2012 DuMol "Isobel" Sonoma Coast Chardonnay
Robert Parker's Wine Advocate
The 2012 Chardonnay Isobel (980 cases) comes from 31-year-old vines planted in the Charles Heintz Vineyard, and spent 13 months in 39% new oak. It offers classic notes of tangerine oil, apple blossoms, caramelized citrus and a wet stone minerality. Full-bodied with terrific fruit purity and a subtle hint of oak, it should drink well for 7-8 years. The clonal material is California clone 4.
The 2012 Chardonnay Isobel Charles Heintz Vineyard is quite delicate and soft, with attractive yellow stone fruits, spices, mint, chamomile and wild flowers. The 2012 can be enjoyed today or cellared for a handful of years. Subtlety and nuance are the signatures. Charles Heintz has the lowest acidity of the Chardonnay sites DuMOL works with, which gives the wine much of its openness and early accessibility. Today, the Isobel is a bit less expressive than it was last year. I was deeply impressed with the wines I tasted at DuMol this year. Winemaker Andy Smith is no longer at Larkmead and is now solely focused on DuMol, which can only be a good thing for these wines. Many of the 2012s, the Pinots in particular, were even better from bottle than they were from barrel last year. The 2012 Pinots spent more time in barrel than normal, and for the most part benefited from the longer elevage. Unfortunately I was not able to taste the 2013 Pinots as they were bottled earlier than normal, just before my visit. DuMol and Andy Smith fans can look forward to two Cabernets starting with the 2014 vintage; the first is from the Montecillo vineyard in Sonoma, while the second is likely to be a blend from two top Napa Valley sites. DuMol occupies a pretty solid position in the middle of the stylistic spectrum, which is one of the reasons they are so delicious. In my view, these wines have never been better.
*One Star* Very much showing the brisk, mineral-tinged fruit and the slight inner tightness that its cool provenance predicts, this effort from the Charles Heintz Vineyard is again a Chardonnay whose best lies ahead. It juxtaposes a good deal of rich oak against themes of citrus and green apples, and, while sure to improve, it ends with a slight rise in heat that calls into question its chances of finding beauty and grace as it unfolds.
The DuMol Isobel offers delicate aromatics, flavour intensity with deft length, mouthwatering acidity, and nice focus. Accents of fresh greenery, citrus oils, and light white pepper filled through with a refreshing saline crunch. Will continue to develop with age.
Firm and rich, this is centered on tangerine, nectarine and white peach flavors that are slow to unfold, ending with subtle touches of cedar and vanilla. Drink now through 2020. 980 cases made.
"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." Robert Parker