Monday, November 30, 2009

Toasted Head Russian River Chardonnay, 2005

I don't care for this wine; the fruit has been manipulated too much by barrel fermentation and aging in toasted new oak barrels. But others in my family like it very much, and I am intrigued by a spicy note that is exaggerated but otherwise very appealing. It's like ripe pears and apples poached in nutmeg, cinnamon and butter. This pie filling sweetness is framed by a doughy, yeasty quality like that of Champagne, and the wine is rich and full-bodied in the mouth with a pleasantly bitter finish. While it's not my type of Chardonnay, I can see that it has merit and it has aged nicely.

The label attributes the spicy quality to the Russian River climate--cool, foggy mornings and sunny afternoons. I remember a similar spiciness from previous vintages of Belvedere Russian River Chardonnay. But I also remember it from J.J. Vincent's Saint Veran Domaine des Morats. Both of these wines I like very much. Does it come from the micro-climate and soil? a specific clone of Chardonnay? or the interaction of the fruit with French oak barrels?

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