C. Donatiello Chardonnays

2007 C. Donatiello Chardonnay Branley Vineyard Russian River Valley
White Wine; Chardonnay; Sonoma;
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2007 C. Donatiello Chardonnay Orsi Vineyard Russian River Valley
White Wine; Chardonnay; Sonoma;
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I am not really a wine snob. True, I hold Chardonnay from the Cote D’Or in the highest regard, but that is not to say I don’t enjoy Chardonnay grown elsewhere. As a matter of fact, I have a particular fondness for Russian River Valley Chardonnay (and Pinot too, but that’s for another time!). I was given the inside scoop on a new Russian River Valley winery-right there on Westside Road. I first checked them out this summer. I had a lovely visit. I dragged along my husband and daughter and pretended to be a tourist for the afternoon. I enjoyed the wine. I purchased a bottle, drank it at home and became convinced that this is the real deal. Just to make absolutely sure I wasn’t just swayed by the enchanting surroundings, I made a return visit. This time I brought my father, daughter, and the dog. To convince my daughter that a visit to a winery so that Mommy could taste wine would be fun for her, I tried to sell her on the idea that the outing was going to be an “adventure”. She did not buy it. However, her whining ceased as we approached the winery’s driveway; recognizing the place from our last visit, she exclaimed, “I love this place!”

C. Donatiello is a reincarnation of sorts; a winery reemerged from one that was trying to be everything for everyone to one now devoted to small production, primarily single-vineyard bottlings of Chardonnay and Pinot Noir. To make this transition happen, the winery made a savvy move obtaining winemaker Webster Marquez to lead the way. If the name is not immediately recognizable, Webster Marquez happens to be part of the trio that is known as Anthill Farms. Yes, that Anthill Farms! Not to draw too much on Marquez’ connection to Anthill Farms, afterall C. Donatiello wines are an entity onto themselves, what I will say is that there is a shared approach that lets the character of the vineyard push through and take center stage. This makes for some interesting, expressive wine! For our inaugural C. Donatiello offer, two scrumptious, though wildly different Chardonnays have been selected: 2007 Branley Vineyard and 2007 Orsi Vineyard. The 2007 Branley Vineyard Chardonnay comes from a small three-acre site located on the southern edge of the Russian River Valley. My tasting notes included butterscotch, ripe apple and ended with this rambling note, “still has nice acid structure behind all that caramel, apple notes = long, long finish, richness and power behind it”. The Branley captured the attention of Allen Meadows from Burghound who wrote that it “was delicious, complex and displayed only a trace of warmth; it could be drunk now or cellared for a year or two.” It is a full-bodied wine that can match some showy dishes. The bottle I brought home from my first visit was the Branley and I served it with spaghetti smothered in a crab and saffron cream sauce. It was decadent and memorable. The rich sauce needed something powerful and broad; the Branley Chardonnay fit the bill. Only 175 cases were produced. The 2007 Orsi Vineyard Chardonnay is extremely stylish and refined. The vineyard, located across the River from the winery on the south side of Eastside Road, is dry-farmed with vines approximately 40 years of age. I got flavors of ripe Asian pear, snappy apple and fragrant mandarin orange. Mr. Meadows wrote of this wine that it “was balanced, pure and it would challenge all but very careful tasters to distinguish it from a villages level Meursault.” That is high praise indeed from a writer that is not known for embellishment, ’nuff said!

The outing with my father, daughter and beloved pet did not just end with C.Donatiello. The adventure continued with a visit to my favorite vegetable patch, Windmill Farms. After that we pilfered eggs from my brother’s chickens and took a trip up to Walkers Apple Farm in Sebastopol before heading home. Life does not get much better than that! All these photos were taken from that day. I hope you enjoy them.-Anya Balistreri

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