Joseph Swan Vineyards
2015 Ritchie Vineyard Russian River Valley Chardonnay
California: Sonoma County: Russian River Valley
Who needs a forklift
Sometimes smaller is better. Like small production wine, made six barrels at a time from a small family and a small vineyard.
At a relatively small price - 40% off the normal $55 tag! This is the ultimate in small, family run, artisanal Chardonnay that rivals many cult favorites while remaining honestly priced.
If you haven’t stopped here to go load up, we strongly urge you to do so. This reminds us of the Hanzell Chardonnay blowout that went down here a couple of months ago. It was a pretty sight but our servers kept crashing. We’re better prepared for it today.
Joseph Swan. Founder of a quintessential Russian River institution that rests alongside visionaries like Rochioli, Dehlinger, Williams Selyem. The man even has a CLONE in his namesake! Joe started his journey alongside André Tchelistcheff, the founding father of fine California wine. He passed the baton to son-in-law Rod Berglund, who stuck with the course: growing, and sourcing the absolute best fruit possible, allowing nature to shine through in the smallest of lots.
A Los Angeles Times memorial puts it best “Swan never wanted to make more than 2,000 cases a year, even though demand rose around the country. ‘He never wanted to grow too big,’ said Berglund, ‘and we used to fight about the fact he had no forklift.’ Berglund, who was a winemaker for La Crema Viñera winery from 1979 through 1984, said the lack of a forklift meant that some tasks, such as moving barrels of wine, became burdensome and time-consuming. ‘But Joe always said that if he got a forklift, that would mean he’d gotten too big.’ To this day, the winery has no forklift.”
Turning our attention to this wine. Ritchie. THE archetype for cool climate Russian River Chard-haven. And a common denominator among the greatest names in Chardonnay - Aubert, Bevan, DuMOL, Paul Hobbs, Ramey. That’s $60-200+ a bottle territory, and this vineyard commands it. So a $33 Ritchie is unheard of. “A place that winemakers revere as a site of rare intensity and complexity” writes Wine Enthusiast - designating it one of “California’s Grand Cru Chardonnay Vineyards.”
Evidently so. Enticing aromatics of lemon pith, lavender crème brûlée, apricots, ripe fig, and honeysuckle mingle with touches of honeydew and freshly grated nutmeg. The mouthfeel is intensely rich while at the same time silky and creamy. Fascinating complexity continues in this very elegant, complete, and persistent Chardonnay, just starting its prime drinking zone. Crab, be it Snow, Stone, or the Dungeness kind, dipped in drawn butter, and a chilled bottle of this is stuff that dreams are made of.
So, last but not least, Happy International Chardonnay Day! We could not source a better, more suitable deal to celebrate, afraid there is none. While this remains the highest-rated Joseph Swan ever by Robert Parker’s Wine Advocate no reviews exist on the 2015. Not that a wine of this caliber needs one.
You’re looking at a fraction of the 6 barrels made and probably not for long!
Brilliant hay gold with streaks of yellow corn and swirls of amber honey
Enticing aromatics of lemon pith, lavender crème brûlée, apricots, ripe fig, and honeysuckle
Intensely rich while at the same time silky and creamy, with honeydew and freshly grated nutmeg
Perplexing complexity continues long, very elegant, complete, persistent, just starting its prime
Crab, be it Snow, Stone, or the Dungeness kind, dipped in drawn butter, and a chilled bottle of this
What the Winery Says
- Rod Berglund
- 100% Chardonnay
- Russian River Valley, Sonoma County
- Ritchie VIneyard
- Vine age
- Planted in 1972
- Sandy Goldridge loam
- 10 months
- 30% new French oak
- 6 barrels made