The 2021 Russian River Valley Chardonnay has been recommended by Aaron Romano and MaryAnn Worobiec in Romano’s article, “8 Stunning Sonoma Chardonnays at 90+ Points: New reviews of outstanding-rated whites from acclaimed California terroirs,” on the Wine Spectator website.
“8 Stunning Sonoma Chardonnays at 90+ Points: New reviews of outstanding-rated whites from acclaimed California terroirs”
May 15, 2023
Aaron Romano and MaryAnn Worobiec
“California is blessed with diverse microclimates well-suited for growing Chardonnay. But, if you were to ask wine lovers which Golden State region they most closely associate with the grape, Sonoma would likely come up quickly. Its diverse soils and Pacific-influenced climates present ideal conditions for Chardonnay. Below, we’ve selected a handful of impressive offerings from recent tastings that aptly show why Sonoma is a Chardonnay heartland.
While fans probably know Sonoma’s Russian River Valley or Sonoma Coast appellations, they may not have heard of Bennett Valley. The area is a prime source of Chardonnay for Argot, who has made one of this selection’s top-scoring whites. Despite Bennett Valley’s inland setting near the city of Santa Rosa, vines here are influenced by morning fogs and cool coastal breezes funneled through the Petaluma Gap. As a result, it is a cool region with an extended growing season, which allows Chardonnay grapes to fully develop their flavors while retaining vibrant natural acidity. This is on display in Argot’s 2020 bottling, which is rich and fragrant with floral notes and focused, mouthwatering acidity.
Overlapping Bennett Valley is another small appellation, Sonoma Mountain. Like Bennett Valley, it is influenced by the Petaluma Gap, and it benefits from unique topography and sun exposure with elevations between 400 and 1,200 feet on its northern and eastern slopes. Winemaker Blair Guthrie fermented Stewart Cellars’ Sonoma Mountain Chardonnay entirely in barrel before aging it for ten months in French oak, 28 percent of which was new. The wine also saw partial malolactic fermentation, enhancing the richness of its pastry, melon, mango, and citrus flavors.
Since we’ve referenced the Petaluma Gap twice, why not look to a wine from the AVA named after that region? One of Kendall-Jackson’s many estate vineyards, Cloud Landing, sits in this sub-appellation of the broad Sonoma Coast; the site’s name refers to its location, often within the fog line. The 2021 Cloud Landing Chardonnay is appealing for its restraint and complexity, with fresh apple, pear, and citrus flavors that mingle with hints of toasted herbs and honeycomb.”
2021 MacRostie Russian River Valley Chardonnay – 92 Points
“This has an appealing hint of flint and grilled orange, with plenty of complexity and intensity to the salted preserved lemon, yuzu, and Key lime flavors. Delivers details of tarragon, sea salt minerality, and a kiss of toasted brioche on the long, expressive, and juicy finish. Drink now.” -MaryAnn Worobiec