Raymond Burr Vineyards
2009 Sonoma County Chardonnay
Chardonnay • Raymond Burr Estate Vineyard
California: Dry Creek Valley (Sonoma)
What we say
Mission Codename: The Softer Ironside
Operative: Agent White
Objective: Acquire the Gold Medal Sonoma County Chardonnay from Raymond Burr Vineyards
Mission Status: Accomplished!
Current Winery: Raymond Burr Vineyards
Wine Subject: 2009 Sonoma County Dry Creek Valley Chardonnay
Winemaker: Phyllis Zouzounis
Named after the late actor, Raymond Burr Vineyards may be best known for its exceptional Cabernet Sauvignons, but this gem from Dry Creek Valley is not to be missed. Dry Creek Valley has a receives more rain and is also warmer than the surrounding region making for a longer growing season that is well suited to many varietals, and after tasting this Chardonnay, you’ll agree perhaps perfect for this grape.
Wine Spies Tasting Profile:
Look – Pale straw-yellow with light golden yellow streaks that shine through its clear bright heart. Pale along the edges and when swirled random clusters of thin legs descend at varying speeds to the wine below.
Smell – Clean medium intensity aromas of bright citrus Clementine and fresh apricot are well balanced over a subtle biscuit, white floral notes, soft toasted oak and a tiny nutty hint to round out the bouquet.
Feel – Silky smooth, creamy and cool its entry, this soft, medium-bodied dry wine’s acidity hits at mid palate remaining light and fresh and lingering into the finish.
Taste – Light and crisp with flavors of citrus and tree fruit including ripe Clementine, lemon and tart apricot blend with a soft creamy toasted biscuit and oak component, soft and pretty, not overpowering with hints of toasted vanilla, white flowers followed by a touch of orange blossom honey.
Finish – A medium long finish with well integrated flavors of its citrus fruit, toasted oak and hints of vanilla and honey.
Conclusion – The 2009 Raymond Burr Vineyards Sonoma County Chardonnay is a delicious, fresh and light Chardonnay that doesn’t overpower you with its oak and butter. The classic flavors of citrus paired with the apricot, white flowers and toast make for an enjoyable drinking experience. This wine will pair well with lighter fare, nutty alpine style cheeses or grilled whitefish.
Now that we are great friends with the folks at Raymond Burr Vineyards, additional surveillance or infiltration is not necessary. Now that they have been recruited into The Wine Spies Network, we can just return to them to ask for wine.
No new mission report today, so please read below for a recap of our inaugural mission to Raymond Burr Vineyards.
Prior Mission Recap:
Ask anyone to describe Raymond Burr in a single word and, resoundingly, you will likely hear, Classy.
The veteran actor, for whom today’s winery was honorarily named, was also a cultivator of orchids, a war hero, a philanthropist and more. Most of all, he was cherished and loved by his close friends, who say that his warmth, humor and compassion made him a remarkable man.
When I was given the mission – finally – to seek out a new Cabernet Franc, I riffled through my mental Rolodex and recalled hearing great things about a Cab Franc from Raymond Burr Winery. In fact, it was in the most unusual way that I had come to hear of the wine in the first place.
On returning from a mission to Latin America, our flight got in to Miami too late to make our connecting flight back to California. the airline put us up in a swanky hotel and the next morning we found ourselves in a shuttle back to the Airport. I struck up a conversation with a young couple who were also on our inbound flight and, as always, I steered the conversation toward wine. We compared tastes in varietals and found that Cab Franc wines were among our very favorites. We traded recommendations and they assured me that Raymond Burr had a wine that I would be sure to love.
Now that I was finally assigned a Cab Franc mission I knew just where to go, so I called proprietor and long time companion to Mr. Burr, Robert Benevides. I used the direct approach and told him that I was very interested in sampling his wine and, if they passed the test, feature his Cabernet Franc here for our Operatives to enjoy.
I enjoyed this exceptional wine more with each sip. With enough time to stretch out in the air, the wine really opens up and loses the rough edges present on opening. For best results, decant the wine for a few hours – and enjoy at cellar temperature.
Aromas, flavors, acid and mouth-feel are all in harmony here and the finish is really very unique. If you love great Cabernet Franc, look no further Operative, its right here.
Finally, I remember hearing a story about Mr. Burr that sums up his life and his wines: While working with Errol Flynn, Flynn told Mr. Burr that if he died with ten dollars in his pocket he hadn’t done a good job. This inspired Mr. Burr to always share his wealth with all. His legacy lives on in today’s wine from Mr. Burr’s namesake winery.
Wine Spies Vineyard Check:
The location of the Raymond Burr Vineyards can be seen in this satellite photo.
What the winery says
About This Wine:
Has a crisp, floral, citrusy nose with a rich creamy mouth feel, toasty flavors and a long finish. Full bodied and well balanced, it will continue to develop in the bottle. This wine will be a great food accompaniment." – Winemaker, Phyllis Zouzounis
About The Winery:
Twelve years ago, Raymond Burr and I walked the rolling bench of Dry Creek Valley, the manzanita-covered foot of Bradford Mountain. Our dream took shape with the first plantings of Cabernet Sauvignon in 1986, and now comes to fruition with this brilliantly-complex wine. Only 1,040 cases were produced which have rested for 18 months in oak barrels before being bottled in November of 1992. I release this vintage in tribute to his vision and impeccable taste.
Thus, the back label of the 1990 Raymond Burr Cabernet Sauvignon the premier vintage of this vineyard.
Raymond Burr and Robert Benevides had met, as professional actors, in the middle 1950s on the television program which was to make a legend of Burr, “Perry Mason.” Motivated in the beginning by friendship, the Burr/Benevides relationship was bolstered and advanced by their individual interest in, and knowledge of, the cultivation and hybridization of orchids. In the next several years this shared hobby began to grow until the obvious resolution was to make it a commercial venture. And so, Sea God Nurseries was born, becoming in the 20-odd years of its life an international presence with ranges in Fiji, Hawaii, the Azores Islands and in Southern California. During this period, the partnership was responsible for over 1,500 new orchids added to the world-wide catalogue.
Phyllis Zouzounis – Pioneer woman winemaker, Phyllis Zouzounis came to Raymond Burr Vineyards at the beginning of the 2006 grape harvest. The terraced hillside, along with the soil and temperatures of the Raymond Burr benchland estate enticed Phyllis to this special spot.
Phyllis is not new to the Dry Creek Valley. She began her winemaking career working at Dry Creek Vineyard in 1980. After 15 years of experience there she moved on as winemaker and general manager of another Dry Creek winery just down the road, Mazzocco Vineyards. In 1987 Phyllis and her partner, Jim Penpraze, started their own Dry Creek winery, Deux Amis, making award winning Zinfandels.
Zouzounis believes grapes grown in the Dry Creek Valley can produce high quality wines. The 100% estate grown vineyards at Raymond Burr offer her the challenge to produce great Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc and rich, fruity Chardonnay. “Great wine starts in the vineyard with quality grapes. The Raymond Burr vineyard is a good example of this,” she will tell you. “Because it is an estate vineyard winery, this allows Raymond Burr Vineyards to create and preserve the quality in the vineyard first and then follow through to the finished wine.”
Phyllis Zouzounis is a great believer in balance. “My focus is balance. Balance of the vine, balance of the fruit and balance in the wine.”
Appellation: 100% Dry Creek Valley
Vineyard: This is a single vineyard wine from Raymond Burr Estate vines
Varietal Blend: 100% Chardonnay comprised of Wente and Dijon clones.
Production: 389 cases produced
Barrel Aging: 12 months in French & American oak
Harvested: September 11, 2009
Brix at harvest: 24.5
Bottled: September 22, 2010
Alcohol: 14.4% by volume
Vintage Information: This Chardonnay is 100% barrel fermented with 100% malolactic fermentation