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Neely Holly's Cuvee Chardonnay 2013

Neely Holly's Cuvee Chardonnay 2013

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"The 2013 Chardonnay Holly's Cuvée presents an exotic mélange of tropical-infused fruit, smoke, butter, pastry and orange blossom, all in a rich, creamy style that offers considerable near and medium-term appeal. The oily, viscous finish alone is striking. Once again I am deeply impressed with the Holly's Cuvée, an absolutely stunning wine that appears to have little in common with the three Varner Chardonnays from which it is composed. Don't ask me why that is; I don't really know the answer. In 2013, the blend is 64% Bee Block, 29% Amphitheater Block and 7% Home Block. Drinking window: 2015-2023. 97 points.

Bob and Jim Varner have turned out another magnificent set of wines at Varner and Neely. Vintage 2013 appears to have favored the Chardonnays - which are truly superb - over the Pinots.

The Varners describe 2013 as a year with vine stress because of the drought, but add that there were no heat spikes or other weather shocks. As always, the Varner Chardonnays are built on breadth, power and a sense of phenolic intensity that is one of the signatures of the Santa Cruz Mountains. The Chardonnays see only about eight months in barrel and are bottled in July, but then not released for almost another year. Interestingly, the Pinots are made in a much more forward, lush style than the Chardonnays, so much so that they almost seem to reflect two very different winemaking aesthetics. Here the Varners take an unusual approach in that the Pinots all undergo malolactic fermentation in steel rather than in barrel and only go into oak after spending 2-3 months in tank. There are four wines in the Neely range; three single-vineyard Pinots and a single Chardonnay that is a blend of the vineyards the Varners use for their own Varner label."

Antonio Galloni, Vinous (07/15)