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Recent Sips of Chardonnay

2011 Arista Ritchie Vineyard Russian River Valley Chardonnay

14.3% alc., 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. · Mild 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. Score: 90

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. Score: 93

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. Score: 90

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. Score: 92

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. · Moderate yellow-gold 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. Score: 94

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