Duckhorn Wine Co., Migration, Chardonnay, Russian River Valley AVA, Sonoma County, California, USA, 2013
Russian River Valley AVA
This is a cool climate region. The Russian River flows east-west through the AVA, draining into the Pacific, simultaneously providing a route for, and so encouraging, air to be drawn across the cold coastal California current, to be sucked up valley in the evenings by the relatively warm hinterland. Here it condenses to form fog, dropping the air temperature by ~20C from the daytime maximum, some ten miles inland. This helps retain berry acidity, extends the growing season and slows maturation, ensuring ripeness whilst restraining alcohol, and allowing more complex flavour precursors to develop. The fog burns off the following morning, as the sun heats the atmosphere faster than the landmass.
The Valley is home to cool and cool(ish) climate varieties, including chardonnay and sauvignon blanc, pinot noir and cabernet sauvignon, but also varieties that benefit from extended slowed growing seasons, such as merlot, syrah and zinfandel, which develop ripe flavours and tannins, with balancing acidity and relatively (to other Californian) restrained alcohol.
This wine: Sandy loam soils, though what is important here, is elevation and/or access to the cooling effect of the cold California current. 90% barrel fermentation in new French oak, barrel ageing for 10 months in 30% new oak, 60% second vintage, and 10% stainless steel. Varietal chardonnay, natural cork closure, 14.1% abv, Philglass & Swiggott, £29 (2015).
WSET style tasting note
Appearance: clear and medium, pale intensity lemon, showing tears
Nose: clean on the nose, medium (+) intensity, developing, with aromas, as they come, of ripe dessert apple, ripe pear, apricot, nectarine, spice – cinnamon and anise, toast, ripe grapefruit, lemon juice, spicy hawthorn, light honey and hazelnut.
Palate: a dry wine, medium acidity, medium (+) alcohol and a medium (+) body, a creamy almost oily texture from MLF, with a low-key oaky grip, medium (+) intensity, with flavours of oak and vanilla, apricot, white peach, dessert apple, ripe green apple, melon and toast. A medium (+) length, with a clean ripe fruit and slightly too evident oaky finish.
Quality: a very good quality wine, but with new oak a little indiscrete on the mid-palate, otherwise finely balanced acidity with fruit, good intensity and quite concentrated flavours, showing decent complexity from oak and bottle ageing, with signs of tertiary development of nutty and honeyed notes, all following into the decent lightly grippy length.
Readiness for drinking/potential for ageing: drink now, not suitable for further ageing, though it will hold for 2-3 years – the acid structure is not suited to supporting further ageing, and the oak character may become more prominent with time.
- Russian River Valley Winegrowers. [online]. Accessed 14/03/16.