2016 Martin Ray Joseph Belli Chardonnay
Near the western edge of Russian River Valley, Joseph Belli has planted his Chardonnay to steep, terraced hillsides. Choosing Rued and Dijon clones, he farms organically with meticulous care, and has gained notable recognition from top critics for his vineyard. Known for producing opulent fruit, this inaugural vintage of our Joseph Belli bottling is classic chardonnay at its best.
Much to the delight of both grape growers and winemakers, the 2016 vintage carried through from beginning to end, with ideal conditions and ideal results. Long-awaited rainfall during the winter and early spring replenished desperate reservoirs and ground water, easing the concerns generated by several years’ worth of drought conditions. The summer was kind, with only a few heat spikes, which then carried over into a true Indian Summer; keeping daytime temperatures above normal, and the mornings foggy and cool throughout the peak month of September, permitting us to take our time in evaluating and calling picks at their optimal maturity. Nature patiently waited for us to bring in our final lots before returning with the rain that has traditionally been the signal for the end of the harvest season.
As one of our premium, vineyard-designated Chardonnays, we take special care with each step from vineyard to bottle. These grapes are handpicked then whole-cluster pressed with careful attention in separating the free run and lightly pressed juice from hard press to eliminate potential for bitterness. It is then sent to French oak barrels to undergo primary and malolactic fermentation, during which it is stirred bi-weekly to maximize mouthfeel and volume. This wine aged for 12 months on 40% new French oak, before we hand-selected the best barrels that make up the blend.
There is an intensity of fruit, full of granny smith apple, baked pear, and subtle quince. Notes of peony give way to mandarin and marzipan, layered white currant and lemon zest. Staying true to its Russian River roots, it is plentiful with acidity, but balanced, with creamy texture and fresh fruit finish.