Classic 95 Point Cali Chardonnay, you’d think is a great White Burgundy…


In 1999 some friends planned to try their hand at winemaking. They thought it  was a dumb idea, but if you don’t try you don’t know… It was a low budget project with big ambitions. They purchased a ton of Syrah, a fermentation tank, an oak barrel—and set out to make wine. Their first vintage, the year 2000, consisted of 50 cases of Syrah produced in a Culver City garage. The label featured a drawing of an old Los Angeles Pacific Electric Trolley Car and the words “Red Car” in a bull’s-eye. In a prior life Mark Estrin had been a screenwriter and Carroll Kemp had been a film producer. The highly stylized approach to their early marketing married Mark’s background as a writer and his experience selling wine. The distinctive front label was a nod to a romantic, idealized past from their home city of Los Angeles.  

For the back label, Mark wrote a vignette with a tip of the hat to Raymond Chandler: “The Window – I walked to the window and pulled back a thin, tobacco-stained curtain. What passed for a breeze from the street below was hot and close and remorseless. Then a westbound Red Car trolley lumbered by, filled with people. For a fleeting moment, I imagined I was in that Red Car, heading to the beach, where the air was fresh and clean and cool. Riding the Red Car to the edge of the continent, to the edge of everything.” 

From then on, the back label of each wine carried lines of prose written by Estrin: one passage per vintage, each offering a new chapter in an ongoing 1940s era noir melodrama.

The rest… is history…

Red Car 2019 Estate Chardonnay Fort Ross-Seaview, Sonoma Coast
GGWC 64.99  
Use code REDCAR during checkout

Fresh and stony in texture, this lovely, light-bodied white expresses anise and oyster shell, with a touch of brine. Textured and complex, it delivers plenty of nuanced apple, pear and Meyer lemon, within a foundation of structure and grace.

Jeb Dunnuck 95 Points: “One of the standouts in the lineup, the 2019 Chardonnay Estate Vineyard displays the classic fresher, racy style of this estate yet brings beautiful depth of fruit as well as length on the palate. Notes of pear, orchard fruit, toasted bread, and just a hint of nuttiness all define the bouquet, and this medium-bodied beauty picks up a wonderful sense of minerality and saltiness on the finish. It’s terrific today yet could benefit from another year of bottle age. I wouldn’t put it past this to be drinking well in 7-8 years.”

Vinous 94 Points: “The 2019 Chardonnay Estate Vineyard captures a striking mix of textural richness and the vibrancy that is such a signature of the house style. The personality of the heavily shattered old Wente clone simply can’t be defined. Even so, there is plenty of aromatic lift to balance things out. Lemon confit, marzipan, chamomile, dried flowers and mint are some of the many notes that build into the racy, textured finish.”

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