Friday, February 20, 2009

Toasted Head Russian River Chardonnay, 2005

The Russian River Valley north of San Francisco is a cool growing area with a reputation for producing lean and elegant Chardonnays. While I'm not sure I would describe this wine as lean, it is certainly an elegant, classy expression of Chardonnay. Aged in 100 percent French oak (seasoned and new) and aged on its yeast lees for 10 months with weekly stirring, this Chardonnay is not the type of wine I usually seek out. (I generally go for less manipulated styles.) I am nevertheless very pleased that I found it.

The color is a deep gold, just the right stage of maturity. The aromas are fruit-oriented and very expressive--ripe pears, melon, lime, buttered apples and nutmeg. The winemaker (Blake Kuhn) has pulled all the stops but with excellent results. He clearly had superior fruit to work with, and the cool climate flavors and aromas are beautifully focused. The lees aging has given the wine a creamy mouthfeel with a hint of butter on the long, racy finish; yet, again, elegantly rendered. This is not your typical big, buttery Chardonnay.

Toasted Head makes wines at several price points. This Russian River Chardonnay sells for about $20 retail, but I picked it up for $6.69 on the surplus rack at Harding's Market, Crosstown Parkway in Kalamazoo. Another incredible value.

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