Jewell, “Ritchie Vineyard” Chardonnay
Jewell, “Ritchie Vineyard” Chardonnay

Jewell, “Ritchie Vineyard” Chardonnay

California, United States 2021 (750mL)
Regular price$69.00
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Jewell, “Ritchie Vineyard” Chardonnay

We’ve featured quite a few wines from Sonoma/Humboldt Pinot Noir whisperer Adrian Manspeaker (and we’ve got more Joseph Jewell Pinot on deck for mid-June) but, today is about Chardonnay: crystalline, perfumed, precise Chardonnay from the Ritchie Vineyard in the Russian River Valley, a site favored by Chardonnay maestros such as Ramey and DuMol (among others). Today’s wine is part of a new vineyard-designate lineup called “Jewell,” and the best way to describe it is as a “line-in-the-sand” kind of wine. As in, “Okay Burgundy, you want some of this?”

Sure, it’s been proven time and again that California can produce Chardonnay to rival (or eclipse) Premier and Grand Cru white Burgundy, but the arrival of a wine like this ’21 still sends shock waves through the system. No serious connoisseur would bat an eye at paying this price for a Burgundy, and frankly, given what many in California are charging for elite-level bottlings, this one feels like a bargain. But it feels momentous nonetheless—a highly pedigreed pairing of site and producer that belongs among the best in class!  

As Manspeaker explains it, Ritchie Vineyard’s Kent Ritchie is his neighbor in Forestville, so their “neighborly conversations over the fence for the past few years have paid off.” The vineyard is positioned about 12 miles from the Pacific Ocean and close to the Russian River, exposing it to a daily blast of fog that blankets the valley and cools everything down, providing much-needed length to the growing season. And, Manspeaker continues, there’s the soil, which is described as Goldridge Series loam but a significant amount of volcanic tufa (hardened ash). “This adds to the tension and freshness you get from this vineyard,” he says, “as well as the minerality and the focus that define some of the great white Burgundies. The list of well-known wineries producing a Ritchie Chardonnay is long.”

For his interpretation of Ritchie, Manspeaker fermented this ’21 in a combination of concrete “eggs” (60%) and French oak barrels, 20% of which were new. The wine is taut, focused, and full of energy, with a palpable minerality to complement its sunny Russian River Valley ripeness. Shining a bright yellow-gold in the glass, its first impression is of lemon and honeysuckle, followed by ripe yellow apple, honey, graphite, and toasted almonds. Notes of white peach and wet stones emerge on the medium-bodied palate, everything framed by mouth-watering acidity. It’s a serious Chardonnay, one that is sure to improve over the next 3-5 years if you decide to cellar some, but the beauty is, you could go either way: this is the stuff memorable meals are made of, be it tonight or a few years down the line. Prepare accordingly!

Jewell, “Ritchie Vineyard” Chardonnay

United States


Columbia Valley

Like many Washington wines, the “Columbia Valley” indication only tells part of the story: Columbia Valley covers a huge swath of Central
Washington, within which are a wide array of smaller AVAs (appellations).


Willamette Valley

Oregon’s Willamette Valley has become an elite winegrowing zone in record time. Pioneering vintner David Lett, of The Eyrie Vineyard, planted the first Pinot Noir in the region in 1965, soon to be followed by a cadre of forward-thinking growers who (correctly) saw their wines as America’s answer to French
Burgundies. Today, the Willamette
Valley is indeed compared favorably to Burgundy, Pinot Noir’s spiritual home. And while Pinot Noir accounts for 64% of Oregon’s vineyard plantings, there are cool-climate whites that must not be missed.


Santa Barbara

Among the unique features of Santa Barbara County appellations like Ballard Canyon (a sub-zone of the Santa Ynez Valley AVA), is that it has a cool, Pacific-influenced climate juxtaposed with the intense luminosity of a southerly
latitude (the 34th parallel). Ballard Canyon has a more north-south orientation compared to most Santa Barbara AVAs, with soils of sandy
clay/loam and limestone.


Paso Robles

Situated at an elevation of 1,600 feet, it is rooted in soils of sandy loam and falls within the Highlands District of the Paso Robles AVA.

New York

North Fork

Wine growers and producers on Long Island’s North Fork have traditionally compared their terroir to that of Bordeaux and have focused on French varieties such as Cabernet Franc and Merlot.

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