Huntington Wine Cellars
2009 Alexander Valley Costello Vineyards Chardonnay
Chardonnay •Costello Vineyards
California: Sonoma County: Alexander Valley
What We Say
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Mission Codename: Along the Precipice
Operative: Agent White
Objective: Visit our friends at Huntington Wine Cellars and return with an allocation of their esteemed 2009 Alexander Valley Costello Vineyards Chardonnay.
Mission Status: Accomplished!
Current Winery: Huntington Wine Cellars
Wine Subject: 2009 Alexander Valley Costello Vineyards Chardonnay
Chardonnay is arguably the greatest of all white grape varietals, showing its influence in the legendary sparkling wines of Champagne, the great whites of Burgundy and of course its expression as ‘the’ white wine of California. Chardonnay represents over 50% of the planted white grapes in California with nearly 100,000 acres planted. With such a great number of wines made from this grape, it stands to reason that finding wines of immense quality would be hard, but look no further. Today’s selection from Rodde Family Vineyards is a richly delicious wine with plenty of character.
Wine Spies Tasting Profile:
Look – Bright and slight pale straw yellow in color that lightens just slightly along the edges. Long, medium thick legs with fat heads slowly sink to the wine below
Smell – Fresh and bright aroma of orchard fruit including tart apple, pear and citrus along with some tropical fruit as well lead you in and are accompanies by notes of toasted nuts and a hint of smoke, white pepper spice and orange blossom and white floral hints.
Feel – This medium-to-full bodied white is smooth and creamy on the palate with well developed tannins and balanced acidity. This wine’s soft minerals and spice hit at mid palate and linger into the finish.
Taste – Fresh and bright, lead by green apple, a mixed citrus fruit along with a touch of tropical fruit. Soft and round creaminess with a touch of toasted nuts, soft spice and pepper, slate minerals and the redolent floral notes from the notes give add texture and complexity.
Finish – Medium long in length with the apple, citrus and tropical fruit lingers and is followed by tartness provided by the acidity and a touch of spice. As the fruit fades the toasted and nutty flavors continue on and on.
Conclusion – The 2009 Huntington Wine Cellars Alexander Valley Costello Vineyards Chardonnay is a bright a fresh with a lovely aromatic character and a fantastically balanced mouth feel. Aromas and flavors of green apple, citrus that blend with spice, floral notes and toasted nuts and oak provides depth and complexity. A great wine to enjoy as the days become longer and warmer. Pair this with pan-seared scallops or grilled shrimp.
Wine Spies Vineyard Check:
The approximate location of Huntington Wine Cellars can be seen in this satellite photo.
What the Winery Says
About This Wine:
Aromas that are bright and fruit driven with hints of green apple and pear
The Costello Vineyard is planted to Chardonnay on a precipitous 1,100 foot elevation site on Alexander Valley’s eastern slopes and overlooking the town of Geyserville. At this elevation, the vineyards have natural cooling and the vines produce wines of greater structure due to smaller berries with less vigorous canopies. The vineyards face North West assuring a slow maturation for full flavor and berry development, even on the warmest days on the valley floors, well below the Costello Vineyard.
This wine is pale straw yellow in color. The Costello Vineyard Chardonnay consistently produces aromas that are bright and fruit driven with hints of green apple and pear. Owing to it’s native yeast fermentation, there is a lovely and fragrant nuttiness, reminiscent of sweet almond on the nose. On the palate, a full creamy texture defines the wine’s full mouth flavors.
The Huntington Wine Cellar’s Falcons:
Clouds of starlings undulating low across the Wine Country landscape are a common sight during harvest time of year. Next time you see one, think of William Shakespeare and Huntington Wine Cellars.
Shakespeare’s single reference to starlings in Henry IV inspired Eugene Schiffelin to import some 60 of the European birds to New York’s Central Park in 1890. It seems Eugene held the haplessly romantic view that all birds mentioned in Shakespeare’s works should be represented in the New World.
Over a century and 200 million avian offspring later, the European starling has become a virulent threat to the United States wine industry. Thousands strong, a flock of starlings can alight upon a vineyard and decimate it in minutes as the hungry birds tear apart ripening grapes to extract the seeds inside.
Huntington Wine Cellars is at the forefront in managing the threat posed by starlings in an environmentally sensitive way. In a twist on the ages-old sport of falconry, Huntington uses falcons to scare off—not kill—the starlings before they can inflict damage on the vineyard. As harvest approaches, Huntington contractor Jim Tigan who owns Tactical Avian Predators launches daily falcon patrols to guard vineyards at most risk to starling damage. Huntington commemorates this sustainable agricultural practice by using the falcon as its corporate symbol, included on the label of every Huntington wine.
Once harvest is finished, the falcons will be rewarded with time off and extra rations of fresh quail – purchased from a restaurant supplier – before returning to their other job of airport protection. The grapes go on to become wine, and all’s well that ends well.
The Vineyards and Winemaking:
Based in Healdsburg, California, Huntington wines are produced from small lots of select varietal grapes from several unique vineyard sources throughout California. Vineyards such as Stuhlmuller in Alexander Valley, Mauritson and Preston Vineyards in Dry Creek Valley, Nelson Vineyard in Alexander Valley, Nevins Vineyard in Bennett Valley, Herrick Vineyard in Russian River Valley, Mettler Vineyard-Lodi and Doctor’s Vineyard in the Santa Lucia Highlands are some of the vineyards that contribute to the production of Huntington’s world-class wines.
We are committed to crafting each wine with the utmost attention to detail, taking every step possible to ensure that our wines are the truest expression of both their variety and terroir. The wines express the fruit from which they are made and the vintage in which they are grown, with all other elements in balance to complement the fruit.
Huntington wines have the richest, most intense flavors with unique character. It is fitting then that the visual identity of Huntington includes a majestic falcon on the label. Each vintage of Huntington wine boasts a unique label known as “Drinkable Art”, a reproduction of a work of fine art incorporating Huntington’s signature falcon painted by artist in residence Ken Schilling.
Kerry Damskey, Winemaker – Bigger than life Kerry Damskey leaves a lasting impression on everyone he meets and is best described as the personification of lust for life. Kerry believes that wine is made in the vineyard and the winemaker is merely the “midwife” in the artisan process of winemaking. "It’s the winemaker’s job to articulate a definable style for a wine but you don’t create an identity – that must come from the grapes.” Kerry is the founding winemaker of Huntington, having been personally involved with the brand since its beginning in 1989. He holds a degree in fermentation science from UC Davis, is a graduate of the intensive program for small business at Stanford University School of Business, and additionally is a candidate of the Institute of the Masters of Wine. He is one of California’s top winemakers and one of a very few to win twice, the coveted ‘Sweepstakes’ award from the Sonoma County Harvest Fair.
Appellation: Alexander Valley