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2008 Littorai Chardonnay Charles Heintz Vineyard

Littorai is a small family-owned and operated winery located west of Sebastopol, California in the Sonoma Coast AVA. They offer Chardonnay and Pinot Noir made from their biodynamically-farmed estate vineyards and from a few other high-quality sites. Ted Lemon, who owns Littorai with his wife Heidi, also serves as winemaker.

Ted Lemon of Littorai Wines
- March 16, 2011. Photo: Fred Swan

Named 2010 Chronicle Winemaker of the Year by the San Francisco Chronicle, Lemon is well-known for being the first American to be responsible for winemaking at an estate in Burgundy. He has now spent four time as long making wine in California as he did in Burgundy though. And Lemon doesn’t try to replicate French wine with Californian grapes. However, his style does focus on expressing terroir through relatively cool climate fruit, rather than on producing viscous wines with super-ripe fruit. Likewise, he uses oak barrels and lees aging to enhance flavor and texture but does not allow their flavors to become dominant.

If you have plans to be in the Sebastopol area, I recommend trying to pay Littorai a visit. It is appointment only, but offers a brief, yet interesting, tour of the vineyard followed by an extensive tasting of current releases. You will learn a lot about biodynamics, the terroir of their estate vineyards and their winemaking philosophy. The winery building itself is unique too. Designed to minimize its environmental impact, its straw bale walls help maintain steady temperatures throughout the year.

The Charles Heintz Vineyard is situated just outside the town of Occidental (Sonoma Coast AVA). It has long been a highly-sought after source for Chardonnay grapes. In addition to Heintz’ own label and Littorai, wineries using their fruit include Freeman, Flowers, DeLoach and Williams-Selyem. See also my review of the Heintz Vineyard Chardonnay from Suacci Carciere.

The 2008 Littorai Chardonnay Charles Heintz Vineyard is light lemon-green in the glass with generous aromas of spiced yellow apple, lemon, St. André triple-cream cheese and oak. In the mouth, the wine is dry and has medium-plus body with texture coming from both light, barrel-derived tannins and sur lie aging. The wine is fresh, but not mouthwatering and a offers long finish. Flavors are of lemon, yellow apple, oak and woody spice. It is a very good Chardonnay, but not in the stereotypically Californian style.

This Chardonnay will be do nicely as an apertif or served with soft cow’s or sheep’s milk cheeses, poached chicken or lobster. It will also hold up well to light cream sauces. The wine will gain further nuance with bottle age and might benefit slightly from decanting if consumed now. Drink from now through 2018. Highly Recommended.


2008 Littorai Chardonnay Charles Heintz Vineyard
Rating: Highly Recommended

Drink: Now through 2018
Release Date: Summer, 2010

Retail Price: ~ $75.00
Blend: 100% Chardonnay
Origin: Charles Heintz Vineyards, Sonoma Coast

Alcohol: 13.7%

Closure: Cork

The wine above was purchased for review at the winery.

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This article is original to Copyright 2010 NorCal Wine. All rights reserved.