WINE REVIEW: A TRIO OF WORLD-CLASS CHARDONNAYS
by Andrew Chalk
Tor continues to consistently produce some of the best Chardonnay in California. Taken together, these wines are a trinity of expressions that capture the versatility of this, the most popular white grape in the country, in the hands of a XXX winemaker.
Tor was founded by Tor Kenward in 2001. He had spent a quarter century with Beringer, in charge of marketing, during which time he listened and learned from some of the best (André Tchelstcheff, Maynard Amerine, Ed Sbragia, Robert Mondavi, and Warren Winiarski). When he got around to founding his own winery he had formed a clear philosophy: “Our wines would come from only the best blocks in great vineyard sites I knew and revered”.
He chose to focus on the two star grapes of northern California wine, cabernet sauvignon for red, and chardonnay for white.
Tor, 2018 Chardonnay, ‘Beresini Vineyard’, Cuvée Torchiana, Carneros, Napa Valley, CA ($80)
Tor, 2018 Chardonnay, ‘Durell Vineyard’, Cuvée Mimi, Sonoma Coast, Sonoma County CA ($80)
Tor, 2018 Chardonnay, ‘Hyde Vineyard’, Cuvée Susan, Carneros, Napa Valley CA ($80)
Lets refer to these by their vineyard names. This is appropriate given how famous the Durell and Hyde vineyards are. The Beresini is immensely creamy with a phenolic backbone that retains interest on the palate. The nose exudes citrus (mainly lemon) notes. The palate displays ripe apples.
The Durell has enormous fruit that explodes in waves in the mouth. Vibrant acidity makes this a good candidate to pair with rich sauces. The nose exhibits notes of vanilla, white flowers, and wet stones. The palate is huge and tropical fruit (pineapple and mango) along with cantaloupe.
The Hyde is the most linear in the sense that no single aspect of the wine, fruit, acid, minerality dominates the others. It might turn out to be longest-lived. Nose of brioche and lemon. Palate shows minerality, kiwi, and lime.
These are all first-tier wines. Consider your palate and choose the one that sounds most ‘like you’. There will be no losers.