Medium yellow-gold color; baked apple, orange peel, peach, vanilla, baked bread on the nose; Meyer lemon, apple, pear, honey, vanilla, toasty oak spice on the palate.
Dry, with illusion of sweetness from juicy, ripe grapes; honey notes on the finish. No tannins; gentle acidity (3.67 pH). Creamy and smooth in the mouth. Medium body. Fresh, ripe fruits dominate the experience. Native yeast fermentation in barrel, followed by malolactic fermentation with bi-weekly bâtonnage for five months, then monthly until 100% malo is achieved. Aged 11 months in 100% French oak, 40% new, so there is plenty of oak in this effort. Bottled unfiltered to showcase fruit. 14.9% ABV
Chalk Hill long has had a particular focus on superior chardonnay. Led by Mark Lingenfelder, the winery 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.
Chalk Hill began in 1972 when Fred Furth flew his plane over the Russian River Valley and viewed a natural amphitheater 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 owner 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, then again with Renaud at Roth Estate in Healdsburg before joining Chalk Hill.
Chalk Hill Estate Chardonnay, Chalk Hill Appellation 2019 is rich and creamy, a lush iteration of the classic California chard with butter and oak. Adroitly done with reverence for the fruit. It demonstrates how pleasurable this style can be when done with respect for quality grapes rather than pancake makeup to hide flaws. Still, if you like oak, this delivers. Well distributed, it should have wide appeal. Pair with simply seasoned chicken—baked, broiled, fried; pork; rich fish—salmon, cod, halibut; shellfish; creamy soups; pastas with white sauces; vegetarian fare; movie theatre popcorn. Cheese—gruyère, cheddar, bleu cheese, camembert, sheep’s milk cheese. $33-45