2005 Stonestreet Chardonnay, Alexander Valley | VailDaily.com

2005 Stonestreet Chardonnay, Alexander Valley

Jarrett Osborn

Stonestreet Winery dramatically changed the style of its chardonnay two vintages ago. Before, the wine was a big, rich, oaky white, with a smooth finish. With the 2005 Stonestreet Chardonnay, they started using only estate-grown grapes, limiting production and raising quality. The result is a crisp, elegant wine with more depth and complexity than its predecessors. Start with spicy pear, light toast and honeysuckle aromas, followed by the same flavors coupled with mineral notes and a rich, but clean finish. This wine is now perfect with light chicken dishes, brie and other cream cheeses, and sauteed trout.

Winemaker Graham Weerts ages the chardonnay for six months in French and American oak barrels, only 30 percent of them new. This gives a light toasty and spicy note to the wine without killing it with smoky oak. He also uses native yeasts to drive the fermentation, augmenting this with partial innoculation to keep it steady. This gives the wine a rich, almost silky and honey feel to the body, with a lightly chalky finish.

In 1971, Edward Gauer planted grapevines on this property in Sonoma County. Stonestreet Winery was formed in 1989, and Jess Jackson purchased it in 1995. Yes, the same Jess Jackson who owns Kendall-Jackson winery. Nice to see one man can handle a huge winery and a small one and achieve success at both. The big change at Stonestreet was the hiring of winemaker Weerts in 2004, a move coinciding with the down-sizing of the production. The 2005 Stonestreet Chardonnay costs just over $30.

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