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Gary Farrell Chardonnay 2013, Russian River Valley
Cost: $33-36
I have enjoyed Gary Farrell Chardonnay and Pinot Noir for years, but I hadn’t tried one of their wines in a while. It was fun to see if either my tastes or the wine had changed over the years.
Elegant and complex wines have been the hallmark of Gary Farrell wines, and I was anxious to see if that were still true. If anything, the Chardonnay was even better than I remembered.
After more than 30 years of producing wine from the Russian River Valley Gary Farrell has a well-deserved reputation for producing consistently outstanding wines. The winery is known for crafting small-lot wines, and the winemakers have used that experience to take wine from several small lots to blend into this Chardonnay.
The grapes for this wine come from seven of the region’s top vineyards. As a result, the blend picks up key characteristics from each vineyard. For instance, the lean, crisp structure and balance of this wine come from grapes from Westside Farms. McIntyre Vineyard fruit adds tropical fruit aromas and vibrant acidity. Bacigalupi Vineyard adds floral and stone fruit notes.
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The result is spectacular. The wine is a beautiful straw color in the glass with aromas of peach, tart apple and stone fruit. The first sip brings tart citrus flavors with hints of honeyed oak. Succeeding sips reveal even more flavors, such as butterscotch, toffee and vanilla. It all ends with a lingering finish full of crisp minerality.
The 2013 vintage was another great one in Sonoma, with moderate temperatures and cool nights, foggy mornings and sunny days. The grapes were allowed to ripen slowly and develop more complex flavors.
The grapes were harvested in the cool mornings and whole cluster pressed with the grapes from each vineyard handled separately. The juice was chilled to 45 degrees in tanks before being inoculated with Montrachet yeast. The wine then spent eight months in 40 percent new French oak with lots of light, creamy lees for maximum flavor development.
After aging, each barrel was evaluated and the most elegant wines were put in this blend.
You will be tempted to sip this wine as an aperitif, because the flavors are so intriguing. My advice is to save most of the bottle for dinner, because it is a superb food wine. Food seems to expand the flavors and unleash some beautiful taste sensations. You should chill the wine, but allow it to warm up in your glass before drinking. If you drink it too cold, you will miss some of these wonderful flavors.
Gary Farrell Chardonnay paired well with fried shrimp and sides.
Gary Farrell Chardonnay paired well with fried shrimp and sides.

Winery: Ownership of the Gary Farrell winery has changed over the years, but the commitment to quality has remained high.
In the late 1970s Gary Farrell began working with pioneer Russian River Valley vintners such as Joe Rochioli, Tom Dehlinger, Davis Bynum and Robert Stemmler, helping them show the world that the Russian River Valley AVA could produce Chardonnay and Pinot Noir to rival Burgundy.
The Russian River Valley is a stunning wine region 55 miles north of San Francisco whose reputation has continued to grow. Farrell made the first wine under his own label in 1982 when he produced 50 cases of Rochioli-Allen Pinot Noir. The wine was a sensation and helped brand the Russian River Valley as a premier Pinot Noir region.
Farrell built a modern winery in 2000 high on a ridge of the valley. Everything was built with meticulous attention to detail. The winery is open for tastings, and is worth a trip if you are in wine country.
Like many other California craft wineries, Gary Farrell was sold and now is part of the Vincraft Group. That company was formed in 2008 by Bill Price, Walt Klenz and Pete Scott, wine industry veterans with more than 70 combined years of experience as investors in and operators of highly regarded wineries.
The partners had worked with a variety of wineries, such as widely-distributed Beringer and Kendall-Jackson and luxury-tier Kosta Browne and Kistler.
Though Ferrell is no longer with the company, it continues to benefit from long-term relationships (some as long as 30 years) with some of the most highly prized and sought-after growers in the Russian River Valley.
The noodle/egg dish with gravy added one more layer of comfort to the meal.
The noodle/egg dish with gravy added one more layer of comfort to the meal.

Goes with: My wife Teri and I had this great wine with fried shrimp and hush puppies, and it was a wonderful match. The complex citrus flavors brought out sweet flavors from the shrimp we had brought back from a trip to Edisto Beach.
Each sip of the crisp Chardonnay left us wanting to take another bite of shrimp.
Teri also had a baked sweet potato while I made one of my favorite side dishes. It’s noodles sauteed in butter with scrambled eggs. I serve it with gravy, usually with beef gravy.
I take noodles left over from soup and toss them with butter in a frying pan over medium to medium high heat. Wider noodles are better than skinny ones. When the noodles start to get crisp I drop in two eggs that I have stirred in a bowl. Keep mixing all the ingredients until the egg mixture is firm. Don’t let the noodles or the eggs overcook.
Then I take a jar of gravy, heat it and pour the gravy over the noodles on my plate. It’s perfect with roast beef, but I had the noodles so I served them with the shrimp. The noodles and gravy went surprisingly well with the Chardonnay.
The Chardonnay also would go well with fried chicken, grilled chicken, chicken or turkey in a cream sauce, all kinds of seafood and mild cheeses.

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