One of the great producers of California Chardonnay and Pinot Noir, Tom Rochioli traces his family heritage back to some of the area’s first plantings of 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 at the location and was pulled out in the 1970s. However, the Sauvignon Blanc planted remained a resounding 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. He also has been selling Chardonnay to David Ramey for several years. 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 2017 Rochioli ‘River Block’ Chardonnay (WWB, 95) which delights with its vibrant sense of minerality and tension with tropical fruits. Just as good was their 2015 Rochioli ‘Little Hill’ Pinot Noir (WWB, 94) which is decadent and has beautiful dark and cola tones that mingle with the racy acidity. Learn more about these outstanding wines at http://www.rochioliwinery.com Here are the great new wines by Rochioli.
2017 Rochioli ‘Estate Russian River Valley’ Chardonnay- The 2017 Rochioli ‘Estate Russian River Valley’ Chardonnay shows intense green melon with sourdough bread and lemon zest that all mingle on the nose. The weight and texture of the wine really drive through, leading to a long, cream and mineral-driven finish. Enjoy this fantastic bottling over the next decade. Drink 2019-2029- 92
2017 Rochioli ‘South River’ Chardonnay- The ‘South River’ Chardonnay was aged for eight months in French oak prior to bottling. The nose is seriously good with ripe lemon cream, Challah bread and shades of salted praline that all combine marvelously together in the glass. The wonderful combination of mid-palate weight and astringency really works here. Lemon oil, minerals and shades of kumquat all shine brightly on the palate. Enjoy this fantastic new bottling over the next decade or more. Drink 2019-2032- 94
2017 Rochioli ‘River Block’ Chardonnay- Quite different than the ‘South River’ bottling, the ‘River Block’ opens with intense tropical fruits that combine with tones of kumquat rind and green apple and wet stone in this absolutely intoxicating nose. The palate reveals a silky texture and an oily, almost unctuous mouthfeel. Despite the obvious mid-palate richness, the wine unveils a seamless quality that runs through the wine. Ripe pineapple, banana, golden delicious apple and saline infused lemon flavors all dance together in harmony. A delight to savor in its youth, this beautiful wine will cellar well over the next fifteen years. Drink 2019-2033- 95
2017 Rochioli ‘Russian River Valley’ Pinot Noir- The 2017 Rochioli ‘Russian River Valley’ Pinot Noir is a seriously good new wine from this storied estate. Aged for fifteen months in French oak prior to bottling, this starts off with bright guava puree with red currant jelly and shades of black truffle on this complex nose. The palate unveils a delightfully soft and enticing mouthfeel. Bright acidity and minerals mingle with cinnamon infused red cherry and shades of cola on the palate. Vibrant and intense for an entry level bottling, this beautiful wine will cellar for a decade. Drink 2019-2029- 92
2017 Rochioli ‘Little Hill’ Pinot Noir- The ‘Little Hill’ is an outstanding effort in this downright killer new lineup of bottlings by Rochioli. Cran-orange aromatics mingle with shades of peat moss and cherry cola that all combine brilliantly and build in the glass. There is good freshness and verve on the mid-palate, also unlocking a silky texture. Ripe red fruits dance with minerals, forest floor and lighter citrus rind accents on the palate. Beautifully balanced and elegant, this outstanding new Pinot Noir will cellar well for a decade or more. Drink 2019-2033- 94
2017 Rochioli ‘Sweetwater’ Pinot Noir- The Sweet Water Vineyard is the highest elevation at the Rochioli Estate Vineyard. Aromatically quite intense, this takes on cherry cola with shades of black truffle and Umami aromas that all mingle brightly in the glass. The texture to the wine is seriously good, as is the lovely beam of salinity the runs through the wine. Bright guava puree, Yakima cherry preserves and shades of cinnamon and clove all mingle together on the palate. Fresh and energetic with great tension, this beautiful wine will cellar well for a decade or more. Drink 2019-2035- 94