Review: 2019 Sonoma-Cutrer Winemaker’s Release 40th Anniversary Chardonnay

Review: 2019 Sonoma-Cutrer Winemaker’s Release 40th Anniversary Chardonnay

Celebrating 40 years of operations, Sonoma-Cutrer has released a special edition of its Russian River Valley-grown chardonnay, complete with a wax-covered enclosure.

The wine “represents a final collaboration between its founding and current winemakers.” There’s quite a story behind it, too:

In its four decades, Sonoma-Cutrer has consistently brought together top-tier talent whose winemaking talents and philosophy celebrate California’s ingenuity while honoring classic Burgundian traditions. To create this year’s Winemaker’s Release, Directors’ of Winemaking Bill Bonetti (1981-1990), Terry Adams (1991-2010), and Mick Schroeter (2010-Present) worked with Chardonnay Winemaker Cara Morrison (2005-Present) to artfully blend a Chardonnay that pays tribute to the winery’s mastery of the variety.

“The 40th Anniversary Winemaker’s Release showcases Sonoma-Cutrer’s Chardonnay style of crisp acidity balanced by ripe fruit and oak complexity,” said Morrison. “Collaborating so closely with Bill, Terry, and Mick was a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. It is a privilege to dedicate this beautiful wine to our visionary founding winemaker Bill Bonetti who passed away peacefully just a few months after blending, and to continue to carry on his vision.”

In selecting the fruit for this wine, the winemakers chose grapes from three closely spaced blocks of Sonoma-Cutrer’s estate vineyards, Les Pierres, The Cutrer, and Vine Hill, which allowed them to craft a varietal that is the ultimate expression of the winery’s classic style. In the cellar, Grand Cru winemaking techniques were used including minimal settling, bâttonage and sur lie aging for 10 months. The wine was fermented and aged in new and used French oak sourced only from the Orleans Forest in central France. Sonoma-Cutrer’s longtime partners the Gauthier family purchased, split, milled and seasoned the wood, and under the winery’s strict guidelines, the barrels were produced by Remond, Rousseau & TW Boswell Cooperages.

For this bottling, this winemaking team certainly went all out, letting restraint fly a bit, at least in regards to oak. But while it’s aggressive with vanilla up top, the wine quickly turns to showcase its citrus elements, with orange peel, lemon, and grapefruit all making an exceptionally heavy appearance on the palate. Both lushly creamy and spicy on its lengthy, rounded body, the wine eventually finds a balance between its fruit and the barrel, playing out a beautiful and lovingstory over the course of a bottle which disappears all too quickly.

A- / $70 /

2019 Sonoma-Cutrer Winemaker's Release 40th Anniversary Chardonnay




Christopher Null is the founder and editor in chief of Drinkhacker. A veteran writer and journalist, he also operates Null Media, a bespoke content creation company.

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