2007 Dutton-Goldfield Chardonnay Dutton Ranch Russian River Valley
Two things changed. First, it was 2007, a vintage that will no doubt go down as one of the most luscious of the last decade in the Russian River Valley. Second, it was the addition of a new vineyard site to Dan Goldfield's Dutton Ranch bottling. The parcel is called JJJS, but we like to call it "the Anjou brushstroke."
We are huge fans of Dan Goldfield's Dutton Ranch bottlings, but we've never offered them before. Why? Because these have always been classic, sinewed wines-- Chardonnay that tends to take a few years to open up. That doesn't bother us, but we've learned it's not necessarily what our customers like. So we've hesitated. This 2007 changes all that.
The 2007 Dutton Ranch Chardonnay is quite simply luscious -- with a deep, rich kernel of ripe pear fruit, the spice that comes only from the old Wente clone, and the length that is just pure Dutton Ranch. One more time, you can wait 5-7 years to drink this benchmark Chardonnay, but you won't. It's too delicious right out of the starting block.
So what's the secret behind this glorious Chardonnay? Is it the long, drawn-out growing season of 2007 that has us salivating over many of the Pinots and Syrahs of Russian River? Or was it the special sauce, the Anjou bushstroke, provided by JJJS? "It's hard to say," Dan told us. "2007 is spectacular, one of the best vintages I've seen on Dutton Ranch in 25 years. But I have a sneaky suspicion about JJJS. I had the Duttons plant JJJS a dozen years ago. Then I lost it. Now I have it back. It may well be the secret ingredient."
The Secret Ingredient
Steve Dutton planted JJJS for Dan in 1996, when Dan was still at Hartford Court. Dan and Steve chose four clones for the planting: Rued selection from the original Rued Block; Raffo selection, which is another old Wente cutting; Clone 15, a better producing aromatic clone; and Clone 95, a Dijon clone that was new in the area at the time. It's that Clone 95, which is prized for its richness, that may well be the source for the Anjou pear.
Dan only got to produce one vintage before he left Hartford to start Dutton-Goldfield, but he couldn't help but keep an eye on the vineyard. It sits directly across from Dan's driveway and just north of the Dutton shop. Hartford Court used JJJS as a single-vineyard bottling (under the name Three Jacks) for several years. Now it's Dutton-Goldfield's.
"Well-structured, with rich layers of creamy fig, melon and apricot, gaining depth and complexity on the long finish. Drink now through 2011."
91 points--Wine Spectator "Insider," May 6, 2009