The 2011 Chardonnay Eastside Vineyard is rich, fat and explosive. Butter, smoke, spices, apricots, orange blossoms, almonds, hazelnuts, and nectarines all burst from the glass. This is a decidedly extroverted, plush Chardonnay with tons of Russian River character. It has a bit more oiliness and fat than the Ritchie, and is also just as beautiful. A wine of pure richness and glycerin, the vinous, textured Eastside Vineyard will drink well right out of the gate. Vintage 2011 is the first release of the Eastside Vineyard, which previously went into the Russian River bottling. Vineyard guru Ulises Valdez planted this site with Montrachet clones. Anticipated maturity: 2013-2018.
Mark Aubert has a brand new tasting room that is intimate and clubby. By the time I got to Aubert, I had tasted most of the Sonoma reference points. With that as a backdrop, these wines stood out for their sheer pedigrees. This is a world-class operation in every way. Because of the late, cool year, Aubertís 2011 Chardonnays are a bit brighter and more focused than is the norm. In other words, the wines are deeply marked by the signatures of the year. Interestingly, that is not the case with the Pinots, which are pretty much in line with the juicy, generous style Aubert fans have become accustomed to. In contrast to the Chardonnay harvest, in 2011, there were no declassified Pinot lots. One of the developments at Aubert over the last few years is an increased focus on estate vineyards. As part of that trend, readers will see several additions to the range, while Aubert has decided to discontinue his Reuling Chardonnay.