Pour Boys Coq-Au-Vin and wine dinner features medley of premium Chardonnays
As is our custom, prior to dinner they served a selection of artisan cheeses, fresh fruits, assorted nuts, and fresh shrimp.
Dan pulled from his cellar a duo of Gary Farrell premium single vineyard designated Chardonnay's from the Sonoma County Russian River Valley. Dan acquired these labels as part of his wine club allocation shipments.
He joined the Farrell club during our visit to the Gary Farrell estate and winery in the Russian River Valley in Sonoma County during or Napa / Sonoma Wine Experience in 2017.
To complement, pair and compare the dinner and wines I brought from our cellar this premium label bold Napa Valley Chardonnay from Moone Tsai.
We opened and tasted the Chardonnays in order by vintage year, oldest to the youngest, of the three sequential vintages.
An interesting pairing comparison of three different Chardonnays, only by tasting them side by side like this can one truly appreciate and assess comparing their nuances, character and profile.
There was unanimous agreement on rating and ranking the three wines. Everyone selected the Rochioli Vineyard as their favorite, followed by the Moone Tsai, and then the Farrell Sonoma County.
Gary Farrell Rochioli Vineyard Sonoma County Chardonnay 2015
Gary Farrell was a pioneer of winemaking in Sonoma County’s Russian River Valley appellation. He produced his first vintage in 1982, before the Russian River AVA even existed. He crafted that first Pinot Noir from fruit grown in the now-legendary Rochioli Vineyard.
Over the years, Gary Farrell become somewhat of a legend producing a portfolio of varietal, single vineyard designated wines produced from only
the best vineyards that showcase the unique terroir from the Russian River Valley and across Sonoma County.
Gary Farrell never owned a vineyard but produced consistently exceptional wines from that first vintage in 1982 by partnering based on handshake deals with the region's pioneer growers like the Rochioli, Dutton, Ramey, Allen and Hallberg families, whose Pinot Noir and Chardonnay vineyards represented the best of the time and place. Since then, the winery has produced critically acclaimed Pinot Noir and Chardonnay in collaboration with the most esteemed growers in the Russian River Valley and throughout California’s greatest wine regions.The nearly 40 different vineyards extend beyond the Russian River Valley and include grapes from as far north as the Fort Ross-Seaview Vineyard along the Sonoma coast to the Sanford and Benedict Vineyard in Santa Barbara County.
Theresa Heredia is the winemaker for Garry Farrell. Theresa found her passion for wine through biochemistry, earning a bachelor’s degree from Cal Poly San Luis Obispo. She became a Ph.D. candidate in chemistry/enology at UC Davis before leaving the program to pursue winemaking. At Freestone Winery in Sebastopol, she gained acclaim for her small-lot, single-vineyard Chardonnay and Pinot Noir before arriving at Gary Farrell Winery in 2012. Aside from Chardonnay and Pinot Noir, Theresa has also crafted Sauvignon Blanc, Zinfandel and a Rosé of Pinot Noir.
We visited the winery’s beautiful estate and hospitality center that lies just west of Healdsburg, (CA), perched on a hilltop overlooking
the Russian River Valley during our Napa / Sonoma Wine Experience in 2017. The inviting indoor space offers stunning views of the
valley with floor to ceiling windows, and there’s an expansive terrace
so guests can enjoy the wines alfresco. The walls are adorned with a collection of colorful artwork.
This label was awarded 95 points by Wine Enthusiast, and 92 points by Wine & Spirits. It was #1 of the Wine Enthusiast Top 100 of 2017
The favorite of the three, golden colored, full bodied, rich, round, concentrated, elegant and balanced, bright vibrant apple and hints of peach fruits with notes of floral, citrus and stone fruits, spice and tangy acidity on a tongue coating lingering finish.
RM 93 points.
This is another single vineyard designated Chardonnay sourced from the Olivet Lane Vineyard, located on the Olivet Road in Santa Rosa, seven miles from Gary Farrell Winery.
The vineyard sits on 65 acres of sloping bench land in the heart of the Russian River Valley, in a sub-region called the Santa Rosa Plain, in between the warmer Westside Road region and the cooler Green Valley where warm summer days are moderated by cool breezes and chilly evening temperatures, this unique site is heavily influenced by fog that rolls in through the Petaluma Gap to the south.
The rolling bench land location with the combination of well drained clay loam soils and east/west vine exposure with long, cool nights, create an excellent environment with optimum growing conditions great for ripening, producing world-class Chardonnay that develop cool-climate characteristics and
impeccable acid at fairly low sugars. The wines from this vineyard
simultaneously express power and finesse, and they do so with tremendous
Planted in 1973 it covers 60 acres, twenty planted in Pinot Noir and forty in Chardonnay, that two-thirds of the vineyard is planted to Wente selection Chardonnay on AXR rootstock, a heritage selection that produces some of the best Chardonnays in all of California. The old vines create natural vine balance, excellent concentration and ample quantities of natural acidity. The vines are cane pruned, vertical shoot positioning (VSP) and faithfully tended by Robert Pellegrini for the past 40 years. The wines from this vineyard simultaneously express power and finesse, and they do so with tremendous balance.
Besides Gary Farrell, the Olivet Lane Vineyard provides fruit to several wineries sourcing from this vineyard including Merry Edwards Wines, Pellegrini Wine Company, WesMar Winery, Pali Wine Co., and the notable premium producer Williams Selyem.
The juice was left
in tank to cold-settle then transferred to 35% new and 65%
one to three-year old neutral French oak barrels and puncheons for
fermentation and aging, where it remained for 9 months on its primary
lees until it was bottled. The wine was racked off the
primary lees only once, just before bottling.
This label was awardedJames Suckling and Robert Parker's Wine Advocate and Jeb Dunnuck.
Straw colored, medium bodied, crisp notes of citrus pink grapefruit and clove spiced apples, stone fruits, white peach, crushed rocks with bright acidity on a long zesty finish.
RM 91 points.
Moone Tsai Napa Valley Chardonnay 2017
Moone-Tsai is the fulfillment of the vision and dream of Larry Tsai and MaryAnn Tsai, Co-Founders and Proprietors. Larry and MaryAnn started Moone-Tsai wines in 2003, with the dream of making rare and remarkable wines bearing the finest fruit from Napa Valley's most heralded vineyards. Pursuing this vision, focused on Howell Mountain, Moone-Tsai launched its distinctive, limited production Cabernets, Chardonnays, and Bordeaux blends, including Moone-Tsai's signature landmark Howell Mountain Hillside Blend.
As founders and owners, the are entrenched in every aspect of winery operations. They are devoted residents of their beloved Howell Mountain and take pride in sharing wines that bear the "best of the best" fruit from the celebrated AVA, as well as from other most prized vineyard blocks across Napa Valley.
Fresh out of Harvard Business School, MaryAnn set her sights on a career in the Napa Valley wine industry. She helped create some of Howell Mountain's most acclaimed wines, most notably the establishment of Beringer's legendary Bancroft Ranch Merlots. In subsequent years, MaryAnn was instrumental in other acclaimed wine releases and AVAs (including three wines that each received ratings of #1-rated Wine in the World), she never forgot the allure of Howell Mountain.
MaryAnn and Larry call the enchanting Las Posadas district of Howell Mountain their home and have their winery and tasting room operations down the hill in St. Helena.
MaryAnn Tsai grew up in a spirited Italian family in Boston, Massachusetts. She spent summers helping her grandmother tend a garden featuring rows of vegetables, herbs, and an especially precious vineyard from which the family celebrated the rite of winemaking.During college, MaryAnn did a study-abroad program at the University of Angers, France, in the Loire Valley, known for well-crafted wines and inspired cuisine. There, MaryAnn developed her interest in wines, which inspired her move to Napa Valley, following graduation from Harvard Business School, to pursue a career in the wine industry.
She was hired by Mike Moone to join Beringer Wine Estates in 1989. Over the next twenty plus years, she was involved with producing notable wines and brands, three of which earned the distinction of being named as "Wine Spectator's #1-rated Wine in the World". With the creation of Moone-Tsai wines in 2006, MaryAnn and Larry set their sights on earning a fourth #1 rating, one under the Moone-Tsai banner.
He gained experiences across Fortune 500 companies, and emerging gourmet/food/lifestyle enterprises and Napa Valley non-profits; Larry applies his management skills to create and deliver extraordinary wines and experiences promoting Moone-Tsai.
Since taking on Moone Tsai in 2010, Larry has expanded from its single-cabernet-infancy to the brand's current annual production of 3000 cases of seven acclaimed wines. He enjoys connecting with people who enjoy well-crafted wines, teaching and tasting from "Baton Rouge to Bali, Seoul to Sun Valley, Jackson Hole to Jakarta, and Manhattan to Mumbai" as their website states, he promotes Napa Valley and Moone-Tsai wines with people over good times and fine conversation.
Phillippe helped put the likes of Dominus, Hundred Acre, Bryant Family Vineyards, and Dana Estates on the map for the most discerning Cabernet labels and brands; Robert Parker named Philippe as one of the world's top nine consulting winemakers.
Moone Tsai Napa Valley Chardonnay is sourced from Bald Mountain, a neighbor of Mount Veeder in the Mayacamas Mountains on the western border of the Napa Valley. The south-facing vineyard sits at nearly 1600 feet above sea level overlooking the convergence of both Sonoma and Napa Valleys, as well as of Marin's Mt. Tamalpais to the south. Cool sunshine is abundant throughout the growing season, allowing the grapes to ripen slowly while varietal character evolves completely.
This is 100% Chardonnay from Bald Mountain was aged in 30% new French oak (Burgundian) Marcel Cadet, Rousseau, Francois Frères Dargaud et Jaegle (light to medium toast). 570 cases were produced.