(2022) Bringing back happy memories of a visit there a few years ago, this comes from the historic Hanzell Vineyard, part-fermented in barrel and aged one year in French oak barrels. Light gold in colour, some custard and Brazil nut oak character over very clean and precise peach and lemon. The palate has a juiciness that stays firm and focused, not veering into the more tropical spectrum, but the sweetness of ripe juicy apple and pear, with a lemony thrust of extending acidity.
(2021) Classic barrel-fermented Chardonnay first produced in 1989, this vintage seeing bine months in barrel, 30% new French oak and full malolactic. Loads of almond and crushed oatmeal, and interesting nutty notes, toast and spices, but the fruit is nicely judged - on the palate it becomes quite peachy and succulent, the fruit and a very nice pithy lemon and lime acidity giving cut but generosity too. This is a nicely pitched Chardonnay, creamy and quite hedonistic, but with a bit of steel at its core.
(2021) This organically-grown Russian River Chardonnay is whole-bunch fermented in French oak barrels (44% new) where it matures for a further 11 months. With a tinge of gold to the colour it it a fairly buttery and opulent style, some delicate tobacco spice and cool orchard fruits. In the mouth there is toast and spicy richness, a weighty and textured wine, but the fruit profile retains that cool edge, juicy and ripe, but restrained by the acidity into a very pure finish.
(2020) A really lovely, elegant Chardonnay from the Oak Knoll District of Napa California, part barrel-fermented and aged nine months in barrels, but only 13% new oak. Malolactic fermentation was more or less blocked (4% only went through malo) adding to the crispness of the wine. Lovely aromas of lightly buttery lemon and confit lime, a subtle biscuity warmth but all about zippy fruit and an overall quite steely presence. In the mouth the undoubted ripness of the fruit comes through, juicy pear and ripe Ogen melon, but that fine citrus core of acidity unwavering through the finish to give this poise and freshness. Stylish, reminiscent of a lightly-oaked Chablis style perhaps, and very good.
(2016) Acero is Spanish for steel, and reflects the fact that this Chardonnay is made in steel tanks and sees no oak. From the organically farmed Don Miguel vineyard, it has an an immediate creaminess and touch of almond and honey to the ripe stone fruit aromas. The palate brims with sweet creamy apple and peach, verging on tropical with its mid-palate sweetness before the fine, white fruit acidity and touch of weight and texture gives the finish savouriness and a bit of gravitas. Delicious.
(2016) What a triumph this is for Marimar Torres, who experimented with different appellations to grow AlbariÃ±o before settling on the Russian River. Grown organically and planted at high density, the wine is made in steel and does not go through malolactic fermentation. It has an expressive, authentic and beguiling nose where the most delicate fresh pear and peach marries with gentle floral hints, and a touch of Chablis-like flint. On the palate the 14% alcohol is unbotrusive, but instead gives fat and texture to the ripe pear fruit of the palate before a streak of ripe, lime-like acidity. A terrific AlbariÃ±o by any standards. Only the 2012/13 are in stock in the UK at time of review.
(2014) "A great vintage as was 2013: stellar, in both Sonoma and Napa," says Paul. Made with indigenous yeast and full malolactic, fruit is hand-harvested at night and the wine is matured in all French oak, 45% of which is new. Lovely honey and nutty qualities, more almond and creamy oatmeal than toast, with delicious freshness and juiciness. The fruit comes from the Hyde vineyard, and has lots of really juicy lime freshness - lime and orange. Nice mouthfeel and texture too in a nicely balanced and savoury Chardonnay with 14.2% alcohol.
(2014) Whole-bunch pressed and barrel fermented in French oak (20% new) this wine was then aged for 10 months on its lees in barrel. There's a fine, green bean vegatility to this along with oatmeal and almond and a core of racy citrus and apple that immediately makes me think of Burgundy. With time a deeper, green fig component is there, but it stays fairly crisp and fresh. On the palate there has weight and volume. It's 14.5% ABV does give a little alcoholic heat, but the freshness is there through the white fruit flavours and the core of acidity. Not quite as linear and laser-like as the Acero 2009, but a lovely Chardonnay.