2018 Elaine Wines, Chardonnay, Calypte Vineyard, Russian River Valley.
Coming from Chardonnay vines that are now 22 years old vines set on classic Russian River Goldridge soils at the cool climate Calypte Vineyard, the pale golden and aromatic Elaine Wines Chardonnay is pure and concentrated on the palate, but with a low natural alcohol vitality shining through and pretty layers of peach, apple, pear and quince fruits, along with toasty brioche, fig, honeysuckle, clove spice, lemon curd, wet stone and vanilla notes. Everything is nicely framed and detailed with plenty of fresh acidity to hold it all in pace, this is an exceptional vintage for the region and the wines are singing, the cool long growing season really produced awesome results, with this Chard showcasing the year’s best features. Winemaker Elaine Sale, along with her husband Mark, hand tended and hand harvested the grapes, all clone 96, and did an all native yeast fermentation in barrel, after which it was allowed to go through full malolactic conversation and aged about a year in 50% new French oak, all of which resulted in fabulous Chardonnay to enjoy with decedent cuisine. I have been following these Elaine Calypte Vineyard wines for a few years now and while I was focusing on her Pinot Noir, this Chardonnay has made an impression of me and it might now be my favorite here so far.

The Calypte Vineyard, a ridge top three-acre vineyard on a steep, rugged site in the Russian River Valley, was originally planted in 1998 to Pinot Noir and Chardonnay and serves as the couple’s home and only source of grapes for this micro winery. Elaine Sale and Mark, moved from North Carolina to California to pursue Elaine’s dream of living on a vineyard and making wine. Armed with a certificate in winemaking from UC Davis they began their search for a vineyard in California where to make this a reality. Mark and Elaine were immediately drawn to the natural beauty and wonderful climate of the Russian River Valley, especially for Pinot Noir and Chardonnay, as well as its welcoming community of supportive grape growers and winemakers that they came in contact with and who have helped get this couple started. This site, all sustainably farmed with its fine-grained sandy loam and western location is providing quality and well balanced grapes. Now with a few vintages under their belt and their sustainable farming regime they are finding the sweet spot with both the vines and the wines, as their 2018s show tremendous potential and are lovely wines, with this Chardonnay really impressing for its precision and energy. Coming in at about 13% natural alcohol, this 2018 Chardonnay has all the richness you’d want, without the heaviness, over ripe or buttery elements that you might expect, along with admirable clarity of form, look for this 2018 to age well for another 5 to 10 years.
($50 Est.) 93 Points, grapelive

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