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Wine of the week: Anaba, 2018 Sonoma Coast Chardonnay

This week’s blind tasting

Anaba, 2018 Sonoma Coast Chardonnay, 13.5%, $40, 4.5 stars. A gorgeous chardonnay with notes of crisp Granny Smith apple, white peach and a kiss of vanilla. Supple texture and a lingering finish. Striking.

Gary Farrell, 2019 Russian River Selection, Russian River Valley, Sonoma County Chardonnay, 13.7%, $35, 4 stars. A complex chardonnay with a medley of flavors: Meyer lemon, grapefruit and honeysuckle. Balanced, with brioche notes kept in check with crisp acidity. Silky texture. Well-crafted.

Keller Estate, 2019 La Cruz Vineyard, Petaluma Gap, Sonoma County Chardonnay, 14.2%, $45, 4 stars. An aromatic chardonnay with notes of green apple, stone fruit and caramel that follow through to the palate. Buoyed by bright acidity. Nice length. Pretty.

Kosta Browne, 2018 One Sixteen, Russian River Valley Chardonnay, 13.9%, $85, 4 stars. A striking chardonnay and well worth the price if you have the disposable income. An intriguing blend of flavors — green apple, pear and toast — all riding on crisp acid. Just lovely.

Rodney Strong Vineyards, 2018 Chalk Hill Sonoma County Chardonnay, 13.5%, $22, 3.5 stars. A chardonnay with yin and yang characteristics — it’s rich yet crisp. It has great minerality coupled with a creamy texture. Notes of pear, Meyer lemon and vanilla. Smart.

At Anaba Wines in Sonoma, winemaker Katy Wilson wants her wine to age gracefully.

She prefers to “over-vintage” it, keeping her bottles in the cellar a bit longer so they reap the full range of flavors only time can impart.

Wilson is behind our wine of the week winner — the Anaba, 2018 Sonoma Coast Chardonnay, 13.5%, at $40. It’s a gorgeous chardonnay with notes of crisp Granny Smith apple, white peach and a kiss of vanilla. With a supple texture and a lingering finish, it’s striking.

“We like to age this wine for about 16 months, giving it some extra time in the barrel to age, develop and allow for the oak to integrate,” Wilson said. “This wine sees a touch of new oak, just enough to add body and substance but not enough to mute the beautiful flavors and acidity.”

Other tasty chardonnays include: Gary Farrell, 2019 Russian River Selection, Russian River Valley, Sonoma County Chardonnay, 13.7%, $35; Keller Estate, 2019 La Cruz Vineyard, Petaluma Gap, Sonoma County Chardonnay, 14.2%, $45; Kosta Browne, 2018 One Sixteen, Russian River Valley Chardonnay, 13.9%, $85; and Rodney Strong Vineyards, 2018 Chalk Hill Sonoma County Chardonnay, 13.5%, $22.

As for the winning Anaba chardonnay, Wilson said pitch-perfect balance relies on being nimble during harvest.

“With chardonnay, it’s very important to make smart picking decisions,” she said. “I aim to pick the fruit at the opportune moment, where the flavors have developed and the acid is still there.”

Wilson, 38, graduated 2005 from Cal Poly in San Luis Obispo with degrees in agricultural business and wine and viticulture.

“My entire professional career has been dedicated to making great wine,” she said. “I strive to showcase maximum vineyard expression, allowing for the unique nuances of each vintage to shine through, while simultaneously allowing for my style to shine through as well. I think that this approach makes me a good fit for almost any varietal.”

As for chardonnay, Wilson said the biggest misconception is that it comes in only one style.

“Most people are familiar with the intensely oaked chardonnay,” she said. “Chardonnay can be influenced by its surroundings — where the fruit is grown, how it is made. These outside factors contribute to how the final product shows and creates a lot of variety.”

Wilson grew up in Manteca, a small agricultural town south of Stockton, and her parents owned a hay-hauling business as well as a farm with 15 acres devoted to cultivating walnuts. She said her father instilled in her a love of farming and the cyclical nature of growing things.

“I grew up immersed in the world of agriculture and was never afraid to get my hands dirty, whether it be driving tractors or pruning walnut trees,” she said.

During Wilson’s freshman year, a professor spoke about different areas of agriculture, including wine.

“At 18 years old, I took on wine and viticulture as a second major and set on the path to making wine my career,” Wilson said. “Wine is the perfect combination of farming, science and creativity.”

Wine writer Peg Melnik can be reached at peg.melnik@pressdemocrat.com or 707-521-5310.

This week’s blind tasting

Anaba, 2018 Sonoma Coast Chardonnay, 13.5%, $40, 4.5 stars. A gorgeous chardonnay with notes of crisp Granny Smith apple, white peach and a kiss of vanilla. Supple texture and a lingering finish. Striking.

Gary Farrell, 2019 Russian River Selection, Russian River Valley, Sonoma County Chardonnay, 13.7%, $35, 4 stars. A complex chardonnay with a medley of flavors: Meyer lemon, grapefruit and honeysuckle. Balanced, with brioche notes kept in check with crisp acidity. Silky texture. Well-crafted.

Keller Estate, 2019 La Cruz Vineyard, Petaluma Gap, Sonoma County Chardonnay, 14.2%, $45, 4 stars. An aromatic chardonnay with notes of green apple, stone fruit and caramel that follow through to the palate. Buoyed by bright acidity. Nice length. Pretty.

Kosta Browne, 2018 One Sixteen, Russian River Valley Chardonnay, 13.9%, $85, 4 stars. A striking chardonnay and well worth the price if you have the disposable income. An intriguing blend of flavors — green apple, pear and toast — all riding on crisp acid. Just lovely.

Rodney Strong Vineyards, 2018 Chalk Hill Sonoma County Chardonnay, 13.5%, $22, 3.5 stars. A chardonnay with yin and yang characteristics — it’s rich yet crisp. It has great minerality coupled with a creamy texture. Notes of pear, Meyer lemon and vanilla. Smart.

Peg Melnik

Wine, The Press Democrat

Northern California is cradled in vines; it’s Wine County at its best in America. My job is to help you make the most of this intriguing, agrarian patch of civilization by inviting you to partake in the wine culture – the events, the bottlings and the fun. This is a space to explore wine, what you care about or don’t know about yet.

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