Gary Farrell Chardonnay: Balanced on the edge
One of the more interesting aspects of tasting Chardonnays is to make note of their acidity or “pucker factor”. For some Chards, it’s like taking a big bite of green apple, for others it’s like having Crème Brulee for dessert.
Because the winemaker ultimately makes the hard choices about a Chardonnay’s acidity, there are brands that are known for being crisp and brands known for being creamy. There are also brands, and even vintages, that are known for being smack in the middle.
These “Mugwumps” represent the unpredictable and are often the most interesting Chards to taste and pair with cuisine. The same brands can change their tone from year to year, following the whims of the vineyard and winemaker, making it a try before you buy necessity.
In their newly-released 2014 Russian River Selection, Gary Farrell has created a Chardonnay that possesses what may be right in the middle. And given the number of wines they offer with Wine Enthusiast ratings into the 90’s, this one is in good company.
Starting with a not-so-typical bouquet of citrus, floral notes, and oak, the departure from the up-front green apples found in many Chardonnays is immediately noticeable. Following up with a body of pear, vanilla, and traces of oak, the flavor complexity is captivating.
But the real surprise is its acidity. At first, it seems as if tartness is going to dominate, then a nicely balanced softness takes over and rounds it out toward the middle. This character has also been evident in Gary Farrell’s previous vintages and is an excellent expression of 2014’s wonderful harvest. It’s certainly a fine representation of the Russian River region.
The Russian River Selection Chardonnay 2014 is available (or soon to be) at Phoenix area Total Wine stores for about $30. For tasting comparisons of similarly priced Chards, try Total Wine’s winery direct “Luquet Pouilly Fuisse Bois Seguin” and “Frank Family Chardonnay Napa”. If you get all three on the table, you’re sure to get lots of comments from your favorite Chardonnay people.