2007 Sonoma Coast Chardonnay
Chardonnay •Peters Vineyard
California: Central Coast
What We Say
SUPERIOR WINE ALERT:
Today we are pleased to show you a Chardonnay that is among the very best we have ever found!
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Mission Codename: A King among Kings
Operative: Agent Red
Objective: In time for Springtime enjoyment, Seek out a standout Chardonnay for our eager Operatives
Mission Status: Accomplished!
Current Winery: Kokomo Wines
Wine Subject: 2007 Chardonnay Peters Vineyard
Winemaker: Erik Miller
Backgrounder: In 1976 an American Chardonnay rocked the wine world by beating out French Chardonnays in the now famous Judgment of Paris. The French were outraged, and in 1979 they organized the World Wine Olympics where, they were certain, a French wine would win. Again, an American Chardonnay won the top award, earning the title of “Top Chardonnay in the World”. Today, California continues to produce some really remarkable examples and we have combed the valleys to bring you today’s wine. We are extraordinarily picky when it comes to Chardonnay. Read Agent Red’s tasting notes, followed by his mission report, below.
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. In this wine, we have found perhaps the ideal expression of the California Chardonnay.
Wine Spies Tasting Profile:
Look – Translucent straw yellow, with glinting golden edges a fast-moving surface that, when swirled, leaves behind some of the most tightly-spaced and slowest-moving legs we have ever seen on a Chardonnay
Smell – Bold aromas of flinty under-ripe pear, with soft citrus, hawthorn, acacia and honey, followed by ripe melon
Feel – Slightly round and velvet smooth, this full-bodied white fills the palate and has great structure
Taste – Complex and delicious, with melon, mild green apple and tart pear, leading to secondary flavors of orange-blossom honey, mildest pineapple and soft minerals
Finish – This wine finishes long, starting sweet and softening to a soft tartness with lingering flavors of green pear and soft citrus, finally concluding with a touch of soft oak and the slightest butter
Conclusion – If Chardonnay is the king of all white grapes, then this Chardonnay from Kokomo is true royalty! I first tasted this wine at the Kokomo tasting room and I fell in love with it on the spot. Built in a more Burgundian style than many Cali Chards, this wine has complexity and character, while also maintaining a great balance. That is the name of the game for this wine, balance. Its flavors are balanced, ranging from sweet to tart. The aromas are balanced, with fresh fruit and a bold bite. As for mouth feel, this wine finds great balance there as well, its light on the tongue, but big in the mouth – without coming off as brash. The wine does not have the butterball flavor that plagues some California Chardonnay, nor is the wine flabby. This is an exciting Chardonnay that will please even the pickiest Chardonnay fan. I know this, because it please me greatly!
I recently stumbled upon Kokomo Winery, where I tasted through their superb range of vineyard designate wines. The tasting led off with their remarkable 2007 Peters Vineyard Chardonnay. I was floored. The wine was so good and so well built that I could not believe that I was tasting an under $30 Chardonnay. To me, the wine drank way above this mark, well into high-end Napa Chardonnay territory. What follows is an interview with Erik Miller, Kokomo’s owner and winemaker:
*AGENT RED: * Thanks for meeting with me, Erik!
*ERIK MILLER: * Not a problem. I’m glad that you were able to make it out to the vineyard. Let’s walk and talk.
*RED: * Great! I’ll jump right in, because I know that your time is precious: I was blown away by your ‘07 Chard – from this very vineyard. Tell me, what’s your secret?
*ERIK: * [laughs] You know, its simple, really: Great wines come from great vineyards. This vineyard produces incredible fruit and that really shines through in the wine.
*RED: * We’re pretty close to the coast here. How does that affect the grapes?
*ERIK: * This vineyard is actually the closest to the coast, just 10 miles as the crow flies, in fact. The coastal fog means cool nights, which leads to longer hangtime for the fruit…
*RED: * Which leads to more extracted flavors?
*ERIK: * Exactly! And more complexity, too. The soil here also makes for ideal conditions for Chardonnay. This vineyard, which is planted to Clone 7 and Dijon Clone 76, grow in rich sandy loam.
*RED: * Tell me about the age of these vines. From the looks of them, they appear to be pretty old.
*ERIK: * They are the oldest, in fact, that are planted this far west. They were planted in 1982 and they produce phenomenal fruit.
*RED: * Spring is in full swing here in west County. I’m surprised at how well-developed the leaves are. I was in Napa earlier this week and bud break has only just occurred there.
*ERIK: * I know! We’re seeing leaves as big as your palm. No we need to see a little bit more rain and I’ll be happier.
*RED: * Tell me about your winemaking philosophy or style.
*ERIK: * I would say that I am ‘minimalist/traditionalist’. That is to say that I try my best to keep my own personal thumbprint off the wines I make. Instead, I try to make wines that show the terroir or convey a real sense of the place where they were grown. I want the fruit and the vineyard to really shine through.
*RED: * Mission accomplished, I’d say!
*ERIK: * Thanks, Red. We are really blessed to be able to make wines with the best fruit available to us.
*RED: * Tell me, finally, what’s happening at the winery these days?
*ERIK: * Its somewhat quite at the moment. We’re between bottlings, which gives me time to walk the vineyards. So far, everything is looking great. The ’09 vintage is right here, right in these very vines!
*RED: * Wow! What a great thing to ponder! Listen, I lied, one final question: What advice do you have for our Operatives, with regard to your 2007 Peters Vineyard Chardonnay?
*ERIK: * I’m glad that you asked! Honestly, this wine is drinking beautifully right now. Its ready. I really also encourage your Operatives to hold back a handful of bottles for a few months. By summertime, this wine will be absolutely magnificent!
*RED: * Thanks, Erik! It was great to spend this time with you. I have to get back to HQ to file my mission report.
*ERIK: * Take it easy, Red! Enjoy the Chard!
Wine Spies Winery Check:
The location of the Kokomo Winery can be seen in this satellite photo.
What the Winery Says
About This Wine:
This Chardonnay is done in a Burgundian style. It was aged for 16 months in 100% French oak with 30% new oak. Sur lees method was used to increase the complexity and mouth feel.
This Chardonnay is very complex, boasting flavors of ripe melon, lively acidity and a full mouth feel. It should drink well now through the next 5-7 years. Enjoy this wine with smoked salmon, artisan cheeses or a fresh spinach salad.
About The Vineyard:
Peters Vineyard – Planted in 1984 in West Sebastopol, this is a premier location for Chardonnay. This vineyard is next to Luther Burbank’s Farm and the soil composition is rich Goldridge Sandy Loam. With the consistent coastal fog extending hang time, this fruit is fully developed and loaded with complexity. The Chardonnay is Clone 4 and Dijon Clones, both of which are grown on St. George rootstock.
About The Winery:
Started in 2004 with the production of a single vineyard Cabernet from Mounts Vineyard, Kokomo Winery focuses on both Dry Creek & Russian River Valley fruit, with an emphasis on single vineyard wines that show a distinct terroir. We believe that our small production techniques and relationships with growers allow us to make wines that are individual and unique as the vineyards they were born from. We think you should drink local and think global and we are proud to support causes we believe in located in Sonoma County, like the annual Harmony Festival, Art for Life, KRCB, Food for Thought and the annual Mayacama Celebrity Golf Tournament, just to name a few.
In January 2008, we celebrated the opening of our brand new winery at Timber Crest Farms in Dry Creek Valley. Visitors to our winery will enjoy a unique wine tasting experience, where we have incorporated the tasting room into our cellar. We are located on a beautiful 130 acre vineyard on the Dry Creek Bench, and our estate fruit consists of Cabernet Sauvignon, Zinfandel and Sauvignon Blanc.
Erik Miller, a Kokomo native, has always had a westward dream to make wines. After graduating from Purdue University in 1999, he set his sights on Sonoma County in order to pursue his dreams. “I traded in the soybeans and cornfields for the brighter skies, rolling hills and vineyards” Miller said. “With my Midwesten values, I approached the new territory with a promise to always treat the farmers and business the same – with respect.”
Erik had his first opportunity to make an impression as a wine professional while working crush at Belvedere Winery in the Russian River Valley. Starting at ground level as a cellar worker, there was an immediate connection to the industry. After working that first harvest, Miller decided to enroll at U.C. Davis to study enology and learn from the best in the field. During the time he was attending classes, he met Rick Hutchinson, owner and winemaker of Amphora Winery, and was offered a full-time cellar worker position.
While handling his duties in the cellar, Miller started Kokomo Winery with a 2004 single vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon from Mounts Vineyard. In naming his new creation, the winemaker decided to pay tribute to his Indiana hometown. In 2005, while still sharing space with Amphora, Miller brought on his best friend and college roommate, Josh Bartels, for help with the new winery’s second vintage. With Bartels on board, the two upped production and increased the product line. After the 2006 harvest, Kokomo Winery moved into its own facility at Timber Crest Farms in Dry Creek Valley.
Josh Bartels (a Carmel, Indiana native) first met Erik Miller while studying at Purdue University. The two ended up being roommates while there and graduated a year apart with the same degree. It was during these formative years in academia that Bartels started developing a palate for the “finer tastes” in life. While experimenting with different business ventures, he worked part-time at a local wine shop in Indianapolis and his passion and knowledge of fine wines began to bloom.
Josh got a call from California one summer day in 2005 – it was his best buddy Erik. Miller wanted him to come to Sonoma County to work harvest with him at Amphora Winery. This incredible opportunity to work in a boutique winery could not be passed up. Josh was immediately bitten by the “wine bug” and Erik was persistent in wanting Bartels to move to Sonoma County to join him in creating incredible wines. All Josh had to do was to convince his wife to relocate. Needless to say, he succeeded. Josh absorbed as much knowledge as possible from the ground-up while working hand in hand with fellow “cellar dogs” Rick and Erik. When Kokomo Winery moved into their own facility, after the 2006 harvest, Bartels and Miller put all of their focus into creating ultra-premium wines.
Varietal: 100% Chardonnay
Appellation: Sonoma Coast
Produced: 380 cases
Harvest: October 2, 2007
Fermentation: Tank fermented up to 16 brix; Finished fermentation in Burgundian French oak barrels
Barrel Aging: Aged in 100% French oak using 4 different Burgundian coopers; 30% new