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Simi Reserve Chardonnay 1999
The many different rootstock materials, clones and mass selections create a range of diversity uncommon in California Chardonnay vineyards today. Blocks are vinified separately and the final blend combines the best of warm and cool fruit flavors with a distinct mineral undertone and fruit intensity. The Russian River Valley climate, cooled by coastal influences, helps develop bright forward fruit that stands up to aging in new oak and malolactic fermentation.
In 1876, brothers Giuseppe and Pietro Simi began making wine in San Francisco from Sonoma County grapes and eventually planted vineyards near Healdsburg. Simi's historic stone cellars were built in 1890 and are still used to age the wines. Today, Simi is recognized as a leader in innovation and experimentation with a history of over 125 years of cutting-edge winemaking.
Their Alexander Valley vineyards possess some of the most diverse soils of any wine-growing region. Years of geologic activity – from an ancient mudflow to the meandering Russian River and Mayacama Creek – has created numerous distinct soil types and a range of microclimates. Here they grow the red Bordeaux varietals for their Reserve Cabernet and Sauvignon Blanc as well as Sauvignon Blanc and Semillon for their Sendal.
Their Russian River Goldfields vineyard is planted to field selections chosen from the oldest and best Chardonnay vineyards in California. The combination of diverse clones and the cool, Russian River Valley climate produce Simi’s distinct Reserve Chardonnay.
Simi's winemakers focus on site-specific winemaking and use the most modern advances in vineyard management, fermentation and blending to best express the personality and flavors of each vineyard site.
Home to a diverse array of smaller AVAs with varied microclimates and soil types, Sonoma County has something for nearly every wine lover. Physically twice as large as Napa, the region only produces about half the amount of wine, but what it lacks in quantity it makes up for in both quality and variety. With its laid-back atmosphere and down-to-earth attitude, the wineries of Sonoma are appreciated by wine tourists for their friendliness and approachability. The entire county intends to become a 100% sustainable winegrowing region by 2019.
Grape varieties are carefully selected to reflect the best attributes of their sites—Dry Creek Valley’s consistent sunshine is ideal for Zinfandel, while the warm Alexander Valley is responsible for rich, voluptuous Cabernet Sauvignon. Chardonnay and Pinot Noir are important throughout the county, most notably in the cooler AVAs of Russian River and Sonoma Valleys, Carneros, and Fort Ross-Seaview. Sauvignon Blanc, Merlot, and Syrah have also found a firm footing here.
One of the most popular and versatile white wine grapes, Chardonnay offers a wide range of flavors and styles depending on where it’s grown and how it’s made. In Burgundy, Chardonnay produces some of the finest white wines in the world, typically tending towards minimal intervention in the winery and at its best resulting in remarkable longevity. This grape is popular throughout the world, but perhaps its second most important home is in California, where both oaky, buttery styles and leaner, European-inspired wines enjoy great popularity. Oregon, Australia, South America, South Africa, and New Zealand are also significant producers of Chardonnay.
In the Glass
When planted on cool sites, Chardonnay’s flavors tend towards grapefruit, green apple, minerals, and white stone fruit, while warmer locations coax out richer, more tropical flavors of fig, melon, and pineapple. Oak can add notes of vanilla, coconut, and spice (as well as texture), while malolactic fermentation can impart soft, buttery acidity.
Chardonnay is as versatile at the table as it is in the vineyard. The crisp, clean, Chablis-like styles go well with simple seafood, light chicken dishes, and salads. Richer Chardonnays marry well with cream or oil-based sauces.
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. These Old-World style wines have been dubbed the “New California Chardonnays,” and anyone who claims they do not like Chardonnay should give them a try.