One of the standout wineries in the Russian River, Tom Rochioli traces his family heritage back to some of the area’s first plantings on Cabernet Sauvignon. In 1959 his father and grandfather planted Cabernet Sauvignon and Sauvignon Blanc which was a great learning experience. The Cabernet did not grow well and was pulled out in the 1970s. However, the Sauvignon Blanc planted became a huge success. Today these same vines are still in production and are considered some of the oldest Sauvignon Blanc vines in California. Inspired by the wines of Burgundy, Tom’s father planted Pinot Noir in 1968, as he likened the cool climate to Burgundy.
The Rochiolis began selling their grapes to Bynum winery in the 1970s and then later Williams Selyem in the 1980s but Tom was inspired to make his own wines. Then in 1987 they released their first estate wine. Utilizing a minimalistic style of winemaking, Rochioli focuses on individual blocks of wine that show subtle differences in fruit and terroir. Their new releases were some of the best that I have sampled from the Russian River in the past year. Look to their outstanding 2015 Rochioli ‘South River’ Chardonnay (WWB, 94) which is a stunning and layered crisp Chardonnay that finishes incredibly smooth. Just as good was their 2015 Rochioli ‘Little Hill’ Pinot Noir (WWB, 94) which is rich, intense and captures the heat of the vintage. Learn more about these outstanding wines at http://www.rochioliwinery.com Here are the great new wines by Rochioli.
2015 Rochioli ‘Russian River Valley' Chardonnay- Toasted hazelnuts, brioche and creme brûlée aromatics come into play here. The wine is a blend of 48% percent from the Mid-40 vineyard, 38% from River Block, and 14% Little Hill. The mouthfeel here is excellent, showing off Meyer lemon zest, heavy whipping cream and brioche flavors that sit alongside some wonderful minerality. Drink 2017-2025- 92
2015 Rochioli ‘River Block’ Chardonnay- The 2014 Rochioli ‘River Block’ Chardonnay is sourced from old Wente clone vines placed near the Russian River. Showing a golden hue, this wine begins with aromatics of challah bread, vanilla cream, butterscotch and suggestions of golden delicious apple. This has gorgeous mid-palate weight showing deep flavors of vanilla bean custard, Pazzaz apple, roasted almonds and suggestions of baking spices. The long, nearly one minute long finish lingers. Enjoy this great Chardonnay wine over the next decade. Drink 2017-2027- 93
2015 Rochioli ‘South River’ Chardonnay- The 2015 ‘South River’ Chardonnay by Rochioli is a stunner by winemaker Tom Rochioli. Showing a beautiful golden color, the wine begins with toasted hazelnut, nectarine and New York apple flavors. The palate shows delightful flavors of vanilla creme brûlée, brioche, Pink Lady apple and nutmeg. The exceedingly long finish impresses. The texture is oily and the vibrant minerality completes this impressive Chardonnay wine. Drink 2017-2028- 94
2015 Rochioli ‘Russian River Valley’ Pinot Noir- This Estate is a blend of 24% Little Hill, 18% Sweetwater, 18% West Block, 14% Big Hill, 14% East Block and 12% River Block.This deep colored Pinot Noir wine begins with aromatics of teaberry, red cherry pie, cola and suggestions of guava puree. The wine has wonderful weight and balance. Downright delicious flavors reminiscent of red cherry pie, red raspberry cordial, huckleberry and cola. The weight and balance makes this impossible to resist right now. Drink 2017-2026- 93
2015 Rochioli ‘Little Hill’ Pinot Noir- This great wines starts with intense aromatics of cherry cola, teaberry, sage and forest floor. The aromatic range takes you back to the glass for more. With vibrant acidity, this shows great poise and weight leading to red cherry pie, cola, red raspberry, thyme and peat moss flavors. Extremely long on the finish, this is a memorable effort from Rochioli. Drink 2017-2030- 94
2015 Rochioli ‘Sweetwater’ Pinot Noir- The 2015 Rochioli ‘Sweetwater’ Pinot Noir is translucent in color. Aromatically this has lovely red cherry pie, sagebrush and cola elements at play. The mouthfeel is gorgeous and plush. Red cherry, red currant, guava puree and cola flavors sit alongside strong minerality. Layered and luscious, this memorable wine will cellar well past the next decade and is nearly impossible to resist right now. Drink 2017-2030- 94