Waypoint Ritchie Vineyard Chardonnay, Russian River Valley, Sonoma County 2020

Medium gold color; brioche/bread toast, hazelnut, pineapple, mango and other tropical fruit, yellow apple, oak, minerality on the nose and palate.

Waypoint Ritchie Vineyard Chardonnay, Russian River Valley, Sonoma County 2020

Dry; no tannins; brisk acidity. Balanced, smooth, with some intriguing pineapple tartness and oak spice on the extended finish. Medium-plus body with full, rich mouthfeel. Significant oak, but not obnoxious and deftly managed. The grapes come an historically significant vineyard—Ritchie, blocks G & E—planted in 40-plus year old Wente clone, the dominant chard clone in California. Kent Richie carefully tends to his vineyard that provides fruit to several top-tier makers. There was 100% barrel fermentation for 31 days, malolactic fermentation—although the butter is not prominent, followed by 18 months in French oak, 62% new. 14.1% ABV

Philippe Melka is the winemaker. The website notes: “Like the celebrated wines on which he has built his reputation, Philippe Melka would be the first to tell you that his career has been primarily influenced by soil. His wines are exalted for their hallmark complexity, texture, and depth of flavor, all while harnessing the unique traits of the fruit from various plots of the soil.”

Waypoint winemaker Philippe Melka

Waypoint is a brand of New Frontier Wines. Waypoint once meant an intermediate point or place along a travel route. Today, it leans toward indicating specific coordinates of a position on Earth. That is the New Frontier Wines meaning. New Frontier focuses on single-vineyard offerings, striving to highlight the unique terroir and characteristics of a single point on the globe and, in this case, a specific clone of chardonnay. Waypoint was one of the first California brands to place such an emphasis on a specific place and specific clone.

Waypoint Ritchie Vineyard Chardonnay, Russian River Valley, Sonoma County 2020 is a sophisticated crowd pleaser in the classic Wente clone, well done oak and tastefully done butter (malolactic) style. Elegant, rich, pleasing mouthfeel with provocative riff of pineapple tartness and minerality on the long finish. Pair with fish—Dover sole, flounder, red snapper, Alaskan cod, trout. Shellfish—oysters Rockefeller, clams, mussels, lobster, crab, shrimp. White meats with white or light sauces, not barbecue—chicken, pork. Cheese—big flavors, not too salty; sheep’s milk cheeses; sharp cheddar, gruyere, washed-rind, parmesan, brie, ricotta. $60-70

New Frontier Wines website

New Frontier website landing page
New Frontier vineyard