Wine Star: Mark Aubert

California vintner highlights his approach to making Chardonnay and explores his distinctive Lauren vineyard in Sonoma
Wine Star: Mark Aubert
Mark Aubert shared a Chardonnay from Lauren vineyard, named for his daughter. (Rick Wenner)
Oct 22, 2018

One sip of the Aubert Chardonnay Sonoma Coast Lauren 2014 and it was obvious Wine Spectator senior editor Kim Marcus wasn’t exaggerating when he told the Wine Experience audience, “Mark’s wines are magnificent examples of California Chardonnay.”

Mark Aubert, like his Chardonnay, was quietly intense and dignified on stage, his dark hair accented by white and his humor dusty dry. The Napa Valley native told the crowd that while he’s inspired and guided by the great whites of Burgundy, his goal is to make Chardonnay that’s distinctly Californian.

Aubert turns to western Sonoma County for most of his Chardonnay grapes. Lauren vineyard holds a special significance for him. It was the first estate vineyard he and his wife/partner, Teresa, planted, having bought the property in 2000. They also named it after their daughter. “She has no interest in the wine business, but she sure likes to see her name in print,” he joked.

Located just outside the small town of Forestville, near the Russian River, the 8-acre vineyard is in what Aubert considers his personal sweet spot. The soils, called Goldridge, are a sandy, loamy mix with a high natural minerality. It was once an ancient seabed. “It’s a winemaker’s dream to have this kind of soil mix in a vineyard,” he said.

The 2014 Lauren (93 points, $95) reveals Aubert’s winemaking signature: opulent and rich but sleek and graceful. It was 100 percent barrel-fermented with native yeasts, and aged mostly in new French oak. “Chardonnay has been good to us,” Aubert said. “I’ve been able to coax out a lot of flavors that other people seem to miss.”

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