2014 Kistler Chardonnay Cuvee Cathleen

Year: 2014
Appellation: Sonoma Valley
Country: USA - California
Wine Advocate: 99
Vinous Media: 96
White Wine
Alcohol by Volume: 14.1%
Price :

"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.

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.

Now the bad news – I tasted mainly wines from the 2014 vintage for this report, where, despite it being a drought year, yields were pretty much average. In 2015 and 2016, poor flowering meant that yields were hit dramatically for Kistler, down 25-30% in 2015 and as much as 40% in 2016." (WA)

"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." (VM)

Winery Notes:
Green-tinged pale yellow. Classic aromas of lime blossom, powdered stone and hazelnut. Vibrant and very intense, with a pronounced saline character to the citrus and spice flavors. Finishes very firm and precise with impressive energy and tension.