Donelan, Old Wente, 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.

The Old Wente is one of the new plantings off of the vineyard. This small 1.24 acre block is planted at the highest point of the property allowing it ample sunlight. These attributes, coupled with tighter spacing and the shy bearing nature of the Old Wente Clone had us harvesting on September 28th at near identical sugars and acids as Clone 5. The wine was barrel fermented and aged sur lie for 17 months.

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