Vintner Roger Roessler was with his best friend, Swiss Hotel proprietor Hank Marioni, when he got word that Marioni’s house had burned down.
“It was really devastating,” Roessler said. “But we got together over food and wine like we always do and celebrated life, looking forward to the future and rebuilding.”
With this sentiment of rebuilding in mind, Roessler held a special event at his tasting room in Sonoma last week and raised $1,000 for those who lost their homes.
Luckily Roessler’s home in Sonoma is still standing and his wines weren’t affected by the wildfires. His grapes were already picked and fermented, with the wines aging in barrels.
Roessler, 70, is behind our wine of the week winner — the Big Bend, 2015 Sonoma Coast Chardonnay at $30.
The rich chardonnay has complex aromas and flavors. It has notes of green apple, pineapple and vanilla, with a citrusy finish. The chardonnay has nice length and a lush mouth-fill.
Roessler’s winemaker, Drew Huffine, said “I love the Big Bend Chardonnay because the blend of sites really results in a wine that’s both light and bright with that singing, bright lift, but then also has some lushness, not too much, but it’s there.”
Huffine said he’s a good fit to make chardonnay.
“I’m a big guy who likes very pretty, gentle things,” he said. “This is pretty much an apt description of the best chardonnay. More to the point, I think the best chardonnay winemakers do very little and react rather than attempt to be directive.”
People are misguided if they say they don’t like chardonnay, Huffine said.
“I think too often people think they don’t like chardonnay,” he said. “Not to make a sweeping generalization, but chardonnay is the most dynamic wine out there. If you think you don’t like chardonnay, you either don’t really like wine, or more likely, you just haven’t had one that’s different from the ones you’ve had and hated. Chardonnay can be grown and then produced in such a myriad of terroirs and styles respectively that the final wine will be very different based on all these variables.”
Huffine, 41, graduated in 1999 from California State University, Los Angeles with a bachelor’s degree in English, but after working a harvest job at Eric Kent wines in Windsor he realized his calling was to be a winemaker rather than a poet.
“I know this sounds hokey,” Huffine said, “but I truly believe that the personality of the winemaker comes through on the final wine.”
THIS WEEK’S BLIND TASTING
Roessler’s Big Bend Chardonnay
Roessler’s Big Bend, 2015 Carneros Chardonnay, 14.1% alcohol, $30. ★★★★
This rich chardonnay has complex aromas and flavors. It has notes of green apple, pineapple and vanilla, with a citrusy finish. The Big Bend has nice length and a lush mouth-fill. Spot on.
Olema, 2016 Sonoma County Chardonnay, 14.2%, $15. ★★★★: This is a budget-savvy chardonnay with flavors of ripe apple, lemon and caramel, riding on crisp acid. Full bodied. Lingering finish. Well-crafted.
Decoy, 2016 Sonoma County Sauvignon Blanc, 13.5%, $20. ★★★1/2: A refreshing sauvignon blanc with bright notes of grapefruit and lemon. Apricot and honeydew in the mix. Bright acidity. Crisp finish. Smart.
Kungfu Girl, 2016 Washington State Reisling, 12%, $13. ★★★★: This is an exotic wine that’s not to be missed. It’s a commingling of white peach, mineral and lime. This is a lovely reisling for an incredible price.
Gamble, 2016 Gamble Vineyard, Yountville Napa Valley Sauvignon Blanc, 13.1%, $26. ★★★: A zesty sauvignon blanc, nice and dry. Notes of grapefruit, Meyer lemon and apricot. Finishes crisp.