Pale gold color; apple, pear on the nose; sweet apple, pear, lemon, citrus on the palate.
Dry to off-dry; low acidity (3.78 pH); no oak flavors, some malolactic buttery notes. Hint of sweetness from ripe chardonnay fruit. Medium body. Fermented and finished in stainless steel for straightforward presentation of average California chardonnay. Simple, easy drinker. Nothing distinctive or complex, but no faults. The winemaker played it safe. 12.5% ABV
River Road is a Ron Rubin brand. Rubin dreamed of a career in wine while at UC Davis in 1971, but spent 22 years working with his family’s business, Central Wholesale Liquor in Mount Vernon, IL. In 1994, his career took a sharp turn when he purchased The Republic of Tea, a California-based tea business, which set him on “ a mission to seek and procure the most exquisite teas from world premier tea gardens, making them accessible to everyone.”
Changes were not over. Website notes: “40 years after Ron’s entry into the beverage industry, his dream came true. He purchased River Road Family Vineyards and Winery, in the Green Valley of the Russian River Valley, in the heart of California’s Sonoma County. Finding himself in the prestigious Green Valley made this ‘dream come true’ even more meaningful.”
Rubin is involved in philanthropy. He is president of the board of directors for Sonoma State University’s Wine Business Institute, advising on the University’s curriculum. In 2015, Rubin became a major donor in support of the Wine Spectator Learning Center’s state-of-the-art education complex and home of the Wine Business Institute.
Joe Freeman is the winemaker. He has worked in Sonoma’s Russian River Valley since 1997 in a variety of positions at several wineries before joining River Road Family Vineyards in 2004. The Russian River Valley is famed for chardonnay (and pinot noir). This effort falls short of the previous vintage, but provides accessible, serviceable chard.
River Road Un-Oaked Chardonnay California 2020 delivers a simulacrum of sweetness from ripe chard fruit. Uncomplicated. Creamy. Innocuous—best purchased on sale. Enjoy all by itself on patio, poolside, deck—could be paired with fresh fruit or raw veggies. Pair with seafood; rich fish—salmon, tuna; oysters; shellfish; pork; poultry; vegetarian fare. $15-17