2019 Sonoma-Cutrer Chardonnay Russian River Ranches
2019 Sonoma-Cutrer Chardonnay Russian River RanchesRussian River Ranches is a beautiful, pale straw color. On the nose, this 2019 wine is a virtual cornucopia of aromatic fruit. It opens with scents of Bosc pear and Honeycrisp apple accentuated with notes of nougat, roasted nuts, oak spice and a touch of citrus blossom. True to the Russian River Ranches style, the wine is beautifully focused with a nice, bright acidity and balanced by a long, palate structure. This vintage is refreshing and juicy with crisp, zesty flavors of lemon drop, green apple, barrel spice and lime that dissolve to a light, creamy mid-palate before ending with Sonoma-Cutrer’s signature citrus acidity and our long, palate-cleansing finish.
Chardonnay is the world’s most famous white-wine grape and also one of the most widely planted. Although the most highly regarded expressions of the variety are those from Burgundy and California, many high-quality examples are made in Italy, Australia, New Zealand and parts of South America.
Describing the flavors of Chardonnay is not easy. While many Chardonnay wines have high aromatic complexity, this is usually due to winemaking techniques (particularly the use of oak) rather than the variety’s intrinsic qualities. Malolactic fermentation gives distinctive buttery aromas. Fermentation and/or maturation in oak barrels contributes notes of vanilla, smoke and hints of sweet spices such as clove and cinnamon. Extended lees contact while in barrel imparts biscuity, doughy flavors. Because of this high level of winemaker involvement, Chardonnay has become known as the “”winemaker’s wine””.
The variety itself (although often said to be relatively flavor-neutral) is responsible for most of the fruity flavors found in Chardonnay wines. These range from the tropical (banana, melon, pineapple and guava) to stonefruits (peach, nectarine and apricot), citrus and apples.
Climate plays a major role in dictating which fruit flavors a Chardonnay will have. Broadly speaking, warm regions such as California, Chile and much of Australia tend to give more tropical styles. Temperate zones such as southern Burgundy or northern New Zealand create wines marked out by stonefruit notes. The very coolest Chardonnay vineyards (those in Chablis, Champagne and Germany) lean towards green-apple aromas.
Mineral descriptors such as chalk, wet stones and crushed seashells also find their way into Chardonnay tasting notes. These are sometimes attributed to the soils in the vineyard, although the relationship between soil and wine flavor has become widely exaggerated. The most famously minerally Chardonnay wines are those of Chablis, one of the very few wine regions to focus on a largely unoaked style of Chardonnay.