Saturday, December 18, 2010

Penns Woods Chardonnay Reserve 2007 Fantastic!

So, I was in New hope, Pennsylvania yesterday morning, having breakfast with a friend, and decided to go on a little hunting expedition in the local area for local wine. While I was in the store, I decided to pick up a bottle of Penns Woods Chardonnay Reserve 2007. The winery is located in Chaddsford, Pennsylvania, on the Brandywine Wine Trail.

Penns Woods Winery is the result of Gino Razzi's lifetime of experience in the world of wine. A respected importer and distributor of wine, Gino is an Italian immigrant from Abruzzo, in southern Italy. He settled in the Delaware County area in 1962, where he was fostered by the area's Italian-American community. Gino served four years in the United States Marines then attended college in California. After graduation, he returned to Pennsylvania to rejoin family and friends.

Originally a successful a wine importer, in 1995, Gino turned his experience towards the craft of winemaking. He finished his first wine in 1997. Symposium, a Montepulciano d'Abruzzo was his first commercially released wine, and was awarded 95 points by Wine Spectator Magazine. In 2002, he began to craft wines from Pennsylvania–grown grapes. To his surprise, he found that great wines can be made in Pennsylvania. Gino decided to purchase the Smithbridge Winery, in 2004, to take advantage of its 25-year-old vines. So, the Penns Woods Winery's story is just starting.

So, this is a special reserve. To start with, this chardonnay is made exclusively from the 30 year old vines of the William Penn Vineyard in Chadds Ford, PA. After a short period of skin contact, fermentation takes place in 50% new and 50% second year French oak barrels. It goes through a full malolactic fermentation, and then it rests on its yeast lees for 8 months. And they only made 150 cases.

Now, I am not the first person to review this wine.

1WineDude made this #6 on the Top 10 Most Interesting Wines of 2009 - According to the Dude, "Vanilla, tropical fruit, VG acidity. Might be the best E. Coast Chard. I've EVER tasted. Period." Mighty high praise.

On tof the toughest wine writers, Mark Squires, of The Wine Advocate also liked the wine, writing, "This is just lovely, a bit oaky, but crisp, and with a lingering finish. It seems very classy, surprisingly intense, if, like most of the wines here, a bit shy on mid-palate concentration. Still, I think that if Razzi has a big breakthrough here, it will be with this Chardonnay first. 88 points." Impressive.

A very nice golden color. Classic Chardonnay. And the nose is bog, with green apple, clementine, and whiffs of vanilla, and some spice. I did taste the pineapple as promised. The wine was rich and complex, with tremendous mouthfeel. Great fruit up front, nice acidity, a touch of creaminess, and a beautiful long finish.

I think 1WineDude was right. Instantly one of my favorite chardonnays on the east coast! And I agree with Squires, Rizzi is poised to break through with Chardonnay, establishing it as a major, cult wine.