Sunday, June 5, 2011

2006 Ritchie Vineyard Chardonnay from Aubert Wines

Mark Aubert has for a long time been one of the most celebrated consultant winemakers of Napa Valley. Today his consultant days seems to be over, although he still is part of the blending sessions at Futo Wines, a relatively new and highly interesting winery next to Harlan Estate and Bond Wines in Oakville.
Earlier this year, he moved the production from the custom crush facility at Laird Family Vineyards to his own winery in Calistoga. Most winemakers I have talked to, says that working in their own wineries give them a chance to focus more on every small details in the production, therefore make better wines. If that’s what’s going to happen for Mark and Teresa Aubert, then I really look forward to the 2011 vintage from them. Their chardonnays, which to me are their best wines, are already among the finest in the category of rich chardonnays in California.

2006 Ritchie Vineyard Chardonnay / 93 p
Grapes to this wine are sourced from the well known Ritchie Vineyard in the cooler part of Russian River that normally, as in this case, is bottled with the Sonoma Coast appellation. This is one of the oldest vineyards of Chardonnay in Sonoma, and it’s planted with the clones Old Wente, Robert Young and Chardonnay Musqué. Color is golden straw, quite deep and slightly cloudy since the wine is bottled unfiltered. At first, when poured directly from the bottle, the nose was very intense and showed an almost sweetish fruitiness with notes of pineapple and sweet lemon, but there’s also a spicy oak note reminiscent of all spice and cloves. To some consumers, this style of chardonnay is a bit too much, and I can understand that – but tasting the same wine after one, or ever tree hours of decanting, is a bit more elegant. (Sometimes I find this kind of chardonnays, when tasted at the same age, tastes better and more complex the day after!) When the sweeter fruit notes have started to mellow, a more complex and earthy, even stony an “almost but not really burgundian” quality evolves.
On the palate, the same mellowing effect is to be expected from decanting. At first, it is full bodied, rich and ripe with a silky texture but lively acidity that lingers for almost a minute, but with air, it’s more complex and elegant. The texture and finish is great, the only negative thing is the slightly too warm alcohol. Serving it with food, which is recommended, the alcohol warmth will be integrated and absorbed by creamy textures and some acidity. I’d like to serve it at around 12 degrees.
Drink it 2011-2014

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