Grapelive: Wine of the Day June 22, 2020

2018 Stony Hill, White Riesling, Napa Valley.
Stony Hill, a legendary Spring Mountain winery, had its first harvest was in 1952 and has been one of Napa Valley’s great wineries ever since with especially tasty Chardonnay and this Riesling, a classic of this estate, and a wine that has a noted history of aging well. It was nice to see Stony Hill recognized by Slow Wine this year and that is where I got a chance to taste through their current lineup, all of which were stunning wines and well worth searching out, with the mentioned Chardonnay and the Riesling being my favorites, but I must say I was also very impressed with the Cabernet Sauvignon too, which seems like a huge bargain in Napa Cab, will this 2016 version being a fabulous and complex wine. The Riesling shines a golden hue in the glass and it gets going on the medium bodied palate with peach, zesty lime, pineapple and apple butter along with a zesty lemon oil, verbena and spicy kick adding mineral tones, white blossoms and a whiff of petrol. This 2018 vintage with its cool fresh details and extract looks set to have a very long life and when fully open it takes on extra orange, wet rock and kumquat elements hinting at the complexities that should develop in the years to come. Mike Chelini, the winemaker, has been with Stony Hill for over 40 years now and has produced some magical wines and has inspired many of his compatriots, including the famous John Kongsgaard, who was always a fan of the Stony Hill Chardonnays.

Stony Hill, an all dry farmed and green sustainable farmed property, first started planting their White Riesling back in the late 1940s with the latest block getting planted in 1989, making most of the vines being old vines with at least 70 years of age on them. Stony Hill sits high on the side of Spring Mountain, between the towns of St. Helena and Calistoga and the wines always have acid to last for decades, that the winery thinks is important for cellaring, along with the complex flavor profiles that, as they add, unfold only after several years of bottle age. Interestingly, Fred and Eleanor McCrea, the founders of Stony Hill, were huge white Burgundy fans and almost planted the entire estate to Chardonnay, but were talked out of it by UC Davis experts that thought diversity was import for success on the site, so they ended up going with Chardonnay, Riesling and a small amount of Pinot Blanc, followed a few years later by fields of Gewurztraminer and Semillon, and finally in the 21st century put Cabernet Sauvignon in. Now Peter and Willinda McCrea run the winery and their daughter Sarah is looking forward to taking over in the coming years after joining the family operation in 2011, all of which are committed to keeping the traditions and old world style they have grown up with going. This Riesling which goes great with crab dishes and baked ham is a California classic, one of the grapes new world heros, keep an eye out for it!
($39 Est.) 93 Points, grapelive