2007 Stuhlmuller Vineyards Reserve Chardonnay
Mission Codename: Convergence
Operative: Agent White
Objective: Visit Stuhlmuller Vineyards and acquire a limited allocation of their Reserve Chardonnay.
Mission Status: Accomplished!
Current Winery: Stuhlmuller Vineyards
Wine Subject: 2007 Alexander Valley Reserve Chardonnay
Winemaker: Leo Hansen
Backgrounder: The Alexander Valley in northeast Sonoma County is located on the western side of the Mayacamas range and extends westward to the edge of the Russian River Valley. This appellation was formerly considered a part of Dry Creek Valley but became its own appellation in November 1984. The region is best known for exceptional Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot but recently people are starting to discover its Sangiovese, Nebbiolo and Chardonnay as well.
Today’s selection is grown in the Alexander Valley converges with the Russian River Valley AVA and the Chalk Hill AVA – both extremely highly regarded for exceptional Chardonnay.
Wine Spies Tasting Profile:
Look – Crystal clear straw yellow with golden hues that shine when held to the light. Along the edge, the color becomes slightly more pale and when swirled, widely spaced thin legs race down to the wine below.
Smell – Medium in intensity with classic California Chardonnay aromatics including a variety of stone fruit with a touch of citrus. Notes of ripe pineapple, spice and toasted nuts and buttery biscuit and popcorn notes also emerge and blend with vanilla and floral aromas.
Feel – Smooth in its initial attack, this dry, medium to full-bodied white has a a good weight and a creamy mid palate that is punctuated with a touch of tangy acidity, subtle spice and minerality.
Taste – Rich and ripe flavors of stone fruit including apple, peach and pear along with zesty citrus notes. Layers of vanilla, toasted oak and nuts, buttery biscuit and creamy custard adds complexity.
Finish – Clean, ripe and rich with the fruit component gently fading leaving behind a slight tangy citrus acidity and a touch of minerality that is balanced by this wine’s creamy weight.
Conclusion – The 2007 Stuhlmuller Vineyards Alexander Valley Reserve Chardonnay is a classic California style Chardonnay with balance between its fruit and buttery creaminess. Easy, approachable and well integrated, this wine will accompany a variety of foods and is perfect for spring salads and mild seafood.
WINEMAKER INTEL BRIEFING DOSSIER
SUBJECT: Leo Hanson
WINE EDUCATION: Sommelier – WSET Diploma , Hands on winemaking in Australia and California
CALIFORNIA WINE JOB BRIEF: 1999 Clos du Bois – Cellar Rat, 2000 Yoakim Bridge Dry Creek Valley (small family winery) – Harvest and beyond fermentation, bottling. 2001 Château Souverain – Harvest Lab. 2002 – Current- Stuhlmuller Vineyards – Winemaker since 2004
WINEMAKING PHILOSOPHY: Hands off minimal manipulation – no use of cultured yeasts or enzymes. No fining and minimal filtration if any.
WINEMAKER QUOTE: My focus is completely on wine not philosophy.
FIRST COMMERCIAL WINE RELEASE: 2002 Estate Chardonnay
AGENT WHITE: Greetings, Leo. We are thrilled to be showing Stuhlmulller’s Chardonnay today. Thanks so much for taking some time to answer questions for our Operatives today.
WINEMAKER: I’m happy to share this limited production with other wine aficionados, who are always searching for new gems
WHITE: Was there a specific experience in your life that inspired your love of wine?
WINEMAKER: While I was a young Hotel/restaurant apprentice in Denmark I had the pleasure to work under Orla Farmann. Watching him prepare for the Sommelier World Cup in Tokyo was very inspiring and really got me excited about the wine world.
WHITE: What wine or winemaker has most influenced your winemaking style?
WINEMAKER: Working at Chateau Souverain I was impressed by how Ed Killian was able to make a large-scale quality value wine and still keep true to varietal characteristics from Sonoma County grapes. However, I like the style of biodynamic producer Ted Lemon from Littorai, the approach of very site-specific wines.
WHITE: Who do you make wine for?
WINEMAKER: I suppose I make wine for the vineyard, meaning my take on what the vineyard is giving us. Plus having my passion and personal signature in it.
WHITE: Please tell me a little bit about the wine we are featuring today.
WINEMAKER: 35-year-old vines. Low yielding vines with small clusters. Indigenous yeasts, 14 months in selected French oak from small artisan Bourgogne cooperages, minimal lees stirring, unfined and unfiltered. A wine with high complexity and concentration, with long aging potential.
WHITE: What is your favorite pairing with today’s wine?
WINEMAKER: The menu is: Corn soup with truffle oil, seared scallops with mango salsa, BBQ chicken with grilled porcini mushrooms and Aged Comte. You’re on your own for desert!
WHITE: In your opinion, what makes the Alexander Valley so special?
WINEMAKER: Southern Alexander Valley with the Russian River on the Eastern boarder of the vineyard and the Chalk Hill gap to the South. On a old river bottom with various soil types, mainly loamy-clay and gravel. Large diurnal temperature, which creates a more, intensified and developed grape with firm acidity.
WHITE: What is occupying your time at the winery these days?
WINEMAKER: These days I have been racking, blending, and tasting new blends from 2009 vintage I’m looking forward to bottling our 2008 Cabernet in May which I am excited about. After that the next big task is bottling 2009 Chardonnay in late June.
WHITE: How would you recommend people approach your wines and wine in general?
WINEMAKER: Wine should be experienced with food, friends, and family. It should be part of your life in a positive aspect, enjoyed and remembered fondly.
WHITE: Is there anything else you’d like to share with our readers?
WINEMAKER: Lucky you, this is a great find from Agent Rouge.
WHITE: Thank you so much for your time. We learned a lot about you – and your wine. Keep up the great work, we are big fans!
Wine Spies Vineyard Check:
The location of Stuhlmuller Vineyards can be seen in this satellite photo.