Amapola Creek Jos. Belli Vineyards Chardonnay 2017
The nose on this wine opens with a bright burst of honeysuckle fading into gardenia, followed closely by a hint of lemon rind. Stay with the glass for a moment, and you will find the floral components make way for a rich aroma of baked pears and light pastry crust, with just a trace of cinnamon and oats.
Take a sip, and the first thing you will notice the incredibly dense mouthfeel of this wine, rich and palate-filling, held up by a bright band of acidity that makes this wine luscious rather than flabby. Give it a moment, and you will quickly discover a gentle tempest of tree fruit, apples and pears opening onto nectarines and just a touch apricot. The finish is graceful and lengthy, fading into notes of toast and tart gooseberry.
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From a site in the Russian River Valley, the 2017 Chardonnay Jos. Belli Vineyards spent 11 months in a mix of new and used French oak. Its light gold color is followed by notes of ripe pineapple, peach, honeysuckle, and white flowers. It's rounded, has a fleshy, medium-bodied mouthfeel, notable balance, and a clean finish. It's rock solid and one pleasure bent, impeccably made Chardonnay to drink over the coming couple of years.
He and his wife, Alis, founded Arrowood Winery with the 1985 vintage. Each year, they made extraordinary small-lot varietals and vineyard designates. Richard was the winemaster at Arrowood Winery until June 2010, when he resigned his position to devote himself full-time to making wines for his estate winery, Amapola Creek Vineyards and Winery.
A standout region for its decidedly Californian take on Burgundian varieties, the Russian River Valley is named for the eponymous river that flows through it. While there are warm pockets of the AVA, it is mostly a cool-climate growing region thanks to breezes and fog from the nearby Pacific Ocean.
Chardonnay and Pinot Noir reign supreme in Russian River, with the best examples demonstrating a unique combination of richness and restraint. The cool weather makes Russian River an ideal AVA for sparkling wine production, utilizing the aforementioned varieties. Zinfandel also performs exceptionally well here. Within the Russian River Valley lie the smaller appellations of Chalk Hill and Green Valley. The former, farther from the ocean, is relatively warm, with a focus on red and white Bordeaux varieties. The latter is the coolest, foggiest parcel of the Russian River Valley and is responsible for outstanding Pinot Noir and Chardonnay.
One of the most popular and versatile white wine grapes, Chardonnay offers a wide range of flavors and styles depending on where it is grown and how it is made. While it tends to flourish in most environments, Chardonnay from its Burgundian homeland produces some of the most remarkable and longest lived examples. California produces both oaky, buttery styles and leaner, European-inspired wines. Somm Secret—The Burgundian subregion of Chablis, while typically using older oak barrels, produces a bright style similar to the unoaked style. Anyone who doesn't like oaky Chardonnay would likely enjoy Chablis.