2011 DuMol Russian River Valley Chardonnay

SKU #1145498 92 points Connoisseurs Guide

 An exceptionally well-crafted wine, it may not bear a vineyard-designation, but it does boast exemplary balance and plenty of ripe apple fruitiness to go with the ever-present oaky richness that fills out its fairly generous aromas and flavors. Medium-full in body and invitingly supple at entry with plenty of bright energy to its latter palate and finish, this is the one to drink now while waiting for its siblings to come around.  (1/2014)

92 points Robert Parker's Wine Advocate

 The 2011 Chardonnay Russian River is a blend from some of the finest Sonoma vineyards, including Ritchie, Lorenzo, Hyde, DuMol and Heintz. Largely made from the Old Wente clone of Chardonnay blended with some of the Mt. Eden clone, it was barrel-fermented and aged 14 months on its lees with no lees stirring and only about 30% new French oak used. A light green/straw color is followed by terrific aromas of white peaches, pineapples, brioche, and a hint of creme brulee. Full-bodied with beautiful purity and texture, it is the equal of any Chardonnay selling for twice the price. It should drink well for 5+ years. Since its founding in 1996, DuMol has been one of the superstar wineries of the entire California North Coast. They primarily focus on gorgeous Burgundian-styled Chardonnays from cool micro-climates as well as Pinot Noirs, with the added attraction of one Viognier and one or two Syrahs. They have been consistent from the beginning with winemaker Andy Smith, who has a brilliant record not only at DuMol, but at several other estates where he is the full-time winemaker, particularly the Napa Valley estate of Larkmead, just north of St. Helena. All five 2011 Chardonnays I tasted merit serious attention from consumers. Forget the difficulties of this vintage as DuMol came through with flying colors.  (12/2013)

Stephen Tanzer's International Wine Cellar

 Bright yellow. Aromas and flavors of lemon cream, butterscotch and minerals. An enticing floral character adds personality and lift to the nicely dense but tightly coiled middle palate. The wine's finishing edge is leavened by 1.5 grams per liter of residual sugar; the other chardonnays here finished at under 1 gram.  (6/2014)

K&L Notes

The Russian River Valley Chardonnay is a blend from six top Sonoma County vineyards: 54% Dutton Ranch, 15% DuMOL Estate, 11% Heintz, 8% Lorenzo, 7% Ritchie, and 5% Hyde. Winemaker Andy Smith, with whom we had a great visit and tasting during our buyers' summer trip to Sonoma, 2013, is pleased with the cool 2011 vintage, calling it "an undeniably great year for coastal Chardonnay, one of our finest ever and one that brings to mind both 2010 and 2005, vintages that are aging effortlessly." Here are his tasting notes on the RRV blend: "The wine is clean, pure and focused with real breadth across the entire palate but it's the vein of tightly coiled mouth watering acidity that really keeps it pulsating throughout. It expertly blends leaner stone and riper tropical fruit aromas and flavors and clearly displays the taut freshness of its coastal vineyard origins alongside the broad palate density of this low yielding vintage. Slightly more introverted than its 2010 predecessor, it requires some patience and time in the glass to bring forth the wine's full texture and multiple layers. If you open it on release give it plenty of air and watch how it unfolds over the evening - the flavors and texture really deepen and expand substantially. Drink between 2013 and 2018." (Andy Smith, DuMol winemaker and viticulturist)

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Varietal:

Chardonnay

- It's hard to believe that up until about 30 years ago, this extremely popular varietal hid behind the veil of geographical names like Chablis and Puligny-Montrachet. Now grown all over the world and bottled by its varietal name, Chardonnay has achieved a level of branding unlike any other wine. Surprisingly, though, what you get when you buy Chardonnay can differ greatly from country to country and even within one country, depending on the climate where it's grown and how it is vinified and aged. From fresh, crisp and minerally with apple and lemon notes to rich and buttery with tropical fruit overtones, Chardonnay runs the gamut. In France's Burgundy, Chardonnay is the source of the prized wines of Chablis, Corton-Charlemagne, Mâcon, Meursault and Montrachet. It also the foundation of exceptional Champagne, where it is blended with Pinot Noir and Pinot Meunier or vinified on its own into Blanc de Blancs. It is also extremely popular in California, and is gaining popularity in Australia, New Zealand, Italy, Spain and South Africa.
Country:

United States

- When people consider domestic wine, they normally think about the state of California. The fine viticultural Region within California, including the Napa Valley, Sonoma, Santa Cruz Mountains, Mendocino and Santa Barbara, are capable of growing grapes of world-class quality. But there's plenty of fabulous wine coming from other states, too. Oregon, Washington and New York are also causing eyebrows (and glassware) to be raised around the world. Click for a list of bestselling items from the United States.
Sub-Region:

California

- With the explosive growth that California's wine industry has seen the past several years, it's easy to view winemaking and grape growing in the Golden State as a recent phenomenon. And while it's true that California's viticultural history is brief compared to several European countries, this state's roots date back well over 200 years. Due to the enormous response to California wine within the United States and worldwide, there are thousands of excellent and diverse wines being produced within the state each year. For our entire selection of California wines, please visit this link.
Specific Appellation:

Alexander Valley/Russian River

- Among Sonoma County's northernmost appellations, the Alexander Valley AVA acts as a gateway to neighboring Napa to the east and Mendocino to the north. It is a sprawling appellation, with pockets of distinct microclimates and soils, and as such, is home to a variety of wine grapes and styles. Nearly everything grows in the Alexander Valley, though Cabernet Sauvignon and Chardonnay are the most widely planted grapes. The Russian River Valley lies to the south of Alexander Valley, and is marked by much cooler temperatures and frequently heavy fog. The Chardonnay and Pinot Noir grown here are some of the state's finest and most sought-after. Aromatic whites like Gewürztraminer and Riesling can also be successful, and sparkling wine production has a long history in the area.