Had a quick visit today from Hugh Chapelle, winemaker at Lynmar (who has, to my mind, lifted their wines up several notches in quality since he's been there). We tasted the current Lynmar releases, and I was struck by how good the basic Russian River Valley Chardonnay bottling was. The blend has shifted slightly—it used to be entirely declassified estate fruit, and now Chapelle blends in a portion of fruit from seven or eight other vineyards in the cooler parts of the Russian River and Green Valleys. But the fact that it's the 2005 vintage almost certainly had something to do with it, too. As Chapelle said, "2005 is just a spectacular vintage for Chardonnay. Nice long hangtimes, but the acids held—the uniformity of ripeness was exceptional." (He's a scientist, if you can't tell.)

What I'd note, too, is that he's not the only winemaker I've heard this from—for North Coast Chardonnay, 2005 is looking to be truly great. Shoot, it might even make me excited about Chardonnay again.

2005 Lynmar Russian River Valley Chardonnay ($30) Fifty percent of this is tank-fermented sur lie, the other fifty percent barrel-fermented in about 20% or so new oak. It's firm and bright, a finely focused, pear-apple flavored Chardonnay with almost tingly acidity—the kind of wine you wish more California Chardonnay would head towards, stylistically speaking.