Deep yellow-gold color; yellow apple, lemon, orange peel on the nose; baked apple, Meyer lemon, mango, melon, pear on the palate.
Dry; rich and creamy in the mouth. Significant oak, but not over-the-top. Ripe fruits. Full body for a chard with concentration. Satin texture. Reserved butter elements from malolactic fermentation, but generally in the classic California, Russian River style of oaky, ripe fruit chardonnay. This is not my favorite style, but I easily recognize that many others love, love, love chards that drink like this. Enjoy.
Chalk Hill has particular focus on superior chardonnay. Led by Mark Lingenfelder, they spent more than 35 years conducting clonal trials in California, mapping and replanting Chalk Hill’s complex terroir “to ensure the best site/clonal growing combination, ensuring that each vineyard block produces outstanding fruit.” Chalk Hill consistently achieves their vision, scoring in the 90s among vino illuminati who deign to share scores with the hoi polloi.
Chalk Hill began in 1972 when Fred Furth flew his plane over the Russian River Valley and viewed a natural amphitheater carved in the hills of eastern Sonoma. He recognized it as an ideal site for a world-class vineyard and created an iconic Sonoma vineyard and winery. The property is more than 1,300 acres with 300 acres in vineyards; the remainder is wilderness areas, the winery, a hospitality center, and a culinary garden.
Bill Foley is the vintner today, purchasing the property in 2010. He is the owner of the National Hockey League Vegas Golden Knights, an attorney, a graduate of West Point, a former captain in the U.S. Air Force, and chairman or board member of major financial and insurance companies. Today, Foley and his wife Carol live in Northern California part-time and are active philanthropists for many causes, especially those in support of veterans and children’s education.
Courtney Foley, youngest daughter of Bill and Carol Foley, is the head of winemaking. Like her father, she is an attorney, but she also studied enology and viticulture at both Napa Valley College and Fresno State University. Choosing vineyards over courtrooms, Courtney worked under winemaker Leslie Renaud at Lincourt and Foley Estates in Santa Barbara County and Roth Estate in Healdsburg before taking her position with Chalk Hill.
Chalk Hill Estate also is a destination. From the website: “Perhaps no other winery captures the casual luxury of Sonoma County better than Chalk Hill Estate. Founded nearly four decades ago, this spectacular 1300-acre property features 300 acres of vineyards, wilderness areas, winery, hospitality center, culinary garden, residence, stables, equestrian pavilion, sports fields, fishing and swimming ponds, and guest houses. The winery’s vineyards are thoughtfully woven through the native foliage and contoured to fit the intricate terrain. More than two-thirds of the Chalk Hill Estate remains uncultivated. The higher elevations offer stunning views of the Russian River Valley to the west and the Mayacamas Mountains to the east.”
Chalk Hill Estate Chardonnay, Chalk Hill Appellation 2016 is made in the oak and butter style, but not to excess. Plenty of ripe fruit. Creamy. Wine writers may sniff and prefer austere un-oaked chard, but phooey on them. Many wine drinkers love this style, and so may you. Pair with creamy dishes; meaty fish such as halibut and cod; shellfish; simply seasoned poultry and pork dishes; risottos; creamy soups; pastas with white sauces. $37-42