Amapola Creek Chardonnay with grilled shrimp.
Amapola Creek Chardonnay with grilled shrimp.
Amapola Creek Chardonnay 2012, Russian River Valley
Cost: $44-46
What: Richard Arrowood has been making wine in Sonoma County for 49 years, so he should know the territory.
He has made wine for Chateau St. Jean and later his own Arrowood Winery. When he found some property he liked just north of Sonoma he bought it and planted 20 acres of vines. That was the beginning of Amapola Creek.
Eventually he left all his other ventures to concentrate on Amapola Creek. Those efforts have resulted in some incredible wine, some made from his own grapes, some from grapes grown by friends.
The grapes for this Chardonnay actually come from Joseph Belli’s organically certified vineyard in the Russian River Valley, but they benefit from Arrowood’s gentle touch.  Belli and Arrowood have long been friends and business associates, so they know how to work together to produce great wine.
Amapola Creek Chardonnay
Amapola Creek Chardonnay
This Chardonnay is a pale straw color in the glass, with just a touch of green. The nose is full of pear, citrus and floral aromas with a bit of minerals. The flavor is classic Chardonnay, full of pears, apples, melon and toasted oak. It is a powerful wine, complex, with layer after layer of flavor.
It has a smooth, creamy mouthfeel with a long, easy finish. This is a great special occasion wine.
The wine was fermented in French oak barrels and then 11 months in new and used French oak barrels where it underwent malolactic fermentation. This is a wonderful wine to drink now, but it should continue to develop in the bottle for another decade. Serve it chilled.
The vineyard on the western end of the Russian River Valley is just up the hillside from the valley floor. The steep, terraced hillside provide good drainage and reduces the water available to the roots, which then leads to tiny berries with intense flavor. 
The vineyard contains two Chardonnay clones, Rued, a musque selection that adds tropical aromatics, and Dijon, which produces a classic Chardonnay profile with rich fruit flavors and pleasant minerality. 
Winery: Alis and Richard Arrowood founded the winery in 2001 after falling in love with the property. They planted 20 acres of vineyards on the 100-acre estate and cared for them with the most advanced organic methods.
The first vintage was 2005 and Richard joined the operation full time in 2010. 
From 1974 to 1990 Richard made the wines of Chateau St. Jean, where he created the first vineyard-designated wines in Sonoma County. He and Alis founded the Arrowood Winery with the 1985 vintage. Each year he made 22 different small-lot varietals until he left to become the winemaker at Amapola Creek. 
The Amapola Creek property is just north of the town of Sonoma. The vineyards range from 350 to 1,000 feet above the valley floor on a western-facing slope at the top of the Mayacamas Mountains. Richard makes small lots of Cabernet Sauvignon, a Rhone style blend called Cuvee Alis and a Rose. He also makes an old vine Zinfandel from a neighbor’s property from vines planted in the 1890s. 
The winery, built in 2007, is certified as an “organic handling facility,” and generates most of the power it uses from solar panels. 
Amapola is the Spanish word for the poppy flower, which blooms in abundance throughout the vineyards. It was also the name of the favorite song of Richard’s parents. 
Grilled shrimp with red beans and rice were a great match for the wine.
Grilled shrimp with red beans and rice were a great match for the wine.
Goes with: This wine was a great pairing with marinated grilled shrimp my wife Teri and I had. We added red beans and rice, cut up veggies and some apple pieces, and we had a feast.
The rich fruit flavors and minerality seemed to bring out the best in the subtle flavors of the marinated shrimp. Each bite and sip seemed to bring out new flavors in the wine. We hated to get to the end of the bottle.
This wine would pair well with other fish, chicken or fish in a cream sauce or creamy cheeses. 

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