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California (Sonoma County)
|Winery:||Russian River Vineyards|
|Bottle Size:||750 ml|
Just south of the winery, Bacigalupi Vineyard straddles Westside Road in the upper reach of Russian River Valley. The 125 acre vineyard encompasses a range of terroir, from heavier valley floor soil along the Russian River to alluvial clay loam on the rolling hillsides. The fruit is sourced from a superb block of 25 year-old Wente Clone vines located on the western slope of the site. Bacigalupi was the source of the Chateau Montelena Chardonnay that, famously, beat the French wines at the "Judgement of Paris" in 1976.
Bacigalupi Chardonnay has a nose of lemon zest and vanilla bean. The palate opens with red pear and Meyer lemon, and brioche toast and honey comb notes on the finish. Like well-made Chardonnay from great vineyards around the world this wine benefits from getting some air, will age for years, and is best when served chilled around 50 degrees. This wine will evolve in the bottle for many years to come. A terrific wine from one of Sonoma County's top sites for Chardonnay.
In 2008, fourth generation farmer and aspiring winemaker Giovanni Balistreri, under the tutelage of award-winning winemaker Anthony Austin, set out to reclaim the rich history and enormous un-tapped potential of one of Sonoma County’s finest wine-making estates. The estate lies in the heart of the Russian River Valley and thus proudly and appropriately bears the Russian River Valley appellation.
The winemakers understood the potential of this small estate, but even more importantly, they had come to know the special region in which it sits. This was not a place to build a large, corporate winery to produce wine in high volume. It was a place where a careful, patient approach could produce world-class wine. And in the decade since, the venerable estate has been returning to its former glory.
At Russian River Vineyards, they don’t mystify the winemaking process. They are farmers, first and foremost. Gio, the winemaker, is a product of four generations of farmers, and he wouldn’t have it any other way. To produce great wine, you must first produce excellent fruit. And it is the essential character and flavor of that fruit, when it is harvested, that will determine its potential to become a superior wine. There is no shortcut. You have to be there and manage the crop at every step. They are hands-on farmers, not only with their estate-grown grapes, but they also directly manage the farming of all vineyards from which they produce wine, whether they own the property or not. If they don’t farm it, they don’t make wine from it.
Textured, classic Russian River Chardonnay with pleasing counterbalance between ripeness and acidity,distinguishable by underlying minerality, quality oak.
The nose is a blend of pear fruit and caramel. On the palate, these notes continue and are balanced with a hint of Rangbur lime in the finish. The crisp acidity is a perfect balance to the richness of the wine. This is to my mind exactly what RRV CH can be when top sites are well farmed and winemaking is focused.
Eric Flanagan and his family live on the vineyard property the Chardonnay comes from.
Argot Le Rayon Vert Chardonnay is made from 100 percent Chardonnay.
"Le Rayon Vert", the phenomenon which occurs as the sun dips below the horizon, and a brilliant green flash occurs when sunlight prisms through Earth's atmosphere. Jules Verne wrote "a green which no artist could ever obtain on his palette”, akin to the ethereal, green halo all truly pedigreed Chardonnays radiate from the glass.
Wafting from the glass like a freshly opened stick of Wrigley's gum. Both intense and vibrant, the full-bodied palate delivers Granny Smith apple and stone fruits; confections of custard and sticky vanilla bean; animated by bursts of spearmint and pine forest.
"Showcases well-knit apple, Asian pear and white currant flavors, with accents of dried mint and tarragon. Toasty in the midpalate, with a finish that lingers on and is marked by crushed stone. Drink now through 2025. 325 cases made. - Kim MARCUS"
- Wine Advocate (April 30th 2022), 93 pts
"There are a scant 320 cases of the 2019 Chardonnay Le Rayon-Vert, which hails from the Sonoma Mountain AVA and spent 14 months in 70% new French oak. It offers a lighter, grey-tinged gold hue as well as an old school nose of crushed citrus, tart peach, hazelnuts, crushed stone, and white flowers. Beautiful on the palate as well, it has a crisp, pure texture, some notable reduction, nicely integrated acidity, and outstanding length. It's a beautiful Chardonnay to enjoy over the coming 3-5 years. Give it a decant if drinking any time soon."
- Jeb DUNNUCK (September 30th 2021), 93 pts
Showcases well-knit apple, Asian pear and white currant flavors, with accents of dried mint and tarragon. Toasty in the midpalate, with a finish that lingers on and is marked by crushed stone. Drink now through 2025. 325 cases made.
-Wine Spectator 93 Points
Jip Jip Rocks Chardonnay is made from 100 percent unoaked Chardonnay.
Light yellow with a pale straw hue. A classic nose of lemon, fresh stonefruit and melon. The palate is clean and fresh with mineral characters underpinning ripe pineapple and lime flavours. This wine will age beautifully over the next 4-5 years.
Winemaking report: Gentle pressing and free run juices create the base of this wine. Traditionally Jip Jip Rocks Chardonnay is a 2/3 blend fermented and matured in stainless steel and 1/3 fermented in stainless steel, which receives extended lees contact to add texture and complexity to the palate.
Attractively fruited and fragrant, the wine shows golden peach, baked fig, vanilla and lemon peel aromas on the nose, followed by a succulent palate that’s creamy and lingering. Beautifully styled and highly enjoyable. At its best: now to 2023. AU$23.00. Dec 2019.
-Wine Orbit 92 Points
La Jota W.S. Keyes Chardonnay is made from 100 percent Chardonnay.
MacRostie Wildcat Mountain Vineyard Chardonnay Sonoma Coast is made from 100 percent Chardonnay.
Wildcat Mountain Vineyard Chardonnay always delivers something special and unique, and this vintage is no exception. Both intricate and exotic, this wine begins with alluring fruit aromas of Meyer lemon and fresh pineapple. On the palate, a round, rich mouthfeel accentuates Wildcat’s signature high-tone notes of honey and spice. At the same time, thanks to Wildcat’s windy growing conditions, which thicken the grape skins, it has engaging structure and body.
The 2019 Chardonnay Wildcat Mountain showed nicely, with a reductive, mineral-laced, medium-bodied style as well as pretty citrus and stone fruits, lots of white flowers, and subtle spice and nuttiness, integrated acidity, and light background oak. It's well worth following over the coming 4-6 years.
-Jeb Dunnuck 91 Points
Rich and well-structured, with honeyed accents to the apple and pear tart flavors. Toasty and light buttery accents linger on the spicy finish. Drink now through 2024. 809 cases made.
-Wine Spectator 91 Points
Russian River Chardonnay Bacigalupi is made from 100 percent Chardonnay.
An unmatched heritage. This wine is made from the budwood of the vines that produced the California Chardonnay that rocked the industry by winning the infamous “Judgment of Paris” wine tasting in 1976. And the quality has persisted.
Starting out with aromas of white peach, honeysuckle, crème brulee and jasmine. The palate is fruit driven from beginning to end. Apple pie, melon and stone fruit flavors linger on the tongue. The mid-palate is full and rich, with a touch of minerality. This wine finishes for days with plenty of fruit on the palate, balanced by a delightful pop of acidity.
One of the few Chardonnays built to age, age this beauty over the next 5-10 years - or even longer!
"A beautiful, intense chardonnay with lots of ripe red apples and some mineral and lemon-rind character, as well as just the right amount of vanilla and cream. Full-bodied, dense and layered with lovely intensity and focus at the end. Drink now or hold."
- James Suckling (November 2020), 94 pts
Grand Veneur Chateauneuf-du-Pape Rouge Les Origines is made from 50% Grenache, 30% Mourvedre and 20% Syrah
Matured in vats (grenache) and in oak casks (syrah and mourvèdre).
Deep and brilliant, purple-red colour. An exciting nose with aromas of black fruit (blackcurrant, cherry) spices and vanilla. This great aromatic complexity is found on the palate : the spices and ripe fruit appear with an elegant woodiness and harmonious tannins. The finish has good aromatic length and introduces a touch of liquorice and pepper.
A terrific Châteauneuf du Pape with great concentration and finesse.
Best between 2 and 20 years. Best to decant if young (less than 5 years old).
Soil type Extreme north of Châteauneuf du Pape. This plateau is made with a high quantity of red clay mixed with rocks. This area is considerated to be one of the best to produce rich and powerful red wines. By definition, LES ORIGINES will always deliver a great complexity and ageing potential. Winemaking & ageing Harvest is sorted by hand, destemmed and crushed. Fermentation temperature is controlled at 30°C. Vatting period of 18 to 20 days. Matured in vats (grenache) and in oak casks (syrah and mourvèdre).
"The 2017 Châteauneuf Du Pape Les Origines takes things up a notch on the serious scale and has a much more concentrated, focused, structured style. A blend of 50% Grenache, 30% Mourvèdre, and the rest Syrah that saw 50% new barrels, it offers a rich, concentrated, focused texture, notes of black raspberries, roasted garrigue, pepper, and tons of minerality, building tannins, and outstanding length. The new oak is beautifully integrated, it’s perfectly balanced, and it’s one of those wines that has a kiss of modern character yet stays firmly planted in the Southern Rhône."
- Jeb Dunnuck (August 16th 2019), 95+ pts
Aalto P.S. Pagos Seleccionados Tinto is made from 100 percent Tempranillo.
The farming year began with a mild autumn and little precipitation. A very dry winter started with -9ºC reaching at the end higher temperatures than normal for that time of the year. Spring and summer characterized by little rain, only some rain showers in July and late August avoided the hydric stress of the vines. The vegetative cycle of the vine developed with big variations of temperatures, alternating warm and atypical low temperatures of 4ºC for mid-June. The ripening of the grapes happened under very good conditions and the harvest started on 24th September 2019.
100% Tinto Fino (Tempranillo) primarily from very old vines – 60 to 90 years old – from selected plots in La Horra and La Aguilera. The harvest was done by hand, in small boxes of 15 kilos that are thoroughly inspected, bunch by bunch, on the selection table.
PS is Aalto's icon wine, produced from 60 to 90-year-old parcels in the prime villages of La Aguilera and La Horra. Given the full new French oak treatment, this is wonderfully scented and concentrated, with prominent toast and cinnamon aromas, glossy tannins, layers of chocolate, damson and blueberry and the density to age.
Tim Atkin MW 94 Points