DuMOL Chloe Ritchie-Lorenzo Old Vines Chardonnay 2014
Orange blossom, orange marmalade, peach and nectarine, prosciutto and melon. Oyster shell freshness and wet stone minerals. Sweet and pliant fruit-filled palate. Real depth and extract. Honey and baking spice. The deep, deep flavors linger long on the layered rising whistle-clean finish. Great pedigree. As usual the broadest, richest and most Californian of our four classic designate chardonnays, and in some stylistic regards, the natural partner to Ryan Pinot Noir – why not pair them together over a long leisurely dinner? There’s a power here and deep booming resonance that comes from low-yielding old vines planted in shallow marine-based soils with just the right amount of clay to give body and roundness. It’s a very aristocratic wine which is why there’s a legion of other producers lining up to work with these two special vineyards, such is their quality and reputation. We are among the first to harvest our respective section of each vineyard as we’re focused on a style that harmonizes the broad richness these vines naturally wish to produce, with the delicate savory elements that provide lift, freshness and detail. This way the final wine doesn’t become heavy or fat at all. We get the best of both worlds, depth and character but airy and intense – all in proportion, no awkward edges. Rich, broad and powerful fruit-driven wine with old vine sinew and a clean mineral spine. Lots of nuance and detail.
Founded in 1996, DuMOL is a vineyard focused producer of cool-climate Russian River Valley Chardonnay, Pinot Noir and Syrah, and Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon from exceptional vineyards. They are a “vineyard up” winery with a fully integrated approach to winegrowing and winemaking. Working intimately with their many unique sites — some for more than two decades — they strive to present the purest essence of the vineyard and vintage. At 3,630 vines per acre, DuMOL’s estate parcels in the Russian River Valley are among the most densely planted vineyards in North America.
Winemaker, viticulturist and partner, Andy Smith, has been at the helm of DuMOL’s continuous evolution since 1999. He and his close-knit team of three employ winemaking that is classical and intuitive, responsive to the needs of each wine, with the least “technique” necessary. Andy explains, “Each bottling is built in the vineyard. Soil types, microclimates, plant material, maturity levels, how the vines react to the growing conditions, how we react to the vines – there are so many detailed variables. The nuance, the depth and complexity of the fruit that results from those variables, that’s what we aim to achieve and translate to bottle: purity, vibrancy, freshness – intensity without heaviness.”
DuMOL has held the core principle, since inception, to be responsible stewards for their surrounding environment both in their vineyards and in their winemaking. Built in 2008, their winery was the first “green” facility in the Windsor township, 100% solar powered and utilizing a bioreactor system to reduce all waste water impact from winery processing activities to below that of a single-family household. Beyond its environmental considerations, the winery was strategically designed by Andy Smith to optimize the vinification of DuMOL’s many individual wine lots with custom small-lot fermentation tanks to include a Tuscan terracotta Amphora fermenter.
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.