Best bottles from the Russian River Valley
Written by W. Peter Hoyne
November 28, 2018
The Russian River Valley in Sonoma County, California, is home to wineries and vineyards with a mosaic of finely tuned, finesse-driven Pinot Noirs and Chardonnays. Within this heartland of forested rolling hills and complex soils is a community of rnultigenerational families who have bred winernaking and grape growing into the natural beauty.
Warren Dutton, Joe Rochioli, Gary Farrell, Joseph Swan, Torn Dehlinger and John Balletto have inspired many followers. Each had an untainted vision of what Pinot Noir and Chardonnay could achieve within this inner sanctuary. It is a demographic where vineyards and wineries compete at every level with the best expression of reds and whites from Burgundy, France.
Dutton Estate: This is a sixth-generation family of grape growers and winemakers. With 1,200 acres, the Duttons established their roots in farming agriculture. Warren Dutton, a former apple grower, is embraced as one of the most respected grape growers in the Russian River Valley. Joe Dutton is co-owner of Dutton Ranch, sourcing blue-chip fruit bearing the Dutton name to 80 clients throughout California.
Joe and Tracy Dutton spearhead the Dutton Estate vision. Dutton Chardonnays are easily identifiable for their richly framed style. Recent noteworthy achievements include 2015 Kyndall’s Reserve Chardonnay, 2017 Warren’s Collection Chardonnay and the 2015 La Familia Pinot Noir.
100 Best Sonoma Wines 2018
by Linda Murphy
Sonoma Magazine’s annual selection of the “Top 100 Wines of Sonoma” has been announced
A year ago, wildfires ripped through Sonoma County, destroying lives, homes, and businesses. Wine Country became Fire Country in the eyes of the world, yet paradoxically, flames did relatively little damage to local wineries and vineyards.
A few suffered structural damage, which they’ve since repaired...Backfires were intentionally set protected many wineries...from the conflagration.
But the major savers of Sonoma wines are the grapevines themselves, living plants with moisture in their veins. They served as natural firebreaks, with flames moving on to easier targets such as trees, brush, and structures.
We celebrate all recovery efforts, with this Top 100 Wines list.
Dutton Family Estate 2017 Kylie’s Cuvée Russian River Valley Sauvignon Blanc
Owners Joe and Tracy Dutton have put their recent college graduate daughter Kylie Dutton to work as brand am bassador (that means sales and marketing). This Sauvignon Blanc bearing her name is a tropical extravaganza, loaded with pineapple, papaya, kiwi, honeydew melon, and lemon-lime fruitiness. It’s also clean and refreshing.
Kylie Dutton worked the 2018 crush with winemaker Bobby Donnel and continues to assist daily in the cellar. She is engaged in all aspects of the winemaking with Bobby. We may lose her to UC Davis before she works the market!
93 Points - 2017 Duttons Palms Chardonnay "The 2017 Chardonnay Dutton Palms Vineyard has a minerally nose of wet stone and a pleasant smoky note with fresh green melon, baked yellow apple, white blossom, toast and a Meyer lemon touch. Medium to full-bodied, it features intense creamy ripe fruits in the mouth with a honey-nut character, finishing long and minerally. Yum!" 147 cases produced.
92+ Points - 2017 Warren's Collection Chardonnay "Youthfully subdued on the nose, the 2017 Chardonnay Warren's Collection Dutton Ranch opens to aromas of crushed rock, acacia and baby's breath flowers, dried hay, Meyer lemon, green melon and Golden Delicious apple. Medium-bodied and creamy textured, with delicate fruits and lots of minerally character in the mouth, it finishes long with pleasant texture." 188 cases produced.
93 Points - 2017 Jewell Block Pinot Noir "The pale to medium ruby colored 2017 Pinot Noir Jewell Block Vineyard has a soft red berries nose with background suggestions of tobacco, dried leaves, dusty earth and cola—this is delightfully savory. Medium-bodied, it has a great concentration of savory, earthy red and black fruit in the mouth with grainy tannins and a layered, spicy finish." 76 cases were made.
92+ Points - 2017 La Familia Pinot Noir "The 2017 Pinot Noir La Familia Dutton Ranch is pale to medium ruby with a very savory nose of smoke, pipe tobacco, dried leaves and forest floor with a core of ripe red cherries, blueberries and raspberry preserves. Medium-bodied, it fills the mouth with savory red and blue fruits and spicy accents, framed by grainy tannins and finishing juicy and spicy. Yum!" 250 cases produced.
94+ Points - 2017 Manzana Vineyard Pinot Noir "Medium ruby, the 2017 Pinot Noir Manzana Vineyard has a youthfully subdued nose, opening to raspberry and strawberry preserves, crushed red and black cherry and blueberry with nuances of violets, peppercorn, charcuterie, dusty earth and autumn leaves. Medium-bodied, it offers great concentration of layered red and blue fruit, spices and earthy nuances in the mouth, with soft, grainy tannins and a long, layered finish." 231 cases produced.
92+ Points - 2017 Thomas Road Pinot Noir "Pale to medium ruby, the 2017 Pinot Noir Thomas Road Vineyard opens with earthy notions of woodsmoke, pipe tobacco and graphite with wild blackberry and crushed black cherry. Medium-bodied, it's earthy in the mouth with concentrated black fruits, firm, grainy tannins and juicy freshness lifting the spicy finish. This needs some more time in bottle." 230 cases produced.
92 Points - 2017 Kylie's Cuvee Sauvignon Blanc "The 2017 Sauvignon Blanc Kylie's Cuvée Dutton Ranch has a nose of starfruit, kiwi, green melon and papaya with notes of crushed rock and gooseberry. Light to medium-bodied, it offers intense ripe fruits in the mouth and zesty acidity on the finish. This is wonderfully fruity and fresh and is a great value. 826 cases produced.
93 Points - 2016 Karmen Isabella Pinot Noir "Medium ruby in color, the 2016 Pinot Noir Karmen Isabella Dutton Ranch has aromas of smoked meat, dusty earth, toasted coconut and potpourri with ripe black cherries and berries and blue fruit hints in the background. Light to medium-bodied with savory fruits, it's framed by grainy tannins and has a wonderful evolving finish." 952 cases produced.
95 Points - 2016 La Familia Pinot Noir "The 2016 Pinot Noir La Familia Dutton Ranch is pale ruby-purple in color and intensely scented of red roses, black tea, underbrush and dried herbs with a fruit core of pomegranate, Bing cherries and red currants. Medium-bodied, it fills the mouth with fragrant red berry layers, framed by soft, very fine-grained tannins and harmonious freshness, finishing long and minerally." 266 cases were made.
94+ Points - 2016 Jewell Block Pinot Noir "The 2016 Pinot Noir Jewell Block Dutton Ranch is pale ruby-purple colored with a compelling nose of freshly crushed red cherries, cranberries and pomegranate with touches of rose hips, raspberry leaves, sage and fertile loam. The palate is refreshing, delicate and medium-bodied with plenty of perfumed red fruit and a long, mineral-laced finish". 93 cases were made.
94 Points - 2016 Manzana Vineyard Pinot Noir "Pale to medium ruby-purple in color, the 2016 Pinot Noir Manzana Vineyard Dutton Ranch is redolent of warm black cherries, mulberries and plums with touches of chocolate box, anise and tree bark. Medium to full-bodied, it delivers generous black cherry and earthy flavors with firm, grainy tannins and seamless freshness, finishing long and perfumed." 235 cases were made.
93 Points - 2016 Thomas Road Pinot Noir "The 2016 Pinot Noir Thomas Road Vineyard Dutton Ranch is pale ruby-purple in color with a tantalizing nose of chocolate-covered cherries, violets and kirsch with suggestions of rose water, fragrant earth and rhubarb compote. Medium to full-bodied, the delicately nuanced, perfumed fruit is available in abundance in the mouth, with soft, silky tannins and just enough freshness, finishing long and layered."
92 Points - 2016 Warren's Collection Chardonnay "The 2016 Chardonnay Warren's Collection Dutton Ranch reveals a lifted, highly perfumed nose of peach blossoms, jasmine, honeysuckle and guava with suggestions of spice box and honeydew melon. Big, powerful and full-bodied in the mouth, the sultry, oily textured palate is beautifully balanced by a lively line of freshness, finishing long and spicy." 117 cases were made.
92 Points - 2016 Dutton Palms Vineyard Chardonnay "The 2016 Chardonnay Dutton Palms Vineyard features ripe apricots, green mango and pink grapefruit notes with nuances of brioche, gingerbread and marzipan. Full-bodied, concentrated and decadently fruited with warm stone fruit and tropical layers, it has a pleasant oiliness to the texture and just enough freshness, finishing long and spicy." 215 cases were made.
90 Points - 2016 Kyndall's Reserve Chardonnay "The 2016 Chardonnay Kyndall's Reserve sports notes of spiced apples, ripe peaches and lemon curd with suggestions of baking bread, butterscotch and orange blossoms. Medium to full-bodied with plenty of stone fruit and spicy layers, it has just enough freshness and a satisfying finish". 906 cases produced.
89 Points - 2016 Kylie's Cuvée Sauvignon Blanc "Kylie's Cuvée Dutton Ranch gives up intense notes of guava, passion fruit and pineapple with hints of honeysuckle, musk perfume, struck match and crushed rocks. Medium-bodied, it fills the mouth with vibrant tropical fruits and a refreshing line, finishing long and minerally." 818 cases produced.
92 Points - 2016 Kyndall's Reserve Chardonnay "Texture and dimension. Pear, melon, apricot flavors."
91 Points – 2016 La Familia Pinot Noir
92 Points First Place - 2016 Kyndall's Reserve Chardonnay " Medium-light golden yellow color; attractive, fragrant, lemony, baked apple, white peach, and tropical fruit aroma with light toasty notes, and hints of clove and honeysuckle; medium to medium-full body; crisp, spicy, apple and stone fruit flavors with a plush, slightly creamy mouthfeel; lingering aftertaste.
91 Points - 2016 Karmen Isabella Pinot Noir "Very Highly Recommended: Medium-light to medium ruby; assertive, ripe, red berry and black cherry fruit aroma with earthy notes and a hint of rose petal; medium to medium-full body; elegantly styled, red, blue, and black berry fruit flavors which are rather delicate and silky, along with a slight plushness in the mouthfeel, medium tannin; lingering after-taste. Very appealing to drink now, or age for another year or two.
91 Points - 2016 Thomas Road Pinot Noir "Very Highly Recommended" Medium-light to medium ruby; attractive, fragrant, red cherry and red berry fruit aroma with hints of vanilla, cinnamon, dried herbs, and forest floor; medium to medium-full body; ripe, fleshy, savory, red fruit flavors with herbal notes, well integrated oak, good acid balance, and a rich, silky mouthfeel; medium tannin; lingering aftertaste. Somewhat elegant in style and appealing to drink now, though also has good bottle aging potential.
90 Points - 2016 Jewell Block Pinot "Very Highly Recommended" Noir "Medium-light ruby; attractive, earthy, herbal, red cherry fruit aroma with hints of cola and baking spices; medium full-body rich, textured, earthy, red fruit flavors with spicy notes of clove and cinamon and good acid balance; medium tannin; lingering aftertaste. Easy and enjoyable to drink now and over the next two to four years."
90 Points - 2016 La Familia Pinot Noir "Very Highly Recommended" - "Medium-light to medium brackish ruby; forward, fragrant, raspberry, blackberry, and red cherry fruit aroma with hints of baking spices and cocoa; medium-full body; rich rounded, nicely balanced, red and dark fruit flavors with a slight plushness in the mouthfeel; medium tannin; lingering aftertaste. Easy and enjoyable to drink now and over the next two to four years."
90 Points 2016 - Manzana Vineyard Pinot Noir " Very Highly Recommended" "Medium ruby; attractive, forward, red cherry and red berry fruit aroma with hints of vanilla, dried herbs, and forest floor, medium-full body; rich, ripe, red fruit flavors that have good depth and balance, hints of cinnamon and vanilla, light notes of toasty oak, and some silkiness in the mouthfeel; medium tannin; lingering aftertaste."
93 Points - 2016 Kylie's Cuvée Sauvignon Blanc "Creamy, refreshing, elegant and complex with notes of lemon, pink grapefruit, passionfruit and spring blossoms."
92 Points - 2016 Kyndall's Reserve Chardonnay "Creamy and delectable with ripe golden apple, toasted nuts, crème brulée and allspice."
92 Points - 2016 Kylie's Cuvée Sauvignon Blanc "Crisp grapefruit, tropical, lily, hint of cinnamon."
90 Points - 2016 Kylie's Cuvée Sauvignon Blanc "Bright bouquet, lemongrass, honeysuckle, Meyer lemon zest, starfruit."
90 Points - 2015 Karmen Isabella Pinot Noir
90 Points – 2015 Chardonnay, Dutton Palms Vineyard
90 Points - 2015 Pinot Noir, Manzana Vineyard
90 Points - 2015 Pinot Noir, La Familia
92 Points - 2015 Karmen Isabella Pinot Noir "Lush, silky, spicy, and fresh with bright cherry, raspberry and rose petal."
90 Points - 2015 Karmen Isabella Pinot Noir "Lovely Poise, Delicious fruit; mid-palate weight. Red cherry, raspberry cordial, mulberry, and a touch of cola."
2015 La Familia Pinot Noir - 5 stars "The La Familia comes from the Kozlowski Family Vineyard planted to the Pommard clone in the Goldridge soil in central Green Valley. It is a supple, rich, ripely flavored Pinot Noir of exceptional quality; smooth and long on the palate, finely flavored (cherry, strawberry, black currant, kola nut, clove, black tea, spicy oak) and well balanced, with a lightly tannic, persistent finish."
2015 Thomas Road Vineyard Pinot Noir - 5 stars "The Thomas Road Pinot Noir is outstanding: an intensley flavored, full bodied crisp wine that is vibrant and long on the palate with a mildly tannic finish, tasting of cherry, plum strawberry, red current, spicy oak, rosehips and cedar. The vineyard lies in the heart of the Green Valley; cloes planted are Dijon 828 & 115."
2015 Manzana Vineyard Pinot Noir - 4+ stars "The Manzana Vineyard Pinot Noir is equally good: a fleshy, full-bodied ripely flavored wine that is well balanced, lightly tannic, and very long and persistent on the finish, tasting of cherry, red licorie, kola nut, plum rosehips and cedar. The vineyard lies in the heart of the Green Valley; clones planted are Dijon 828 and 115."
2015 Karmen Isabella Pinot Noir - 4+ stars "The 2015 Pinot Noirs are among the best I've tasted from the winery. The 2015 Karmen Isabella, named for the youngest Dutton daughter, is a rich, supple finely flavored Pinot Noir of excellent quality. It is full-bodied, velvety texture, crisp, balanced, and very long on the fininish, tasting of plum strawberry jam, clove, nutmeg, black tea and oak. A reserved-styled Pinot Noir from the three vineyards in the Green Valley."
A- 2015 Cherry Ridge Syrah - "Bold, dense, but also lith and spicy; in other words, totally legit."
90 Points – 2014 Kyndall’s Reserve – Dutton Ranch Chardonnay
92 Points – 2014 Kyndall’s Reserve – Dutton Ranch Chardonnay
91 Points – 2014 Manzana Vineyard -Dutton Ranch Pinot Noir
91 Points – 2014 La Familia’ – Dutton Ranch Pinot Noir
90 Points – 2014 Thomas Rd. Vineyard – Dutton Ranch Pinot Noir
90 Points – 2014 Kylie’s Cuvée – Dutton Ranch Sauvignon Blanc
93 Points – 2014 La Familia’ – Dutton Ranch Pinot Noir
92 Points – 2014 Manzana Vineyard – Dutton Ranch Pinot Noir
90 Points – 2014 Kyndall’s Reserve – Dutton Ranch Chardonnay
91 Points – 2014 Kylie’s Cuvee – Dutton Ranch Sauvignon Blanc
91 Points – 2014 Thomas Road Pinot Noir – Dutton Ranch
90 Points – 2014 Manzana Vineyard Pinot Noir – Dutton Ranch
90 Points – 2014 Dutton Palms Chardonnay – Dutton Ranch
93 Points – 2014 Dutton Palms Chardonnay – Dutton Ranch
93 Points – 2014 Warren’s Collection Chardonnay – Dutton Ranch
91 Points – 2013 Cohen Vineyard – Dutton Ranch Sauvignon Blanc
90 Points – 2013 Karmen Isabella – Dutton Ranch Pinot Noir
92 Points – 2013 Thomas Road Vineyard- Dutton Ranch Pinot Noir
92 Points – 2013 Dutton Palms Vineyard – Dutton Ranch Chardonnay
90 Points – 2013 Kyndall’s Reserve Chardonnay – Dutton Ranch
90 Points – 2013 Karmen Isabella – Dutton Ranch Pinot Noir
92 Points – 2013 Kyndall’s Reserve Chardonnay – Dutton Ranch