Home > Handpicked > 2011 Venge Chardonnay Maldonado Vineyards

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The Venge’s Father and Son

Master California Winemakers

The name Venge is synonymous with some of the greatest wines ever made in California. Nils Venge was the first winemaker to ever get a 100 point score by Robert Parker for a California wine, the 1985 Groth Cabernet Reserve. Today his son Kirk Venge has taken over the family operation making mind blowing quality. Today I have secured the 2011 Venge Chardonnay ‘Maldonado Vineyards’ to offer. This is cool climate Chardonnay at its finest. Made like a Grand Cru white Burgundy, gloriously rich yet superbly balanced, a must for lovers of great white wine. Extremely limited and hard to get!

The Venge (“ven-ghee”) family has farmed vitis vinifera varieties (those used for wine production) in Napa Valley for nearly a half-century, a journey that began when Knud Venge migrated from Denmark to the United States in the early 1900’s. A few generations later, the family's viticultural roots intensified after the purchase of a 17-acre vineyard in the Oakville District of Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot in the mid 1970’s. This fortunate acquisition casted the family among the winemaking pioneers of Napa Valley.

Knud Venge’s great-great grandson, Kirk Venge (pictured), gravitated to winemaking at an early age as a matter of course since farming and winemaking was in his bloodline. In the subsequent years, he proved to be a talented winemaker making wines in his own style and with a vision to build a legacy in the valley. “When I was growing up, working in the vineyard and winery gave me a wonderful sense of partnership in my family’s way of life; it was hard work, but I loved it.” In 2008, Kirk achieved his lifelong dream when he acquired full-ownership of Venge Vineyards. Presently, he continues the family’s Napa Valley heritage focusing on select vineyard sites that produce fruit worthy of bearing the family name.

The unique farming practices used by Venge strengthen the dynamics of both the vineyards and their wines. One example is the dry farming (or as close to dry farming as environmentally possible) method which promotes a natural path to vine regulation and vigor control for optimal fruit yields. Another incorporates crop covers of oats, vetch, and winter peas planted alongside seasonal the mustard plants, to provide organic matter and soil structure that promote root growth, and provide vibrant habitat for beneficial insects and birds that in turn create biological control against vine pests. Naturally, herbicide use of any kind is strictly prohibited.

The Dijon Clones of this wine are modern strains of Chardonnay carefully isolated from grapevine nursery blocks in France. These strains are selected for their incredible ability to produce the best of what the varietal has to offer and have become quite popular with cool climate growers today. Working with long-time Napa Valley father and son grape growers, Lupe and Hugo Maldonado, is quite a privilege for Kirk Venge. Combined, the duo has over 52 years of grape growing experience.

When harvested, the grapes were traditionally whole-cluster pressed and pumped into Italian stainless steel tanks to cold settle prior to filling into “once” used French oak barrels – the prescription for a Burgundian-style of winemaking. However, they’re careful not to “push” too much oak into this wine and smother its finer attributes. Instead, bâtonnage (the gentle stirring of the lees) is employed in the early stages of ageing to further develop refined richness and length of body to the mid-palate while keeping the wine clean and fresh. The fermented wine was then moved to neutral French oak barrels and allowed to undergo partial malolactic fermentation (a partial secondary fermentation to preserve the wines natural acids, adding necessary verve and backbone).


“Loads of pineapple jam and roasted peach flavors in this rich, oaky Chardonnay. Nothing shy about its fruity power, with rich vanilla and caramel oak barrel influences..” —Steve Heimoff /Wine Enthusiast

“Aromas of ripe peach and citrus blossom follow through to a pithy citrus edge in this white, which is firm, intense and marked by vibrant acidity. Drink now through 2018. 300 cases made.” – James Laube / Wine Spectator