Another pure Chardonnay from the venerable house of Dr. Pinot, you are almost guaranteed goodness when this label pops up. Perfectly clear canary-goldenrod, it literally looks like a jewel in the glass. A solid base of dusty earth roiled with gunpowder and clean horse-stall, a bit of sharp stemminess plies the musk and rich, round fruit. Plum and peach in careful doses, chamomile and lavender mingle with fresh-baked bread and mountain fern with Chinese 5-spice or even an almost green-curry-ish note around the cider-y, green-apple alcohol and rich floral.

Donald Patz hasn’t slowed down a bit since excusing himself as the face of Patz & Hall a half-decade ago. Four new labels are currently produced under his watchful eye–all drawing from decades of regional knowledge and world-wide relationships built along the way. Top-quality Napa Valley cabs are made under his–and his wife’s, respectively–SECRET DOOR and JML labels; stunning coastal Rhone reds and whites appear under the TERMINUS brand–a compilation with Francois Villard; and this one: going back to the Russian River roots with numerous vineyard-designate Pinots and Chards under MARITANA.

In the mouth, a kind of Chardonnay experience at one time quite rare in California, but thankfully is growing–thanks to producers steering their wines away from the popular *oak & butter* theme promising box-office receipts from the 99 but despicable to true wine people. Oh, it’s rich and round: Chardonnay NEEDS to be, to fully expose its lush potential, but under the gracious attack, acid and spice and delicious bitter protrudes. It is a sweet nectar at the fore-front, but piles on citrus minerality and earthy funk immediately. A GIANT wine on the palate, one of the most-stuffed whites you will encounter. A perfect mélange of oak programme and buttery acid caresses the decadence of the fruit, polishing it to robust levels while keeping the base-line dry, bright and wiry. The finish runs sweet nectar down acrid and tannic trails in your throat.

Quite possibly one of the most-perfect California Chardonnays produced.

2019 MARITANA Chardonnay Ritchie Vyd RRV Sonoma 14.0


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