2007 Reserve Chardonnay
Chardonnay •Estate Bottled
California: Sonoma County: Alexander Valley
What We Say
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Mission Codename: Convergence
Operative: Agent White
Objective: Visit Stuhlmuller Vineyards and acquire a limited allocation of their Reserve Chardonnay.
Mission Status: Accomplished!
Current Winery: Stuhlmuller Vineyards
Wine Subject: 2007 Alexander Valley Reserve Chardonnay
Winemaker: Leo Hansen
Backgrounder: The Alexander Valley in northeast Sonoma County is located on the western side of the Mayacamas range and extends westward to the edge of the Russian River Valley. This appellation was formerly considered a part of Dry Creek Valley but became its own appellation in November 1984. The region is best known for exceptional Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot but recently people are starting to discover its Sangiovese, Nebbiolo and Chardonnay as well.
Today’s selection is grown in the Alexander Valley converges with the Russian River Valley AVA and the Chalk Hill AVA – both extremely highly regarded for exceptional Chardonnay.
Wine Spies Tasting Profile:
Look – Crystal clear straw yellow with golden hues that shine when held to the light. Along the edge, the color becomes slightly more pale and when swirled, widely spaced thin legs race down to the wine below.
Smell – Medium in intensity with classic California Chardonnay aromatics including a variety of stone fruit with a touch of citrus. Notes of ripe pineapple, spice and toasted nuts and buttery biscuit and popcorn notes also emerge and blend with vanilla and floral aromas.
Feel – Smooth in its initial attack, this dry, medium to full-bodied white has a a good weight and a creamy mid palate that is punctuated with a touch of tangy acidity, subtle spice and minerality.
Taste – Rich and ripe flavors of stone fruit including apple, peach and pear along with zesty citrus notes. Layers of vanilla, toasted oak and nuts, buttery biscuit and creamy custard adds complexity.
Finish – Clean, ripe and rich with the fruit component gently fading leaving behind a slight tangy citrus acidity and a touch of minerality that is balanced by this wine’s creamy weight.
Conclusion – The 2007 Stuhlmuller Vineyards Alexander Valley Reserve Chardonnay is a classic California style Chardonnay with balance between its fruit and buttery creaminess. Easy, approachable and well integrated, this wine will accompany a variety of foods and is perfect for spring salads and mild seafood.
WINEMAKER INTEL BRIEFING DOSSIER
SUBJECT: Leo Hanson
WINE EDUCATION: Sommelier – WSET Diploma , Hands on winemaking in Australia and California
CALIFORNIA WINE JOB BRIEF: 1999 Clos du Bois – Cellar Rat, 2000 Yoakim Bridge Dry Creek Valley (small family winery) – Harvest and beyond fermentation, bottling. 2001 Château Souverain – Harvest Lab. 2002 – Current- Stuhlmuller Vineyards – Winemaker since 2004
WINEMAKING PHILOSOPHY: Hands off minimal manipulation – no use of cultured yeasts or enzymes. No fining and minimal filtration if any.
WINEMAKER QUOTE: My focus is completely on wine not philosophy.
FIRST COMMERCIAL WINE RELEASE: 2002 Estate Chardonnay
AGENT WHITE: Greetings, Leo. We are thrilled to be showing Stuhlmulller’s Chardonnay today. Thanks so much for taking some time to answer questions for our Operatives today.
WINEMAKER: I’m happy to share this limited production with other wine aficionados, who are always searching for new gems
WHITE: Was there a specific experience in your life that inspired your love of wine?
WINEMAKER: While I was a young Hotel/restaurant apprentice in Denmark I had the pleasure to work under Orla Farmann. Watching him prepare for the Sommelier World Cup in Tokyo was very inspiring and really got me excited about the wine world.
WHITE: What wine or winemaker has most influenced your winemaking style?
WINEMAKER: Working at Chateau Souverain I was impressed by how Ed Killian was able to make a large-scale quality value wine and still keep true to varietal characteristics from Sonoma County grapes. However, I like the style of biodynamic producer Ted Lemon from Littorai, the approach of very site-specific wines.
WHITE: Who do you make wine for?
WINEMAKER: I suppose I make wine for the vineyard, meaning my take on what the vineyard is giving us. Plus having my passion and personal signature in it.
WHITE: Please tell me a little bit about the wine we are featuring today.
WINEMAKER: 35-year-old vines. Low yielding vines with small clusters. Indigenous yeasts, 14 months in selected French oak from small artisan Bourgogne cooperages, minimal lees stirring, unfined and unfiltered. A wine with high complexity and concentration, with long aging potential.
WHITE: What is your favorite pairing with today’s wine?
WINEMAKER: The menu is: Corn soup with truffle oil, seared scallops with mango salsa, BBQ chicken with grilled porcini mushrooms and Aged Comte. You’re on your own for desert!
WHITE: In your opinion, what makes the Alexander Valley so special?
WINEMAKER: Southern Alexander Valley with the Russian River on the Eastern boarder of the vineyard and the Chalk Hill gap to the South. On a old river bottom with various soil types, mainly loamy-clay and gravel. Large diurnal temperature, which creates a more, intensified and developed grape with firm acidity.
WHITE: What is occupying your time at the winery these days?
WINEMAKER: These days I have been racking, blending, and tasting new blends from 2009 vintage I’m looking forward to bottling our 2008 Cabernet in May which I am excited about. After that the next big task is bottling 2009 Chardonnay in late June.
WHITE: How would you recommend people approach your wines and wine in general?
WINEMAKER: Wine should be experienced with food, friends, and family. It should be part of your life in a positive aspect, enjoyed and remembered fondly.
WHITE: Is there anything else you’d like to share with our readers?
WINEMAKER: Lucky you, this is a great find from Agent Rouge.
WHITE: Thank you so much for your time. We learned a lot about you – and your wine. Keep up the great work, we are big fans!
Wine Spies Vineyard Check:
The location of Stuhlmuller Vineyards can be seen in this satellite photo.
What the Winery Says
About This Wine:
This voluptuous wine begins with aromas of ripe pear, plum, Meyer lemon, vanilla and buttered popcorn. On the palate, a core of Asian pear, yellow fruit and spice dominates, accentuated by layers of hazelnut and lemon custard. Throughout, integrated oak and a beam of stony minerality balance the lush, round fruit.
Vineyards: Stuhlmuller Vineyards is located at the southern edge of the Alexander Valley, where it converges with two other highly regarded Sonoma County appellations, Chalk Hill and the Russian River Valley. On its eastern edge, the 150-acre vineyard borders the Russian River. Situated in a unique location that is part river benchlands and part hillside, the vineyard benefits from its alluvial gravel soils and the more rocky soils that comprise the hillside sections of the vineyard.
The Clones: The 2007 Reserve Chardonnay is crafted around a core of 35-year-old Gauer Upper Barn clone plantings and a careful selection of more youthful, 15- to 20-year-old plantings. The Gauer clone fruit produces low yields, with signature flavors of Asian pear and spice.
The Vintage: The 2007 growing season was an excellent vintage for Chardonnay. A nice warm spring, and two early-season heat spikes in mid-June and early July helped set the stage for a relatively early harvest. Our Chardonnay harvest coincided with a heat spell in late August and concluded the second week of September. The overall quality was exceptional, with clean, pure-fruit flavors and refreshing acidity at lower alcohol levels.
Winemaking: Crafted to reflect the power and sophistication of our vineyard, this wine brings together our three finest lots of Chardonnay, with the core being a prized lot of 35-year-old Gauer clone fruit. The majority was fermented in older 900-gallon French oak casks. Indigenous yeasts were used, and the wine underwent 100% spontaneous malolactic fermentation. All oak for aging was French (40% new), and the wine aged on the lees. In total, the wine spent 14 months in barrel/cask, and a year in bottle.
About The Winery
Since 1982, Stuhlmuller Vineyards has built a reputation as growers of world-class grapes, selling their coveted fruit to a number of top area wineries. By the mid-‘90s, Fritz Stuhlmuller was so inspired by the complex wines being made from his family’s vineyard that he established a small, artisan winery bearing the Stuhlmuller name.
The vineyard’s unique terroir creates Chardonnay fruit with classic Alexander Valley tropical characteristics, food-friendly citrus acidity and a distinctive mineral touch.
The Cabernet Sauvignon offers enticing hints of sage and bay leaf coupled with the region’s signature flavors of rich cherry, black fruit and cocoa.
In 2000 Stuhlmuller Vineyards built a new winery on the property, sized precisely to handle the small amounts of world-class, estate fruit the Stuhlmullers select to create their wines. Guided by gifted winemaker Leo Hansen (and consulting winemaker Kerry Damskey), Stuhlmuller Vineyards handcrafts, small-lot wines that embody a rich, expressive charm, and a distinctive sense of place.
About The Family:
Fritz Stuhlmuller’s introduction to wine occurred years before the wine business became his passion and profession. As a teen, Fritz spent weekends, vacations, and summers at his family’s vineyard property in the Alexander Valley, where he was exposed to the challenges and excitement of viticulture. Working amongst the vines, Fritz gained an early appreciation for the hands-on commitment required to produce superior wine grapes.
Fritz graduated from the University of Southern California in 1994 and returned to the San Francisco Bay Area with a degree in business administration. Though he enjoyed success in his first career, commercial real estate, he was interested in pursuing other opportunities. During this same period, Fritz found his love of fine wine steadily growing. Inspired by his early experience working in the family vineyard, Fritz began exploring California’s great wines with an eye towards the unique character imparted by varying appellations. In the course of his exploration, Fritz tasted several Stuhlmuller vineyard-designated wines produced by other wineries. He was impressed with the complex, expressive, terroir-driven wines being made from the fruit of the 150-acre Stuhlmuller vineyard property. Sensing an ideal opportunity to combine his family’s reputation as top grape growers with his own passion for fine wine, Fritz established an estate winery bearing the Stuhlmuller name.
Working with winemaker Leo Hansen, Fritz has brought the same hands-on, artisan approach to Stuhlmuller Vineyards winemaking that his family has always applied to grape growing. In addition to his active role in both the vineyards and the winery, Fritz oversees all sales and marketing, including the managing and distribution of 6000 cases throughout California and 20 other states.
Proprietor: Fritz Stuhlmuller
Winemaker: Leo Hansen
Composition: 100% Chardonnay
Total Acidity: 0.54 g/100ml
Production: 391 cases
Release Date: Fall, 2009
Bottled: November 2008