+Recently, Sonoma’s Bacigalupi Vineyards released its first ever chardonnay from its estate-owned Paris Tasting Block, a two and a half-acre plot planted in 1964 in the family’s Goddard Ranch Vineyard in Sonoma County’s Russian River Valley. Why is this significant? Because this vineyard was the source for 40% of the fruit that went into Chateau Montelena’s 1973 Chardonnay, which won the famed 1976 Judgement of Paris Tasting.
The 2018 Bacigalupi Vineyard Renouveau, meaning revival or renewal, is the first Chardonnay ever made solely from these history-making vines. The wine is dedicated to the family matriarch, 94-year-old Helen Bacigalupi, the current owner and longtime caretaker of this storied vineyard and its extraordinary legacy.
“In the harvest of 1973, our grandmother drove her burnt red Volkswagen truck over the hills to Calistoga at least five times, delivering grapes from these vines to Chateau Montelena,” said granddaughter Nicole Bacigalupi. “Now, their legacy has come back home, and we are thrilled to highlight the beauty of these special vines under our family label.”
Vines in the Paris Tasting Block on Goddard Ranch are grown in red volcanic clay soils at 200-foot elevation. Herzberg says ripening varies among the 56-year old Wente clone vines producing texture, lushness, and complexity in the wine. ” Due to the vine’s age, we get hens and chicks or grape clusters whose berries vary dramatically in size. Some are very lush, oily, and rich, but other less mature grapes give briny minerality and bright and expressive adicity,” she said.
We tasted this new release alongside Bacigalupi’s standard chardonnay from the same 2018 vintage.
2018 Bacigalupi Chardonnay Russian River Valley – Aggressively oaky, this wine is overwhelming with wood despite the best efforts of some spice apple, pear, and lemon peel notes to balance things out. The finish tends toward salted caramel and sesame oil, but it’s all so woody and so drying that none of this ever really finds much purchase. C+ / $62
2018 Bacigalupi Renouveau Chardonnay Bacigalupi Vineyard – This wine offers some distinct differences — and has some elevation vs. the standard RRV bottling — despite a boldly doughy attack and plenty of oak. While the apple-meets-wood character kicks things off again, the heavy wood character is ultimately better balanced out by some more unusual elements of fresh fig and some lime leaf elements. Let it evolve in the glass and warm up a bit to reveal a more nuanced character on the finish, with some slate and saline notes in evidence. There’s a lovely warmth somewhere deep inside on this one, but Bacigalupi really needs to rein in its wood program to keep those aggressive notes from dulling the charms that nature has given it. B+ / $82