“It was a cool year overall,” Carlo Mondavi says of the 2017 vintage out on the Sonoma Coast. “Everything had gone through veraison and was cruising along beautifully. Set was beautiful after all the rain over winter. I expected mildew, but it was cool and dry—and that heat wave actually did something magical for us. After the heat, the berries shriveled ever so slightly. We picked right after the heat—acidity doesn’t transpire as fast as water. So, we had these slightly dehydrated berries with amazing acidity. The heat concentrated sugars and acidity but at a low brix, creating wines with elegance, depth and aromatics.” Although fruit for this project is purchased, the farming is still done by Raen. Pick dates are listed on the corks. In 2017, 100% whole cluster was used.
The second vintage of this bottling, the 2017 Chardonnay Charles Ranch, from 35-year-old vines, was barrel fermented without lees stirring. "I love reductive Chardonnay," says Carlo Mondavi, "so we keep it pretty anaerobic." It opens with touches of gunflint and smoke, fleshing out to yellow apple, quince, white peach and melon with nuances of acacia, toasted almond, stone and honey. Light to medium-bodied, it's mineral driven in the mouth with a good fruit core and tangy acidity lifting the long finish. 93 points. Drink 2020-2030. – Erin Brooks, robertparker.com