Critical Acclaim

VINOUS, The Judge Vertical, Antonio Galloni

November 2013

John Kongsgaard and his son Alex showed me a remarkable set of wines during my visit to the family’s Judge Vineyard in southern Napa Valley, including a vertical of the Judge Chardonnay back to 2005, a wine that remains stunning to this day.

2012 Kongsgaard Chardonnay The Judge
A drop-dead gorgeous beauty, the 2012 Chardonnay The Judge is stunning. Still tightly coiled and reserved, the 2012 impresses for its pure depth, density and power. The flavors are remarkably primary and intense, yet there is a level of pure finesse that is impossible to miss. Rich and layered, yet also incredibly understated, the 2010 is hugely promising. (94-96) points

2011 Kongsgaard Chardonnay The Judge
The 2011 Chardonnay The Judge has come together beautifully since I tasted it last year. Lemon, white flowers, crushed rocks and pears meld together in a totally seamless Chardonnay endowed with stunning depth and purity. There are no hard edges at all in this impeccable, nuanced Chardonnay. This is a great showing from Kongsgaard. 96 points

2010 Kongsgaard Chardonnay The Judge
The 2010 Chardonnay The Judge is rich, explosive and unctuous, with a stunning interplay of deep, resonant fruit and imposing structure. A wine of pure verticality, the 2010 stands out for its power, length and drive. The 2010 remains incredibly young, but it is fabulous. The textured, creamy finish is hugely appealing. 95 points

2009 Kongsgaard Chardonnay The Judge
Honey, hazelnut, dried apricots, wild flowers and orange peel meld together in the glass in the 2009 Chardonnay The Judge, a wine that is just beginning to show the first signs of development. The 2009 is rich, exotic and oily on the palate, with fabulous depth and great overall balance. This is a wonderfully complete wine, a bit on the big side, but still impeccable in its balance. 95 points

2008 Kongsgaard Chardonnay The Judge
An intense, exotic wine, the 2008 Chardonnay The Judge is showing beautifully today. Gunflint, slate, crushed rocks, mint and white stone fruits are all very much alive in the glass in a Judge with distinctly Burgundian overtones. The flint and mercaptan notes are especially pronounced in this vintage. 94 points

2007 Kongsgaard Chardonnay The Judge
The 2007 Chardonnay The Judge is another wine of pure texture. Dried pear, intense minerality, smoke, honey and almonds are some of the many notes that are layered together in the 2007. The style is rich, voluptuous and layered to the core. I don’t see too much upside from holding bottles more than another year or two. 94 points

2006 Kongsgaard Chardonnay The Judge
The 2006 Chardonnay The Judge is the first wine in this tasting that approaches full maturity. Honey, hazelnuts, dried flowers, sage, orange peel and spices meld together in the glass. Here, too, the flavors are a bit advanced, but there is more than enough freshness for the 2006 to drink nicely for another year or two. 96 points

2005 Kongsgaard Chardonnay The Judge
The 2005 Chardonnay The Judge is one of the most impressive California Chardonnays I have ever tasted. An exotic tapestry of orange rind, tangerine, spices, honey and savories unfolds on the palate with stunning grace. The 2005 is rich and oily, yet also remarkably light on its feet for such a big wine. At times, there is a Chevalier-Montrachet-like richness in the glass. Viscous and deeply expressive to the finish, the 2005 is simply breathtaking. 98 points