Stephen Ross Wine Cellars

San Luis Obispo Small Production Urban Winery

Chardonnay Acclaim • 1998–2011

Acclaimiii Design

2011 Chardonnay - Bien Nacido Vineyards

Wine Enthusiast, October, 2013 - 92 pts. It's hard to define minerality in a wine, but this Chardonnay has it. It tastes and feels like a lick of chalky stone. That's on top of and below the intricate pineapple, orange and Meyer lemon fruit that's so delicious, and finishes dry and spicy. - S.H.

2010 Chardonnay - Bien Nacido Vineyards

Wine Spectator, June 30, 2012 - 89 pts. Tangy tangerine and nectarine flavors give this a refreshing, vibrant, mouthwatering fruit presence. Sleek and understated, this retains its vibrancy. Drink now through 2019. 201 cases made. - J.L.

Wine Enthusiast - 92 points

2010 Chardonnay - Santa Barbara County

Wine Enthusiast - 89 points

2009 Chardonnay - Santa Barbara County

Wine Enthusiast, December, 2011 - 90 point. Editor's Choice. Zesty acidity gives the perfect lift to this rich Chardonnay. It brims with flavors of pineapples, mangoes, limes, buttered toast, vanilla and cinnamon spice. - S.H.

2009 Chardonnay - Bien Nacido Vineyards

Wine Enthusiast, December, 2011 - 88 points. A rich, full-bodied, oaky Chardonnay, with the pleasing texture of cream. It's spicy and very flavorful in pears, mangoes, vanilla custard and buttered toast. Could be a little livelier, though. - S.H. 

2008 Chardonnay - Edna Valley

Wine Enthusiast, May, 2011 - 92 points. A deliciously complex Chardonnay, nearly as good as the winery's single-vineyard wines, which makes it a great value. Smooth and clean, it shows vanilla cream,pineapple tart, Key lime pie and buttered toast flavors. Vibrant acidity keeps it all uplifted and bright. Editors' Choice. -S.H.

2008 Chardonnay - Oliver's Vineyard

Wine Enthusiast, May, 2011 - 92 points. Very fine, showing the class of this vineyard, at a great price. Although the wine is thoroughly dry, it's vast in pineapple and lime fruit, with a minerally tang from the terroir and
rich, sweet buttered toast and vanilla notes from oak barrel aging. The minerality reprises throughout, giving the wine a steely authority. Editors' Choice. -S.H.

2008 Chardonnay - Bien Nacido Vineyards

Wine Enthusiast, May, 2011 - 90 points. Lots to like in this Chardonnay. It's enormously rich in pineapple, mango and lemon meringue pie flavors, with vanilla and buttered toast from oak. Shows the smooth dryness and crisp
acidity of Bien Nacido. A rich, savory wine to drink now. -S.H.

2007 Chardonnay – Bien Nacido Vineyards 

Wine Enthusiast, September, 2009 - 88 points.  Custardy and yeasty, with tropical fruit, Meyer lemon and mineral flavors, accented with a strong taste of slightly bitter lees.  - S.H.

2007 Chardonnay - Edna Valley

Wine Spectator, July 2009 - 90 pts. Ripe and full-bodied, with sweetish, fig, honeydew melon, green apple and spice. Focused and balanced, ending with a long finish. Drink now through 2011. - J.L.

2007 Chardonnay – Oliver’s Vineyard 

Wine Enthusiast, November, 2009 - 91 points.  This is a fair price to pay for a wine of this pedigree. The vineyard is owned by Talley, and the wine shows the brilliant acidity and fruit of Edna Valley. Massive and complex in grilled pineapples, ripe kiwis, butter, vanilla, spices and smoky oak.  - S.H.

2006 Chardonnay - Bien Nacido Vineyards

Wine Enthusiast June, 2008, 92 points. Shows the concentration and richness that this famed vineyard gives to almost every variety it grows. Pineapples, pears, sweet green apples and more exotic flavors of papayas mingle with the smoky caramel of oak, in an unusually concentrated way that's brilliantly balanced with crisp acidity. - S.H.

Wine Spectator, July 31, 2008, 87 points.

2006 Chardonnay - Edna Valley

Wine Enthusiast June, 2008, 86 points. Here's a straightforward Chardonnay, with potent fruit and the crisp acidity of this cool, coastal region. The flavors are pure Meyer lemon, lime zest and tangy mineral. - S.H.

Wine Spectator, July 31, 2008, 87 points.

2005 Chardonnay - Edna Valley

Wine Enthusiast, September 1, 2007 - 91 points: Silky and crisp, with those long, penetrating Edna Valley flavors of ripe kiwis, Key lime pie and intense vanilla. Shows real elegance and flair, and this is a good price for the quality.

2005 Chardonnay - Bien Nacido Vineyard

Wine Enthusiast, September 1, 2007 - 91 points: Give this youthful wine some time to settle down. Tasted in late March, its parts had yet to mesh. The acidity, oakiness and fresh grapy flavors are at some odds with each other. By winter of 2007, it should be a fine, complex Chardonnay, and drink wellfor five years.

2004 Chardonnay - Bien Nacido Vineyard

Wine Enthusiast, March 2006 - 90 pts.  There's a minerality to this wine that makes it angular and steely clean, despite well-ripened peach and pineapple flavors.  It has a smooth, creamy texture and good acidity for balance, not to mention a rich coat of oak.

Tastings: The Journal of the Beverage Testing Institute, April, 2006 - 90 pts - Exceptional

2004 Chardonnay - Edna Valley

Wine Enthusiast, March 2006 - 89 pts.  Classic Edna Valley Chard, bright and zippy in acidity, with rich, purely etched flavors of Key lime pie and toasty oak.  This sophisticated wine has a long, spicy finish 

Tastings: The Journal of the Beverage Testing Institute, April, 2006 - 88 pts - Highly Recommended 

2003 Chardonnay - Bien Nacido Vineyard

Tastings: The Journal of the Beverage Testing Institute, April, 2005 - 91 pts - Exceptional. Brilliant yellow hue. Honey, toasted almond, pear and vanilla aromas. Medium-full with excellent concentration, this is a ripe and lush Chardonnay that is very appealing. There is beautiful structure and the finish is extremely long with great persistence of fruit, lively acidity, nicely integrated oak and a light touch of spice. Delicious, especially with grilled seafood! (Tasted on February 1, 2005)

Wine Enthusiast, March 2006 - 86 pts.  Extracted and soft, this single-vineyard Pinot has a full-bodied mouthfeel framing cherry, coffee, blackberry and cassis flavors.  It tastes almost like a Cabernet, except for the silky texture.  Heavy now, but it might lighten up in a few years.    

2003 Chardonnay - Edna Valley

Tastings: The Journal of the Beverage Testing Institute, April, 2005 - 89 pts - Highly Recommended. Brilliant straw-yellow hue. Pear, vanilla, honey and lemon oil aromas. Medium-full with very good concentration, this is a delicious Chardonnay with a finish offering lively acidity, fine persistence of fruit, nicely
integrated oak and a light touch of spice. (tasted on February 1, 2005)

Wine Spectator, May 31, 2005 - 86 points, Very good, a wine with special qualities.  Core fruit flavors are built around creamy fig, pear and nectarine.  A touch of hazelnut and nutmeg seasoning adds a nice flavor dimension.

Wine News, June/July 2005 - 87 points. White gold hue. Light citrus and floral scents.  Sweet, toasty flavors of peach and cream show a metallic bite.  Sweetness prevails in the finish.  

2002 Chardonnay - Bien Nacido Vineyard

Wine & Spirits Magazine, April, 2005 - 92 pts., Top 10 Chardonnays of the Year. Stephen Dooley preserved the fresh complexities of Bien Nacido fruit in this chardonnay, in scents of apple blossom, in flavors of pear and peach, in the satisfying contrast between an austere structure and rich texture. All the dry, gentle fruit would fill in the grain of a thick cut veal chop; or age this and let the flavors develop further  

2002 Chardonnay - Edna Valley

Tastings: The Journal of the Beverage Testing Institute, April, 2004 - 89 pts - Highly Recommended.  Brilliant straw hue. Apple peel, pear, hyacinth and subtle oak aromas. Medium-full with very good concentration, this is a typically subtle and elegantly made offering from this premier Chardonnay estate. Not a big wine, but one that is harmonious and seamless. (tasted on 02/01/2004)

Wine Spectator, June 30, 2004 - 87 points, Very good, a wine with special qualities.  Appealing for its ripe, fresh, zesty pear, citrus and green pineapple flavors that give it fruit complexity, though the flavors taper off on the finish.  Drink now.    

2001 Chardonnay - Bien Nacido

Wine Spectator, January 15, 2004 - 90 pts: Vibrant and lively, with intense, concentrated citrus, pear, quince and orange-lemon blossom scents that give it a tasty range of flavors and a long, lively finish. Drink now through 2007.

Tastings: The Journal of the Beverage Testing Institute, April, 2004 - 91 pts - Exceptional.  Brilliant medium yellow hue. Toasted almond, pineapple, dried earth, turmeric and oak aromas. Medium-full to full-bodied, this is a multilayered wine that has a lovely creaminess onthe palate and a long, delicious finish with ripe, spicy, earthy fruit and precise acidity. (tasted on 02/01/2004)  

2001 Chardonnay - Edna Ranch

Tastings: The Journal of the Beverage Testing Institute, April, 2003 - 90 pts - Exceptional. Brilliant straw-yellow hue. Yeast, lemon rind and pineapple aromas. A rich entry leads to a moderately full-bodied palate and a lengthy finish with pretty spiciness and delicacy of fruit highlighted by pinpoint acidity.

Connoisseurs' Guide to California Wine - September, 2003 - 89 points. Attractive aromas of ripe apples tinged with a touch of white peach and honey give a rich, almost 'unctuous' quality to the nose of this handsome wine, and its somewhat rounded, nicely balanced flavors follow through in fine fashion. Hints of chalk and stones fit well with the tasty yet brisk finish, and the wine is likely to fill out fully over the next year. 

Wine & Spirits Magazine, December, 2003 - 92 pts. Dry and austere when first poured, this takes its time opening up to fresh white peach flavors.  But when it does open, it seems to glisten and glow, like that peach just cut open in the sun.  There's also a crushed mineral acidity to keep it fresh as it ages and evolves.  A chardonnay for the cellar, this needs five or six years to begin to show its best.

Wine Spectator, September 15, 2003 - 90 pts: A deliciously rich and creamy style, highlighted by spicy floral, grapefruit, orange blossom and ripe peach flavors that are complex and long on the finish, where the acidity adds backbone. Solid value. Drink now through 2006. 661 cases made.  

2000 Chardonnay - Bien Nacido Vineyard

Tastings: The Journal of the Beverage Testing Institute, September, 2002 - 90 pts. "Exceptional." Brilliant yellow-straw hue. White peach, honeysuckle and quince aromas- very exotic! A medium-bodied palate leads to a very long finish that keeps unfolding in the glass. Lovely subtle fruit and balanced acidity are finely tuned in this elegantly made Chardonnay. 

Global Vintage Quarterly, October - December, 2002 - 90 pts.

Wine & Spirits Magazine, February, 2003 - 87 pts. Oak meets the salinity of coastal fruit to create a buzz, a little frazzled but firm. The wine has a meaty texture, with flavors of dusty pear and bitter almond, a good choice for a chicken curry.

Connoisseurs' Guide to California Wine, February, 2003 -  88 points. Moderately fruity and fairly lively if not quite as expansive as it might be, the aromas of this nicely make wine are paralleled in tone and timber by ripe, pleasant flavors that show enough fruit to balance against the evident oak and roast grains elements. Its firm finish and medium-intensity aftertaste suggest service with broiled fishes.  

2000 Chardonnay - Edna Ranch, Edna Valley

Tastings: The Journal of the Beverage Testing Institute, February, 2002 - 88 pts (Highly Recommended). Brilliant yellow-straw hue. Apple, pear and vanilla aromas. A rich entry leads to a moderately full-bodied palate with a supple mouthfeel and a long, balanced finish with very fine acidity. A great food wine.

Connoisseurs' Guide to California Wine, February, 2003- 87 points. Seemingly a bit riper than its mate at first sniff, then showing a decided citrusy edge to its moderately rich, oak-influenced nose, this wine starts off smooth and supple on the palate, then like its mate, becomes tighter and crisper towards the back. Overall, it is a well-made Chardonnay.  

1999 Chardonnay - Edna Ranch

Wine Spectator, July, 2001 - 88 pts. Intense and full of complex flavors of mint, pear, fig and hazelnut, with a hint of flowers.  Young and tight, it should evolve nicely. Drink now through 2005.

Beverage Testing Institute, February, 2001 - 85 pts. "Highly Recommended." Deep yellow-straw hue. Rich, ripe creamy, yeasty nose. A crisp entry leads to a zesty, medium-bodied palate. Taut, clean, mildly buttery finish. Drink now or later 

1999 Chardonnay - Bien Nacido Vineyard

Wine & Spirits, April 2001 - 92 pts. Lively granny smith apple flavors fill this wine with a cool, crisp intensity. Chalky and tight, it makes its presence felt with energy rather than weight or fleshiness, driving to every corner of the mouth with a lifted, orange and lime-like acidity that will perk up any white-fleshed fish. Enjoy this now for its transparent finesse, or put it away for a few years to let the complexity build.

Wine Spectator, July, 2001 - 91 pts. Defines elegance, with subtle yet rich fig, butterscotch, hazelnut and citrus, all woven together nicely, finishing with a long, intricate aftertaste. Drink now through 2005.

Beverage Testing Institute, February, 2001 - 88 pts. "Highly Recommended."  Deep yellow-straw hue. Very ripe, creamy melon and grapefruit nose. A crisp entry leads to a spicy medium-bodied palate with a firm edge of acidity. Citrusy, mildly buttery finish. Drink now or later

The Insiders' Wine Line, Fall, 2001; Volume 4, Number 4 - The 1999 Chardonnay, Santa Maria Valley has a perfumed bouquet of tropical fruits, citrus, coconut, green apple and vanilla. The flavors of apples, pineapple, pear, peach and cinnamon are complex with good depth followed by a fruity, spicy, vanilla etched finish. 90 points.

1998 Chardonnay - Edna Ranch

2000 Global Vintage Quarterly, Third Quarter - 89 pts. The Insiders' Wine Line, October, 2000 - 88 pts: It has a perfumed nose of tropical fruits, quince, pear, apple and vanilla.  The flavors of pineapple, apple, melon and spicy oak are very fresh and bright followed by a long, creamy, fruity finish.    

1998 Chardonnay - Bien Nacido Vineyard

The Insiders' Wine Line, October, 2000 - 91 pts: It has a lovely perfumed nose of tropical fruits, red apple, coconut, citrus, cinnamon and minerals.  The flavors of pineapple, mango, papaya, lime and vanilla are rich and flavorful followed by a very fruity, crisp finish. Terrific!

2000 Global Vintage Quarterly, Third Quarter - 89 pts