Recent Sips of Chardonnay
2011 Arista Ritchie Vineyard Russian River Valley Chardonnay
pH 3.50, TA 0.57, 213 cases, $N/A. Kent Ritchie has owned and farmed his
namesake vineyard since the early 1970s. The soils are well-drained Goldridge
type and the clones are predominately old Wente selection of Chardonnay.
yellow-gold color and clear in the glass. Highly aromatic with vibrant scents of
fresh lemon, baked apple, peach and burnt caramel. Slightly creamy and very
flavorful on the palate with tastes of lemon, baked apple, crème brûlée and
toasty oak. A fruit-driven wine that still offers some wet stone minerality in the
background, especially on the finish. Very enjoyable.
2011 Patz & Hall Hyde Vineyard Carneros Chardonnay
14.2% alc., 1,209 cases, $58. From a renowned
vineyard planted in 1981, specifically the Hyde-Wente selection planted on the best soils at Hyde Vineyard.
Whole cluster pressed, 100% indigenous yeast fermentation, aged sur lie with weekly stirring, 100% malolactic
fermentation in barrel, aged in 60% new Burgundian French oak barrels, and bottled without filtration.
Moderate yellow-gold color with slight haze (unfiltered) in the glass. Aromas of lemon, nectarine, sea breeze
and creamy caramel lead to a moderately rich palate of lemon, grapefruit, pear and buttery oak flavors.
Unapologetically rich and raunchy, but with a refreshing cut of underlying vibrant acidity, and some noticeable
finishing persistence. This wine is a meal in itself, and is for lovers of decadent Chardonnay.
2011 Rodney Strong Reserve Russian River Valley Chardonnay
14.5% alc., pH 3.32, TA 0.69, 808 cases,
$40. One of the winery’s artisan wines. A selection of special lots created in the winery’s small lot winemaking
facility under the direction of consulting winemaker David Ramey. Aged 13 months in 38% new French oak
barrels. Unfiltered. A Sweepstakes winning white wine at the 2013 Sonoma County Harvest Fair and the
James Guymon Memorial Award winner.
Medium yellow-gold color and clear in the glass. Generous aromas
of lemon, apple, white peach and toasty, buttery oak. Tasty core of lemon drop, pastry cream and green apple
with a prominent riff of citrus-driven, steely acidity bringing up the finish. More acid-driven than many Russian
River Valley Chardonnays.
2011 Three Sticks Durell Vineyard Origin Sonoma Valley Chardonnay
13.5% alc., pH 3.55, TA 0.71, 269 cases, $42. From Old Wente 5 Block (ripe
flavor) and V9 Block which is one of the rockiest and windiest areas of Durell
(broad flavor and minerality). Fermented in concrete egg and aged in stainless
steel for 14 months. No malolactic fermentation. Winemakers Don Van
Staaveren and Tracy Bledsoe.
Moderate yellow gold color and clear in the
glass. Vibrant and pure aromas of lemon, peach jam, cantaloupe, passion fruit
and a hint of butter. Crisp and lively in the mouth, with refreshing flavors of
lemon, yellow grapefruit and peach. The finish displays a good bite of acidity
along with steely, iced lemon flavors. This wine will please lovers of clean,
unoaked, and unplugged Chardonnay.
2011 Three Sticks Durell Vineyard Sonoma Valley Chardonnay
13.5% alc., pH 3.43, TA 0.69, 511 cases, $48. Sourced from Old
Wente 1 Block, one of the oldest, coldest and windiest sections of
Durell and Rocky Flat Block planted to Dijon 76. Fermented in
concrete egg and oak barrels, aged in 60% new French oak barrels for
14 months. 100% malolactic fermentation.
color and clear in the glass. Very nicely perfumed with aromas of
lemon, pear, nori and the faintest oak. A delicious wine of elegance,
class and sophistication featuring vivid flavors of lemon curd, lime, spice and
toasty oak. Crisp and juicy, with excellent underlying mineral-driven acidity,
finishing with length and lemon goodness. I am partial to barrel fermented, 100% malolactic fermented
Chardonnay, and this wine delivers without being overwrought with oak-driven accents.