Tenth Stop Chardonnay 2018
Senses Wines
Region: Sonoma

Tasting Notes

Bright and nervy but with ample weight, the Tenth Stop Chardonnay is a brilliant gold colour, with aromas of poached pear, ripe apple, dark honey and toast. On the palate, there is a luscious character to it, but the acids are still quite marked, making it come across as lighter and defter. This strikes a fine balance between cool climate and warm climate — quintessential Sonoma Coast Chardonnay — finishing with some of the telltale sea salinity the appellation is known for, in this case, like salted caramel.

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 the largest AVAs in Sonoma, covering the mountains along the Pacific coast from the border with Mendocino County to the top of San Pablo Bay. Despite its name, the Sonoma Coast AVA stretches quite a long way inland. Climatically speaking, the Sonoma Coast is decidedly maritime and is cooler and wetter than the rest of Sonoma County. This is, perhaps obviously, due to its proximity to the Pacific Ocean and the cooling fog that creeps into the coastal valleys via the Petaluma Gap during the summer. As a result of the cool climate, the distribution of grape varieties differs noticeably from that found in the drier, warmer climes inland. The Burgundy family are out in force here – Pinot Noir and Chardonnay together account for more than 75 percent of the AVA’s wines.

The Dutton Palms Vineyard sits on the “Goldridge Loam” of Green Valley. Planted with the Wente Clone of Chardonnay, pockets of cool air coming off the Pacific settle in during the day, keeping temperatures cool and acids high. Composed of fine sandy loam, fluffy and with excellent drainage, there is a layer of silt as well as clay underneath that has some water retention to allow deeper-rooted vines access to water during the inevitable California drought.

Hand-harvested fruit, selecting only the finest bunches, is sorted before being gently pressed into French oak barrels (a quarter of which is new) for fermentation using indigenous yeasts. With occasional batonnage, the wine rests in barrel after fermentation is complete for 14 months before blending and bottling.

Wine Type: White

Variety: Chardonnay

Classification: AVA

Orientation: South and east

Appellation: Sonoma County

Gradient: N/A

Soil: Goldridge sandy loam

Farming Practices: Sustainable

Residual Sugar: N/A

Alcohol: 14.1

Malolactic: Yes

Botte Size: 750 ml

Acidity: N/A

Other Practices: Sustainable