Wente Riva Ranch Chardonnay 2021
The 2021 Riva Ranch Vineyard Chardonnay opens with toasty oak aromatics, complemented by fruit notes from baked apple to freshly cut pineapple, melted caramel, and toasted brioche on the palate.
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Likably tart aromas of lime pith and grapefruit peel are warmed by almond and lifted by spearmint on the nose of this bottling. The palate is rounded in expression, with baked melon, lemon and hazelnut flavors finishing on a flinty note.
Founded in 1883, Wente Vineyards is the country’s longest continuously family-owned and operated winery. Today, the winery maintains its leadership role in California winegrowing under the ownership and management of the fourth and fifth generations of the Wente family. Blending traditional and innovative winemaking practices, the winery draws from its sustainably-farmed vineyards to create an outstanding portfolio of wines. The family owns and operates vineyards in two world-class regions of the Central Coast of California - Livermore Valley and Arroyo Seco, Monterey. Located just east of San Francisco in the historic Livermore Valley, Wente Vineyards is recognized as one of California’s premier wine country destinations, featuring wine tasting, food and wine experiences, and championship golf.
In 1912, 2nd Generation Ernest Wente persuaded his father and founder, C.H. Wente, to import Chardonnay cuttings from a well-known vine nursery, F. Richter Nursery in Montpellier, France, to the Livermore Valley. Ernest hand-picked vines that showed the best health and pronounced flavors, grafted the two together and propagated those characteristics forward. Ultimately creating what is known as the ‘Wente Clone.’ Today, over 75% of all California Chardonnay stems from the Wente Clone and the Wente Family property.
Named after the dramatic, seasonal river of rain and snowmelt that cuts through the upper elevations of the Santa Lucia Mountains, the Arroyo Seco AVA extends east from the resultant mountain gorge, and into the rural and warm Salinas Valley. During the growing season, cool and damp Pacific Ocean air penetrates the gorge and flows into the valley, creating a cool evening respite for vineyards after a hot summer day. This natural water-release has also created a subterranean aquifer, which helps set the foundation of the AVA's boundaries and supplies the vineyards with water.
Arroyo Seco was actually home to the first commercial vineyard in California, called Mission Ranch, which was owned and propogated by the Mirassou family in the 1960s.
Chardonnay is most widely grown here. But as one of Monterey’s warmer regions, Arroyo Seco enjoys the highest praise for its reds, namely Bordeaux blends.
Arroyo Seco is one of the oldest AVAs in California, its status granted in the early 1980s, and also remains one of its smallest.
One of the most popular and versatile white wine grapes, Chardonnay offers a wide range of flavors and styles depending on where it is grown and how it is made. While it tends to flourish in most environments, Chardonnay from its Burgundian homeland produces some of the most remarkable and longest lived examples. California produces both oaky, buttery styles and leaner, European-inspired wines. Somm Secret—The Burgundian subregion of Chablis, while typically using older oak barrels, produces a bright style similar to the unoaked style. Anyone who doesn't like oaky Chardonnay would likely enjoy Chablis.