Wednesday, April 14, 2021

One Of America's Favorite California Chardonnays

The folks at Sonoma-Cutrer are celebrating 40 years of passion, imagination and pride.  They say their approach to winemaking "marries Burgundian traditions and California ingenuity."  Head winemaker Mick Schroeter puts his signature on the label, showing the pride that leads to the boast that their Chardonnay is one of America's favorites.

The winery says that the 2019 vintage featured rain, rain and more rain, plus a summer free of radical temperature extremes.  The harvest started a week later than usual and proceeded methodically - just the way a winemaker wants it.

The grapes - 100% Chardonnay from the Sonoma Coast - were whole-cluster pressed and vinified in 15% steel and 85% oak, a mixture of new and neutral barrels, which is where the wine aged for eight months.  Alcohol hits 13.9% abv and the wine retails for $23.

The nose is beautiful, with notes of stone fruit and honeydew mixing with a touch of oak spice.  The oak is not at all overdone, and it hits the palate as cleanly as you wish it would.  The mouthfeel is full and creamy, the acidity is gently refreshing and the flavors of peach, pear, lemon and a bit of sweet oak make for a delicious sip.

Women In Wine

Sonoma-Cutrer says they are proud to have one of the only all-female winemaking production teams in the industry.  Argentina-raised, Pinot Noir Winemaker Zidanelia Arcidiacono also oversees the winery's sustainability initiatives.  Cara Morrison has served as Chardonnay Winemaker, and has mastered the variety that the brand is known for.   As Wine Production Manager, Venezuelan-born Mayra Hernandez oversees everything from grape intake to bottling.  Vineyard Operations Manager Shannon Donnell, born and raised in Sonoma County, manages the grape supply used to create the wines.

Sustainable Efforts

Sustainability is an integral part of life at Sonoma-Cutrer.  The "Certified Sustainable" stamp on the label reflects the winery's long-term commitment to adopting environmentally-friendly and efficient measures.  A few of the steps they have taken: 

  • Organizing and recognizing a group of sustainability leaders across all departments, from landscaping to the tasting room, SET (Sustainability Environmental Team), who uphold and educate on the sustainability vision for the winery.
  • Installing specially-made owl boxes across the vineyards, providing a home for the birds that serve as a natural defense against gophers and voles who eat vines.
  • Planting pheromone lures that attract and confuse pests so they can’t mate, humanely limiting the growth of insects that harm the growing grapes.
  • Harvesting grapes early in the morning so employees avoid extended time in the California heat. This also allows the grapes to come into the winery already cold, reducing the amount of energy used to chill them. 

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