Dutton-Goldfield Dutton Ranch Walker Hill Vineyard Chardonnay
Russian River Valley, California
The wine leads with lively aromas of lemon oil and grapefruit, with accents of ginger and jasmine. With time in the glass, guava, Mandarin orange, and mango come up, with bright lime zest in the background. The mouth has that fantastic combination of bright freshness and unctuous decadence that we love in chardonnay, with tangerine, young pineapple, and lemongrass flavors followed by a generously lengthy finish of toasty crème brulee, topped off by a fresh kiss of lemon peel.
This rich/fresh combination makes it equally excellent with velvety pumpkin ravioli in a cream sauce, a simple crab salad, hazelnut crusted sea bass, or Valley Ford’s Estero Gold Reserve asiago-style cheese.
The wet weather during flowering in 2015 reduced our crop at Walker by about a third, giving extra concentration to this vintage.
This wine is such a pleasure to produce, other than the 6 months it seems to always take to complete its fermentations – ah, the beauty of old vine chard. We ferment the majority of Walker with indigenous yeast, and hedge our bets with a bit of M2, a favorite inoculum. Both primary fermentations went quickly in 2015, but as always, the malolactic lagged and didn’t complete until July. We blended 14 barrels of the indigenous lot and 4 of the M2 to create the blend in August of 2016; then went back to barrel on primary lees again until bottling in February of 2017. We vary the barrels a bit for complexity in this wine, but focus on Seguin Moreau for its ginger notes, and Taransaud for the great structure and subtle toffee flavor. Walker is all about the lively, bright fruit, so care to stay out of its way is crucial.
Alcohol: 14% Ta: 6.4 g/L pH: 3.38 Barrel Aging: 15 months in French oak (50% new barrels)
The rudder in crafting Dutton-Goldfield wines is our endeavor to produce wines that our winemakers love to drink. We see no more reliable assessment, and besides, it covers our downside risk. Walker Chardonnay is a wine we hugely love to drink, and owes its existence to that fact. We’ve been producing wine from the old Wente vines up at Walker since 2006 for our Dutton Ranch Chardonnay, and the preponderance of the barrels still support that program; but the 2011 Walker was the jewel of the year for Dan and a designated bottling just had to be done. This wine is everything we want of Green Valley Chardonnay: powerful citrus fruit and tense acidity wrapped in the candied setting of classic chardonnay winemaking. The block, planted in the early 1980s, is situated 500 vertical feet above Purrington Creek on fluffy Goldridge soil. The vines produce the tiny berries with thick skins we love from old Wente in Green Valley.