Smith Story Dutton Ranch Chardonnay 2015
Critical AcclaimAll Vintages
Smith Story Wine Cellars crafts wines that are made with respect for the land, kindness for the grower, and love from the winemaker. Each vineyard Smith Story works with is family-owned as a central tenet; the founders believe firmly that the integrity of the vines can only be ensured by grape growers who safeguard the land for the next generation. The resulting wines have heart and soul. They show restraint, balance and the integrity of the grape. Eric and Ali's winemaking philosophy is to utilize classic, old world techniques and let the grapes - and sense of place where they are grown - speak for themselves.
In 2013, Eric Story and Ali Smith Story co-founded Russian River Valley-based Smith Story Wine Cellars out of a desire to make the kind of wine that “wine people” drink. Both came from wine industry backgrounds, and their palates remain well attuned to both the sublime and the delicious – at every price. They dreamed of starting a wine project that could produce wines that were both attractive and approachable…but that wouldn’t require a savant to enjoy them.
Working on a wine-industry budget, the duo tapped into the support of their extensive networks, successfully launching Smith Story Wine Cellars on Kickstarter in 2014. 3 Their campaign was called “Farmers First,” and the very first American winery to be crowdfunded was born. Today the winery produces over 4,000 cases annually and has been called “one of California’s top emerging wineries.” The wines begin with the land, places that are special to Eric and Ali in Northern California, from twelve family owned vineyards throughout Sonoma Valley, Sonoma Coast, Russian River Valley, Knights Valley, Pine Mountain, Anderson Valley and the Rheingau region of Germany. As the vineyard program grows, so will their story.
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.