Kistler Reviews

Kistler Spring 2020 Release

Kistler Reviews

Wine Advocate, Reviewed by: Erin Brooks

2017 Chardonnay Cuvee Cathleen

Rating: 96+

Erin Brooks, December 19, 2019

Winemaker Jason Kesner points out that this is not a barrel selection but a separate block in the vineyard with unique soils of broken shale and red volcanic ash. The 2017 Chardonnay Cuvée Cathleen is youthfully shy on the nose, opening very slowly to notes of dried apple, potpourri, hints of key lime pie and sliced apricot with accents of spring honey, toast and wet stone. Medium-bodied, the aromas bely the palate—it explodes with multilayered flavors ranging from tangy citrus to honeycomb and earthy notions of dried leaves, seamlessly framed by juicy acidity and silkily textured, finishing very long and packed with flavor. “To me, this has several distinct parts of its personality, like gears with teeth,” says Kesner. “This hits on all the classic points you look for in a beautifully made California Chardonnay: it’s got a nice low pH, that sense of richness, textural complexity and high tones. It’s not pervasive, not in your face, not cloying. It has a sense of minerality and a savory component. When all those things become one and they start to blur together and you can’t pick them out—that’s when a wine becomes truly magical to me.” Well done!

2017 Chardonnay Hyde Vineyard

Rating: 94

Erin Brooks, December 19, 2019

The 2017 Chardonnay Hyde Vineyard has a delicate nose of apricot, quince peel and red apple skin with notes of honeyed almonds, toast, gunflint and dried flowers with a spicy undercurrent. It’s medium-bodied, broad and rounded in the mouth with intense savory fruit layers opposed by tangy acidity, finishing very long on a mineral note.

2017 Chardonnay Kistler Vineyard

Rating: 95+

Erin Brooks, December 19, 2019

The 2017 Chardonnay Kistler Vineyard opens with savory notes of toasted hazelnut, hay, river stone, dried white flowers and citrus peel with notions of honeycomb and lemon meringue. It’s medium-bodied, intense, rounded and textural with tangy acidity to lift and a long, savory finish. This needs more time in bottle to blossom.

2017 Chardonnay Laguna Ridge Vineyard

Rating: 95

Erin Brooks, December 19, 2019

The 2017 Chardonnay Laguna Ridge Vineyard features scents of baclava, baked apples, quince paste, lime peel and warm yellow peaches with notions of gunflint, hazelnut, citrus blossoms and crushed stone. Medium-bodied with a lovely creamy texture, it has intense flavor layers, uplifting tangy acidity and a very long, flavorful finish. This is only produced in magnums.

2017 Chardonnay Trenton Roadhouse

Rating: 96

Erin Brooks, December 19, 2019

The 2017 Chardonnay Trenton Roadhouse, from vines planted in Goldridge soils, has a warm, open, savory nose of toasted almond, spring honey, crushed shell, warm white peaches and baked quince with an undercurrent of dried flowers and spices. Medium-bodied, it explodes in the mouth with intense, energetic, spice and earth-laced fruit layers strung with tangy acidity and finishes long, layered and full of verve.

2017 Chardonnay Vine Hill Vineyard

Rating: 96

Erin Brooks, December 19, 2019

The 2017 Chardonnay Vine Hill Vineyard grows in very pure sandy soils with almost no organic material. It has a singularly perfumed, layered nose full of citrus and flowers: lime, lemon and orange peel with lovely citrus blossom perfume, petrichor, honey, toast, quince paste, dried hay and guava. Medium-bodied, it explodes with flavor layers in the mouth, broad and textural with seamless acidity and an incredibly long, layered finish. Wow!

2017 Pinot Noir Cuvee Natalie Silver Belt

Rating: 95

Erin Brooks, December 19, 2019

Medium ruby-purple, the 2017 Pinot Noir Cuvée Natalie Silver Belt Vineyard, from red volcanic soils with patches of iron oxide, has a beautiful perfume of charcuterie, gravel dust, dried rose petals and potpourri with touches of peppercorn and tea leaves over blackberries, black cherries, cranberries and dried red cherries. It’s light to medium-bodied and elegant, offering intense flavor layers of spicy, amaro-tinged fruits with a soft frame of finely woven tannins and juicy freshness, finishing very long and flavorful.

Vinous, Reviewed by: Antonio Galloni

2017 Chardonnay Cuvee Cathleen

Rating: 96+

Antonio Galloni, May 2019

The 2017 Chardonnay Kistler Vineyard Cuvée Cathleen emerges from the center section of a hillside that sits apart from the larger part of the property where the soils are more decomposed in nature. Interestingly, the Cuvée Cathleen is quite lifted and aromatic next to the decidedly richer straight bottling off this site. Floral, citrus and orchard notes all lift from the glass. On the palate, the Cuvée Cathleen is far less expressive and giving. I would cellar it for another year or more. It is very clearly a special wine in the making. The style is all finesse.

2017 Chardonnay Hyde Vineyard

Rating: 95

Antonio Galloni, May 2019

Kistler’s 2017 Chardonnay Hyde is a super-classic expression of this well-known site. Tangerine, butter, honey, matchstick, hazelnut and dried flowers all flesh out in an ample, creamy chardonnay endowed with tremendous balance and personality to burn.  Underpinnings of salinity add character as well as complexity.

2017 Chardonnay Kistler Vineyard

Rating: 96

Antonio Galloni, May 2019

The 2017 Chardonnay Kistler Vineyard is a powerful, dense wine that captures all the structure and intensity of this Moon Mountain site. Readers will have to be patient with the 2017, as it carries tremendous textural intensity and depth. If tasting blind, I am not sure I would peg this is Chardonnay. The structural imprint of this site on red volcanic soils is incredibly strong. This is another wine in the range that is deeply marked by low yields and high natural concentration.

2017 Chardonnay Laguna Ridge Vineyard

Rating: 95+

Antonio Galloni, May 2019

Easily the biggest wine in this range, the 2017 Chardonnay Laguna Ridge is rich and unctuous in feel.  Orange confit, dried flowers, herbs and light honeyed notes all develop in the glass, but it is the wine’s oily, waxy feel that is its most distinctive attribute. This is a flamboyant wine from Kistler. Even so, there is plenty of backing structure and enough pedigree to allow it to develop nicely in the cellar. The Laguna Ridge is bottled only in magnum.

2017 Chardonnay Trenton Roadhouse

Rating: 95+

Antonio Galloni, May 2019

One of the more overt wines in the range, the 2017 Chardonnay Trenton Roadhouse is bright, punchy and wonderfully nuanced, with a good deal of phenolic intensity behind the fruit. In the glass, the 2017 has a real sense of structure coming from abnormally low yields.  Citrus peel, savory herbs, menthol and dried flowers add shades of nuance to this potent Chardonnay. I would give the 2017 at least another year or two in bottle.

2017 Chardonnay Vine Hill Vineyard

Rating: 96

Antonio Galloni, May 2019

The 2017 Chardonnay Vine Hill Vineyard, from Kistler’s estate ranch in Sebastopol, is subtle, nuanced and incredibly classy. In this tasting, the Vine Hill is silky and lifted, with striking nuance and exceptional balance.  Lemon confit, white flowers and mint, along with the wine’s mid-weight feel, speak to elegance above all else.  Bright saline notes punctuate the finish. The Vine Hill is a modern-day classic Kistler Chardonnay.

2017 Pinot Noir Cuvee Natalie Silver Belt

Rating: 94

Antonio Galloni, May 2019

The 2017 Pinot Noir Cuvée Natalie is endowed with serious concentration. Inky red and purplish berry fruit, cloves, new leather, lavender and menthol race across the palate as this sumptuous, full-bodied Pinot shows off its curves. This is a decidedly flamboyant style with tons of pure power and intensity in every dimension.

Reviewed by: Jeb Dunnuck

2017 Chardonnay Cuvee Cathleen

Rating: 98

Jeb Dunnuck, June 14, 2019

Coming from a ridge of more broken shale soils and 25-year-old vines, the 2017 Chardonnay Kistler Vineyard Cuvee Cathleen is a more opulent wine than the more chiseled Kistler Vineyard and offers a beautiful bouquet of golden fruits, pineapple, honeycomb, and rocking levels of salty minerality. It’s fleshy, rounded, and powerful, with a great, great texture as well as a massive finish. This pure, regal, classic Sonoma Chardonnay plays with the best in the world. It can be drunk today or cellared for over a decade.

2017 Chardonnay Hyde Vineyard

Rating: 95

Jeb Dunnuck, June 14, 2019

The medium gold-colored 2017 Chardonnay Hyde Vineyard comes from a great site in Carneros and has a pretty, complex bouquet citrus, apple, brioche, and salty minerality as well as tons of white flower notes. Medium-bodied, it has a distinct marine-like salinity, terrific balance, and a clean, crisp finish. It’s another remarkable Chardonnay from this team.

2017 Chardonnay Kistler Vineyard

Rating: 98

Jeb Dunnuck, June 14, 2019

The two standouts in the lineup include the 2017 Chardonnay Kistler Vineyard, which comes from red volcanic soils and 40-year-old dry farmed vines. This magical stuff has incredible notes of white flowers, crushed rocks, salty minerality, and stone fruits. With both power and elegance, it displays bright acidity, a layered, multi-dimensional texture, and a finish that won’t quit. As with all these new releases, it shows a vibrancy and freshness paired with a concentrated, age-worthy feel. Give it 2-3 years and enjoy over the following decade.

2017 Chardonnay Laguna Ridge Vineyard

Rating: 97+

Jeb Dunnuck, June 14, 2019

Released only in magnum, the 2017 Chardonnay Laguna Ridge Vineyard comes from a site located between Vine Hill and Trenton vineyards, in the heart of the Russian River. Exotic notes of orange blossom, ripe orchard fruits, toasted spice, and hints of floral notes all flow to a medium to full-bodied, beautifully concentrated, yet racy Chardonnay that has tons of verve and tension. With plenty of mid-palate depth, ample minerality on the finish, and straight-up awesome length, it will benefit from a year or two of bottle age and cruise for a decade or more.

2017 Chardonnay Trenton Roadhouse

Rating: 96

Jeb Dunnuck, June 14, 2019

Moving to the Russian River releases, the 2017 Chardonnay Tenton Roadhouse offers textbook Sonoma County notes of honeyed stone fruits, ripe orchard notes, hints of brioche, and even a kiss of minerality. Medium to full-bodied, rounded, and textured on the palate, it has good acidity, terrific balance, and a great finish. This is classic California Chardonnay that does everything right!

2017 Chardonnay Vine Hill Vineyard

Rating: 97

Jeb Dunnuck, June 14, 2019

From a 16-acre site in the Russian River Valley, the 2017 Chardonnay Vine Hill Vineyard offers a fresh, racy profile that carries stunning intensity in its crisp citrus, charcoal, and white flower aromas and flavors. With incredible elegance, high yet integrated acidity, and focused, crystalline texture, this is one for the Chablis lovers out there.

2017 Pinot Noir Cuvee Natalie Silver Belt

Rating: 94

Jeb Dunnuck, June 14, 2019

Leading off the Pinot Noirs, the 2017 Pinot Noir Cuvee Natalie comes from a cooler Russian River site and offers a complex bouquet of red currants, smoked earth, ground pepper, and exotic floral and rose hip notes. Rich, medium-bodied, and seamless on the palate, it’s incredibly classy as well as perfectly balanced.

Past Reviews:

Wine Advocate, Reviewed by: Lisa Perrotti-Brown

2016 Chardonnay Cuvee Cathleen

Rating: 98+

Lisa Perrotti-Brown, June 29, 2018

The 2016 Chardonnay Cuvee Cathleen is quite reticent at this youthful stage, slowly revealing notes of lemon meringue pie, lime cordial, spiced pears and apple tart with touches of chalk dust, marzipan, brioche and acacia honey. Full-bodied, rich and decadent in the mouth, it has oodles of freshness lifting the tightly packed flavors with a very long, wonderfully layered finish.

2016 Chardonnay Hyde Vineyard

Rating: 95

Lisa Perrotti-Brown, June 29, 2018

The 2016 Chardonnay Hyde Vineyard gives up gregarious notes of underripe pineapple, green mango and grapefruit with suggestions of brioche, beeswax, toasted almonds and yeast extract. Medium to full-bodied, the palate is coated with silken-textured tropical and savory layers, complemented by a harmonious line of freshness and finishing impressively long and mineral laced.

2016 Chardonnay Kistler Vineyard

Rating: 97

Lisa Perrotti-Brown, June 29, 2018

The 2016 Chardonnay Kistler Vineyard opens with complex savory and earthy notes of yeast extract, baking bread, toasted almonds, crushed rocks and sandy soil with a core of warm grapefruit, preserved lemons, kumquats and nectarines plus a waft of oyster shell. Medium to full-bodied, super intense and tight-knit in the mouth, it has tons of earthy/savory layers and a long mineral and steel-laced finish.

2016 Chardonnay Laguna Ridge Vineyard

Rating: 97

Lisa Perrotti-Brown, June 29, 2018

The 2016 Chardonnay Laguna Ridge Vineyard possesses quite a floral nose of peach blossoms, honeysuckle and jasmine with a core of peach cobbler, pear tart and lemon drops plus hints of gingerbread and beeswax. Full-bodied, opulently fruited and featuring tons of savory and spice layers in the mouth, it has a gorgeous creaminess to the texture and a very long, harmonious finish.

2016 Chardonnay Trenton Roadhouse

Rating: 97

Lisa Perrotti-Brown, June 29, 2018

The 2016 Chardonnay Trenton Roadhouse Vineyard rocks up with effortless notions of pear tart, warm apple pie and lemon curd plus touches of spice cake, croissant, almond butter and lime cordial. Full-bodied, rich and wonderfully harmonious, it delivers incredibly intense stone fruit and spice layers with a very long savory finish.

2016 Chardonnay Vine Hill Vineyard

Rating: 96

Lisa Perrotti-Brown, June 29, 2018

Coming from the “home” vineyard, the 2016 Chardonnay Vine Hill Vineyard opens with opulent fresh ginger, pineapple paste and guava scents with underlying accents of yuzu, hazelnuts, honeycomb and allspice. Rich, spicy and decadent in the mouth, it has a lively backbone of freshness lifting the many layers to a long, savory and spice-laced finish.

2016 Pinot Noir Cuvee Natalie Silver Belt

Rating: 95

Lisa Perrotti-Brown, June 29, 2018

Medium ruby-purple in color, the 2016 Pinot Noir Cuvee Natalie Silver Belt possesses quite an earthy nose of truffles, underbrush, tilled soil and mossy bark over a core of Black Forest cake, warm red and black plums and raspberry compote. Full-bodied and laden with black berry and earth layers, it has a velvety backbone and very long mineral-tinged finish.

Vinous, Reviewed by: Antonio Galloni

2016 Chardonnay Cuvee Cathleen

Rating: 94

Antonio Galloni, May 2019

The 2016 Chardonnay Kistler Vineyard Cuvée Cathleen is laced with a whole range of floral and citrus notes. Today, I find the Cuvée nicely lifted, but also a bit diffuse and hard to read, with less of the precision that is typical.  Perhaps bottle age will help things come together more

fully. We will see.

2016 Chardonnay Hyde Vineyard

Rating: 94

Antonio Galloni, May 2019

The 2016 Chardonnay Hyde Vineyard is a wine of real density, weight and gravitas, all qualities that are such signatures of this Carneros site. Creamy and voluptuous in the glass, the 2016 exudes textural richness in all of its dimensions. The Hyde is one of the more virile, potent wines in the range. There is no shortage of personality or character. That is abundantly clear.

2016 Chardonnay Kistler Vineyard

Rating: 96

Antonio Galloni, May 2019

The 2016 Chardonnay Kistler Vineyard, from Steve Kistler’s original vineyard on Moon  Mountain, shows a real sense of hillside structure in its deep, phenolic personality. There is a feeling of real textural depth and substance that runs through the KV. A whole range of citrus, floral and savory notes give the wine its distinctive character. There is just so much going on. In 2016, I have a slight preference for the KV over the Cuvée Cathleen, which emerges from a separate part of the property.

2016 Chardonnay Laguna Ridge Vineyard

Rating: 96

Antonio Galloni, May 2019

The 2016 Chardonnay Laguna Ridge, which is bottled only in magnum, is another highlight in this range. Ample and creamy in the glass, with striking textural richness, the Laguna Ridge is really shows itself to be a wine of distinction and class. Today, it is positively striking.

2016 Chardonnay Trenton Roadhouse

Rating: 95

Antonio Galloni, May 2019

The 2016 Chardonnay Trenton Roadhouse is another super-expressive wine in this range. The Trenton Roadhouse has more of a dried fruit, savory and hazelnut-leaning profile to match its soft, silky personality. Generous and nuanced, with lovely floral top notes, the Trenton Roadhouse is all class.

2016 Chardonnay Vine Hill Vineyard

Rating: 95

Antonio Galloni, May 2019

The 2016 Chardonnay Vine Hill Vineyard is laced with bright saline, citrus and floral notes that give the wine energy. Medium in body, as all these wines are, the Vine Hill is built on a beam of tension that gives the wine its shape and sense of direction. This site, planted with Steve Kistler’s selection of Wente Clone Chardonnay on AxR-1 rootstock, yields wines of real character.

2016 Pinot Noir Cuvee Natalie Silver Belt

Rating: 94

Antonio Galloni, May 2019

The 2016 Pinot Noir Silver Belt Vineyard Cuvée Natalie is plump, juicy and absolutely delicious. Super-ripe dark cherry, plum, spice, lavender and licorice all take shape as this deep, inky Pinot shows off its soft curves and voluptuous personality. Beautifully layered and inviting, the 2016 has so much to offer.

Reviewed by: Jeb Dunnuck

2016 Chardonnay Cuvee Cathleen

Rating: 100

Jeb Dunnuck, June 5, 2018

I suspect one of the greatest Chardonnays to come out of California, the 2016 Chardonnay Kistler Vineyard Cuvée Cathleen comes from a single block of broken shale soils and vines planted in 1993. They first made this cuvée in 2000. The tightest, most backward, and insanely pure in the lineup, with a liqueur of rocks like minerality, this incredible Chardonnay offers full-bodied richness, loads of apple and orchard fruits, complex floral and spice characteristics, vibrant and massive concentration. Despite being a rich, layered wine, it stays beautifully precise and focused on the palate, with a salty, marine-like character developing with time in the glass. It needs 2-3 years of bottle age and will cruise for a decade.

2016 Chardonnay Hyde Vineyard

Rating: 95

Jeb Dunnuck, June 5, 2018

The 2016 Chardonnay Hyde Vineyard is another beauty Chardonnay from a site in Carneros. Apple and orchard fruits, lots of salty minerality, brioche, and a kiss of marzipan give way to a rich, concentrated, yet perfectly balanced effort that’s going to shine on the dinner table over the coming decade or more.

2016 Chardonnay Kistler Vineyard

Rating: 98

Jeb Dunnuck, June 5, 2018

Another borderline perfect Chardonnay from this estate is the 2016 Chardonnay Kistler Vineyard, which tastes almost identical to the Cuvée Cathleen, only slightly less intense. Killer white flower, citrus blossom, orchard fruits, and salty minerality all flow to a medium to full-bodied, ultra-pure, precise, and elegant Chardonnay. With a little less minerality, yet a similar textural richness and depth, give it a year or two, count yourself lucky, and enjoy over the following decade.

2016 Chardonnay Laguna Ridge Vineyard

Rating: 99

Jeb Dunnuck, June 5, 2018

A standout as well as a candidate for perfection, the 2016 Chardonnay Laguna Ridge Vineyard is a sensational effort that has racy, vibrant, yet integrated acidity giving beautiful lift and cut to textbook notes of apple blossom, toasted hazelnuts, white flowers, spice box, and crushed rock-like minerality. With full body, a deep, layered, seamless texture, awesome purity of fruit, and a huge finish, it has everything you could want from a wine. Give it 2-3 years and enjoy over the following decade.

2016 Chardonnay Trenton Roadhouse

Rating: 96

Jeb Dunnuck, June 5, 2018

Coming from pure sand soils, the ripe, flamboyantly-styled 2016 Chardonnay Trenton Roadhouse gives up stunning notes of tangerine oil, caramelized citrus, and white flowers, with a hint of tropical fruit with time in the glass. This medium to full-bodied, fleshy, ripe beauty has moderate acidity and plenty of richness and depth, all while staying balanced and fresh.

2016 Chardonnay Vine Hill Vineyard

Rating: 96

Jeb Dunnuck, June 5, 2018

From vines around the estate in the Russian River, the 2016 Chardonnay Vine Hill is another rich, opulent effort that does everything right. White peach, caramelized pineapple, and white flower notes give way to a full-bodied Chardonnay that has building saltiness, good acidity, and a great finish. Both rich and fresh, it is an undeniably beautiful wine.

2016 Pinot Noir Cuvee Natalie Silver Belt

Rating: 97

Jeb Dunnuck, June 5, 2018

The 2016 Pinot Noir Cuvée Natalie is a mix of Calera and Swan clones as well as cool, more iron oxide-driven soils. It offers more red fruits with sensational notes of strawberries, spice, and wet stone literally soaring from the glass. Perfectly balanced, with ultra-fine tannin and a seamless texture, drink this complex, layered, multi-dimensional Russian River Valley Pinot Noir anytime over the coming 10-15 years.