today, it is the wine’s total finesse and understatement that is most impressive. Because of the minuscule yields, the entire production consists of 200 cases of magnums. — Antonio Galloni

2015 Kistler Chardonnay Dutton Ranch

Score: 91-94

The 2015 Chardonnay Dutton Ranch is another deep, powerful wine. Earthy and savory undertones give the Dutton much of its distinctive personality. Bright and also quite reticent, the 2015 possesses terrific depth and intensity. It will be interesting to see how this wine develops and if it comes more powerful or more finessed after bottling. — Antonio Galloni

2015 Kistler Chardonnay Durell Vineyard

Score: 91-94

The 2015 Chardonnay Durell Vineyard is one of the more phenolic, deep wines in the range. The personality of the Wente clone comes through loud and clear. Dried pear, mint, wild flowers and chamomile, along with the naturally low yields of this site afflicted with leaf roll virus, result in an oily, waxy Chardonnay built on texture, class and polish. — Antonio Galloni

2015 Kistler Chardonnay Stone Flat Vineyard

Score: 90-93

Kistler’s 2015 Chardonnay Stone Flat Vineyard is rich, viscous and intense. Dried pear, apricot, orange blossom, sweet spices and vanillin make a strong opening statement. On the palate, the wine is a bit lighter than the first impression, with good aromatic lift. Pastry, baked apple and mint round things out nicely. The interplay of rich flavors and light to medium-bodied structure is quite appealing. — Antonio Galloni

2015 Kistler Chardonnay McCrea Vineyard

Score: 92-95

One of the highlights in the range, the 2015 Chardonnay McCrea Vineyard is powerful, tightly wound and super-expressive. Intensely savory and mineral, the 2015 has handled the richness of the vintage well. Readers who enjoy rich, phenolic Chardonnays will flip out over the McCrea. Today, it is the wine’s structure, energy and overall balance that make it one of the best and most complete wines in this range. — Antonio Galloni

2015 Kistler Pinot Noir Kistler Vineyard

Score: 94-97

The 2015 Pinot Noir Kistler Vineyard exudes depth, power and concentration. Extroverted and ample, the 2015 boasts magnificent richness from start to finish. Inky blue and purplish fruit, lavender, violets and licorice are fused together in the glass. The 2015 is likely to require some time to come together, but it won’t be released before 2018. A final taste reveals a creamy, voluptuous Pinot with a very bright future. — Antonio Galloni

2015 Kistler Pinot Noir Silver Belt Cuvée Natalie

Score: 94-97

The 2015 Pinot Noir Silver Belt Cuvée Natalie is the most reticent and tightly wound of the three 2015 Kistler Pinots I tasted. Savory herbs, red-toned fruit, mint, orange peel and a touch of whole cluster savoriness give the 2015 a fine, sculpted feel that is hard to describe with words. Bright saline notes punctuate this vivid, exceptionally beautiful Pinot. For the first time the Cuvée Natalie has a touch of whole clusters. — Antonio Galloni

 

Past Reviews:

Antonio Galloni

2014 Kistler Chardonnay Hudson Vineyard

Score: 94-97

One of the clear highlights today, the 2014 Chardonnay Hudson Vineyard is simply magnificent. Striking aromatics make a strong first impression. Yellow orchard fruit, mint and white pepper are all finely knit in this wonderfully nuanced, expressive Chardonnay, with a subtle underlying vein of reduction that adds the closing shade of nuance. — Antonio Galloni

2014 Kistler Chardonnay Dutton Ranch

Score: 91-94

The 2014 Chardonnay Dutton Ranch is beautifully centered. Hints of almond, white flowers and lemon peel flesh out in a Chardonnay that exudes depth. Oily and textured on the palate, yet also tightly wound, the Dutton Ranch appears to be holding back much of its potential. — Antonio Galloni

2014 Kistler Chardonnay Stone Flat

Score: 91-94

The 2014 Chardonnay Stone Flat Vineyard is right across the road from Durrell, yet it is so remarkably different in style. Candied lemon, honey and mint are all pushed forward. The Stone Flat presents an intriguing combination of creaminess and minerality. — Antonio Galloni

2014 Kistler Chardonnay Durell Vineyard

Score: 91-93

The 2014 Chardonnay Durell Vineyard has a lovely spine of energy and phenolic intensity running through the fruit. Candied lemon peel, white flowers, honey and chamomile are all laced together. There is an attractive flintiness to the 2014, but no sense of heaviness whatsoever. — Antonio Galloni

2014 Kistler Chardonnay McCrea Vineyard

Score: 90-93

The 2014 Chardonnay McCrea Vineyard is gorgeous. Lemon oil, white flowers, mint and white pepper are all laced together. Feminine, gracious and understated, the McCrea is beautifully balanced throughout. — Antonio Galloni

2014 Kistler Pinot Noir Kistler Vineyard

Score: 94-97

The 2014 Pinot Noir Kistler Vineyard opens with huge, soaring aromatics. Vivid and wonderfully nuanced throughout, is both racy and refined, with bold up-front fruit and a fleshy personality that holds considerable near and medium-term appeal. Lifted aromatics and intense red cherry/pomegranate fruit flesh out in this superb, deeply expressive Pinot. There is a lot to look forward to, that is for sure. — Antonio Galloni

2014 Kistler Pinot Noir Silver Belt Cuvée Natalie

Score: 94-97

Kistler’s 2014 Pinot Noir Silver Belt Cuvée Natalie emerges from a site planted with both Swan and Calera clone Pinot. Quite unusually for a Kistler Pinot, the Cuvée Natalie does not offer much in the way of near-term appeal, but rather it comes across as a wine that is going to need time to fully come together. The flavors are intense, dark and powerful. Smoke, black cherry, plum and licorice extend into a long finish supported by beams of firm tannin. The Cuvée Natalie is shaping up to be a real jewel of a wine. — Antonio Galloni

Robert Parker Jr.

2014 Kistler Pinot Noir Silver Belt Cuvée Natalie

Score: 91-93

The two tank samples of the 2014 Pinot Noirs showed a more restrained, softer style of wines that are more front-end loaded. The 2014 Pinot Noir Cuvee Natalie Silver Belt is more earthy, deeper, darker and more primordial, but the strawberry and black cherry notes are prominent. Drink it over the next 5-7 years.

2014 Kistler Pinot Noir Kistler Vineyard

Score: 90-92

The two tank samples of the 2014 Pinot Noirs showed a more restrained, softer style of wines that are more front-end loaded. The 2014 Pinot Noir Kistler Vineyard has loads of strawberries, berry fruit a medium body, light tannin and a good pure, fresh finish.