Fort Ross Vineyard focuses their vines to Pinot Noir and Chardonnay. The interesting thing about tasting from a winery with focused varietal selection is how different the resulting wines are based on individual block location, clonal selection, and of course the winemaking methods. The grapes for the Fort Ross Vineyard 2015 Mother of Pearl Chardonnay consist of old Wente clones, grown atop the estate’s highest elevated vineyards. Winemaker Jeff Pisoni highlights the complexity of the resulting fruit with his minimalistic winemaking approach.

About the Wine: The Fort Ross Vineyard 2015 Mother of Pearl Chardonnay is made from 100% Chardonnay grapes harvested from Fort Ross estate vineyards located in the Fort Ross-Seaview AVA of the Sonoma Coast in California. The grapes were hand picked and hand-sorted. They then went through a gentle pressing, and juice was then transferred to French oak barrels (45% new; 55% neutral) where it underwent primary and secondary, malolactic fermentation, aging for 10 months before bottling. The wine was bottled unflitered and unfined.

13.5% ABV

Flavor Profile: Open the bottle of the Fort Ross Vineyard 2015 Mother of Pearl Chardonnay and find an aroma reminiscent of freshly baked apple cake. On the pour, this Chardonnay is a golden yellow, and settles into the glass just a bit warmer, with the hue of the summertime sun just about to set. Initial aromas are of cream, buttermilk, sunflowers, dew-moistened grass warmed by the sun, and a subtle acidity. Swirl and open up the aromas to include jasmine and a bit of stone fruits, all the while maintaining that initial floral-earthy scent.

The palate of the Fort Ross Vineyard 2015 Mother of Pearl Chardonnay is round and supple in the front, with a flat-lying texture in the background. The acidity is a continuous, fluid line from start to finish, working alongside both the flavors and the textures.

Dominant flavors are of sunflowers, mangos, lemongrass, a touch of oak, meyer lemon pith, and lime zest. The finish is all about that mouthfeel, that subtle texture on the tongue. The final flavors are a play on that, bringing to mind almond skins and parmesan rind.

Food Pairing: The truth is that this Chardonnay has so many levels — both in texture and in flavor — that you’ll want to sip it on its own first. Play with it, try to figure it out — it is the very definition of a complex wine.

That being said, when you are ready to move on to your meal, I highly suggest a wild mushroom risotto. The creamy base is the perfect backdrop to the complexity of the wine. The wild mushrooms will compliment earthy aromas while simultaneously calling the fruit flavors forward. And the consistent acidity in the wine will add a sense of relief to the palate, perfectly rounding out the meal.

More Info: I received the Fort Ross Vineyard 2015 Mother of Pearl Chardonnay as a gift. (Cheers Jeff!) Retail: $60 For more information about Fort Ross Vineyard, their wines, and to purchase wine directly, please visit the Fort Ross Vineyard website.

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