Critical Acclaim


Issue 209, December 2013

These all look like impressive wines, but they are so limited in availability, I’ve kept my tasting notes short. The brilliant John Kongsgaard – part winemaker, part opera devotee, and part mystic – has a few new items up his sleeve for release. Of course, he is still offering his Chardonnays and Syrahs, which are among the very best made in California. Over recent years Kongsgaard has branched out to produce Cabernet Sauvignon from Atlas Peak. He has two cuvees now that come from these volcanic soils, cropped at very tiny yields of one ton of fruit per acre. The wines come from relatively old vines for Napa Cabernet Sauvignon, 35 years of age as of 2012. Kongsgaard’s newest baby, which he started making in 2009, is only two to four barrels of co-fermented Merlot and Cabernet Sauvignon in a 50/50 blend from the Atlas Peak site.

Tasted from barrel:

2012 Kongsgaard Chardonnay The Judge Napa Valley
The tiny cuvee of 200-250 cases of 2012 Chardonnay the Judge comes from Kongsgaard’s best parcels and lowest yielding terroirs (about three-fourths of a ton of grapes per acre). Incredibly rich and textured, with loads of honeysuckle and exotic marmalade notes, this sexy beast of a Chardonnay has brilliant delineation and stunning concentration and length along with undeniable minerality. This is one of the greatest young Chardonnays I have ever tasted. Overall, 2011 produced lighter weight wines, but you would never know that from tasting Kongsgaard’s two cuvees. (98-100) points

2012 Kongsgaard Chardonnay Napa Valley
The 2012 Chardonnay from the Hudson and Hyde Vineyards is spectacular, with notes of creme fraiche, orange marmalade, honeyed citrus and crushed rock as well as white currants and flowers. Gorgeously full-bodied, with great freshness and acidity, this beauty will be released early next year. (96-98) points

2012 Kongsgaard Syrah Napa Valley
The spectacular 2012 Syrah, which has plenty of roasted meat, bouquet garni, charcuterie and sausage notes along with some bacon fat, blackberry and cassis. It is a mind-blowing, rich, full-bodied, very complex Syrah that seems to broach both the more austere and intellectually complex world of European Syrahs and the ripe opulent, voluptuously textured New World Syrahs. (96-98) points

2012 Kongsgaard Cabernet Sauvignon Napa Valley
The 2012 Cabernet Sauvignon Napa displays lots of black currant, graphite and crushed rock in a full-bodied, dense, very concentrated style, with the vintage’s exuberance and full-throttle fruit and power well-displayed. (93-95) points

2012 Kongsgaard The Fimasaurus Napa Valley
Called The Fimasaurus, I tasted four vintages and found the two stars to be the grapy, layered, full-bodied and opulent 2012 and its older sibling, the 2010, which was primordial, earthy, meaty, but very tannic and structured, with a cool-climate mouthfeel and an almost Bordeaux/Medoc austerity imposed on the richness of California. More elegant and spicy as well as more attractive for current drinking were both the 2011 and 2009. (92-94+) points

Tasted from bottle:

2011 Kongsgaard Chardonnay The Judge Napa Valley
The 2011 Chardonnay The Judge is more evolved, complex and seductive, with plenty of honeysuckle, roasted nuts, and marmalade notes intermixed with citrus oil and orange blossom. Although it doesn’t have the size and foundation of the 2012, this beauty is still a knock-out Chardonnay. 95 points.

2011 Kongsgaard Chardonnay Napa Valley
The 2011 Chardonnay displays a creamy richness, with oodles of buttered hazelnut and tropical fruit in a medium to full-bodied, textured, complex and evolved style. I would drink it over the next 3-4 years. 94 points.

2011 Kongsgaard The Fimasaurus Napa Valley
The 2009 The Fimasaurus cuts a larger swath across the palate and seems to have more spice, clove, and wood seasonings than the other cuvees, while the 2011 is very up-front, charming, medium-bodied, aromatic, spicy and round. 90 points.

2012 Kongsgaard Viorous Napa Valley
One of Kongsaard’s specialties and a wine that I love, Viorous is essentially a fruit bomb of Viognier and Roussanne. The 2012 is almost a comfit of rose petal-flavored liqueur interwoven with apricot, white peach, and honeysuckle that jumps from the glass of this superb, full-bodied, richly fruity wine. It is best drunk in its first exuberant years of life. 95 points

2012 Kongsgaard Albarino Napa Valley
Kongsgaard has made a 2012 Albarino from the Hudson Vineyard. Aged in neutral wood with no malolactic, this is the finest Arbarino I have tasted from California. This second vintage exhibits loads of crushed rock, spring flowers, exotic fruit such as mango, pineapple and mandarin orange as well as a long, crisp, textured finish. This 2012 is a beauty to drink over the next several years. 92 points