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White Oak Chardonnay 2011
Born in Los Angeles, founder Bill Myers worked as a building contractor and salmon fisherman in Alaska. During the 1970's, Bill sold his boat and relocated to the bucolic town of Healdsburg, where he would purchase his first vineyard and trade fish for winemaking secrets.
With his newly purchased vineyard, a tiny tasting room and wine production facility just off the square in downtown Healdsburg, Bill started making wines under consultation of the highly respected MaryAnn Graf. He quickly became recognized for producing wonderful Sauvignon Blanc, Zinfandel and what was to become White Oak's flagship wine: Chardonnay.
In 1991, Bill took home first Sweepstakes Award from the prestigious Sonoma County Harvest Fair for his 1990 Sonoma County Chardonnay. Shortly after, an alliance with Don Groth and Burdell Properties brought 750 acres of prime vineyards across the Napa, Russian River & Alexander Valleys to White Oak. Presently, 10% of this fruit is used to produce White Oak wines with the balance sold to other prestige wineries.
October of 1998 celebrated the Grand Opening of the new Mediterranean-style Estate nestled in the heart of the renowned Alexander Valley, accommodating a larger production facility and national office space to meet the growing demands for the wine. The 17 acre Estate is also home to 12 acres of proprietary vineyards, including exclusive lots of Old Vine Zinfandel dating back to 1928 & 1935.
Today, White Oak has refined its selection of estate and premium wines designed to reflect founder Bill Myers' original vision of great wines suited to a range of tastes - from graceful, elegant whites to rich & complex reds.
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 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.
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.
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.