RECOMMENDED: Block 511 (Vineyard Block Estates), 2008 Chardonnay. Russian River Valley, CA. $14-18. 13.5% ABV.

AROMA: Subtle. Salty! Whiffs of florals as it warmed up.
FIRST IMPRESSION: Tart, crisp. Slightly sweet, quite dry. Silky, buttery and smooth. Dangerously drinkable.
This wine because FABULOUS as it warmed up. The oak became apparent a few sips in, with big butter and butterscotch. Creamy and soft. Wide, mouth-filling, well balanced.
Yeast dinner rolls. Expands to sides of tongue.

The “Block” series are a product of Florida’s ABC Fine Wine & Spirits. Produced under the name Vineyard Block Estates, surplus juice is purchased from prominent (and confidential, unnamed) California wineries.

ABC: “The ‘Block’ series wines are single estate offerings from California at a very competitive price. At the beginning it seemed like these wines were the California wine aficionados’ best kept secret, although the secret didn’t last long. The ‘Block’ wines have become, in a very short time, one of the most successful brands in ABC Fine Wine & Spirits wine portfolio. … The reason for their rapid and tremendous success is due to the value of these wines. The wines are always from premium California wine appellations without a mention of the producing estate or winery. The reason for this is that same wine bearing the estate label could be offered at up to twice the price of the Block label. The wines are made only in those years when there is top level excess juice available. Rather than selling this juice on the bulk wine market, the wineries sell it to us for the Block wines. The wines are limited in distribution—they’re available at ABC Fine Wine & Spirits in Florida, and at another handful of retailers across the country, and when a label sells out, that’s it for that label. … We currently have Block 707 Cabernet Sauvignon 2008 from Stags Leap … and Block 511 Chardonnay 2008 from Russian River Valley. … These wines are from single estates, not blends of many wines of the same … AVAs.”

LABEL NOTES: The grapes for our Block 511 Chardonnay come from Sonoma’s premier Russian River Valley where gravel, sand and loam soils combine with cobblestone to produce wines of intense minerality. The 2008 vintage saw cooler than normal temperatures in early September but Indian Summer arrived late to ripen the fruit to full maturity. Medium-weight and clean with a wonderful acid structure, this Block 511 Chardonnay explodes in the glass with flavors of grapefruit, honeysuckle and a hint of toast and vanilla.

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