The two vintages of Chardonnay I tasted come from the Jos. Belli Vineyard in Russian River. The 2015 Chardonnay Jos. Belli Vineyards was made from small yields, and according to Dick Arrowood, it is one of the top three vintages in his 50 years of experience. This wine offers loads of peach, honeysuckle, delicate apricot, caramelized citrus and apple blossom in a full-bodied, rich, discreetly oaked style. It is long, promising and super-concentrated. If this is an example of just how strong many 2015s will be, we’re in for another treat from Northern California. - Robert M. Parker, Jr., The Wine Advocate, Issue #223, March 2016
Our Chardonnay is grown by Joseph Belli, a close friend and longtime business associate of Richard’s. Joe has planted his grapes next to his home, a few miles south of Healdsburg on the western end of the Russian River Valley. The vineyard is set just past the edge of the valley floor, where the land starts to lift up into rolling hills. These steep, terraced hillsides provide excellent drainage for the vines, reducing the water available to the roots, which in turn produces tiny berries with intense flavor. Since the vineyard faces the east, the vines receive full sunlight in the morning and early afternoon, while being protected from the more intense late afternoon sun. We use two clones of Chardonnay from the Belli ranch in our blend: Rued, a musqué selection of Chardonnay that contributes vibrant tropical aromatics, and Dijon, which delivers a classic Chardonnay profile rich in minerality and fruit flavors.
The weather during the growing season in 2015 was largely dry. We were fortunate to have had such a great harvest. The weather was as good as one could expect. The growing season began early, with a warm and dry spring, and the weather stayed absolutely beautiful all the way through an early harvest. The quality of the fruit was exceptional. The grapes were hand-picked on August 25 and 26, 2015.
First, take a moment to appreciate the color of this wine, a pale beautiful gold with just the barest hint of green. On the nose, the first thing you will find is a round aroma of pears and honey, layered together with a light note of custard. Swirl the glass, and you will begin to find a bit of flint, along with a deeper aroma of ripe peach.
On the palate the first thing that will strike you is the mouthfeel, which is decadently silky and full. The first flavors to appear are tropical, juicy mango chasing bright pineapple. Take another sip, and you will start to uncover the mineral backbone of the wine, a crisp acidity accompanied by a delicious note of apricot jam. The finish is long and toasty, with a bit of ripe pear and a delicate impression of roasted hazelnuts.
This wine was fermented in French oak barrels and then aged in barrel for 11 months, where the wine completed malolactic fermentation. The 2015 Jos. Belli Chardonnay is completely accessible now, but if stored properly, it will continue to develop for at least the next decade.
March 4th, 2016
USA, Northern California: Part III - Focusing Primarily on Sonoma
2015 Chardonnay, Russian River Valley, Jos. Belli Vineyards