92 Point Wine Spectator :Far Niente Chardonnay, more so even than the highly regarded Far Niente Cabernet, is among the finest in its league, for truly exceptional California chardonnays are fewer and farther between than exceptional California Cabernets... The common threads in all of the Chardonnays I prize are finesse, balance, flavor intensity, minerality, and what I would call elegant power. These wines are not too heavy; they are not too light. They are all fermented and aged in wooden barrels, yet they don’t reek of oak. They all possess complex flavors and aromas that include fruit, earthy minerality and spice. And importantly, especially for those of us who know the sheer pleasure of a 10-year-old chardonnay that remains fresh and vibrant, they have the ability to age if cellared properly.
One of California's oldest wineries, Far Niente was founded in 1885 by world traveler and entrepreneur, John Benson. The winery flourished until Prohibition, at which time it was abandoned and fell into complete disrepair. The stately stone shell of a winery was purchased in 1979 by Gil Nickel, as part of his quest to create a world class wine estate in the Napa Valley. During restoration, the original name, Far Niente, romantically translated to "without a care," was found carved in stone on the front of the building, where it remains to this day.
Within the Napa Valley lie smaller sub-AVAs that lend even more character specifics to the wines. Furthest south is Carneros, followed by Yountville, Oakville & Rutherford. Above those two is St.-Helena and finally, just grated an AVA, Calistoga. These areas are situated on the valley floor and are known for creating rich, smooth Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot and Chardonnay. There are a few mountain regions as well, nestled on the slopes overlooking the valley AVAs. Those include Howell Mountain, Stags Leap and Mount Veeder. Wines from the mountain regions are often more structured and firm, benefiting from more time in the bottle to evolve and soften.