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2005 Nickel & Nickel Chardonnay Searby Vineyard Russian River Valley

It was love at first sniff. I’m not normally entranced by Chardonnay. I don’t have anything against the variety. There are many that I have found totally delicious. But I can’t remember the last time that the aroma of a Chardonnay made my eyes bug out.

The wine gave me flowers. How could I resist it? The wine’s bouquet included honeysuckle and loads of other white flowers along with pot pourri, dried citrus peel and nutmeg. Oh, and pear. The aromas weren’t subdued either. Delicate yes, but not quiet. “Wow,” I said, probably several times, as I looked for a way to strap the glass to my nose like an oxygen mask.

”Harrumph,” you might say. “Chardonnay isn’t supposed to smell all flowery like that.” By and large, you’d be right. You expect apples and pairs, peaches and cream, butter and toast, oak and spice. You might expect tropical fruit. If you’re used to Old World Chardonnay, you might be looking for flint or chalk, maybe gravel after a Spring rain. Or a soupcon of cheese rind. And, from time to time, there will be a hint of a pale bloom. That’s why this wine made my eyes bug out. The aromas were as unexpected as they were delightful.

Now, if the wine didn’t smell like Chardonnay as well, and resemble that variety in other ways, it would just be an oddity. But it did. It did not smell like Gewurtztraminer. You would not think you were drinking Viognier or Muscat or other varieties known for floral aspects. In 2005, the Nickel and Nickel Searby Vineyard Chardonnay offered the flowers as a bonus gift, not a replacement for essential Chardonnay characteristics.

Nickel and Nickel attributes the floral nose to the clone of Chardonnay that they use. The Rued clone, in this case planted on St. George rootstock, originated from vines planted by Warren Dutton more than 40 years ago in Green Valley of the Russian River Valley. Weather and vineyard management influence the strength of Rued clone Chardonnay’s floral and passionfruit aromas from one vintage to the next. However, while the 2005 seems to have been exceptionally expressive, the Nickel and Nickel Searby Vineyard Chardonnay offers them up more often than not.

Despite having some age on it, the 2005 Nickel and Nickel Searby Vineyard Chardonnay offers a youthful nose. It’s considerable floral notes are on top of dried citrus, pear, nutmeg and other spices. The lack of malolactic fermentation leaves the wine just short of full-bodied but fresh with medium-plus acidity. The flavors match the nose’s intensity and include oak, nutmeg and cinnamon, white flowers, pear, stone fruit and vanilla. To cap off this complexity, the wine has a long, pleasing finish. Drink it while it’s fresh, now through 2014. Very Highly Recommended.


2005 Nickel & Nickel Chardonnay Searby Vineyard Russian River Valley
Rating: Very Highly Recommended
Drink: Now through 2014
Release Date: March, 2007
Retail Price: $45.00 for the current, 2008, vintage

Blend: 100% Chardonnay, Rued clone
Origin: 100% Russian River Valley

Vinification: Whole-cluster press, barrel-fermented, no malolactic fermentation

Aging: 9 months in French oak barrels, 52% new, 48% once-used

Alcohol: 14.3%

Closure: Cork

The wine above was purchased and tasted blind in a flight of four New World and Old World Chardonnay.

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