Joseph Phelps Freestone Vineyards Sonoma Coast Chardonnay 2018
The 2018 Chardonnay opens with generous white flower, lemon zest and fresh pear. A very linear offering with vivid acidity, bright green apple, tart lemon and a mineral driven lengthy finish.
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From estategrown grapes, this impressively layered, complex and cool-climate characteristic white is layered in gravelly texture and crushed rock. Briny ocean influence coats a crisp core of green apple and Meyer lemon, leading to a complete finish.
This is soft and open with beautiful cooked apple and pie crust. Medium-bodied with a creamy texture and a long, flavorful finish. Tangy and vivid. Drinkable now, but it will age well, too.
The Freestone bottling from Joseph Phelps are typically among the tighter, more-structured Chardonnays when very young, and the 2018 version is no exception, yet even though fairly restrained just now, the wine offers a clear look at fresh and very vibrant, citrus-tinged, green apple fruit with subtle, sweet oak and suggestions of minerals forecasting certain complexity to come. It is both moderately full and fairly crisp in balance without letting acidity become too pronounced, and, if there are sure to be those who revel in its zesty piquancy right now, it has much more in store for those willing to lay it away and wait for another three or four years.
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 vast appellation covering Sonoma County’s Pacific coastline, the Sonoma Coast AVA runs all the way from the Mendocino County border, south to the San Pablo Bay. The region can actually be divided into two sections—the actual coastal vineyards, marked by marine soils, cool temperatures and saline ocean breezes—and the warmer, drier vineyards further inland, which are still heavily influenced by the Pacific but not quite with same intensity.
Contained within the appellation are the much smaller Fort Ross-Seaview and Petaluma Gap AVAs.
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.