Friday, August 7, 2015

Fogdog Sonoma Chardonnay 2010

Fogdog Sonoma Chardonnay 2010 - Lot 101 Columbia Valley Syrah for pleasant casual summer sipping

Dr's Pat and Carol-Ann came visiting so I opened this crisp casual sipping Chardonnay for the gals to enjoy with french bread, cheese and fruits. The term Fogdog  speaks to a ray of light poking through the fog - a not uncommon occurance in the mist shrouded vineyards near the coast in northwest Sonoma County.

As written in earlier blogposts, this is an interesting whimsical label from the legendary Joseph Phelps known for Bordeaux varietal wines from Napa Valley. Yet Phelps loved the wines of Burgundy and wanted to craft wines in that style. Originally he sourced Chardonnay from Napa Valley St. Helena, then Yountville and later from Carneros, down at the bottom of the Mayacamas Range (the range that separates yet helps form Napa and Sonoma Valleys) at the top of San Pablo Bay where Napa and Sonoma Valleys meet. Like the Sonoma Coast, Carneros is another locale notable for growing Burgundian varietals Chardonnay and Pinot Noir due to the milder climatic effects of the Bay with the fog that creeps into the low lying vineyards up against the hills.

Through the years, he continued searching for the ideal spot to grow both Chardonnay and Pinot Noir. He found the perfect combination of climate, soil and location in Freestone, in the Sonoma Coast appellation AVA, just five miles from the Pacific Ocean. In 1999, Joseph Phelps Vineyards began developing 100 acres of vineyards just outside of Freestone.

In 2005, he built a new winery which was completed in time for the 2007 harvest. Today, 80 acres of Pinot Noir and 20 acres of Chardonnay produce remarkable estate-grown wines bearing the Joseph Phelps name.

The moniker 'fogdog' refers to 'a bright or clear spot that appears in the breaking fog'. Being just five miles from the coast, the fog rolls in from the ocean and graces the vineyards early in the day before being burned off by the late morning sun.

We've also enjoyed the Fogdog Pinot Noir on several occasions including during one of our New York/Hoboken getaways.

Winemaker Notes: This wine has a very expressive floral bouquet with notes of baking spices, wet stone and toasted vanilla bean. There is a hint of mid-palate sweetness that nicely buffers the core of acidity and complements the array of pear tart, white peach, green apple and lemongrass flavors. 
Sonoma Coast Chardonnay sourced from the Dutton Ranch Mill Station Vineyard (67%) and the Freestone estate vineyards (33%). 
The 2010 Chardonnay growing season was slow and cool, producing excellent fruit quality with uniform sugar and acid levels, despite the late season weather challenges, making for excellent natural winemaking conditions. The finished wines are balanced and fresh with a distinctly Freestone spice element.

Ninety Plus Cellars Lot 101 Syrah 2009

While the ladies sipped on Chardonnay, I opened a more hearty, fruit forward robust Syrah for enjoyable summer sipping. Like several earlier tastings against several Shiraz' or Syrahs, this has served as a tasting benchmark.  

I've written several times in these pages that this high QPR (quality-price-ratio) negociant label at less than half the price of some of the vineyard designated Napa Syrahs, may be one of our favorite drinking wines in our cellar right now.

Dark inky garnet colored, medium to full bodied, this full throttle Syrah reveals layers of blackberry and black currants fruits with tones of sweet vanilla, caramel and spice with hints of black pepper on a lingering smooth silky tannin finish.

RM 90 points.