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What is it that makes Russian River Chardonnay so beloved? Chardonnay provides a generous splash of ripe, honey-drizzled apples and a broad mouthfeel that doesn’t have any sharp edges. In the Russian River, this sumptuous flavor is embroidered with marzipan, cool mineral and crusty bread accents that match up perfectly with Chard’s flavor set. It happens nowhere else and for those who seek Chardonnay nirvana, the ground zero is Floodgate’s foggy old vineyard in the Middle Reach. This is where it started decades ago and where the best Chard grows!
About the wine
Floodgate is one of the oldest and best addresses for bright, big-scaled Chardonnay. Often seen as a reserve-level or vineyard-designate wine, this unique site cranks up the intensity with coastal-influenced fruit big on flavor and dusted with mouthwatering minerality. It’s so fresh, and tastes so alive – due, no doubt, to the excellent farming that attracted Gary Farrell to this site so long ago. Floodgate combines a silky mouth-feel and ripe, saliva-inducing acidity to yield a downright hedonistic bottle of Chardonnay. And what a beauty it is – this is clearly a wine built for food (it’s crab and lobster season, isn’t it?) – and those who enjoy the great Chardonnays of Rochioli and Williams-Selyem should have a clear idea of what’s here in the bottle. A wonderful example of Russian River’s versatility at the table.
Winemaker: Woody Hambrecht
Appellation: Russian River Valley
- 95 pts: Julie Tesar, Certified Sommelier
- Acclaimed 2013 Vintage
- 4.1/5.0: Vivino Users (14 ratings)
Cooperage: 12 months in French oak
About the winery
After Gary Farrell sold off his stake in his namesake winery, he partnered up with the respected Hambrecht family, who’ve been involved with Ridge, Chalone and Truett Hurst over the years. Starting with Belvedere Winery, Bill Hambrecht was one of the first to recognize the greatness possible in Russian River’s Westside Road and staked a claim when others were unsure. Nowadays, it’s taken for granted that this is the Golden Slope of RRV Pinot. His grandson, Woody Hambrecht worked side-by-side with Farrell under the Alysian label, and now he’s ready to take that experience in his own direction with Floodgate, named for his family’s prized vineyard.
About the vineyard
Floodgate vineyard is one of the oldest sites in the Russian River’s famed Middle-Reach district. It’s not too dissimilar from Middle Earth, as this area is a foggy, green-growth idyll that sings to the human soul. Grapes love it here, too – and certain clones of Chardonnay really kick into overdrive in the Middle Reach’s special climes. The fruit here is dry farmed so the Chardonnay grapes pack on the pounds in the form of toasty golden apple and spicy pear – but the area’s trademark cool nights keep the fruit footloose and fancy-free with excellent natural acidity. This is the taste of the great golden era wines of the Russian River, which can be found with careful sourcing, such as in this fine Floodgate site.
About the winemaker, Woody Hambrecht & Angel Correa
Gary Farrell might be the most famous winemaker in Russian River history – and he’s made sure that there is a new generation to carry the torch in the form of Woody Hambrecht and longtime assistant Angel Correa. Under Farrell’s guidance, they’re preserving the classic Westside Road style that made the region’s celebrity: beautiful, crunchy red fruits, silken, vanilla-laced texture, and the unmistakable accents of cinnamon graham cracker and cola. Those familiar with the ageless wines from Dehlinger, Rochioli, Robert Stemmler and Davis Bynum know that the golden-age Pinots can drink well for 15 years or longer!
95 points, Julie Tesar, Certified Sommelier
"Generous and lovely, this Chardonnay boasts opulent aromatics of ripe stone fruit, lemon curd, and baked apple with a light dusting of baking spice. The rich texture is complimented by lively acidity adding fresh citrus notes of orange and Meyer lemon. Layers of lemon meringue, cinnamon toast, toasted hazelnuts, and yellow apple create a sophisticated complexity. A delicious wine for those who like a little creaminess without compromising balance and complexity in their Chardonnay. An excellent pairing with roasted chicken with crushed potatoes, or pumpkin ravioli with brown butter and crushed hazelnuts."