16 September, 2009

2006 D'Argenzio Winery Sonoma County Chardonnay - Wine Blogging Wednesday #61 -- Old Skool Chardonnay from Humble, Local Roots.

It's WBW #61 and all the world (at least the wine blogging world..and is there really more than that?) is abuzz about today's theme blog, titled "At the Source." The plan for bloggers participating was to visit a winery, taste their wine, and blog about it. Bonus points if you taste with the winemaker or vineyard manager." Lenn Thompson of Lenndevours is the theme master for this month and his idea was to get people local and...at the source.

We're extereeeemly lucky to live within a 2-3 hour drive of several great wine growing regions in California. Paso Robles is 3 hours to the south, Murphys and FairPlay are 2-3 hours to the east, it's quite wet just 2 mins west, but 90 mins to the North is Santa Rosa in the heart of the Sonoma. The source is close and we're certainly appreciative of that.....every weekend!

We met Ray D'Argenzio the proprietor and winemaker of D'Argenzio Winery about two months ago while dining at a Santa Rosa restaurant and immediately I was interested in his craft. Ray produces very small lots (some less than 100 cases) of some interesting varietals and sources all his fruit from very local vineyards. I believe all his fruit is from Sonoma or Mendocino, the vast majority from Russian River Valley. This is LOCAL! I'm guessing that nearly all the fruit for Ray's wine is grown within 25 miles of the winery.

Recently, we stopped by and visited with Ray at his winery in Santa Rosa, and tasted several of his wines. While all were enjoyable, many are not in the "about $20 dollar" price point that we focus on and of those that are, I was drawn to this Chardonnay. Now, I'm really not a Chardonnay person, especially from here in CA, my home state. I think we've (and by we, I mean the statewide we, that is the large winemakers who sell the crack they call Chardonnay) gone WAY too far in stylizing something. We use heavy oak, overuse malolactic acid in fermentation in the attempt to create wines that follow the pack. My grandfather often told me "Just because they make it, it doesn't mean it's good, and just because you CAN, doesn't mean you should."

Perhaps Ray's father told him that as well?!

This Chardonnay will never be confused or mistaken for a White Burgundy, but it's certainly not a recent typical California style coming out of those folks on the Silverado Trail. It's balanced, pleasant at a reasonable temperature and a very relaxed wine.

The nose it quite pleasant and filled with herbs and citrus. The front end provides enough acid and green apple to ensure you don't confuse it with others and it's broad mid-palate finishes long and true with nutty and bready goodness. While Ray did use ML on this wine, he did so with a very restrained hand. I certainly don't mind the ML used here, in fact, in reminded me of several great vintages in the mid-late 1980s that we superior, balanced and delivered something new. I suspect this is a return to a recent past of California styled Chardonnays.

I'd love to have this with aged Gouda cheese, or a lobster roll on a summer's day here at the beach.

2006 D'Argenzio Winery Sonoma County Chardonnay
Grade: B+
Retail: ~$19 (available on the winery's website)

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