Sonoma's Great Grape Hunter
Winemaker Bill Hunter is the force behind Chasseur Wines' beautiful chardonnays and pinot noirs ("chasseur" is the French word for "hunter"). The artisanal winery—5,000 cases are made per year—specializes in small lots of wine from some of the Russian River's finest vineyards.
2005 Pinot Noir Freestone Station. The deep ruby-hued wine boasts a striking chocolate, sweet cherry, spice, and floral-scented nose. It is elegant, with loads of intense strawberry and black cherry fruit on the palate, and abundant richness. Enjoy this stunning 2005 over the next 5 to 6 years. $60
2005 Pinot Noir Sylvia's. The 2005 Pinot Noir Sylvia's exhibits notes of roasted Provençal herbs, sweet black cherry, and strawberry jam, with sweet tannins and lovely fruit flavors. Drink this hedonistic pinot over the next 3 to 4 years. $60
2005 Chardonnay Durell Vineyard. Lemon, peach, crushed rock, toasty oak, and tropical fruit characteristics emerge from this full-bodied, expressive, and flamboyantly aromatic wine. This sensual, seductive, super-intense, pure effort should drink well for 2 to 3 years. $55
2005 Chardonnay Lorenzo Vineyard. This grand cru chablis-styled California white has an unmistakable minerality as well as purity, ripeness, full-bodied power, and length. Aged in casks made largely of new French oak. It should drink well for 3 to 4 years. $45
2005 Chardonnay Green Acres Hill. Full-bodied with excellent acidity as well as layers of fruit, this is another example of what a great vintage 2005 has turned out to be for chardonnay. Drink it over the next 3 to 4 years. $55
Wines rated from 96-100 are extraordinary; 90-95, excellent; 80-89, above average to very good.