2005 Reserve Chardonnay
Chardonnay •Jeriko Estate Vineyard
California: Mendocino County
What We Say
Mission Codename: Wine Royalty
Operative: Agent Sparkle
Objective: Send Agent Sparkle to Jeriko Estate to spy their award-winning Reserve Chardonnay
Mission Status: Accomplished
Current Winery: Jeriko Estate
Wine Subject: 2005 Reserve Chardonnay
Vintner: Danny Fetzer
Winemaker: Jeff Cichocki
On completion of her advanced Wine Spy training, Agent Sparkle is ready for field operations. Central Command gave her the special assignment of surveiling Jeriko Estate which was founded by Fetzer Family member, Danny Fetzer.
Wine Spies Tasting Profile:
Look – Golden yellow, with the slightest light-green cast with long, thick legs
Smell – Honey-lemon with oak and very light tangerine
Feel – Initially wet, then the rounded tannins kick in to give you a gentle bite on the mid-tongue. Flavors radiate to the corners of the mouth
Taste – Starts as tart apple and vanilla-oak, followed by pear, apricot and subtle lime, followed by lemon tart, with a great acidity that helps this wine pair well with most foods I could throw at it
Finish – Tart-sweet initially, tapering to tart with creamy vanilla oak and lemon sorbet
Conclusion – While I am obviously most partial to sparkling wines, I can’t help but get very excited about this wine. Chardonnay can vary in smell, taste and character so dramatically, especially in the US. Much of what you taste in a modern Chard is a result of the winemakers influence and the choices made in the production of the wine. In the case of this wine, the heritage and experience of the winemaking team shines through! This is a great Chardonnay that is wonderfully robust, without being obnoxious. I recommend this one to our operatives that love great whites – or those that think that white wines can’t be great!
After a long and grueling training, I have been declared fully mission-ready! My fellow agents threw a great celebration for me and the bubbly was flowing. Now that my training – and our partying is behind me I’m ready to spy some great wines, sparkling and otherwise.
Today’s mission report details my visit to the Jeriko Estate in Hopland, California. About 75 miles north of Sonoma and Napa Valley, this region is becoming recognized as the ‘wine country to the north’. For good reason, too. Wines from this area are super.
When I was given the mission to place Jeriko under surveillance I was thrilled. Jeriko is the winery of Danny Fetzer and is the expression of his unique vision of wine creation. Danny comes from a large winemaking family and nearly all of his 10 siblings are in the wine business. Danny is true wine royalty, but don’t misunderstand, his is anything but pretentious. To the contrary, Danny is part artist, part builder, part scientist, part farmer – and all wine visionary.
In 1997, when Danny acquired land for Jeriko Estate, he ripped out the existing vines and planted his vineyards with only the best possible rootstock. In 2000, Jeriko released its first wine, a Chardonnay. Jeriko farms all of its grapes organically and the winery is on its way to receiving Biodynamic certification as well. To date, all of the organically farmed wines that I have tried have been exceptional. Jeriko is, well, no exception!
The beautiful Jeriko Estate is named after the ancient community of Jericho which upheld ancient practices and progressive farming techniques. The Estate house, which was built in the style of a Mediterranean villa, is stunning – and the perfect place to taste wines after a tour of the sprawling vineyards of the estate. And for this taste, I went straight to their best Chardonnay.
The Jeriko Estate Reserve Chardonnay is a stunning wine. I mean, it looks gorgeous and it drinks beautifully. It is better than I expected it to be and, trust me, I had high expectations from any wine that Danny Fetzer and winemaker Jeff Cichocki made for me to enjoy. This is a wine with great balance, wonderful acidity, great aromatics and real flavor. Its not as slippery and butter-fat as recent Sonoma Chards I have tasted and I love that. This wine holds up and drinks beautifully with most foods and, surprisingly, at warmer temperatures. We took our time with our tasting and we let the wine breath and let it warm. It was delicious throughout.
I can see why this wine has garnered 92 points out of 100 from Wine Enthusiast, but I give it a big 94! I am recommending that our Agents pick up this wine if they love great Chardonnay, want to see how great a white wine can be, or want to try a wine made from organically grown grapes.
-Agent Sparkle, signing off. Please write to me if you have any feedback on this mission or suggestions for future missions: agentsparkle (at) thewinespies (dot) com
Wine Spies Vineyard Check:
Jeriko Estates emerged in 1997 when Daniel Fetzer began to replant the ranch with modern rootstocks and newly available clones of Pinot Noir, Chardonnay, Syrah, Merlot, Sauvignon Blanc, and Sangiovese. The vineyards were planted on a 6×6 foot (1210 vines per acre) high-density spacing in order to force the roots to go deeper into the gravely loam soil to optimize terroir and intensify fruit flavors.
Key to Jeriko’s philosophy is the use of biodynamic and organic farming practices to promote plant diversity such as cover crops, and encourage soil balance without the use of synthetic chemical fertilizers, pesticides and fungicides. We have found that wines grown in this manner have more structural balance and require less manipulation during the vinification process; as well as being good for animal life and the environment. It’s common to see chickens, goats, and sheep roaming Jeriko’s vineyards and hillsides.
The Jeriko Estate winery can be seen in this satellite photo
Wine Spies Technical Wine Analysis
Detailed Wine Information
Varietal: 100% Chardonnay
Varietal Notes: Dijon Clone 76
Bottling Date: January 17, 2007
Fermentation: 100% Malolactic Fermentation
Harvest Date: September 30th, 2005
Harvest Notes: The fruit was 100% handpicked for whole cluster grapes.
Months in Barrel: Barrique 300L
Oak: New French, and American and Eastern European oak
Release Date: March 01, 2007
Special Designation: CCOF 100% Organically Grown
Sugar: 24.3% Brix at Harvest
Time In Oak: 12 months
What the Winery Says
SPECIAL ALERT: October is Breast Cancer Awareness month and Jeriko Estates and The Wine Spies are teaming up to fight breast cancer! For every bottle that you purchase today, Jeriko Estate will donate $1 and The Wine Spies will donate $1 (for a total of $2 per bottle purchased) to the Susan G. Komen Foundation. Thank you Jeriko Estate and thank you, Wine Spies customer for your support!
Wine Enthusiast: 92/100
Appellation America Review: "This wine came from an unusual combination: Dijon clone 76 (a small-berry strain of Chardonnay developed in France), Daniel Fetzer’s certified organic vineyard, and winemaker Jeff Cichocki’s unabashed affection for the whole buttery-oaky Chardonnay thing. Normally I don’t go in for the third item that much, but I could not deny this wine when I had it in my mouth. It made me feel rich to sip it, and it made me feel virtuous to take off the wrapper and find out about the organic angle. As to clone 76, the small cluster and small berries increase the ratio of skins to juice, which is what you want when you’re going to barrel-ferment in new oak.
When the tasting flight was poured out, I could smell this wine from across the table – and I say that as praise . There was green apple, ripe pear and clover honey, plus all the buttery oak you could ask for. The wine is rich and viscous in your mouth, yet still very well knit. Despite the opulent, mouth-filling quality, it’s sweet without cloying and big without clomping around. Acid is on the light side, so don’t drink this for refreshment or to wash down appetizers: it’s a cocktail worth sipping on its own." Reviewed August 23, 2007 by Thom Elkjer.
A fantastic marriage of the creamy & buttery to the crisp & acidic makes this wine a full-bodied & rich yet classically elegant Californian Chardonnay. Luscious aromas of honey & rich buttery oak are balanced by a rich lemon meringue scent. Deliciously begins with vanilla, toasted pine nut, apricot & ripe pear followed by a buttery-rich component balanced by a hint of acid. A structured & complex finish of crème brulee’ & nutmeg is dominated by buttery oak & creamy vanillin characteristics that lasts long on the pallet.
*Tasting Notes: *
Aromas: Luscious aromas of honey & rich buttery oak are balanced by a rich lemon meringue scent.
Flavors: Deliciously begins with vanilla, toasted pine nut, apricot & ripe pear followed by a buttery-rich component balanced by a hint of acid.
Finish: A structured & complex finish of crème brulee’ & nutmeg is dominated by buttery oak & creamy vanillin characteristics that lasts long on the pallet. Serve with lobster Newburg or a rich and creamy chicken dish. Pair with Cheesecake Momma’s Pineapple Macadamia cheesecake.
*Vineyard Notes: *
Location: The Jeriko Estate Vineyard is located in the Sanel Valley of the upper canyon of the Russian River basin in lower Mendocino County. The Chardonnay Dijon clones are grown in several flat sections of the vineyard – near the Russian River and in front of the winery.
Soils: The block has deep, alluvial soils of gravelly-loam soil, with more gravel in the sections closer to the River, resulting in good drainage.
Water: The land is 486 feet above sea level. The vineyard typically receives 30 inches of rain annually, experiencing no rainfall between May and October and necessitating the use of a drip irrigation system for approximately 8 hours per week during the summer months. Overhead sprinklers are used for heat control once the temperatures rise above 90 degrees. During the summer the fruit is cooled and air is moved air through the vineyard by typical afternoon breezes.
Canopy Management: Jeriko uses 6×6 high density spacing, 1210 plants per acre. The narrow trellises provide shade for the rows of vines behind, providing a natural filter of sunlight to minimize loss of fruit flavors because of intense heat, and to reduce sunburn of the grapes. A combination of high trellis system and hand pruning encourages movement of air to inhibit the growth of moulds and mildews.
Cover Crops: Once the fruit is harvested and the vines go dormant for the winter, cover crops consisting of an organic mix of legumes, bell beans, peas, wild oats and vetch are applied very second year. Organic Certification: This vineyard is farmed organically and is certified 100% organically grown by CCOF, IFOAM and USDA.
*Vintage Notes: *
Average rainfall of 30 inches. No unusual occurrences with the weather patterns. Average budbreak, ripening and harvesting times. Higher than average yields.
Winemakers Notes: A fantastic marriage of the creamy & buttery to the crisp & acidic makes this wine a full-bodied & rich yet classically elegant Californian Chardonnay. The Dijon Clone 76 grows in small clusters with smaller berries yielding more fruit intensity. Upon harvest, the fruit was put directly into the Bucher press and softly pressed (30lb) to minimize solids in the wine. The juice was put into a barrel and racked, then racked again into another barrel before being innoculated with GMO-free yeasts for fermentation. The wine was then matured in barrel for 12 months sur lie to achieve a complete malolactic fermentation with batonnage occurring every 4 weeks to intensify yeast aroma & flavor.
209 cases produced.