We craft our Chardonnay in a food-friendly, focused style, with minimal new oak influences. Accented by 40+ year old heritage vines on the Rhinefarm estate, this wine offers elegance, varietal authenticity and beautiful acidity.
Some Sonoma Chardonnay wineries slather on the butter but here on Rhinefarm, we like to strike a tasty balance of old and new world style. To help achieve this, we’re fortunate enough to work with a combination of 45- and 12-year-old vines planted in the coolest part of our ranch where Mother Nature funnels chilly Pacific breezes through the Petaluma Gap. Utilizing that cooling affect, we strive for balanced vines with canopies that protect the fruit as much as possible from direct sunlight to preserve the beautiful aromatic characteristics and pick early to capture the natural acidity. Each nuanced portion of the various blocks of Chardonnay offer slightly different flavor profiles which we capture by fermenting separately. We select one small portion each year to ferment in stainless steel tank to capture the brightest natural acidity and ferment the remainder (~80 percent) in French oak barrels. Used barrels in combination of once, twice, three and four times used are an extremely important part of this program to allow for oak influence without dominating the flavors.
The 32 acres of Sonoma Chardonnay on Rhinefarm are comprised primarily of vines with an average age of 30 years old, planted to Wente, See, and Robert Young clonal selections. Included in this blend are the second oldest Chardonnay vines in California – planted in 1970. All of the Chardonnay grows in the lower portion of the vineyard, a section that sits literally across the street from the Carneros appellation border and shares the cooling benefits of the fog from the San Pablo Bay to the south and the Petaluma Gap to the west. The topsoil is only 18”–30” deep, consisting of Huichica clay loam with occasional pockets of small stream gravel that have been deposited over centuries by the adjacent Arroyo Seco Creek. Beneath this layer is compacted Carneros Bay sediment that naturally restricts vigor. The climate and soils combine to maximize hangtime and intensity of fruit expression and restrict average yields to 3 tons/acre.
But we also have around 3 acres of a Bundschu clone coming to fruition. We meticulously chose shoot tips from our best vines in the second oldest Chardonnay block in California to preserve and celebrate to create a clone of our own. The process has taken almost 14 years but it will be worth the wait. These Chardonnay vines are undergoing trials as we speak and will hopefully start producing wines in 2016.
To make the wine, we hand-harvest in several lots from the six blocks, the grapes are whole cluster pressed, and then barrel fermented or stainless steel fermented, depending on the block. The wine experiences weekly battonage and zero malolactic fermentation to maintain the acidity and freshness of the juice. The wine then enjoys ten months in French oak barrels – only 20% new — before being released.
At Gundlach Bundschu, we make great wine but also like to have a little fun. Here are some alternative ways to enjoy our Sonoma Chardonnay:
- Listening to country music or whatever floats your boat
- Rom com night with the girls
- Sunday brunch served in the warm sun
- Pair with:
- Fresh pasta tossed with spinach and cream sauce
- Seafood with lemon and capers
- Herb-roasted chicken with sautéed vegetables
- Mixed garden greens with citrus vinaigrette (hungry yet?)
- Cheese pairings: Mild cheddar, Brie, Havarti, Provolone
- Wine Type:
- White Wine
- Varietal Composition:
- 100% Chardonnay
- Sonoma Coast
- TA: 0.67 g/100mL
- Barrel Aging:
- 10 months French Oak, 20% New
- Alcohol %: