93 Insider Points
You Know What's in the Bennett Valley? Awesome Chard
I don't give out good scores on Chardonnay lightly. It's admittedly not one of my favorite grapes, but there are those that stand out and remind me that there are styles I can agree with. Barbed Oak's Chardonnay, with its ideal location in the Bennett Valley, has developed into quite the gem. It'll be an easy share with the friends this weekend.
Nice tropical nose of pineapple and pear, fuji apple, asian pear, white guava and a mellow mouthfeel with a bit of a buttery finish. Drinking nicely in its window, enjoy through 2020. 93 Points - JZ Oct '18
Bennett Valley, Sonoma
Turns out the intersection of the Sonoma Coast, Russian River and Sonoma Valley appellations just might be the ultimate place for rich, full-bodied California Chardonnay. Hemmed in by mountains and contiguous with these three sprawling winemaking zones, the Bennet Valley enjoys a climate and terroir unique enough to earn its own official AVA. Nearly at Bennet’s dead center, sitting unassumingly on the banks of the Matanzas River, is the tiny estate of Barbed Oak.
Made in a luscious, high-test style, this full-bodied white will delight lovers of ripe, oaked Chardonnay. Barbed Oak’s production is micro, and owners Barb and Ed Pascoe hired boutique winemaker (and Copain alum) John Raytek to make precisely the sort of wines they like to drink. Luckily for the Pascoes, so do countless California Chardonnay fans.
· Before joining Barbed Oak, John Raytek was the assistant winemaker at Copain, where he co-created a host of small-production, cult wines.
· California’s Bennet Valley AVA boasts a unique climate due to the three mountains that surround it. The Sonoma, Taylor and Bennet mountains trap the summer’s heat as well as the evening fog, thereby providing a drastic (and beneficial) range of temperature changes from daytime to nighttime.
· The 2015 vintage was extraordinary for white varietals throughout Sonoma and was rated 96 points by the Wine Advocate.
· As winery names go, Barbed Oak might strike some as a bit prickly. It’s meaning is a reference both to the names of proprietors Barb and Ed Pascoe and to the majestic old-growth oaks that ring the site and provide housing for an array of raptors and night owls.
Medium-bodied with lucious apple, lemon, and almond notes.
From the winery:
Barbed Oak Vineyard is perfectly situated on 18 acres in Sonoma County’s Bennett Valley appellation. Matanzas Creek runs right alongside our property, and we neighbor the Sonoma Coast, Russian River and Sonoma Valley growing regions. Our grapes benefit from the warm days and cool nights that produce remarkable Pinot Noir and Chardonnay.
We passionately craft wines that please the palate on first sip. And the wines’ complexities provide lingering aftertastes that reward the most critical connoisseur. Full of fruit, each bottle of Barbed Oak reflects the best traits of wine from the appellation.
We call it Barbed Oak Vineyard, a name suggested by a friend at a picnic in our vineyards. It combines our first names. It also describes the ancient oaks that dot the property and provide perches for hawks, owls, and other raptors that sail above the vineyards.
Pair with any lighter seafood dish, a savory cheese plate, or a crisp salad with a light viniagrette.