Patz & Hall Dutton Ranch Chardonnay 2017
The 2017 Dutton Ranch Chardonnay delivers aromas of ginger, guava and Crème brûlée with toasted almond, and toffee-brown sugar. Dense, and full bodied, there’s a pleasingly crisp and mouthwatering green apple note on the palate that melds with dried apricot, tangerine flavors along with a hint of toasted oak. The wine finishes dry with fresh acidity and a touch of lemon zest and candied ginger. Once again, Dutton Ranch has delivered a wonderfully age-worthy wine that captures the charm and complexity of some of Sonoma County’s oldest Chardonnay vines.?
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From the Russian River, the 2017 Chardonnay Dutton Ranch is a step up and has more intensity and depth, with a rocking bouquet of honey stone fruits, brioche, toasted hazelnuts, and crushed stone. Rich, medium to full-bodied, and beautifully balanced, with bright acidity, it has a kiss of background oak but is a seriously good, layered effort that will cruise for 5-7 years, probably longer.
The 2017 Chardonnay Dutton Ranch aged on the lees in 35% new oak with weekly bâtonnage. It reluctantly opens to apple pie, toast, apricot, roasted almonds and smoky reduction. It’s medium-bodied, silky and more expressive in the mouth with honeyed, savory notions framing the intense fruits, enlivened by juicy acidity and finishing long and textured. This will benefit from another year in bottle.
Warren Dutton was an early proponent of chardonnay in Sonoma; in 1974, he planted the Mill Station block in Green Valley. James Hall includes the fruit from those vines in his Dutton Ranch chardonnay, as well as other blocks of heirloom selections. He ferments it without added yeasts, taking it through malolactic conversion and aging it in French oak barrels (35 percent new). That barrel time lends the wine scents of nutmeg without diminishing the fruit’s crunchy, old-vine concentration. It’s sleek and firm, the fruit completely saturating the wood spice and lasting with the cool feel of biting into a crisp yellow apple.
This is a tightly wound and intense wine that shows its youth, a study in concentrated Gravenstein apple, salt and stone. A floral underbelly of apple and orange blossom brightens the palate and grippy structure. Let this wine open slowly in the glass.
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.