Stonestreet Gravel Bench Chardonnay 2009
Chardonnay from Sonoma County, California
As the name would suggest, although this site lies at a high elevation, its bench-like exposure allows a pronounced richness to develop in the grapes. Here on the gravel soils, aromas and flavors of baked apple, shortbread, warm spice and roasted almond open to a powerful, richly textured palate; all that generosity is held in check by the structural signature of the mountain - liquid minerality.
International Wine Cellar - "Bright yellow. Complex, vibrant aromas of musky lemon-lime, minerals, iodine, hazelnut oil and oak char lifted by a note of lavender; I would have picked this blind as Burgundy. Suave on entry, then juicy, peachy and uncompromisingly dry without being austere. This broad, airy wine finishes very suave and light on its feet, with a lovely touch of sweetness and a whiplash of brisk pineapple. Like something from the Puligny/Meursault border."
The Wine Advocate - "All the Chardonnays are 100% Chardonnay aged in anywhere from 50% to 100% new French oak for nearly 11 months prior to being bottled. The Alexander Mountain Estate is a superb high elevation vineyard source and the Upper Barn (made famous by Helen Turley and John Wetlaufer in the decade of the nineties) is a true grand cru site for Chardonnay. The other blocks, which vary from 900 feet to a whopping 1,800 feet elevation, producing stunning Chardonnays that have abundant characteristics in common. As the scores indicate, my favorite is the 2009 Chardonnay Upper Barn simply because there is always a little more to this offering. From an 1,800 foot elevation, it reveals lots of honeyed pear, tropical fruit, brioche, nectarine and marmalade notes along with terrific acidity as well as richness. Moreover, little oak can be detected despite the fact that it (as well as its siblings) sees 50% new oak. A handful of these Chardonnays (Gravel Bench and Gold Run) see 100% new oak. Of the other 2009 Chardonnays, the Red Point, Broken Road, Bear Point and Gravel Bench are similar to the Upper Barn, with the Gravel Bench perhaps having a more flinty character and the Bear Point slightly more structure. The Gold Run and Solitude (both from vineyards planted at 1,000 feet) are dead-ringers for the Upper Barn. The only offerings that seemed somewhat lean, austere and closed are the Grandstone and the Windswept. All of these Chardonnays are capable of lasting 5-7 years, perhaps a decade or more in some cases. To reiterate, I don’t understand the point of making 9 separate Chardonnays when in fact there could be three distinct styles, the Upper Barn style, the Grandstone/Windswept style and the Gold Run/Bear Point style."
Wine Enthusiast - "Full-throttle Chardonnay, creamy and opulent, showing lemon custard, orange honey, buttered toast and cinnamon spice flavors, brightened with crisp, zesty acidity. Exceptionally rich and balanced, it's a beautiful wine for pairing with shellfish entrees."
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In the autumn of 1989, Jess Jackson acquired the Zellerbach winery and renamed it in honor of his late father, Jess Stonestreet Jackson. Stonestreet quickly garnered international acclaim for their powerful reds and luscious whites.
Today, Stonestreet wines are undergoing a transformation, using fruit from Alexander Mountain Estate and new winemaking techniques. Alexander Mountain Estate, with lean, well-draining soils and cooler temperature, produces fruit with smaller berries and more intense color and flavor. Stonestreet is dedicated to fulfilling the promise of Alexander Valley's exceptional and distinctive vineyards. Traditional, Old World methods of hand harvesting, small barrel lot production, native yeast fermentation and bottling each wine unfiltered brings out the best in specific grape varieties and provides the quality framework for each Stonestreet wine. View all Stonestreet 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.