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We are excited today to offer some impeccably aged Chardonnay and Pinot Noir from one of California's most famous producers: Kistler Vineyards. We've received these wines from a collector who was on their mailing list for many years and sent the wines directly to professional wine storage. Since their first vintage in 1978, Kistler has produced single site wines with intriguing identities, combining terroir-specificity with judicious use of new oak. Frequently considered the benchmark producer of classic Chardonnay, today we also offer a number of vintages of their Pinot Noirs as well.
On the Sonoma Coast, there are the Dutton Vineyard and the winery's own Vine Hill Vineyard, both sporting Goldridge fine sandy loam, perhaps Sonoma's most famous substratum, which reaches extraordinary depth at Vine Hill.
Up on Sonoma Mountain we have the famed McCrea Vineyard, wit h its rare combination of limestone and Sonoma Volcanics - a hodgepodge of various igneous bedrocks, soils, and volcanic ash that have come from 25 millions years of seismic and volcanic activity along the San Andreas Fault. High up, at almost 1,800 feet above sea level, can be found the dry-farmed Kistler Vineyard, planted in deep furrows of red volcanic ash. Of special note is the Cuvée Cathleen, sourced from a single block of the Kistler vineyard where broken shale can be found interspersed with the red volcanic ash.
In Carneros, Kistler makes wine from the Hyde and Durell Vineyards, which are predominantly marine loam, as well as the Hudson Vineyard, which which is found at the intersection of these marine sediments and their neighboring inland volcanic sediments.
The Pinot Noirs have been sourced from a number of different vineyards throughout Sonoma, including famous sites like Hirsch, Camp Meeting Ridge, and Laguna Ridge, with its panoramic views of both the Russian River Valley and the Pacific Ocean on either side.
We hope you enjoy this wide array of site-specific wines from one of California's top producers. Andrew Farquhar
Dry-farmed Chardonnay from the sandy-soiled Vine Hill Vineyard. The robe is a pale golden color. The nose offers aromas of white flowers, honeysuckle, lemon blossom, white peaches and lemon curd. The mid-weight palate offers a good tension between richness, texture and pure stone fruit flavors with an underlying mineral complexity with a long detailed, layered finish. The once (likely substantial) oak has been digested and is now well-integrated. This is a beautifully mature Russian River Chardonnay and displays fine energy and brightness at 24 years old. I'd love this with a lobster roll, crab Louis, or pan-roasted striped bass. John McIlwain
There was a time when the wines from Kistler were viewed by certain influential wine writers are the gold standard and brave new frontier for Pinot Noir. Highly rated and nearly impossible to find in the wild, with prices rivaling some Burgundy grand crus, it was easy to get carried away with the hype, if only you could find a bottle. Dark tones on the nose, violets, black cherry, and a hint of pipe tobacco. On the rich, though not massive palate, dried berries, bing cherry, baking spices give way to notes of blood orange peel, game, and blackberry compote. The tannins are nicely resolved , the oak is well-knit, and there’s a surprising amount of freshness given the source and the vintage. There 's a fine bit of complexity here, with an attractive tension between the ripe fruit and savory and spice notes.This is a finely aged California Pinot Noir that offers intriguing depth to accompany the sunny ripeness. John McIlwain
Initially bit less effusive on the nose than the 1997; with air, aromas of wild blackberry, pomegranate, rose hip, and cherry pit with hints of Lapsang souchong, five spice and a bit of wood toast emerge. The palate is a bit more resolved, with red cherry and raspberry liqueur and balsam flavors giving way to notes of game, exotic spices, and plum skin. The tannins are well knit and there's a lovely autumnal, sous-bois character, that has me thinking this would be fine pairing with roasted quail or tagliatelle with wild mushrooms. I find myself surprised by the prettiness that overtakes the expected power on the wines. Overall, this is perhaps, softer and less driving than the 1997, but an intriguing, finely knit example of mellowed California Pinot Noir. John McIlwain