What We Say 2006 Russian River Valley Chardonnay
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Mission Codename: A Fine Balance
Operative: Agent White
Objective: Revisit our friends at Lynmar Estate Winery and acquire their delicious Russian River Valley Chardonnay
Mission Status: Accomplished!
Current Winery: Lynmar Estate Winery
Wine Subject: 2006 Russian River Valley Chardonnay
Winemaker: Bibiana Gonzalez Rave
Winery Backgrounder: The Russian River Valley in Sonoma is particularly well suited to producing exceptional Pinot Noir and Chardonnay. This AVA was officially designated in 1983, but many of the wines in the region used the designation as early as the 1970s (early in California’s wine history) with the many of the vines having been first planted in the early 1900s. In today’s wine, Lynmar Estate presents their own delicious take on Russian River Valley Chardonnay by delivering a wine of finesse and elegance. Read Agent White’s mission report and tasting noted below for the full intel on this very exciting wine.
Wine Spies Tasting Profile:
Look – Golden straw-yellow with a subtle greenish hue when held to the light. Almost clear (wine has some sediment – perhaps unfiltered) and when swirled fast clusters of thin legs race to the wine below.
Smell – Medium in intensity with delicious aromatic finesse, this wine shows off its fresh peach, green apple and citrus fruit with well integrated white flowers, a touch of biscuit and cereal and chalky minerality.
Feel – Smooth and dry, this medium bodied white has lively acidity and excellent tannin and mineral structure that frames the fresh fruit and other flavors long into the finish.
Taste – Fresh tree fruit including pear, green apple and peach with a touch of spice (almost sentimental of the holidays) and Meyer lemon interlace with toasted nuts and biscuit flavors. Chalky minerality is juxtaposed over subtle oak and hints of butter giving this wine just enough creaminess to balance the fruit and spice perfectly.
Finish – Clean, crisp and refreshing, this wine’s tangy fruit dances over the palate all the while, its complex flavors linger, making the mouth water for another sip.
Conclusion – The 2006 Lynmar Estate Winery Russian River Valley Chardonnay is a delicious Chardonnay with tremendous elegance in its aromas, structure and flavors. Not a butterball or overly oaky, this wine is the perfect accompaniment for lobster or a seafood salad. Enjoy this wine now, or cellar for several years to come.
WINEMAKER INTEL BRIEFING DOSSIER
SUBJECT: Bibiana Gonzalez Rave
DATE OF BIRTH: 21st February 1978
PLACE OF BIRTH: Medellin – Colombia (South America)
BS of Enology at the University of Bordeaux, France.
BTS (Brevet Technicien Superieur) equivalent to a technician degree in Viticulture and Enology from Angouleme, Cognac at the Lycee Agricole Superieur de L’Oisellerie, France.
CALIFORNIA WINE JOB BRIEF: In California, I worked harvest two times before staying full-time. I worked at La Crema Winery in 2004 as my first experience in the United States. I was their harvest enologist (It was a great experience to manage a lot of people and to establish the production schedule on a daily basis for a larger winery). Then, I came back in 2005 to work at Peay Vineyards, a small producer in the Sonoma Coast focused on producing very high end wines. In 2007, I started working at Au Bon Climat and Qupe winery and stayed there for two years as assistant winemaker/enologist.
As you can see, from my degrees in enology, I was trained in the world of winemaking in France. My experience covers six harvests in France (Burgundy at Domaine du Devevey, Northern Rhone Valley at Domaine Michel & Stephane Ogier as well as Domaine Clusel Roch , Bordeaux at Château Haut-Brion and La Mission Haut-Brion, Cognac at the Lycee agricole and private family destileries, and in Alsace at Domaine du Scheidecker). My experience also includes three harvests in South Africa at Saronsberg Cellars.
WINEMAKING PHILOSOPHY: Being trained in France stamps your philosophy on winemaking. Everything starts in the vineyards and that is something you can not take or copy from anybody else. So, the first thing I’m looking for is great sources of grapes, Estate owned vineyards and a place that has the belief that magic comes from small berries and not from magic formulas in the cellar. Winemaking is an art and a science; I have trained myself to understand all the little subtleties of vineyard management and winemaking to understand the limits of science and when one just needs to leave Mother Nature to do her part. I believe our hands impact the final result, but I also believe that letting the wines express their terroir is my biggest challenge. (I know people use the term “terroir” with caution here in the US, but from my training in France, this is how I visualize the wines).
SIGNATURE VARIETAL: Pinot Noir. Lynmar Estate is in the ideal place for this variety, and it is a joy to see what the vineyards produce.
CAREER HIGHLIGHT: I believe my career highlight is bottled in the 2009 vintage but you will have to check back with me on that!
WINEMAKER QUOTE: Winemaking is the perfect combination between art and science. Once you have unique terroirs to work with, we owe to them our knowledge and emotions. Uniqueness of a wine is that perfect balance in which, while tasting the wine, something is telling you that you are in front of something special, you won’t need words to describe it…
AGENT WHITE: Greetings, Bibiana. We are thrilled to be showing your [wine] today. Thanks so much for taking some time to answer questions for our Operatives today.
BIBIANA: Thank you for giving me this great opportunity to answer your questions.
WHITE: Was there a specific experience in your life that inspired your love of wine?
BIBIANA: Not really. Growing up in Colombia doesn’t seem the greatest place to have these kinds of ideas. We can easily think about growing coffee, flowers or maybe other things but making wine is kind of exceptional. I never saw a vine in my life until I went to France to study winemaking but since I was 14, I wanted to do so. Unbelievable, no?
WHITE: And where did you learn the most about winemaking?
BIBIANA: In France. I lived, studied and worked in France for five years before I started traveling between California and South Africa. I was doing two harvests per year to get as much experience as I could. That stamps your body, brain, and beliefs with what you are doing. However, experiencing differences of vineyards, grape-growing seasons and winemaking techniques around the globe gives you a lot of knowledge that sometimes you didn’t even
realize was being acquired.
WHITE: What is your winemaking style or philosophy?
BIBIANA: I believe in making wines that express the terroir but that at the same time are giving you an emotion- a special feeling inside your body when you drink them. I believe our wines at Lynmar can do this all of this. Our wines are a beautiful combination between balance, power and elegance.
WHITE: What wine or winemaker has most influenced your winemaking style?
BIBIANA: What a difficult question. I think the biggest influence in my winemaking style was to start my training on the vineyards of Côte-Rôtie. I don’t know if you have ever been there, but there are steep hills and every single vine is pruned, trained on the trellis, hedged and harvested under the most difficult conditions. When you spend every single day during the winter, summer and fall taking care of them, you feel something deep inside your body that gives you so much satisfaction. It is painful, demanding and exhausting, but, it is so beautiful at the same time. I think that my first two years of viticulture and enology have given me a passion for hard work that is difficult to enjoy if you haven’t see the result in a glass of wine. I had a great chance to work with some of the best winemakers in France and I feel very privileged for it. They don’t give you anything for free in France; you really have to prove yourself, but at the end of the day, you know you got what you were looking for: a deep understanding of winegrowing. So, to answer your question, the vineyard has been the teacher I learned from under the influence of many amazing and experienced winemakers.
WHITE: How long have you been making wine?
BIBIANA: Since 2000. Fortunately though, I have been through 14 harvests already: some years I was doing two harvests per year until I settled down in California.
WHITE: Who do you make wine for?
BIBIANA: For human beings. I expect people to taste a wine I have made and to feel something about it. I don’t make wines for specific critics because I believe that wine lovers as well as wine drinkers are looking for emotions, complexity and uniqueness; so, when I make wine, I hope they will find something unique in what I have created, and if they do, I have achieved my goal. I think the best wines in the world are those that put one at a loss for words. Also, making wines that can be drunk on their own or be paired with food is exactly what we look for at Lynmar. We have put a lot of emphasis into the full experience people can have when they come to our tasting room, winery and gardens. So obviously, wine is made to be drunk at the table, with friends and family.
WHITE: Tell me, what makes the Russian River Valley so special?
BIBIANA: Russian River is a privileged spot of California, especially the areas with Goldridge soils, ocean influences and Eastern exposure for the vines. The Quail Hill, our estate vineyard, is in the Occidental area of the Russian River. We have great fluctuations between the night and day temperatures and a slow maturation of the grapes on the vines. This area is just perfect for Pinot Noir, Chardonnay and also for Syrah.
WHITE: What is one piece of advice that you would give to someone that is considering a career as a winemaker?
BIBIANA: As I said before, winemaking is a combination between science and art. I believe in both and have taken the long way to learn and to practice. If you can learn from a great winemaker, go for it… If you want to go through school, be sure that you are choosing great places to work, also, while studying for a degree. There are so many opportunities out there in this industry – that is also the beauty of it.
At the end, the most important thing is to be sure that this is really what you want to do because it is not as glamorous and easy as many people might think.
WHITE: What is occupying your time at the winery these days?
BIBIANA: We are bottling our 2008 wines while starting to think about our 2009 blends. It is an interesting combination of feelings. Bottling for me is the most stressing time of the year because after the wine is bottled, there is nothing else you can do about it. You can not taste it again to decide a blend, you cannot take out the toast of a specific barrel that you might not have wanted to put in the blend and you are very far away of all the possibilities you have during harvest to create that unique product. Blending is a fantastic and interesting creative time for me. I have more than 90 different, small lots from last year that will be blended together for all our limited productions of vineyard designated wines.
WHITE: Please tell me a little bit about the wine we are featuring today
BIBIANA: We are featuring the Russian River Valley Chardonnay 2006. It is a very special wine for many reasons. First, it is a complex combination of fruit from different vineyards in the Russian River Valley. A large percent comes from our own vineyards which is a combination of the Rued and Old Wente clone. 40% of the wine was fermented in stainless steel tanks and the rest in barrels, 25% of which is new oak. This specific vintage, the wine is crisp, complex, full of citrus aromas, flower notes from the Rued Clone and a broad and long mouth feel. This wine is great to drink as an aperitif and with food as well.
WHITE: What is your favorite pairing with today’s wine?
BIBIANA: Seafood: Grilled calamari and scallops. I also love chicken and other white meats with it.
WHITE: Please share one thing about yourself that few people know
BIBIANA: Being Colombian, I care a lot about teaching consumers how to understand wine better. I write articles for Colombian newspapers and magazines and when I have a little bit of time to go to my country, I also try to do seminars or winemaker dinners.
WHITE:What is your favorite ‘everyday’ or table wine?
BIBIANA: I don’t really have an everyday wine. I taste a lot of wines everyday at home to keep myself informed about wines from California but also from overseas. Everyday is a challenge, because we do a lot of blind tasting.
WHITE: How would you recommend that people approach your wines, or wine in general?
BIBIANA: I think it’s important that when people drink our wines, they keep in mind the place, the terroir, and everything behind the wine. This will allow them the fullest emotional expression. That being said, wine is ultimately made to be enjoyed. I think people should share these wines with great friends and a well-paired meal.
WHITE: If you could choose any one wine to drink (regardless of price or availability), what would it be?
BIBIANA: Pinot Noir Grand Crus from Burgundy, Chardonnays from Meursault, Chassagne, Puligny and Montrachet, and Syrah from Côte-Rôtie.
WHITE: What is the one question that I should have asked you, and what is your answer to that question?
BIBIANA: None. I love your interview and think that this is the first time I have such a complete and thoughtful number of questions.
WHITE: Thank you so much for your time. We learned a lot about you – and about your wine. Keep up the great work, we are big fans!
BIBIANA: Thank you. We are very happy you have chosen Lynmar as your featured wine and hope you will enjoy it.
Wine Spies Vineyard Check:
The location of the gorgeous Lynmar Estate Winery can be seen in this satellite photo.
What the Winery Says
Lynmar Estate Winery
Awards & Accolades:
91 Points – - Wine Spectator
About This Wine:
While there is a thread of continuity from this 2006 back through recent vintages, there is also a clear sense of evolution. Each of the contributing vineyards has added a layer, and more than ever the sum is truly greater than the parts. A forward aroma of lemon custard and lemon zest is backed by a faint lime juice quality, reminiscent of a crisp, finely-crafted margarita! Secondary aromas of apple and pear play off of a perfume-like floral character. A wisp of roasted nut and a touch of chalk dust “minerality” add complexity. The flavors confirm the nose where citrus, apple, pear and floral notes abound. The palate is definitely dry with wonderfully balanced body, flavor intensity, and acidity. The finish lingers just long enough to entice another sip! Enjoy upon release or cellar through 2010.
PHILOSOPHY: Lynmar Estate celebrates the distinctive terroir of the various vineyards we farm creating wines that are elegant, complex, balanced, and age worthy. Acting as stewards of the land, the winemaking team takes great care to craft wines that truly represent the dynamic, cool-climate soils from the vineyards where the grapes are grown. A genuine mosaic of the land, the people, the food and the synergy of place at Lynmar Estate is revealed in each vintage. Winemaking for the Russian River Valley Chardonnay is focused on capturing bright, high-tone fruit flavors while retaining crisp acidity and balance.
2006 GROWING SEASON: The 2006 growing season was particularly challenging in the Russian River Valley. Higher humidity during the summer months resulted in greater mildew pressure across the appellation, exacerbated by weather during harvest that provided perfect growing conditions for botrytis, or "noble rot”. Luckily all our Chardonnay vineyards are favorably situated and the vineyard crews in each location did everything right this year. Numerous extra “passes” at all sites ensured the area around grape clusters had good air flow and that crop loads were balanced. At the winery, all incoming fruit was hand-sorted as needed. Primary characteristics of the wines from 2006, in general, will be lower than average alcohols and bright natural acidity. This is a vintage that will play very well to Lynmar’s balanced, elegant house style.
WINEMAKING: Winemaking for our Russian River Valley Chardonnay is focused on capturing bright, high-tone fruit flavors while retaining crisp acidity and balance. All fruit was hand-harvested at night or early morning, quickly transported to the winery, and then gently whole-cluster pressed. Juice was only lightly settled before transfer to either stainless steel tanks (40%) or 60-gallon French oak barrels (60%). Primary fermentations with mostly native yeasts lasted 6 to 12 weeks, with subsequent Malolactic fermentations (“ML”) lasting anywhere from 6 weeks to 6 months. This is only the second 100% ML vintage in the past few years, yet retains excellent natural acidity. Key Old Wente clone sources anchor the blend with structure and richness while Rued clone from Quail Hill Vineyard provides aromatics and high-tone flavors. Old Wente vineyards were Lazy W (Westside Road) and Dutton Mill Station (Green Valley). Old vine Clone 4 vineyards were Keefer (Green Valley) and Sweeney (RRV Expansion AVA). Dijon Clone 76 came from Amber Ridge (Santa Rosa Plain).
TASTING NOTES: In appearance, bright clarity highlights a water rim edge leading into a lemon-green core of color. The nose is clean and youthful with a quiet sense of intensity and tension. A forward aroma of lemon custard and lemon zest is backed by a faint lime juice quality, reminiscent of a crisp, finely-crafted margarita! Secondary aromas of apple and pear play off of a perfume-like floral character. A wisp of roasted nut and a touch of chalk dust “minerality” add complexity. The flavors confirm the nose where citrus, apple, pear and floral notes abound. The palate is definitely dry with wonderfully balanced body, flavor intensity, and acidity. The finish lingers just long enough to entice another sip! Enjoy upon release or cellar through 2010.
About The Winery:
Lynn Fritz, an expert in global logistics and humanitarian relief efforts, and family purchased the estate Quail Hill Vineyard in 1980 and, in 1990, founded Lynmar Winery to produce world-class Pinot Noir and Chardonnay reflecting the character of the Russian River Valley appellation, and terroir of Quail Hill Vineyard. Our first commercial wines were released in 1996 with the 1994 vintages of Chardonnay and Pinot Noir.
Our 47-acre Quail Hill Vineyard estate has long been recognized as a stellar vineyard in the region, and has superb qualities for growing world-class Pinot Noir and Chardonnay. Once a source for some of the top Pinot Noir and Chardonnay producers in the region, today, the estate is the exclusive source for our Lynmar Reserve and Estate wines, as well as the foundation of our appellation-designated wines.
Balance, both in the vineyard and winemaking, governs the Lynmar philosophy. Led by winemaker Hugh Chappelle, our winemaking team starts in the vineyard; managing vine-by-vine to optimize even fruit ripening, quality and balance. In the winery, Hugh prefers to let Mother Nature do the work. He handles the wine as little as possible and, again, strives to achieve balanced tannins, fruit qualities and natural acidity. The result is our characteristic Lynmar style; wines with character, full berry flavors and balanced qualities reflecting our estate Quail Hill Vineyard.
Lynmar Estate celebrates the distinctive terroir of the various vineyards we farm creating wines that are elegant, complex, balanced, and age worthy. Acting as stewards of the land, the winemaking team takes great care to craft wines that truly represent the dynamic, cool-climate soils from the vineyards where the grapes are grown. A genuine mosaic of the land, the people, the food and the synergy of place at Lynmar Estate is revealed in each vintage. While select lots from Lynmar’s 47-acre Quail Hill Vineyard home estate form an important component of this bottling, the winery also works closely with a small group of local growers who share its commitment to quality, creating a fruit-forward wine that is a benchmark of its famous appellation.
Varietal Composition: 93% Chardonnay, 7% Viognier
Winemaker: Hugh Chappelle
Consulting Winemaker: Paul Hobbs
Consulting Viticulturist: Greg Adams
T.A.: 0.57 g/l00 ml
Cases Produced: 3131 (12×750ml) cases
Aging: 9 months in 60% French Oak, (25% as new barrels), 40% Stainless Steel
Bottling Date: July, 2007