Next, we tried the Chappellet 2010 Napa Valley Chardonnay ($32). I usually prefer Chardonnays without malolactic conversion or MLF because I like to taste the varietal characteristics and complexity which are often lost from MLF or else from over oaking. This one has 30% MLF and 30% new oak. The lactic acid and oak were applied with restraint and did not distract from the Chardonnay varietal characteristics. It had a very pronounced aroma of tropical fruits, with good well-balanced acid. We both thought it was very nice, and I purchased a bottle to explore it further.
I noticed they made a Cabernet Franc and commented on how much I liked the Titus Cab Franc. Much to my surprise, Mr. Titus is involved with making theirs so I had to try it. The Chappellet 2009 Cabernet Franc is $65 and is one of the finest Napa Valley Cab Francs I’ve tasted. If you like Cab Francs, you need to try the Chappellet. Cab Francs are usually used in Bordeaux style blends but can sometimes make wonderful wines on their own. This is one of three of my favorite Napa Cab Francs, possibly my favorite of all.
Our final tasting was of the Chappellet 2009 Pritchard Hill Cabernet Sauvignon, a limited production blend of their finest grapes ($135). It is 75% Cabernet Sauvignon, 15% Petit Verdot and 10% Malbec. This very ripe Cab still has complexity and is not overwhelmed by the fruit. More along the lines of what Robert Parker seems to like, I can imagine this wine doing really well in blind tastings. (Not to imply that Mr. Parker does blind tastings, which I believe he does not do.) But it was definitely more interesting than many very ripe Cabs, and I certainly liked it very much even though it is not a style for which I'm usually overly fond. (My friend immediately preferred the more traditional 2009 Signature Cab.)
Every wine we tasted was very good, although if I had to pick my favorites these would be the Cabernet Franc and the Signature Cabernet Sauvignon. I don’t remember ever tasting a California Chenin Blanc as interesting as theirs, so this will be added to our "favorite" list when I update it. It is worth tasting just to see what can be achieved with a Chenin Blanc when it is treated as a serious varietal. All four of the wines underlined above will be added to our all time favorite wine list when it is updated.
Addendum 9/24/12: We drank a bottle of the 2009 Signature Cabernet Sauvignon ($49). It was extremely drinkable now and represents an excellent buy at this price. This is a classic style Cab that just about anybody who likes Napa Valley Cabs would really enjoy.
Addendum 6/23/2012: I found a few interesting articles about the famous 1969 Chappellet Signature Cab that you might find interesting:
Rutherford, CA 94573