Oh Stony Hill — another winery to cross off my bucket list! The original Stony Hill Vineyard, located in Napa’s Spring Mountain AVA, was purchased by Fred and Eleanor McCrea back in the early 1940s. The first vines were planted in 1948 and by 1954 the couple already had a reputation for crafting fine Napa wines. When Fred passed in the late 1970s, assistant winemaker Mike Chelini took the winemaking reigns, and he’s held on tight to those ropes for over 40 years now. The bulk of the business remains in the family, with Fred and Eleanor’s son and daughter-in-law, Peter and Willinda, running the day-to-day operations and with their daughter, Sarah, taking over as president as of 2011.
According to the winery, Fred and Eleanor loved the white wines of Burgundy and would have loved to have planted their entire vineyard to Chardonnay. Well, they didn’t plant the whole vineyard to Chardonnay. But I can say that Fred and Eleanor would be proud that their family does great honor to the fruit that founding couple held in such high esteem.
About the Wine: The Stony Hill 2013 Napa Valley Chardonnay is made from 100% Chardonnay grapes harvested from the Stony Hill estate vineyards located in the Napa’s Spring Mountain AVA. The juice fermented for 2 weeks in seasoned (6 to 26 years) French oak barrels at 60 degrees. The wine then aged an additional 10 months in French oak (100% seasoned). The wine was filtered to remove yeast and inhibit malolactic fermentation.
Flavor Profile: Open the bottle of the Stony Hill 2013 Napa Valley Chardonnay and breathe in immediate aromas of apple, raw honey, and damp green grass blowing in the breeze. This Chardonnay is a pale champagne hue on the pour, settling into the glass just a shade darker with a hint of beige.
Initial aromas are of apple cake, apple blossoms, a hint of pineapple citrus, and the suggestion of a passionfruit. Swirl and release the richness of oak, a hint of vanilla, and a thin line of acidity. The palate of the Stony Hill 2013 Napa Valley Chardonnay is soft, round, smooth as silk. Just as the nose suggested, there’s just a delicate acidity that really only presents itself after the swallow with a lingering tingle on the tongue.
Dominant flavors are of vanilla, blonde caramel, apple, pear, fennel fronds, and just the slightest hint of citrus as if from a pineapple rind.
Food Pairing: I paired the Stony Hill 2013 Napa Valley Chardonnay with a mediterranean salad consisting of tomatoes, dried cranberries, feta cheese, caramelized onions, all tossed in a vinaigrette. This was topped with a vegetarian protein.
The acidity of the tomatoes and the balsamic did well to highlight the fruit notes, bringing the acidity to the forefront and the vanilla and caramel-like flavors to the back. Meanwhile, the spice in the vegetarian protein highlighted the herbaceous, anise-y quality and the sharpness of the feta provided an overall rounder mouthfeel. Perfect pairing both flavor-wise and texturally.
While this wine paired well with this humble, home-cooked meal, I would definitely try this again with with either my wild mushroom risotto (I think the freshness of the wine would complement the richness of the dish) or my scallops with pea puree and roasted red pepper sauce (because yum). It’s a well balanced wine that one could enjoy either on a casual evening or for a date night in. You choose — and cheers!
More Info: I received the Stony Hill 2013 Napa Valley Chardonnay as a sample for review. (Cheers Sam!) Retail: $54. For more information about Stony Hill, their wines, and to purchase wine directly, please visit the Stony Hill Vineyard website.
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