Reviews of new wines from Gary Farrell, released in Summer 2017:
A truly superb batch of wines from this stalwart Russian River Valley winery that’s clearly on a roll makes us excited about what the 2015 vintage in northern California will bring. Exceptional balance, fruit quality and depth of expression—and, perhaps it goes without saying, exceptional winemaking—are the hallmarks of these latest releases.
REVIEWSGARY FARRELL Russian River Valley, California, USA Owned by: The Vincraft Group General Manager: Nancy Bailey Winemaker: Theresa Heredia www.garyfarrellwinery.com
Rochioli-Allen Vineyards, Clone 76 Concrete Chardonnay 2015
$60 | 95 pts
A bright, warm, engaging nose of honeysuckle, eucalyptus, lemon verbena, pear and yellow peach lets you know you’re in for a treat. This is what high class Chardonnay is all about—elegance of structure, complexity and unpredictable qualities such as the wine’s firm grip and precision with a balance of the warmth of rich, sunny flavor and luxurious, oily texture. Culled from “cru” vineyards of the Russian River Valley, fruit is of extraordinarily pristine quality, and the ensuing wine is pulled off with considerable style and class. What Manolo Blahnik is to shoes, this Gary Farrell is to Chardonnay, especially considering how little of it is available. One of the finest examples of Sonoma Chardonnay we’ve come across lately.
Rochioli Vineyard Pinot Noir 2015
$80 | 96-97 pts
A classy, quiety gorgeous Pinot—confident in its beauty beneath the surface and winning you over with its soft but supremely expressive voice. Many of the great divas in opera can bowl you over with the power of their voice—Maria Callas or Dame Joan Sutherland come to mind—but some bring you to tears with less grandeur but exquisite expressiveness… like Mirella Freni in La Boheme. This is a Pinot of striking balance and finesse, possessing lean structure that supports the fulsomeness of fruit character, finishing with enlivening acidity and a subtle note of minerality. The flamboyant nature of the fruit—lively notes of wild young cherry, pomegranate and raspberry compote—is harnessed with elegance of structure and innate sophistication. An exquisite expression of the vintage, and one of the greatest Pinots we’ve had from Gary Farrell.
Russian River Selection Sauvignon Blanc 2016
$35 | 91 pts
We don’t ordinarily discuss the quality of fruit when it comes to critiquing American Sauvignon Blancs, so it must be noted that the grapes sourced from the Patient Terrier vineyard for this Russian River-based Sauvignon Blanc are of exceptional quality. There’s a purity, depth and vivaciousness here which, surely, is reflective of the craft behind the end product, but these qualities can only originate from the source. Finding an ideal middle-ground between the fruitiness commonly associated with New Zealand wines of this varietal and the lean, almost austerely structured of those from Bordeaux and sometimes Napa, the Gary Farrell Sauvignon Blanc exhibits bright notes of Meyer lemon-lime and passionfruit, with an intriguing tinge of herbaceousness, while sporting a very clean and linear, precise structure. Sophisticated, stylish and harmonious—shuffle that jazz playlist which includes Chet Baker, Bill Evans and Stan Getz for pairing nirvana.
Maffei Vineyard Zinfandel 2015
$50 | 92 pts
Rich in purple fruit flavor, with notes of dark raspberry, violets, white pepper and balsamic, what distinguishes this Russian River Valley Zinfandel is its vibrant acidity—a quality quite uncommon in California Zins and giving the wine a real sense of cohesive structure. One has to appreciate the comparatively moderate sugar and alcohol levels as well. As such, this Zin is a rare California red that you can pair marvelously with red sauce pasta dishes, along with prosciutto or other cured meats and pizza/flatbreads. Let the wine sit in the glass and open up… given a chance to breathe, its distinctive beauty grows on you. There’s a depth of expression that speaks of the vineyard’s long history. The wine finishes luscious and strong, with the juiciness of dark berry notes lingering like the final notes of a bel canto operatic aria. Remains one of our favorite California Zinfandels, in large part for its atypical profile.