"The 2004 Chardonnay Sonoma Coast is produced from the old Wente clone planted in the Ritchie Vineyard, which is certainly turning out to be a fabulous grand cru site whether the wine is made by Pahlmeyer, Marc Aubert, or others. Displaying plenty of orange rind, buttered pineapple, and leesy brioche notes, it is a seductive, sexy, full-bodied, heady wine with tremendous richness as well as good underlying acidity. Like so many Sonoma Coast Chardonnays, it reveals a greenish hue to the light gold/straw color, which usually signifies a potentially long life. This cuvee should keep for 4-6 years." -Wine Advocate
Jayson Pahlmeyer has been producing highly sought-after wines since 1986. It began with Jayson's dream to make world-class Bordeaux-style wine from Napa Valley. Pahlmeyer's estate vineyard - Waters Rance - is situated at 2100 feet in the Atlas Peak appellation of Napa Valley. It is the key source for their Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Cabernet Franc, Petit Verdot, Malbec and Chardonnay. Jayson's passion eventually led him to the Sonoma Coast, where less than seven miles and two ridges from the Pacific Ocean, he planted Wayfarer Farm, their key source for Pinot Noir.
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Twice as large as Napa in size, Sonoma County only makes about half as much wine as its northeasterly neighbor. Because of its vast size, however, Sonoma is able to achieve far more diversity within its borders, which include sub-AVAs that are climatically varied. The atmosphere of Sonoma is decidedly laid-back and down-to-earth, but the wines are serious and well-made, ranging in style from subtle and elegant to rich and powerful. Grape varieties are more varied here, from Pinot Noir and Zinfandel to Cabernet Sauvignon and Chardonnay.
The largest sub-AVAs of Sonoma include Dry Creek Valley, Russian River Valley, Alexander Valley and Sonoma Valley. Each sub-AVA, with its own micro-climate, is unique in its grape varieties and styles of wine. Dry Creek makes a mean Zinfandel while Russian River produces stand up Pinot Noir and Chardonnay. The Alexander Valley makes some of the better Cabernet Sauvignons in the county and Sonoma Valley creates excellent wines from all the above varieties. Other grapes found throughout Sonoma include Sauvignon Blanc, Merlot and Syrah.
It's not rare to see a wine's country of origin listed as "California." A country into itself in the wine world, California makes enough varieties and styles to match many European wine countries. It produces a diverse range of wines that span the quality spectrum.
The most famous of the California wine regions is Napa Valley, and these wines are certainly outstanding – but it's not as broad and diverse as its larger neighbor, Sonoma County. Down south, Santa Barbara's Santa Maria Valley is well-known for its Rhône blends, as well as cool-climate varieties like Pinot and Chardonnay. The Central Coast, the largest California AVA, has many different microclimates that lead to a wide range of wines with many sub-AVAs.
Most wine ranges from 10-16% alcohol by volume. Some varietals tend to have higher (for example Zinfandel and Cabernet Sauvignon) or lower alcohol levels (Pinot Noir and many white varietals), but there is always some variation from producer to producer. Some wine falls outside of this range, for instance Port weighs in closer to 20%, while Muscat and Riesling are usually a bit below 10%.
Wine Style Guide
Light & Crisp
Light to medium bodied wines that are high in acid and light to medium fruit. Typically no oak.
Fruity & Smooth
Light to medium bodied wines with lots of juicy fruit, typically medium acid and medium oak.
Rich & Creamy
Full bodied wines that have typically undergone malo-lactic fermentation and/or spent time in oak.