Arista Winery Russian River Chardonnay 2016
A wine that presents great richness and silkiness, yet still possesses structure. Notes of white peach, toast, sweet cream, and white pepper greet the nose, while flavors of orchard fruit, quince and Asian pear (and pear skin) are buoyed by a savory and mouth-watering mix of tangy acidity and minerals on the finish.
Critical AcclaimAll Vintages
Arista Winery was founded in 2002 by Al and Janis McWilliams but is run today by their sons Mark and Ben, who took over the reins in 2012. They’ve brought on board winemaker Matt Courtney, revamped vineyards, and renovated the cellar, all of which appears to have paid off as they’ve fashioned some of the top wines in this report. Readers looking for the next superstar estate are advised to get on the bandwagon. One of the larger production cuvées is the 2016 Chardonnay Russian River Valley and it comes from the Russian River Valley and spent a year in 20% new French oak. Its light gold color is followed by a beautiful bouquet of honeyed pineapple, white flowers, toasted hazelnuts, and brioche. This beauty is classic Russian River with an exuberant, boisterous, yet pure, and incredibly classy profile. It's ideal for drinking over the coming 4-5 years.
Arista Winery was founded by Al and Janis McWilliams in 2002 with a mission to craft artisanal, site-driven Pinot Noir and Chardonnay from the Russian River Valley. From the beginning, the McWilliams have firmly believed that the finest examples of Pinot Noir and Chardonnay are produced in small lots. This belief has led to an emphasis on quality over quantity and a determination to discover and develop unique vineyard sites that reflect the distinct characteristics of the Russian River Valley. Arista is committed to sustainable farming practices. They work closely with local growers who share the dedication to sustainability in Arista carries out in their vineyards. Very little is done to manipulate the vineyard sites but instead strive to preserve each vineyard's natural qualities.
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.