If you cruise through the Anderson Valley either going or coming from the Sonoma coast, you'll wind your way past golden fields dotted with live oaks, and eventually you'll round a bend to find a small sign on the right pointing you up the hill to Husch Vineyards. Other than the grape arbors alongside the driveway, you might think that you're arriving at someones (lovely) little farmhouse. The winery is a small set of buildings perched on the edge of the hill and their tasting room is basically a old grain storage building covered in flowering vines and ivy.
The Husch Winery is the oldest winery in Alexander valley, and bears the name not of the current three-generational owners, the Oswalds, but of the earlier owners who purchased a 60 acre ranch outside of Philo in 1971 and planted the dry rocky soil with Pinot Noir, Chardonnay, and Gewurztraminer.
While I'm not a fan of their Pinot Noir, and their Gewurztraminer is too sweet for my tastes, they make a couple of excellent Chardonnays. Additionally they also have an estate reserve Merlot available only at their tasting room that is heavily aged oak for a long time, and displays a depth and a complexity that is rare in Merlot from this region. Incidentally, their current release, the 2001 Pinot Noir, marks the 30th anniversary of the first Pinot Noir grown in the Alexander Valley.
Here are the winemaker's notes for this wine:
Selected Chardonnay vines from our original Husch vineyards in the Anderson Valley were chosen for their distinct flavors and aromas and individually harvested. After pressing the whole cluster, the juice was settled and fermented in new Francois Freres oak barrels. During the first six months of aging the lees was stirred every 2 weeks, and during the last 8 months the barrels were topped every 2 weeks for a total of 13 months in the barrels. 100% of the wine underwent malolactic fermentation.
This wine looks the way a good Chardonnay should: gorgeous light gold in the glass -- like liquid sunshine. The nose is filled with aromas of pinapple, honesuckle, pear, and nutty, sweet oak. Despite being a 100% malolactic wine it doesn't taste like it's dripping with butter. On the tongue the wine has a nice acidity with flavors of lemon zest and tropical fruits supported by a soft oak structure which resolves into a long finish.
This is a lovely balanced Chardonnay that will accompany both lighter and heavier food well. I'd try pairing this one with swordfish steaks with lemon parsley sauce.
Overall Score: 8.5/9
How much?: $25
A wine book like no other. Photographs, essays, and wine recommendations. Learn more.
The Superb Grace of Old Vines: Drinking Janasse The Zinfandel Experience: January 31, San Francisco Vinography Unboxed: Week of January 4, 2015 Vinography Images: The Colors of a New Season Vinography Unboxed: Week of December 27th, 2014 Vinography Images: Rich Skies Losing a Legend in Serge Hochar Flirting with the Ecstatic: The Wines of Nikolaihof, Austria Vinography Unboxed: Week of December 20, 2014 A Grape By Any Other Name
Wine Will Never Smell the Same Again: Luca Turin and the Science of Scent Forlorn Hope: The Remarkable Wines of Matthew Rorick Debating Robert Parker At His Invitation Passopisciaro Winery, Etna, Sicily: Current Releases Should We Care What Winemakers Say? The Sweet Taste of Freedom: Austria's Ruster Ausbruch Wines 2009 Burgundy Vintage According to Domaine de la Romanée-Conti Charles Banks: The New Man Behind Mayacamas Wine from the Caldera: The Incredible Viticulture of Santorini Why Community Tasting Notes Sites Will Fail Chateau Rayas and the 2012 Vintage of Chateauneuf-du-Pape A Life Indomitable: The Wines of Casal Santa Maria, Portugal Bay Area Bordeaux: Tasting Santa Cruz Mountain Cabernets Forgotten Jewels: Reviving Chile's Old Vine Carignane The First-Timer's Guide to Les Trois Glorieuses of Hospices de Beaune