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Joseph Phelps Freestone Vineyards Sonoma Coast Chardonnay 2011

Chardonnay from Sonoma County, California
  • WE94
  • RP93
  • W&S91
  • CG90
13.5% ABV
  • WE95
  • RP93
  • WE93
  • W&S92
  • WW92
  • WE95
  • W&S92
  • TP92
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13.5% ABV

Winemaker Notes

The 2011 Chardonnay is a mix of the best selections from the estate, including some heirloom selections that help to define the blend's character and structure. This Chardonnay opens with a bright bouquet overflowing with apple, honeysuckle, white flower and Meyer lemon zest laced with notes of crushed rock and toasted Brioche. Fresh and lively with balanced minerality and a creamy texture, the wine boasts tart green apple, lemon custard and honeydew melon flavors throughout. Long and lingering, the finish is touched with stone fruit and sweet vanilla.

Critical Acclaim

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WE 94
Wine Enthusiast
What a roll Phelps has been on these past few cool vintages in this, its far Sonoma Coast vineyard. The wine is bright in mouthwatering acidity, and tantalizing, with a subtle vein of lime, golden mango, orange zest and honeysuckle. Firm minerals are enriched by toasty oak. The alcohol is moderate. As delicious as this wine is, it should develop nicely over the next 5–6 years.

Cellar Selection

RP 93
Robert Parker's Wine Advocate
From the best block of the Freestone Vineyard, the 2011 Chardonnay Pastorale sees slightly more new oak (55%). This Corton-Charlemagne-like white wine reveals lots of wet stone, citrus oil, white peach and apple blossom notes with the wood component well-concealed, a rich, medium to full-bodied style, and a nicely layered finish that builds incrementally. It should drink well for 3-4 years.

Joseph Phelps has a whopping 102 acres on the Sonoma Coast called the Freestone Vineyard, 82 acres of which is planted in Pinot Noir and the balance Chardonnay. The interesting thing about this site is the bud break can occur as early as February, and the hang time often exceeds the European model of “100 days,” often lasting as long as 120 to140+ days. All of the wines that follow, even in a great vintage such as 2012, rarely exceed 14.2% alcohol, with most coming in under 14%. Their flavor intensity and richness make them fascinating, and I suspect this relatively new operation will get better and better as the vines age, and the Phelps team in Napa continues to fine tune the vineyards and the winemaking.

W&S 91
Wine & Spirits
This golden wine contrasts ripe peach honeyed pear flavors with broad, nutty richness. The earthiness of the wine comes up with air, checking the weetness of the fruit and leaving a clean impression in the end. Decant it to bring out the flavor depths.
CG 90
Connoisseurs' Guide
Phelps Chardonnays from Freestone have from the first been ageworthy wines of precise fruit, fine depth and great structure, and this one from the very cool 2011 harvest is a tight, high-acid working that is not merely capable of aging but absolutely demands it. Its teasing glimmers of juicy apples, sweet oak and minerals foreshadow fine things to come, and if its fruity bearings are sure, it is simply too young to drink any time soon and needs to be hidden away for no fewer than two or three years.
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Joseph Phelps

Joseph Phelps Vineyards

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Joseph Phelps Vineyards, , California
Joseph Phelps
Joseph Phelps Vineyards is a family-owned winery committed to crafting world class, estate-grown wines. Founded in 1973 when Joe Phelps purchased a former cattle ranch near St. Helena in the Napa Valley, the winery now controls and farms nearly 375 acres of vines on eight estate vineyards in St. Helena, the Stags Leap District, Oakville, Rutherford, Oak Knoll District, Carneros and South Napa Valley. In 1999, the Phelps family added 100 acres of vineyard property near the town of Freestone on the Sonoma Coast, where Phelps now grows Pinot Noir and Chardonnay.

Phelps is best known for its flagship Napa Valley blend of red Bordeaux varietals, Insignia, first produced in 1974. Awarded Wine Spectator's "Wine of the Year" in 2005, Insignia is widely regarded as a qualitative benchmark for California winemaking.

A large and diverse wine region in northeastern Italy, the Veneto is home to a vast array of different styles of wine. With no defining regional characteristics, it can be a bit confusing to the general consumer to parse through its many subzones, but the patient wine lover will find many treasures to be discovered here, typically at wallet-friendly prices. Red and white wines are produced here, with more emphasis on the latter, as well as the ultra-popular sparkling wine Prosecco. The region is sheltered from harsh northern European winters by the Alps, which form its northern border, but the climate is still relatively cool, making the Veneto ideal for white wine production.

Much of Italy’s Pinot Grigio hails from the Veneto, where it can range from neutral and inoffensive to crisp and refreshing. Soave, made primarily from the Garganega grape, has a reputation for producing relatively ordinary, bulk wines, but can be very elegant when yields are carefully monitored, with aromas of lemon, almond, and white flowers. Valpolicella is the region’s best-known red wine, with juicy, tart red cherry flavors derived from the Corvina grape. Recioto and Amarone wines made from dried grapes are a regional specialty and can be very intense, heady, and cerebral.

Other Red Blends

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With hundreds of red grape varieties to choose from, winemakers have the freedom to create a virtually endless assortment of blended wines. In many European regions, strict laws are in place determining the set of varieties that may be used, but in the New World experimentation is permitted and encouraged. Blending can be utilized to create complex wines with many different layers of flavors and aromas, or to create more balanced wines. For example, a variety that is soft and full-bodied may be combined with one that is lighter with naturally high acidity. Sometimes small amounts of a particular variety are added to boost color or aromatics. Blending can take place before or after fermentation, with the latter, more popular option giving more control to the winemaker over the final qualities of the wine.

EMP192145_2011 Item# 124343

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