Chris enjoys the challenge of working with classic varietals to evoke a powerful sense of place. Using traditional methods and modern equipment, his goal with C. Donatiello Pinot Noir and Chardonnay is to deliver an experience that is vivid, individualistic, and memorable. In doing so, he’s creating wine that exemplifies both the Russian River Valley, and the man behind the name.
At C. Donatiello, Chris works to craft wines that are representative of their terroir and that are a joy to drink. They do this by spending long hours in the vineyards and treating the grapes with care and respect. Chris particularly loves making Russian River Valley wines because of both their esteemed history and bright fresh palate. He has tremendous aging potential of the wines from the region.
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.