The 2010 Hook and Ladder Russian River Chardonnay is sourced from their Estate vineyards in the Russian River sub AVA of Sonoma, California. This is not a “brand” wine or a virtual winery, Hook and Ladder grow the grapes in their own vineyards and produce, age and bottle the wine in their own winery. Hook and Ladder is part of DeLoach Vineyards, founded in 1970 by Cecil DeLoach, a San Francisco fireman (hence the Hook and Ladder name) and it is still a family owned and run operation. 75% of this Chardonnay underwent malolactic fermentation (softens the grapes natural acidity) and the wine was aged in French oak barrels for 8 months. The wine was aged “on lees” which means all the dead yeast and bits and pieces of grape residue are left in the barrel and they are periodically stirred. This gives the wine added depth and a slightly nutty flavor along with a touch of creaminess, depending on just how often the lees are stirred. The alcohol content is 14.1%.
The color is a pale butter yellow with a slight pink hue. The nose is apple, honey, a touch of butter and vanilla, followed a light floral scent. This is an oaked Chardonnay, but not heavy handed, the oak adds flavor and structure but does not dominate. It starts off with Lemon chiffon, pineapple, pear with a soft dose of creamy butter and a hint of butterscotch. The mid palate adds green apple and lime and a hit of palate cleansing acidity. The finish is full and long.
The Hook and Ladder Russian River Chardonnay is old school California Chardonnay done right. It has oak influences, like a California Chardonnay should, but the oak is there to add flavor and depth, not to conquer and destroy. I go back and forth with Chardonnay, sometimes the unoaked, “Naked” Chardonnay is what I am looking for and then 3 months later I’m all about oak barrels and malolactic fermentation. But, today, the Hook and Ladder Russian River Chardonnay is hitting the spot.