Critical Acclaim


Robert Parker

2008  Kongsgaard Chardonnay The Judge Napa Valley
The 2008 Chardonnay The Judge is exquisite. Full-bodied with layer upon layer of ripe stone fruits, crushed rocks, and floral notes, it is a honeyed, super-rich Chardonnay displaying a hint of tropical fruits in the long, 40-second finish (a remarkable length for a Chardonnay). This brilliant effort should last for 8-10 years. 97 points

2008 Kongsgaard Chardonnay Napa Valley
The 2008 Chardonnay Napa, which was bottled in July, 2010, has far more minerality along with notes of orange blossoms, honeyed melons, nectarines and crushed rock. This mineral-dominated Chardonnay tastes like a California version of a Burgundian Chevalier-Montrachet. Full-bodied, fresh, lively and well-delineated, this gorgeous white should last for 4-6 years. 94 points

2007 Kongsgaard The Judge Chardonnay Napa Valley
A special selection of the top barrels, the 2007 Chardonnay The Judge is more backward than the regular Chardonnay, revealing a liqueur of rocks-like character intermixed with hints of almond paste, tropical fruits, quince, and mango. Its incredible length, richness, and depth suggest this wine will benefit from 1-2 years of bottle age, and should keep for over a decade. 98+ points

2007 Kongsgaard Chardonnay Napa Valley Napa Valley
The 2007 Chardonnay possesses abundant aromas of white peaches, citrus blossoms, crushed rocks (think liquid minerality), and honeyed tropical fruit presented in a full-bodied wine with good acidity, depth, and length. It should drink well for a decade. 95 points

2007 Kongsgaard Cabernet Sauvignon Napa Valley
Kongsgaard’s finest Cabernet Sauvignon to date is the 2007. Its dense purple color is accompanied by deep cassis, smoke, blackberry, licorice, and roasted meat-like characteristics. Dense and rich with sweet tannin, full-bodied power, and a youthful style, it should evolve for at least 20 years. 94 points

2006 Syrah Napa Valley
The 2006 Syrah Hudson Vineyard jumps out of the glass with its notes of scorched earth, beef blood, blackberries, black olives, spring flowers, coffee, and roasted meats. Incredibly textured, rich, full-bodied, and long, this beauty must be tasted to be believed. It should evolve for 15 or more years, although few purchasers will be able to defer their gratification. 95 points

2005 The Judge Chardonnay Napa Valley
The 2005 The Judge Chardonnay flirts with perfection. Incredibly intense flowery notes along with a liqueur of honeysuckle and crushed rocks complete with some tropical fruit, quince, orange, and pineapple characteristics. This intensely full, fresh, lively, gorgeous white benefits from 22 months aging in barrel, and bottling off the lees unfiltered.  98 points

2005 Chardonnay Napa Valley
A stunning effort, the 2005 Chardonnay boasts copious notes of floral, honeysuckle, and orange oil offered in a full-bodied white. It possesses terrific acidity, a striking terroir-based minerality, and beautiful delineation as well as purity. This is a large-scaled yet remarkably fresh wine with the balance and grace of a world-class ballerina. Enjoy it over the next decade.  95 points

2005 Syrah Napa Valley
The fabulous 2005 Syrah Hudson Vineyard is even better than it was last year. An incredible dark purple color offers up notes of creosote, subtle charcoal embers, aged beef, fresh beef blood, black currants, sweet cherries, pepper, and tapenade. An incredibly complex, deep, full-bodied Syrah with expressive chocolatey notes in the mouth, this intense Syrah challenges just about every ounce of grey matter between the ears. It should evolve for 10-15+ years.  98 points

2005 Roussanne/Viognier Napa Valley
The best white Rhone Ranger made north of San Francisco is Kongsgaard’s blend of Roussanne and Viognier, a blend that he plays with and changes every year depending on what the vintage gives. The 2004 was a letdown after several thrilling vintages, but I have to say that the 2005 is possibly the best he has yet made. A 120-case blend of 63% Roussanne, and 37% Viognier, it is right up there with the great Sine Qua Non blended white from the Santa Barbara region. An unbelievably exotic nose of litchi, high class perfume, sweet apricots, and tropical fruits with hints of lilac is followed by a wine of great intensity, tremendous acidity, and a flamboyant personality. This is a Marilyn Monroe in her prime dressed in a chic Chanel suit. I wouldn’t push my luck on aging this one, so my best advice would be to drink it over the next two years, assuming you can keep your hands off of it for that long.  96 points

2004 The Judge Chardonnay Napa Valley
The 2004 Chardonnay The Judge is about as fine a Chardonnay as one is likely to find in the world. The wine, as one might expect, is from the same vineyard and simply the most concentrated barrels of what is already a very concentrated wine. It just has more of everything when compared to the regular 2004 Chardonnay, but I think the most striking thing is that, from what I can tell, he is looking for even more intense minerality in the wine, and this wine certainly offers it in spades. It should age for up to a decade.  98 points

2003 The Judge Chardonnay Napa Valley
The Chardonnay of the vintage is the 2003 Chardonnay The Judge. At $175, it may be California’s most expensive Chardonnay, but what a remarkable wine! Tightly-wound as well as super-concentrated, it represents the essence of a terroir and varietal character. Sadly, there are only 100 cases of this remarkable effort.  99 points

2003 Viognier/Roussanne Napa Valley
One of California’s finest white Rhone Ranger blends is Kongsgaard’s 2003 Roussanne/Viognier (45% of the former and 55% of the latter, both co-fermented). Kongsgaard told me the wine that inspired this cuvee was Beaucastel’s Chateauneuf du Pape Roussanne Vieilles Vignes, a 100% Roussanne considered by most authorities to be the Montrachet of the southern Rhone Valley. Exotic notes of papaya, mango, and other tropical fruits intermixed with lychee and mineral characteristics emerge from this full-bodied, concentrated, intoxicating, provocative white. It is meant to be consumed during its first 2-3 years of life as once the aromatics begin to crack up, much of this wine’s allure is over.   96 points

2002 The Judge Chardonnay Napa Valley
The powerful, full-bodied 2002 Chardonnay The Judge possesses a similar character to the regular bottling, with more orange marmalade/nectarine characteristics as well as a 60-second finish. These wines tend to age beautifully for 6-7 years, perhaps even longer … I just never have any bottles left after that period of time.  97 points

2002 Chardonnay Napa Valley
The 2002 Chardonnay reveals evolution in its orange liqueur, lemon oil, honeyed grapefruit, roasted hazelnut, and leesy personality. With terrific delineation, intensity, and full body, noble purity, and an amazing texture, it represents California’s version of a Batard-Montrachet. These wines tend to age beautifully for 6-7 years, perhaps even longer … I just never have any bottles left after that period of time.  95 points

2002 Syrah Napa Valley
There are 400+ cases of Kongsgaard’s distinctive Syrah. Aged in 50% new French oak, it is fashioned from a special parcel of Hudson Vineyard vines planted in volcanic soils. The last three vintages have all been extraordinary, with perhaps the 2001 Syrah Hudson Vineyard my overall favorite. However, the 2002 is close in quality. The wine possesses striking blackberry, ground pepper, fried bacon fat, barbecue spice, and underbrush/composty characteristics that are also meaty and primordial. The volcanic soils may give this wine a more smoky, scorched, meaty character than other Northern California Syrahs. As the wine sits in the glass, notes of melted licorice also emerge. The 2002 is extremely layered and long. This cuvee always benefits from 2-3 hours of decanting, and a young vintage might even be better if decanted 24 hours in advance. This wine should easily last 10-15 years. It is unquestionably the most singular expression of Syrah in Northern California.   95 points

2001 Chardonnay Napa Valley
An awesome effort, the 2001 Chardonnay may be this estate’s finest Chardonnay to date. Boasting profoundly intense notes of orange marmalade, minerals, lemon oil, and honeysuckle as well as great delineation for its massive size, this terrific Chardonnay tastes like a grand cru white Burgundy. The finish lasts for 45 seconds. Wines such as this make a mockery of some of the uneducated rhetoric coming from wine journalists who constantly criticize mediocre, over-oaked Chardonnays, but fail to identify the great ones. It is capable of lasting and evolving for a decade.  98 points

2001 Syrah Napa Valley
The 2001 Syrah may be the finest yet produced by Kongsgaard. It is a dead ringer for a more exotic version of Chapoutier’s great Le Pavillon (from 80+ year old vines planted in granite soils on the Hermitage Hill). Aromas of white chocolate, ground pepper, blackberries, cassis liqueur, and flowers (lilacs?) is followed by a wine of great density, a certain exoticism, and powerful, thick, huge flavors oozing with extract, glycerin, and personality. There is also considerable tannin as well as decent acidity. This is about as close to a northern Rhone as Kongsgaard Syrahs get. Look for this 2001 to tighten up considerably, and be at its finest between 2007-2020.  96 points

1999 Chardonnay Napa Valley
The light green/gold-colored 1999 Chardonnay (900 cases) displays an extraordinary perfume of liquified minerals, honeysuckle, citrus oils, smoky nuts, and hints of caramel as well as orange marmalade. As it sits in the glass, even more nuances develop. It is concentrated yet extraordinarily structured and intense (much like its winemaker). This wine will drink beautifully over the next 7-8 years.  95 points

1999 Syrah Napa Valley
The 1999 Syrah Hudson Vineyard is even better out of bottle than it was from cask. Its opaque black/blue/purple color is followed by an extraordinary perfume of barbecue spices intermixed with creosote, violets, blackberry and creme de cassis liqueur, explosive, full-bodied flavors of cassis, and an amazingly thick, juicy yet vibrant and well-defined personality. There is plenty of tannin, but the wealth of fruit and intensity is mind-boggling. Anticipated maturity: 2005-2020. Kongsgaard is crop-thinning down to one grape cluster per shoot in an effort to obtain Syrah at its most intense. There are 125 cases of the 1999 Syrah Hudson Vineyard. The wine is 100% Syrah fermented and aged in wood for 18 months, and then bottled without fining or filtration. The result is one of California’s most awesome as well as singular expressions of Syrah.  95 points