Recent Sips of Chardonnay
There are not many Chardonnays to review this go around, but the quality is very high for most wines.
2012 Gary Farrell Bacigalupi Vineyard Russian River Valley Chardonnay
14.0$ alc., pH 3.45, TA 0.58,
482 cases, $45. Released September 2014. Harvest Brix 22.5º. Whole cluster pressed, inoculated with
Montrachet yeast, transferred to 40% new French oak barrels for fermentation and 8 months of barrel aging.
Barrels included standard size and 500-L puncheons. The wines were racked off the primary lees once just
Light golden yellow color and clear in the glass. Enticing aromas arrive over time in the glass,
revealing notes of lemon creme, yellow apple, nuts and vanilla malt. Very flavorful with noticeable brightness,
offering flavors of yellow stone fruits, lemon, grapefruit, and struck match flint. The oak is nicely integrated, the
texture is slightly creamy, and the bright acidity brings the wine to life. An appealing food wine.
2012 Gary Farrell Rochioli Vineyard-Old River Block Single Oak Puncheon Russian River Valley Chardonnay
13.4% alc., pH 3.26, TA
0.77, 44 cases, $60. Released September 2014. This limited production
wine comes from Rochioli River Block, clone 5, planted in 1989. Harvest
Brix 22.5º. Vinified in a new 500-L French oak puncheon. A puncheon
adds subtle structure and aromatics, and polishes the finished wine
without dominating its expression of terroir. Because this wine had such
an exotic aromatic profile of the finished wine, it was decided to bottle it
by itself under the winery’s special Inspiration Series, designated by a
black label. The wine was racked off primary lees once before bottling.
Light golden yellow color and clear in the glass. Slightly reduced upon
opening. The nose is slow to open, taking upwards of 45 minutes to
satisfy with aromas of lemon, apple, Nutella, and toasty oak. Tight initially, the wine gradually reveals its
charms which are substantial. There is a citrus-driven attack and finish with a grapefruit peel, steely character
to the brisk, electric finish. Slightly creamy in texture with nuances of white peach, peach pit, vanilla and spice
showing up. A contemplative wine that should benefit from further cellaring. The “exotic” aromas that were
experienced in barrel have not yet reappeared in the wine. This is a distinctive offering that veers from many
popular Russian River Valley Chardonnays that are harvested later and display a typical lush tropical fruit core
and noticeable buttery oak imprint.
2012 Anaba Sonoma Coast Chardonnay
13.9% alc., pH 3.43, TA 0.60, 790 cases, $28. Sourced
from estate McK, Denmark, and Dutton Ranch vineyards. Clones are Wente and Dijon 95. Harvest
Brix 22.8-23.9º. Whole cluster pressed, 60% barrel fermented, 40% stainless steel fermented, aged
11 months sur lees in 45% new French oak.
Light golden yellow color and clear in the glass. Aromas
of lemon curd, pastry cream, croissant and nutty oak. A solid wine with a flavorful core of citrus,
peach, pear and honey. Silky on the palate with an uplifting cut of acidity on the finish.
2012 Anaba Dutton Ranch Russian River Valley Chardonnay
13.9% alc., pH 3.51, TA 0.66, 248
cases, $36. Sourced from Dutton Ranch Mills Station and Dutton House Block vineyards in the
Green Valley of Russian River Valley AVA. Harvest Brix 23.5º. Whole cluster pressed, 100% barrel
fermented. Aged 11 months sur lees in 48% new French oak.
Light golden yellow color and clear in
the glass. Very stylish throughout with aromas of lemon, golden apple, white flowers and toast and
vivid, full-bodied flavors of lemon creme, apple, pear and vanilla. The slightly creamy mouthfeel is
appealing, as is the complimentary touch of oak which adds depth and interest.
2012 Anaba Denmark Vineyard Sonoma Coast Chardonnay
13.9% alc., pH 3.45, TA 0.59, 216
cases, $34. This vineyard is in the southeastern
foothills of the Sonoma Coast AVA. The soils are rich
with minerals. Wente clone. Harvest Brix 23.5º.
Whole cluster pressed, cold settled for 2 days, 60%
fermented in stainless vats, 40% in neutral French
oak barrels. 40% of the wine went through malolactic fermentation.
Aged sur lees for 11 months in 12% new French oak.
yellow color and clear in the glass. This was a striking way in every way.
Aromas of lemon curd, butter brickle, poached pear and apple draw you
into the glass. Delicious flavors of citrus, Granny Smith apple, peach and
pear with a slight buttery tone. Very harmonious and bright, with perfectly engaged acidity. There is some
stony minerality in this wine for want of a better description. The finish is silky and pleasing with a lasting
impression of lemon creme. This wine reminds me of a very fine Meursault.
2013 Vinium Russian River Valley Chardonnay
13.7% alc., $35. Vinium™ is an
innovative, eco-senstiive, alternative packaging of wine that keeps wine fresh for up to 6
weeks after opening. Founded by industry veterans Richard Cardoza, Richard Catania and
winemaker George Bursick, the wines are available through retail partner Whole Foods
Market or direct to your door. The wines are available in a 3.0 L cardboard box holding
roughly the equivalent of 4 regular 750 ml bottles or 20 glasses of wine, and priced at the
cost of two bottles. The packaging replaces bottles, labels, capsules and corks reducing the
carbon footprint and landfill waste by up to 8.5%. The package is BPA free and 100%
Pale yellow and clear in the glass. The nose is fruit shy with only a hint of lemon
and is dominated by oak-driven notes of roasted nuts and dark caramel. Soft, lush and
slightly creamy on the palate, yet crisp on the finish with delicate flavors of citrus, apple,
banana, roasted marshmallow and toasted oak. The internal bag does preserve the wine
which tasted the same at 1 and 2 weeks after opening. This wine is said to be one of the
better box wines, but I cannot make that claim since I do not taste box wines usually. What I
can say is that regardless of how eco friendly and convenient the packaging is, the wine
inside needs to deliver its producer’s claim of “ultrapremium” quality and the fact is, it just
isn’t very good.