Joseph Phelps Freestone Vineyards Sonoma Coast Chardonnay 2011
Chardonnay from Sonoma County, California
The 2011 Chardonnay is a mix of the best selections from the estate, including some heirloom selections that help to define the blend's character and structure. This Chardonnay opens with a bright bouquet overflowing with apple, honeysuckle, white flower and Meyer lemon zest laced with notes of crushed rock and toasted Brioche. Fresh and lively with balanced minerality and a creamy texture, the wine boasts tart green apple, lemon custard and honeydew melon flavors throughout. Long and lingering, the finish is touched with stone fruit and sweet vanilla.
Wine Enthusiast - "What a roll Phelps has been on these past few cool vintages in this, its far Sonoma Coast vineyard. The wine is bright in mouthwatering acidity, and tantalizing, with a subtle vein of lime, golden mango, orange zest and honeysuckle. Firm minerals are enriched by toasty oak. The alcohol is moderate. As delicious as this wine is, it should develop nicely over the next 5–6 years.
The Wine Advocate - "From the best block of the Freestone Vineyard, the 2011 Chardonnay Pastorale sees slightly more new oak (55%). This Corton-Charlemagne-like white wine reveals lots of wet stone, citrus oil, white peach and apple blossom notes with the wood component well-concealed, a rich, medium to full-bodied style, and a nicely layered finish that builds incrementally. It should drink well for 3-4 years.
Joseph Phelps has a whopping 102 acres on the Sonoma Coast called the Freestone Vineyard, 82 acres of which is planted in Pinot Noir and the balance Chardonnay. The interesting thing about this site is the bud break can occur as early as February, and the hang time often exceeds the European model of “100 days,” often lasting as long as 120 to140+ days. All of the wines that follow, even in a great vintage such as 2012, rarely exceed 14.2% alcohol, with most coming in under 14%. Their flavor intensity and richness make them fascinating, and I suspect this relatively new operation will get better and better as the vines age, and the Phelps team in Napa continues to fine tune the vineyards and the winemaking. "
Vinous / Antonio Galloni - "Today the 2011 Chardonnay Freestone Vineyard is quite a bit more exotic than it was a year ago. Sweet floral, honey and almond notes are beginning to develop in bottle, adding considerable nuance. Nectarine and apricot overtones flesh out on the inviting finish. This is a terrific showing for the 2011. Given how the wine has developed over the last year, I would prefer to drink the 2011 over the next handful of years."
Wine & Spirits - "This golden wine contrasts ripe peach honeyed pear flavors with broad, nutty richness. The earthiness of the wine comes up with air, checking the weetness of the fruit and leaving a clean impression in the end. Decant it to bring out the flavor depths. "
International Wine Cellar - "Bright yellow. Sappy aromas of peach, fresh apricot, tangerine and honey. Sappy, juicy and dry, offering considerable early appeal to its savory flavors of citrus and stone fruits and spices. Not a particularly fleshy wine but finishes with tactile minerality and a suggestion of exotic fruits. The alcohol is a reasonable 13.5%."
Connoisseurs' Guide - "Phelps Chardonnays from Freestone have from the first been ageworthy wines of precise fruit, fine depth and great structure, and this one from the very cool 2011 harvest is a tight, high-acid working that is not merely capable of aging but absolutely demands it. Its teasing glimmers of juicy apples, sweet oak and minerals foreshadow fine things to come, and if its fruity bearings are sure, it is simply too young to drink any time soon and needs to be hidden away for no fewer than two or three years."
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Joseph Phelps Vineyards
Joseph Phelps Vineyards is a family-owned winery committed to crafting world class, estate-grown wines. Founded in 1973 when Joe Phelps purchased a former cattle ranch near St. Helena in the Napa Valley, the winery now controls and farms nearly 375 acres of vines on eight estate vineyards in St. Helena, the Stags Leap District, Oakville, Rutherford, Oak Knoll District, Carneros and South Napa Valley. In 1999, the Phelps family added 100 acres of vineyard property near the town of Freestone on the Sonoma Coast, where Phelps now grows Pinot Noir and Chardonnay.
Phelps is best known for its flagship Napa Valley blend of red Bordeaux varietals, Insignia, first produced in 1974. Awarded Wine Spectator's "Wine of the Year" in 2005, Insignia is widely regarded as a qualitative benchmark for California winemaking. View all Joseph Phelps Vineyards Wines
About Sonoma CountyView a map of Sonoma County wineriesRelated Links:
Twice as large as Napa in size, Sonoma County only makes about a half the amount of wine as her northeasterly neighbor. But Sonoma, with her size, is able to vouch for more diversity within her borders, including sub-AVAs that are climatically varied. The atmosphere of Sonoma is decidedly laid back and down home country style. But in wines, they are keeping up with the Joneses, or Napa-ites if you will. Grape varieties are more varied here, from Pinot Noir and Zinfandel to Cabernet Sauvignon and Chardonnay.
Notable FactsThe 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.
About CaliforniaIt'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.
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Alcohol By Volume GuideMost 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.