2015 Gary Farrell Olivet Lane Vineyard Chardonnay

Winery

On trying the first wine Gary Farrell made (a 1978 Davis Bynum Pinot Noir) in a wine competition, the renowned Russian-born enologist, André Tchelistcheff was said to remarked, “whoever made it, he knows Pinot Noir.” Since that time Farrell went on not only to make excellent Pinot Noir, but to play a key role in the transformation of rural Russian River Valley into a world class producer of Pinot Noir and Chardonnay. Young and self-taught, Farrell served as winemaker for Bynum as well as Joe Rochioli and continued to receive Rochioli fruit on a handshake basis long after founding his own winery in 1982. Throughout the 80s and 90s, Farrell set a high bar for small-lot, Russian River Pinot Noir and Chardonnay. Though he sold the winery in 2004 (and retired from the wine business in 2013), his legacy is alive and well at the Gary Farrell Winery. Owned by the Vincraft Group since 2012, the winery remains true to Gary’s belief in vineyard-designated Pinot Noir and Chardonnay from such “Grand Cru” properties as Rochioli, Allen, Westside Farms, and Hallberg. In recent years, the winery has added more storied, heritage vineyards to its portfolio, such as Ritchie, Bacigalupi and Martinelli in RRV, as well as the Durrell Vineyard in Sonoma Valley and the Bien Nacido Vineyard, in the Santa Maria Valley. Because of variations in soils, micro-climate, orientation, clones, and age, these vineyards offer the winery the opportunity to produce wines of place and unique character. Since 2012, the winemaker has been Theresa Heredia, a chemistry researcher-turned-winemaker who arrived with several years’ of experience in cool-climate winemaking at Freestone Winery, the Sonoma Coast operation owned by Joseph Phelps. She has evolved the Gary Farrell house style toward even greater elegance and balance with such “innovative” (actually old!) techniques as early picking, extended maceration, fermentation with whole clusters and native yeasts, aging in large-sized (500 L) puncheons and even some old-fashioned foot treading. Improvements at Gary Farrell have not gone unnoticed by the press. Food and Wine Magazine chose the 2015 Russian River Selection Pinot Noir as one of the PNs “to drink if you want to be an expert,” while Wine Enthusiast selected the 2015 Russian River Selection Chardonnay as its No. 1 of the Enthusiast Top 100 in 2017. 

Wine

Several kilometers west of bustling Santa Rosa, Olivet Lane looks untouched by the 21st century, a narrow road running between old vineyards planted on a gentle slope. Robert Pellegrini, whose family had long been involved in Sonoma County viticulture and winemaking, bought the property in 1973 and had the foresight to plant Chardonnay and Pinot Noir - long before those varieties became the powerhouses they are today. Located in a sweet spot where summer days start out cool and foggy but end warm and sunny, the Olivet Lane vineyard has long been acknowledged as an excellent source of Chardonnay. Indeed, Gary Farrell has produced an Olivet Lane bottling since the 1990s. According to the winery, this Chardonnay “is a pure expression of penetrating acidity moderated by layers of rich, velvety baking spices with crisp apple and citrus notes throughout.” 

Winemaking

The wine was fermented and aged on the lees in 35% new French oak. 100% malolactic fermentation.

Tasting notes

95 points – Wine Enthusiast. A spicy nose reveals crisp apple and lemon citrus with hints of shortbread and apricot tart. The palate is lean and mineral driven with tangy citrus and start fruit. Notes of lemongrass and spice add to the complexity and pleasure of this wine. 

Appellation

Russian River Valley (Sonoma)

Varietal

Chardonnay

Size

750ml

Closure

Cork

Alcohol

13.6%