92 Points - Jeb Dunnuck
A ripe golden color, the 2021 Chardonnay Fort Ross Vineyard is fresh and ripe with aromatics of salted pineapple, chamomile, and Meyer lemon. This full-bodied white is ripe with peach, buttered citrus, and fresh flowers and brings forward a rounded feel while maintaining good lift. Drink it over the next few years. July 2023
The 2021 Fort Ross Vineyard Chardonnay shimmers with vibrant hues of deep lemon and gold. Soaring aromas of white peach, baked apple, and toasted hazelnut pair effortlessly with fragrant white flowers, lemon curd, and brioche. Reminding the palate that the grapes for this beautiful Chardonnay grow practically within earshot of the crashing waves of the Pacific Ocean below, it is flush with fresh, coastal acidity that adds brightness to juicy flavors of Honeycrisp apple, baking spice, and perfumed vanilla bean. With distinct mineral driven undertones, this Chardonnay is truly an example of both richness and restraint, as it offers pure, rich fruit components that are kept in balance by understated and subtle finesse.
Like the rest of Sonoma County, we experienced lower than average rainfall signaling another drier vintage. The parched soils came with a silver lining, as the roots were forced to dig deep in search of water and nutrients to sustain growth—which also brought great concentration of flavor. Early March Budbreak was followed by slow, steady canopy development and fruit set. Many passes through the vineyard rows by our dedicated team was needed to balance fruit and vine growth. Moderate temperatures, between 80-85°, persisted throughout the summer with no heatwaves. Harvest arrived under near perfect conditions, allowing for methodical night hand picking at the ideal phenolic ripeness. The 3-week harvest began with our Pinot Noir blocks from August 30th - September 6th, Chardonnay from September 9th – 11th, our first harvest of Chenin Blanc on September 13th, and lastly our signature, slower ripening Pinotage on September 17th. The wines produced from this noteworthy vintage will be regarded for their intense concentration of color and flavor, as well as an undeniable density that will continue to evolve for years to come.
The grapes were handpicked during the cool hours of the night in small two-gallon picking trays then hand sorted in the vineyard and gently whole cluster pressed at the winery. After pressing, the juice was put into barrels and underwent primary and malolactic fermentation in a combination of 35% new and 65% neutral French oak. This discrete use of new oak allowed the fruit to shine. This wine is comprised of small berried old Hyde field selection chosen for its richness and sleek structure and low-yielding Wente for its luscious fruit and grace. These heritage field selections have full, complex flavors that are intensified by the small size of both the bunches and the berries.
Hyde & Old Wente field selections. Bottled Unfined & Unfiltered