If you don’t know Kongsgaard, they are without a doubt one of the most coveted producers of Chardonnay in the United States. Parker has called them “the Batard Montrachet of California”.
The winery is owned by 5th generation Napa natives, John and Maggy Kongsgaard, who began their wine endeavor by planting the Judge vineyard to Chardonnay in the 1970s on family land in the hills east of Napa. Their inaugural vintage was 1996 and over the last 25+ years the wines have earned the respect of collectors around the world.
John’s low intervention style of winemaking is modeled after traditional European practices and the wines are known for their power & intensity, but also for their amazing complexity and ability to age. They are vivid expressions of vineyard and variety – a true treat to experience.
In the past when he was asked what his next big plans were for Kongsgaard, John replied “absolutely none”. He is completely content with their modest 4,000 case production and the fact that he is still in complete control in every step of the process. He said – “I like going down in the cellar, putting on a Mahler symphony and working with my wine. That’s what makes me happy.”
These wines get massive scores year after year! We have several vintages and formats available – the magnums are exceptionally rare and released in minimal quantities.
“Of course, it’s hard to find any, but there are usually about eight to 15 barrels of his estate Chardonnay from Coombsville called “The Judge” in honor of his father. From old Wente clones originally planted in 1975, yields are rarely in excess of one ton of fruit per acre, which no doubt accounts for its extraordinary intensity and richness. The 2013 Chardonnay The Judge is perfect, and certainly one of the greatest Chardonnays I have ever tasted. Keeping in mind that Kongsgaard is no youngster at this game (2015 was his 41st vintage making wine), his 2013 The Judge, from the white volcanic soil in Coombsville called tufa, is an amazing wine of great intensity, power, glory, elegance, texture, density and richness. The wine offers up loads of tangerine oil, caramelized citrus, honeysuckle, white peach, apricots, and wet stones. It seems to be a smorgasbord of aromas and flavors that just keep opening as the wine sits in the mouth. This is an amazing effort and one of the greatest Chardonnays ever made in California.” - 100, Robert Parker
“Bottled in June 2018, the 2016 Chardonnay The Judge opens a little reticently with slowly unfurling notions of lime leaves, yuzu and freshly squeezed lemons with notes of honeyed white peaches and crème brûlée followed by crushed rocks, lemongrass and praline plus a waft of peach blossoms. Full-bodied with fantastic richness and so many layers, the classic The Judge savoriness comes through in spades in the mid-palate with a seductively silken texture and epically long, mineral and spice-tinged finish” - 100, Robert Parker
"The 2017 Chardonnay The Judge prances out of the glass with flamboyant notes of baked pineapple, green mango, apricot preserves and nutmeg with underlying nuances of sea spray, lime blossoms, yuzu, almond croissant and crushed rocks plus a waft of beeswax. Full-bodied, the palate is charged with amazing energy, featuring loads of tightly knit layers and a scintillating backbone of freshness, finishing with decadent creaminess and with that lingering 'The Judge' mineral signature coming through at the very tail end. ” - 100, Robert Parker
“The 2018 Chardonnay The Judge leaps from the glass with vivacious notes of mandarin peel, lemongrass and lime leaves with a core of fresh pink grapefruit, green guava and apple blossom plus wafts of shaved almonds and wet pebbles. Full-bodied, the palate delivers a powerful core of tropical fruit and savory layers with a lively line of freshness and a pleasantly oily texture, finishing long and zesty. Very pure, very delineated and wonderfully chalky at the very end.” - 97-99+, Robert Parker
“The 2019 Chardonnay The Judge offers an intriguing mix of textural richness and energy. Lemon confit, white flowers, almond and dried flowers emerge with a bit of time in the glass, but readers should be in no rush. The 2019 is clearly holding its cards close to the vest. That is probably a very good thing for the future. This dense, beautifully layered Chardonnay has a very bright future ahead of it. ” - 98, Antonio Galloni