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Porter-Bass Chardonnay 2014

Chardonnay from Russian River, Sonoma County, California
    13.6% ABV
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    13.6% ABV

    Winemaker Notes

    The fruit in this wine is from the north-facing slope across the road from the house. These plantings are over twenty five years old with a very wide spacing and rows running east to west. A majority of the fruit is the Old Wente clone of Chardonnay, which provides structure, minerality and citrus notes. The remaining percentage is the Rued clone which is much more floral in flavor and provides richness on the palate.

    Critical Acclaim

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    Porter-Bass

    Porter-Bass

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    Porter-Bass, Russian River, Sonoma County, California
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    The Porter Bass Estate sits just up in the hills that overlook the small town of Guerneville, CA (below the fog line, 9 miles from the Pacific Ocean). The vines struggle to ripen each year, providing the perfect environment to make balanced expressions of Coastal Russian River Valley wines. The property is 25 acres under vine (primarily planted to Pinot Noir and Chardonnay, with a 2 acre Zinfandel parcel named Dot’s Garden). The Estate dates back to the late 1800’s: planted to Zinfandel & Palomino (while the Palomino is long pulled up, some of the original Zinfandel vines still exist in Dot’s Garden).

    The Bass family found this run-down, century-old, vineyard in 1980 and began the arduous process of reviving the vines. Decades of farming-induced erosion had left the soil sustaining only poison oak and blackberries. They looked to Biodynamic and organic farming strategies to create life in the soil and renew the vineyard's vitality. This restoration requires time and patience and the rewards have come over generations rather than years. They replanted most of the original Zinfandel, and all of the Palomino, leaving only a small mother block of Zinfandel. The original budwood from these vines was used in order to maintain the vineyard character.

    In the winemaking the human influence is limited as much as possible. When the grapes arrive at the winery they ferment with indigenous yeasts. This imparts a greater sense of place in the wine. In the red wines the fruit is not crushed, only the stems are removed, leaving the whole berries. This gives a slower start to the fermentation and results in a greater expression of freshness. As the wines age they gain complexity but do not suffer from the premature aging that comes with over-ripe fruit. Gentle handling of the wine, using gravity flow, and minimizing the use of machines in production helps to preserve the vitality of the wine. The amount of new oak is limited to less than 40 percent. The wine is bottled unfined and unfiltered.

    Russian River

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    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.

    Chardonnay

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    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 practically every country in the wine producing world grows it, Chardonnay from its Burgundian homeland produces some of the most remarkable and longest lived examples. As far as cellar potential, white Burgundy rivals the world’s other age-worthy whites like Riesling or botrytized Semillon. California is Chardonnay’s second most important home, where both oaky, buttery styles and leaner, European-inspired wines enjoy great popularity. Oregon, Australia and South America are also significant producers of Chardonnay.

    In the Glass

    When planted on cool sites, Chardonnay flavors tend towards grapefruit, lemon zest, green apple, celery leaf and wet flint, while warmer locations coax out richer, more tropical flavors of melon, peach and pineapple. Oak can add notes of vanilla, coconut and spice, while malolactic fermentation imparts a soft and creamy texture.

    Perfect Pairings

    Chardonnay is as versatile at the table as it is in the vineyard. The crisp, clean, Chablis-like styles go well with flaky white fish with herbs, scallops, turkey breast and soft cheeses. Richer Chardonnays marry well with lobster, crab, salmon, roasted chicken and creamy sauces.

    Sommelier Secret

    Since the 1990s, big, oaky, buttery Chardonnays from California have enjoyed explosive popularity. More recently, the pendulum has begun to swing in the opposite direction, towards a clean, crisp style that rarely utilizes new oak. In Burgundy, the subregion of Chablis, while typically employing the use of older oak barrels, produces a similar bright and acid-driven style. Anyone who doesn't like oaky Chardonnay would likely enjoy its lighter style.

    TEWT04300_2014 Item# 332584