Of all the wines we tasted this month, none met our criteria for a great wine as well as this fastidiously crafted Chardonnay from the Russian River Valley.
It's also the most compelling cult-like bottling we've tried this year, and with good reason: Peter McCoy met John Kongsgaard at a Napa Barbeque in the mid-1990s when Peter's winery was still in the formative stages. After some conversation, he convinced John to write down the "recipe" for the famous Kongsgaard Chardonnay on the back of a cocktail napkin.
Peter combined these instructions with the same criteria that Helen Turley espouses (great vineyards, low yields, maximum ripeness, indigenous yeasts) to make excellent examples of New World Chardonnay.
The Clos Marianne, one of his top cuveés, is rich and full-bodied, but it also has excellent acidity to provide balance and a framework for the wine's intensity and concentration. Unfiltered and unfined, the wine has definitely benefited from a few years of bottle age, and is now at peak maturity.
Don't just take our word for it - a friend who is a sommelier at a 3-star restaurant said "The McCoy is better than any of the Marcassin Vineyard Chardonnays that I've had in the last 3 years!" [ed. note: these Marcassins were all rated between 96-99 points by Robert Parker. Though the comment may be a bit hyperbolic, the McCoy is truly great]