Donelan, 50 / 50, Chardonnay, Russian River Valley, 2019

Sale price£158.00


Founded by Joe Donelan, who now runs the business alongside his sons Cushing and Tripp, Donelan is a small, boutique Sonoma winery producing Syrah, Grenache, Pinot Noir, Chardonnay, Roussanne and Viognier. Producing just 8,000 cases per year they prize quality over all other factors. They are becoming known for their exceptionally small-release bottlings of vinous experimentations: clonal varietals, site specific variations and the like. This factor has turned them from being a first-class winery into also being internationally recognised for leading this type of small-batch production.

What is it that really defines a wine? Is it the genetics of a grape, or the singularity of the terroir? “Clone vs. Site” is an age-old question that’s kindled many a spirited debate among wine lovers. These wines were made to answer the question: Does site trump clone, or vice versa? In 2019, we came across a site in the Sonoma Coast, right on the coolest, westernmost edge of Russian River AVA. It was planted with two Chardonnay clones; Clone 5 and Old Wente. We decided to limit all variables to see if the terroir shines through, or if the two clones are different because of their genetic makeup. We kept them separate, in different barrels, and also made a blend of the two. All cellar treatments were the exact same; Feral yeast to ferment, feral secondary malo-lactic, no acid adds, and fermented and raised in once-filled barrels for 18 months. Our one-off experiment resulted in three limited edition Chardonnays: Clone 5, Old Wente, and the 50/50 Blend.

A blend of two clones, this cuvée combines the best attributes of each. Clone 5’s crystalline purity, mixed with the roundness of Old Wente Clone, make for an impeccably balanced, complex wine. The experiment was to make two wines from distinct parcels of one vineyard in the exact same manner and fashion. The end goal is to breathe life into an important question. Does terroir trump clone?

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