You Need to Know this Russian River Valley Chardonnay

The Wine of the Week: Joseph Swan Ritchie Vineyard Chardonnay

by Annette Tomei

2014 Joseph Swan, Ritchie Vineyard Chardonnay, Russian River, Sonoma, California

I’m celebrating turning 50 this year, and I’m proud to share my birth year with Joseph Swan Vineyards. When I think of Sonoma County, I think small farms and vineyards, small wineries and artisan producers, friendly people, and an abundance of deliciousness. Joseph Swan Vineyards is part of what makes this vision come to life. Joe Swan believed in the value of small vineyards, small production, and personal care. Today, his daughter and son-in-law are taking it to the next level.

Ritchie Vineyard (owned and tended by Kent Ritchie) is considered to be one of the premier sites for Chardonnay in the Russian River Valley. Grapes from this vineyard produce intensely flavored, complex, nuanced wines with great natural acidity.

Annette Tomei Reviews Joseph Swan Ritchie Vineyard Russian River Valley Chardonnay

About this Wine

This wine is pale yellow in color.  Aromas of guava and tropical flowers remind me of warm breezes in Kauai. It is simultaneously intense and smoothly seductive. On the palate, flavors of toasty almond, ripe apricot, and tart juicy citrus with a touch of silky stoniness on the clean finish. Only the rich texture belies the 14.5% ABV and 30% new French oak.

This isn’t the wine I’d grab to drink on its own, or while mindlessly grazing. This is a wine for savoring with good company and good food. It doesn’t have to be fancy, just selected and served with some love! I recommend enjoying this wine with locally raised organic pork chops, roasted chicken, or one of my Sonoma County favorites – Vella Dry Jack cheese. For the a vegetarian entree, wild mushroom risotto or hearty grains with roasted or grilled market-fresh squashes (winter or summer).

The Verdict

As I’ve mentioned in previous posts, public tasting events are a great way to learn about wines and to discover new favorites. I had the pleasure of tasting this wine at an event hosted by the Sonoma County Vintners. Now, I have a new favorite Chardonnay! At $45/bottle I’ll be serving this wine with a meal prepared with the same attention to detail that went into the making of the wine – maybe something inspired by the memories of warm breezes and sunny days in the Russian River Valley.

My new mission… to taste things I’ve never tasted before – either because I’m a snob, I can’t afford it, or it’s just a little too weird. I’ll let you know what I thought, and then you can decide for yourself if you will make the splurge, or take the leap into the strange but potentially delicious unknown!


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