Random thoughts on the world of wine, presented in no particular order.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

What in the world is this doing here?

Full disclosure:  this wine was given to me as a sample at work.

Sometimes, one finds an unusual wine hiding in the "wrong" place -- talk to me sometime about the first time I tried a Monica di Sardignia (blind, I thought it was a Côtes du Rhône.  Wrong country, wrong grape).  Such was the case last night, when I tried Sonoma Cuvee's 2006 Russian River chardonnay.  I had expected typical Russian River wine -- really ripe fruit, lots of oak and malolactic.  In other words, a manipulated-to-hell-and-back wine.  This is such an unusual wine; it is completely atypical of the region.

By all rights, the wine didn't even belong in the Russian River; it was much more like a white Burgundy -- one of the white Burgundies that sees oak, like a Montrachet, but a white Burgundy nonetheless.  It was most emphatically not a California oakbomb of a chardonnay.  Admittedly, this might turn off some, as it's... well, unexpected.  There's little malolactic fermentation evident, so there's no creamy texture, just crisp tree fruit.

The wine is clear yellow in the glass, almost straw-colored.  The nose shows the style immediately, with tree fruit dominating, apples and pears, very crisp.  A hint of limestone/slate is also in evidence.  A taste reveals more of the same, with a bit of new oak coming through on the finish.  The wine appears light on it's feet, despite being reasonably full-bodied, mainly due to the high acidity.  It's balance is quite good, and the finish remains in the mouth for some time.  89 points.

Sonoma Cuvee is a biodynamic producer; while I don't agree with the entirety of the biodynamic philosophy (especially the "preparations," which seem like voodoo to me), the end result in this case is tasty, and organic. Taking care of the estate that grows the grapes seems to me to be, ultimately, a sensible approach to farming. 

All in all, a good $20 bottle.  Sonoma Cuvee also makes Pinot Noir, and has (more expensive) single-vineyard versions of both varietals.

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