While many know of winemaker Sam Kaplan for his efforts at Memento Mori, Arkenstone and previously of Nine Suns, it is his own wine, Maxem, that is what turned our heads recently. Sam is solely concentrating on producing compelling Chardonnay and Pinot Noir under the Maxem brand and this 2016 vintage of Chardonnay coming from the famed UV Vineyard in Sonoma Coast showcases varietal pureness and shows that Sam is taking the right steps to guide this great grower vineyard source into an age-worthy Chardonnay. “There’s a refined element to the wine that wasn’t in the early versions and we appear to have solved some of the reduction issues with the inclusion of 15% whole cluster. Coming from a warmer spot in Occidental, this still features the darkest fruit profile of all the bottlings but balanced by the high natural acidity of the vintage. This new clonal mix provides a lighter palate impact without sacrificing any of the density of the experience. Black cherry, cola, mint and wild herbs run from start to finish in this wine making it a good candidate to be the early drinker in the line-up.” – Wine Advocate, 95 Points.