Aubert has helped elevate California Chardonnay to the world stage. Gone are the days of over-cropped chardonnay overwhelmed with new oak. Instead, Aubert cultivates concentrated wines with soaring aromatics and fresh acid. Mark Aubert grew up in nearby St.Helena and attended Fresno State, majoring in fermentation sciences. His winemaking career got off to a quick start at Rutherford Hill before Aubert was lucky enough to take over operations at Peter Michael from the legendary Helen Turley. Mark Aubert honed his skills in both the cellar and vineyard while building out the program at Peter Michael. Aubert consulted for other wineries, but refused to assist with anything dealing with Pinot Noir or Chardonnay, hoping to save the lessons he had learned for his own project. When he finally started his winery with a small bank loan, it was those skills that helped him gain early success with his wines.
To craft great Chardonnay Aubert looked to the incredible variation in climate and soil found in the nearby Sonoma County. Aubert now has three estate vineyards, two of which are located near the ocean on the Sonoma Coast, while the third surrounds their home near Rutherford. Aubert also contracts with some of the greatest Chardonnay growers in California. Aubert takes the lesson from Helen Turley that extended hang times in a cooler site can yield exceptional concentration without tipping the fruit profile into flabbiness or excess.
Winemaking at Aubert is distinctly Burgundian, with 100% barrel fermentation in entirely new oak. Fermentations are kept cool and slow using native yeast in an attempt to build the mid palate while avoiding premature oxidation. Aubert eschews batonnage, arguing that active fermentations stir lees enough and that excessive stirring can inadvertently drive off carbon dioxide, creating opportunity for oxidation. Aubert’s attention to detail definitely shows through his wines, with recent vintages displaying his ever increasing intimacy with each site. Particular sites that stand out in Aubert’s line-up is the UV-SL Vineyard nestled in the hills on the Sonoma Coast and Lauren Vineyard located near Forestville.