I’d been so eager to taste from Fort Ross Vineyards for so long. The reputation of the South African couple who paved the way for Fort Ross-Seaview becoming an AVA and who are the first commercial producers of Pinotage in California far proceeded them, making them almost celebrities in my book. After tasting the Fort Ross Vineyard 2012 Pinot Noir I understood why that reputation has stayed a strong one, and my expectations were not disappointed. Shortly after that review I was invited to visit with the winery’s winemaker, Jeff Pisoni. So on the eve of that visit, I decided to “study” up and taste what the Fort Ross Chardonnay has to say.

About the Wine: The Fort Ross Vineyard 2015 FRV Chardonnay is made of 100% Chardonnay grapes harvested from various blocks along the Fort Ross estate vineyards located in the Fort Ross-Seaview AVA located along California’s Sonoma Coast. Grapes are always handpicked and hand-sorted. The grapes were pressed whole cluster then the juices transferred to French oak barrels (30% new; 70% neutral) for primary and secondary, malolactic fermentation. The wine aged in barrel for 10 months before bottling. The wine is bottled unfiltered and unfined.

13.5% ABV

Flavor Profile: Open the bottle of the Fort Ross Vineyard 2015 FRV Chardonnay and find immediate aromas of apples, brioche, and warm honey. This Chardonnay has a soft yellow tint on the pour, settling into the glass with a much richer, golden hue. Initial aromas are of buttermilk, honeycomb, and lightly sweetened brioche buns. Swirl and find additional scents of soft yellow apples, butter sinking into freshly baked sweet rolls, and just the slightest essence of perfume as you pull the nose above the glass.

The palate of the Fort Ross Vineyard 2015 FRV Chardonnay is soft, oaky, with a thin line of acidity that gathers and then bursts throughout the mouth and down toward the chest during the lingering finish. Dominant flavors are of lemon curd, biscuits, lemongrass, ginger spice, and just a subtle background of butterscotch.

Food Pairing: With its soft texture, rounder flavors, and that sunburst of acidity, the Fort Ross Vineyard 2015 FRV Chardonnay loves cheesy dishes. Indeed, I paired my glass with a homemade pizza — the freshly baked crust the perfect accompaniment to those bready aromas. The softness of the cheese (as well as the cooked mushrooms I had as a topping) of course married well with the creamier elements in the wine, while the citrus and spice of the wine did well to cut through the oils in the meal.

More Info: I received the Fort Ross Vineyard 2015 FRV Chardonnay (Cheers Lisa!) Retail: $44. For more information about Fort Ross Vineyards, their wines, and to purchase wine directly, please visit the Fort Ross Vineyard & Winery website.

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