From Sustainable Champagne to an Unprecedented 100-Pointer: The Best Wines Right Now

Women take the lead at top wineries, and the most noteworthy Champagne, Pinot Noir and Burgundy that we tasted this year.


Chardonnay: Kosta Browne 2018 El Diablo Vineyard Chardonnay, Russian River Valley

As great California Chardonnay continues to distance itself from the stereotypical style built around oak and butter, Julien How­ sepian, winemaker at Kosta Browne, creates a considerable distance between that cliché and this rich but intensely vibrant white.

Savory, wet­-stone minerality opens on the nose, intriguingly layered with exotic cit­rus, orchard blossoms, hints of tropical fruit and crème brûlée. Contradictions abound on the palate: The Chardonnay is mouth­-filling and textural to the extreme, but it’s also del­icate. Bright apple toggles with stone fruit and lemon zest. Distinctive mouthfeel is the goal, according to Howsepian; he has even introduced some foot­-treading to create more solids in the cause of richness.

Would he compare it to France’s great Chardonnays? Not so fast. “We strive to one day evoke California Chardonnay across the globe in a similar vein as Burgundy, in terms of quality and distinction,” he says. “But it’s important for us to remain unique and sty­listically at arm’s length.” $160

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July 01, 2021