2020 Onward Chardonnay, Johnson Family Ranch, Mendocino
Onward Chardonnay is refreshing and captivating…I liken her to a ballerina she is full of electric tension and strength, yet graceful and light on her feet.
She meets you with vibrant aromas of citrus and yellow plum, while a slight hint of straw dances in the background. On the palate, the wine is layered with rich flavors of nectarine, pink lady apple, and white currant, with a touch of wet stone adding intrigue.
About the Wine
This wine was created to showcase the pure expression of this varietal as well as to highlight the beauty and care the Johnsons take in farming and their lovely Johnson Family home ranch site. This vineyard is not only farmed impeccably it is also California Certified Sustainable and Fish Friendly Farming.
The Chardonnay grapes were picked early in the season and whole-cluster pressed. The cold-settled juice was racked and allowed to warm up a little while the native fermentation kicked in, then the fermentation was carried out cold and slow in a jacketed stainless tank to keep that zippy freshness of sunshine and yellow fruit and the Stoney mineral quality.
The wine was then aged in large format neutral barrels with lees stirring to provide body and richness in mouthfeel without malolactic or oak aromas.
Chardonnay the Onward way, low alcohol, and food-friendly, she is serious yet approachable!
Variety: 100% Chardonnay
Vineyard: Johnson Family Home Ranch
Grower: Johnson Family
Farming: Sustainable & Fish Friendly Certified
Production: 270 cases
4x 2020 Onward Chardonnay, Johnson Family Ranch, Mendocino
12x 2020 Onward Chardonnay, Johnson Family Ranch, Mendocino
We have a strong commitment to our environment and believe that sound practices are not only essential for the survival of the wine industry but also produce the highest quality wine. To that end, we’ve searched carefully to find vineyard sites that provide excellent fruit quality accompanied by earnestness on behalf of the grower.
We are extremely proud to have formed long-term collaborative relationships with growers at Hawkeye Ranch, Cerise Vineyard, Capp Inn Ranch, Casa Roja Vineyard, Ledgewood Vineyard, Knox Vineyard, and Babcock Vineyard.
Onward Wines are single-vineyard, site-driven wines and Farmstrong Wines are blends, and in both expressions, the vineyard sites are very special to me. I am a true believer in personal connection and there is a story behind each vineyard site and how it came to be part of my portfolio. In these stories, you will learn more about the people behind these vineyards. I liken my connection to these vineyards to that of one’s favorite shirt or coffee mug or chair. Like a well-worn fabric or a slightly chipped mug that may have initially caught my eye for its beauty, but over the years it has won my heart because it just feels right. When it comes to vineyards this happens too, and it is a combination of my connection with the vines themselves and my connection with those that tend them. For me, the grower’s hands are most definitely part of the terroir.
My style is about letting the vines speak. They are the art, I am the canvas, my job is to give them a chance to share their beauty in each and every vintage. My decisions are driven from the vineyard and the vintage, my cellar practices are to uphold the truths I find in the vineyard. To this end, I pick early looking for a balance of flavors at lower ripeness, as I find this is when each vineyard is in its most unique expression of self.
“I see these vineyards as treasures. As a winemaker, it is my goal to preserve these treasures and share them as wines.” – Faith Armstrong Foster
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Good morning, Casemate fans!
I was blessed on Friday with the opportunity to be Lab Rat, which is always a privilege to provide some extra insights for this community. I was a little apprehensive when I got the message of an inbound shipment from Wine Country Connect, as the weather here in NC was a frosty 19 degrees, and knew it would be stored and riding in a cold UPS truck for 24 hours.
So… opening the package revealed a 2020 Chardonnay from the Johnson Family Ranch. And my suspicions of temperature were confirmed – 38 degrees upon delivery at 4 pm!! Don’t know what it got to, but no evidence of settlement or protruding cork assured me that at least it didn’t freeze. I poured off a small glass for initial comparison later.
There was no information about the wine on the bottle itself, and I had not heard of this winery, so I did some digging on the Interweb – not much there either. I did find some tasting notes, as are including on the discussion page.
First impressions: this is the palest Chardonnay I have seen in eons.
As you may see in the picture, “straw” is too dark a descriptor; a ripe Catawba melon is more accurate. Not that this is a bad thing……!
I let the glass come to 58 degrees before the first sampling.
On the nose – not a significant whiff of anything in particular I got a little pear, some sort of mild apple, and some pleasant mineral, wet stone was my initial pick.
Palate: confirmed the nose flavors, with a little tropical fruit added – not citrus, although it has an acidic finish that wanted to take you to a lime, but not quite, more like just the zest of some citrus. The soft apple was more pronounced; I still got pear and wet stone, and slight floral notes. I recorked, back in the fridge to let it settle.
We revisited the wine after 48 hours, at Sunday dinnertime. The resting and brief aeration added to a more favorable presentation of the wine: the earlier impressions were confirmed, the mouth feel was heftier yet light in texture, and flavors more pronounced and balanced. The acidic finish is still there – not common to my Chard experiences. Most pleasing reaction: the lack of oak – confirmed by my investigation that they use stainless steel tanks and aging in neutral barrels. Most striking reaction: how unlike any Chard it is – light texture, muted flavors, and the afore-mentioned acidic finish.
Summation: This is the most interesting Chardonnay I have experienced. I wonder what a blind tasting panel would come up with: Is it a Viognier? Veltliner? A white blend? It literally falls between a Pinot Grigio and Chardonnay, and darn close to many Viognier’s that I’ve had. It’s a pleasant porch drinker, pairs well with a cheese plate (milder cheeses), but got lost in a Panko Pecan Chicken entrée.
Hope that helps in your decision. It’s definitely one to have in the cellar repertoire!
I was also lucky enough to receive a lab rat bottle from Alice and the team on Friday. Thank you Casemates for this amazing opportunity. I was very glad to see the bottle arrive in the early afternoon. I had to make an emergency trip to Sioux Falls SD in the wee hours on Saturday. I had booked a hotel room near the airport and the wine came with me. I have had the Onward Carignan and it remains on of my favorite Casemates purchases.
I wished I had to let the bottle rest and to chill it more before I opened it. I arrived at the no tell/motel late because of work. The quickest restaurant in town was the Dairy Queen so my “tasting dinner”, consisted of chicken strips, fries, and buffalo sauce.
Upon first opening the bottle, I did not detect a smell. I do not know if it was the lack of nose or the weird smell in the room. First sip was casaba melon with a hint of Kiwi/yellow plum.
The Chardonnay went okay with the chicken strips and fries. It was overwhelmed by the buffalo sauce. I wish I could had this wine with a lemon caper dish or even creamy tomato soup.
Since the meal did not compliment the wine, I drank the rest alone. The most I tasted, the more buttery it became with a tad of salt came thru. It had a long, pleasant aftertaste. It did not dry out your palate. Like the reviewer above has said, this is very light in color, no oak at all, and would be a great purchase in the summertime when you want something lighter to drink. It is definitely not a typical Chardonnay.