2015 Devil's Gulch Chardonnay


Tasting Notes

After some prodding from Mark, and begging from our DG team, we agreed to bring in some of his Chardonnay in order to make a bubbly for our friends. For this first vintage, we couldn’t help ourselves from producing a tiny amount of still wine as well, so we left about half the fruit hanging from our August pick to ripen to full maturity. The resulting wine shows its cold Marin coastal roots beautifully, with laser-focused, vivid citrus and stone fruit aromas leaping out of the glass. A crushed oyster shell salinity frames the background, lifting the fruit even further. The mouth is luscious and creamy with apricot, pear, and a little hazelnut spiciness, while retaining its essential core of lively freshness, offering the best of both worlds in a glass. The finish is bracingly crisp, with a pretty jasmine flourish and creamy lychee and papaya tropical kiss at the end. The wine’s perky nature makes it a natural foil for buttery dishes like shrimp scampi or petrale sole meuniere. It would also be perfectly happy alongside a Marin French Cheese Petite Breakfast Cheese or Nicasio Valley Foggy Morning Fromage Blanc.

Winemaker's Notes

When Mark Pasternak planted his original vineyard block on his home site in Nicasio in the early 1980s, he put in half Chardonnay and half Pinot Noir. Dan made some still wine from the grapes in the early 1990s, but when it became apparent that the grapes would be best suited made into bubbly, he hooked Mark up with one of his favorite sparkling houses to take the crop. Fast forward to 2015, and we find ourselves fortunate to be able to get the fruit for Dutton-Goldfield. Located just above the newer terraces of Pinot Noir plantings on Mark’s steep, convoluted hillside in Western Marin County, the Chardonnay enjoys the same harsh climate of the Marin coast, with slightly protected exposures. The blustery spring weather of Marin gives us poor set and an extremely small crop of tiny berries, while the reliable late fall weather promotes great phenolic maturity and wild fruit intensity in the wine. For us, wine is all about personality, and Devil’s Gulch is one of our favorite examples of that.

When we decided to make a still Chardonnay from this fruit, we wanted to make something completely different from our other Chardonnays. Our goal was to bring out the brightness and freshness of a non-ML wine, but not lose the creaminess that we love in Chardonnays. So, with our whopping 3 barrels, we varied the handling of the pressed juice as much as possible: 1 old oak barrel went through malolactic fermentation, and we stirred the lees in the barrel; 1 stainless barrel had no malolactic fermentation, but we did stir the lees; and 1 stainless barrel saw neither malolactic fermentation nor lees stirring. The three lots were blended together and bottled in August of 2016.

Awards & Accolades

97 points, Pinotfile 

2015 Devil's Gulch Chardonnay

Technical Data

Alcohol: 13.8%
TA: 6.0 gm/Lit.
pH: 3.36
Winemaking: 100% barrel fermentation (2 stainless, 1 used oak), 33% malolactic fermentation, 66% stirred lees
Barrel Aging: Aged 10 months in stainless steel and French oak (0% new barrels)

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