Check out Russian River Valley Pinot Noirs

November 4, 2013

Sea Witch was bootiful. The children old and young were decked out, many in very realistic costumes and others in seasonal mufti. The parade and other Rehoboth entertainment were spot-on. I love the autumn in our town. If only it were possible to have the trees drop their leaves into those darn plastic bags. It always amazed me that Rehoboth doesn’t try to enhance city revenue by renting out that vacuum truck and a couple of town employees, looking for extra cash on weekends, to the surrounding communities. Big money to be made!

Just sampled a Long Island North Fork Chardonnay produced by Anthony and Sarah Nappa. The name is a word play. See if you get it. Anthony Nappa Sciardonne Chardonnay 2012 is tough to find but worth the search; buy under $17. This is a very delicious, unoaked chardonnay that has undergone malolactic fermentation. This commonly used process (especially with red wines), when used for chardonnay provides the buttery flavors many of its drinkers adore.

More technically, it is a second fermentation where the harsher malic acid is converted to softer lactic acid. Malic acid is the tart acid found in a Granny Smith apple. Lactic acid is found in milk, butter and in fact most dairy. It is the diacetyl derivative of the lactic acid that shows up as "buttery" in a Chardonnay following malolactic fermentation. By converting malic acid to lactic acid via Lactobacillus bacteria, you end up with a wine that is more approachable and less abrasive on the palate. Although this can occur in nature, sometime it is instigated. One issue is, when MF occurs, the fruit usually is diminished. Many Cali and Aussie winemakers will send half through MF and the balance without, then blend them to get the best of both worlds: high fruit, butter and a big, round mouthfeel. Obviously this is time-consuming, and it usually results in higher price points.

The Anthony Nappa Sciardonne Chardonnay 2012 is pale golden and opens to tropical fruit, with ginger notes and apples sautéing in butter aromas. The palate is thick and complex with pineapple, strawberry, butter, and citrus notes supported by good minerality and a bright acid frame. The finish is long and clean. It leaves you with a slightly bitter almond flavor. Nice balance, 90 points. Sciardonne in Italian phonetics is Schar don nay. Nappa Sciardonne!

For Snooth luxury wine readers’ picks go here: I was pleased to note that most of those chosen had appeared on these very pages in the recent past.

There were 22 chosen; I had failed to review three. We will get to them in the future. However, in an effort to toady up to the brass, following is a listing of Holdredge Wines 2011 selections. You can order a case directly here:

The list includes 2010 Russian River Valley Pinot Noir, $35; 2011 The True Pinot Noir Sonoma Coast, $45; 2011 Bucher Vineyard Pinot Noir, Russian River Valley, $45; 2011 Selection Massale Pinot Noir, Russian River Valley, $45; 2011 Shaken Not Stirred Pinot Noir, Russian River Valley, $45; 2011 Rolling Thunder Pinot Noir, Russian River Valley, $50; and 2011 Mazie Rose Pinot Noir, Russian River Valley, $50.

Some of these may be out of stock. Join their mailing list for the available vintages. Considering all wine is terroir-driven, Holdredge has a remarkable record of producing Cali Pinot Noir rated 90 points or better.

The 2010 Russian River Valley is the generic. The others are a bit more select. That said, I don’t think you need to pay up for them. The best idea would be to buy a case, two each of two vintages. This would allow you and up to 12 friends to do a terroir and vintage experiment. Likely cost per flight of six bottles when buying a case should be about $250 or $21 per person. This would provide a complete lesson worth hundreds if done alone.

Next week will be wine to go with turkeys. You may interpret that any way you wish, but please tune in.

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