Stillman Street Chardonnay
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At Waterford, we love uncovering hidden gems for you. That’s an easier task in places like Spain or Southern Italy where land is relatively inexpensive and grapes obscure – So it’s always a thrill to be able to share a hidden gem from an area as well-known as Sonoma County. And Stillman Street Chardonnay is a gem hidden in one of the most unique microclimates in all of northern California.
The story of Stillman Street begins nearly 200 years ago, as part of the 9,000 acre ranch of Cyrus Alexander, for whom the Alexander Valley is named. In 1982, Roger and Carmen Stuhlmuller purchased a section of that sprawling estate, located at the convergence of three of the most renowned AVAs in Sonoma - Alexander Valley, Chalk Hill, and Russian River. Impressed by the quality of the 90-acres of original 1970’s vine plantings, the Stuhlmullers realized the remarkable viticultural potential of the land.
Bordered to the east by the Russian River, the Stuhlmuller vineyard is situated on a unique geological site that is part river bench and part hillside. There, the vines benefit from gravel, clay, and volcanic soils, formed during thousands of years of tectonic movement and flooding. These ancient soils combined with the area’s microclimates, including clockwork fog and cool nighttime temperatures, yield fruit with a signature mineral quality, great acidity, and complex flavors.
Fruit from this exceptional terroir makes up 80% of the fruit in Stillman Street. The other 20% comes from Jaxon Keys Vineyard in Mendocino, a vineyard that was planted in 1983 and provides small yields of beautifully concentrated fruit. Usually, when you can pinpoint the vineyard sites for California Chardonnay, you can hear the cash register ringing as the price climbs. Luckily, we’ve managed to snag some Stillman Street before it hits the big time.
Acclaimed winemaker Leo Hansen was at the helm this vintage. The 2018 growing season in Sonoma was characterized by many winemakers as exceptional. The Spring started with a near-perfect fruit set and the weather stayed consistent throughout the summer with many fewer heat spikes than normal.
Leo used older French oak barrels to ferment and age roughly 50% of the wine. The wine in the barrel was aged Sur Lie with frequent stirring for 10 months. The balance of the wine was aged in a tank to blend in its natural crisp acidity while maintaining the vineyard fresh Chardonnay characteristics. The result is an incredibly vibrant and balanced Chard with layers of citrus, minerality, and a hint of vanilla.
Don’t miss out on this elegant California Chardonnay, just in time for outdoor drinking season, and a price where you can stock up for the summer.