Shafer 2015 Chardonnay, Red Shoulder Ranch, Carneros
The 70 acre Red Shoulder Ranch was purchased by Doug Shafer back in 1988. Carefully selected, small-cluster Chardonnay clones were planted and since the first vintage in 1994 this wine has been a standout among California Chards. It's always barrel fermented using only wild yeasts. This 2014 aged 14 months in 75% new French oak barrels (Allier, Vosges) and 25% in stainless steel barrels and since it undergoes no malolactic fermentation this Chardonnay retains a lively natural acidity. The vineyard is named for its Red-shouldered Hawks and other birds of prey, who play an important role in Shafer's natural farming practices. Wine Spectator scored this 93 points saying " Rich and spicy, featuring an elegant mix of baked apple, honeydew melon, pear and light minerally notes. Ends full and persistent, with a long, layered aftertaste. *Highly Recommended*" and Wine Review Online scored it 96 saying "Fans of richly layered Chardonnay that is both powerful and alluring will love this vintage from Shafer’s Red Shoulder Ranch. It delivers that rare combination of richness and structure that proves elusive for most. The flavors are layered and complex, showing tropical fruits and citrus, with an ever-so-subtle note of brioche and mandarin orange. Despite its heft, bright acidity keeps it all in balance."