From the Russian River, the 2017 Chardonnay Dutton Ranch is a step up and has more intensity and depth, with a rocking bouquet of honey stone fruits, brioche, toasted hazelnuts, and crushed stone. Rich, medium to full-bodied, and beautifully balanced, with bright acidity, it has a kiss of background oak but is a seriously good, layered effort that will cruise for 5-7 years, probably longer.
The 2017 Chardonnay Dutton Ranch aged on the lees in 35% new oak with weekly bâtonnage. It reluctantly opens to apple pie, toast, apricot, roasted almonds and smoky reduction. It’s medium-bodied, silky and more expressive in the mouth with honeyed, savory notions framing the intense fruits, enlivened by juicy acidity and finishing long and textured. This will benefit from another year in bottle. (EB) 92+
Warren Dutton was an early proponent of chardonnay in Sonoma; in 1974, he planted the Mill Station block in Green Valley. James Hall includes the fruit from those vines in his Dutton Ranch chardonnay, as well as other blocks of heirloom selections. He ferments it without added yeasts, taking it through malolactic conversion and aging it in French oak barrels (35 percent new). That barrel time lends the wine scents of nutmeg without diminishing the fruit’s crunchy, old-vine concentration. It’s sleek and firm, the fruit completely saturating the wood spice and lasting with the cool feel of biting into a crisp yellow apple.
This is a tightly wound and intense wine that shows its youth, a study in concentrated Gravenstein apple, salt and stone. A floral underbelly of apple and orange blossom brightens the palate and grippy structure. Let this wine open slowly in the glass. (VB)
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