The 2013 Chardonnay Three Sisters Vineyard is soft, succulent and expressive. Orchard fruit, dried apricot, smoke, slate, mint and sage are all pushed forward. This open-knit, expressive Chardonnay is already quite giving. Drink it over the next few years. There is lovely precision and nuance, especially after the wine has had some time in the glass and the more mineral notes start to emerge. I always look forward to my tastings at Martinelli. The entire family gathers around a long rectangular table to show their latest releases. This year, the 2014 Pinots are the most impressive wines in the range. Martinelli fans will not want to miss the new Wild Thyme Pinot. The 2013 Chards are a bit subdued, both by Martinelli standards and within the context of the vintage. Perhaps I caught those wines at an awkward stage. The Syrahs are attractive, although in 2013 the flavor profile leans more towards the red end of the spectrum, which is unusual here. The Martinellis are probably best known for their Zinfandel. The new collection of current releases delivers the goods. As always, the Martinellis like to harvest ripe, which to them means that fruit has to begin to show some dimpling. The wines are rich, powerful, and, at their best, deeply satisfying. (AG)
Slightly more concentrated than the 2012, the 2013 Chardonnay Three Sisters again shows hazelnut, brioche, pure honeyed pineapple and orange blossom, a full-bodied mouthfeel and a long, long finish. This is a bigger cuvée of 332 cases. Drink now-2020. One of the great families of Northern California, and of course, one of the highest quality producers, the Martinellis-and rather remarkably so-only estate-bottle 15% of their production from over 300 acres of beautifully situated vineyards in the Russian River Valley and Sonoma Coast. No doubt Helen Turley, who worked at Martinelli and mentored its winemaking team, left a profound influence on the quality of the Chardonnays, Pinot Noirs, Syrahs and Zinfandels, a fact that can’t be overstated. The Chardonnays all go through full malolactic fermentation and tend to see about 50% new oak. (RP)
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