Charles Heintz Chardonnay 2017
Senses Wines
Region: Sonoma

Tasting Notes

Rich yellow apple and ripe peach jump out of the glass along with the expected honeysuckle notes indicative of the site. Candied lemon, pineapple and hints of pear bring together this wonderfully balanced and delicious wine.

Chardonnay is the world’s most famous white-wine grape and also one of the most widely planted, with the most highly regarded expressions of the variety coming from Burgundy and California. Climate plays a major role in dictating which fruit flavours a Chardonnay will have. Broadly speaking, warm regions such as California tend to give more tropical styles. While many Chardonnays have high aromatic complexity, this is usually due to winemaking techniques (particularly the use of oak) rather than the variety’s intrinsic qualities. Malolactic fermentation gives distinctive buttery aromas. Fermentation and/or maturation in oak barrels contributes notes of vanilla, smoke and hints of sweet spices such as clove and cinnamon. Extended lees contact while in barrel imparts biscuity, doughy flavours.

Sonoma Coast is one of California’s most notable wine regions. Despite the critical acclaim and steep price points these wines demand, there are only 10 wineries, with 2000 acres under vine, planted almost exclusively to Burgundy varietals Pinot Noir and Chardonnay. The widely varying terroir here is less influenced by the cooling fog that rolls in through the Petaluma Gap than its northern counterpart, the Russian River Valley. Sonoma Coast climate is dictated by the area’s sheltered position between the hills, as well as its close proximity to San Pablo Bay to the south, which provides temperature moderation in the vineyard. The unique combination of maritime influence, elevation, lack of rainfall and varied soil types exists nowhere else on earth. The area closest to the ocean, with the strongest maritime influence, has recently been granted its own sub-appellation within the larger Sonoma Coast AVA: West Sonoma Coast.

Ideal Goldridge soil, healthy, mature vines, warm days balanced with cool nights and a grower who has been working the land since 1982 all contribute to Robert Parker’s assessment of the vineyard as “… one of the great grand cru Chardonnay sites in California.” The Charles Heintz vineyard, planted in 1982, has 25 acres of clone 4 Chardonnay. In 2017, vines leapt into action with replenished water tables after years of drought. Early vegetative growth was strong, but not excessive, and crop yields were moderate. Warmer summer temperatures ended up compressing harvest for most producers. The coast was relatively protected from strong heat waves and delivered typical acid-driven fruit with great phenolic ripeness.

Grapes are hand-sampled and harvested at ideal ripeness, cold-soaked for a few days, fermented with yeasts indigenous to the vineyard, and ultimately pressed and barreled into a selection of the winery’s favourite French cooperages. Fermented in used French oak. Aged 12 month in French oak, 30% new

Wine Type: White

Variety: Chardonnay

Classification: AVA

Orientation: N/A

Appellation: Sonoma County

Gradient: N/A

Soil: Sandy loam

Farming Practices: Sustainable

Residual Sugar: N/A

Alcohol: 14.4

Malolactic: N/A

Botte Size: 750 ml

Acidity: N/A

Other Practices: Sustainable