Ron Lilly Wines - Terisa
Chardonnay • Wasson Ranch
California: Alexander Valley
What we say
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Mission Codename: The Runaway
Operative: Agent Red
Objective: Investigate the rumors of a superior Chardonnay from veteran winemaker, Ron Lilly. If its as good as we have heard, return with an allocation for our Operatives
Mission Status: Accomplished!
Current Winery: Ron Lilly Wines
Wine Subject: 2006 Terisa Chardonnay
Winemaker: Ron Lilly
Backgrounder: In 1978 Ron Lilly got the wine bug at a winemakers dinner in New York. Soon after he sold off everything that would not fit in his van, and drove to California with his wife, Margaret. On arriving in California, he applied for entry-level positions at various wineries in Sonoma and Napa. When asked on a job application if he could operate office equipment, he listed telephone and light switch. This landed him a job immediately and his career was off and running. Ron made his was through the ranks, learning every aspect of winery operations, and eventually becoming head winemaker for a prestigious winery. Finally, after 30 years of honing his skills, Ron struck out on his own. Today he makes an elegant and delicious Chardonnay that is well worthy of your attention
Wine Spies Tasting Profile:
Look – Bright golden yellow with perfect clarity and sparkling edges, with legs that start slow then speed down the glass
Smell – Wonderfully expressive and bright with tropical fruit, citrus, toasted vanilla, river rock and soft honeysuckle
Feel – Great mouthfeel that is round and smooth in the mouth. I enjoyed moving it around to different spots, felling the different sensations that this wine conveys
Taste – Bright and fruity with green apple, pineapple, pear, starfruit and a light flinty minerality
Finish – Long and strong, this is a wine that balances its flavors and aromas in its finish by tapering off in equal proportion with a slight dryness and mineral chalkiness that makes your mouth water
Conclusion – By now you know that I am most partial to red wines. Every now and then, however, I am called upon to sleuth out and review a superior white wine. In the case of today’s wine, boy am I glad!. Ron Lilly makes a delicious Chardonnay that is imbued with his depth of experience and wisdom. To the shock of my fellow Agents, I found this wine is so pleasing and so delicious that it found a spot on my dinner table recently. If you love expressive Chardonnay that does not suffer from over-oaking, but still has great body, I recommend this wine wholeheartedly!
Ron Lilly is so enthusiastic about his wine and about winemaking that once you get him talking about either, you might not be able to get him to stop. So I found out when, posing as a wine reporter, I met with Ron.
Ron is an eminently affable character with an unmistakable New York edge. He is jovial, animated and passionate. Especially where his family and his wines are concerned.
Growing up in New York, Ron was born to be in wine. He just didn’t know it until he was in his twenties. Like Gary Vaynerchuk, one of our own wine heroes, Ron spent his early years working in his parents bottle shop. There he learned a little bit about wine. It was when he attended a winemaker dinner, organized for folks in the local wine trade that Ron had a wine epiphany.
Ron was so impressed and inspired by a presentation given by the winemaker, that he decided then and there that he would one day become a winemaker himself. So confident was he, that he convinced his wife, Margaret, to sell their possessions, sell their Volkswagen, throw what little they had left into a new van – and head for the vineyards of California.
On arriving in wine country, Ron knocked on many doors. Brimming with confidence, bravado and enthusiasm, he filled out employment applications at some of Napa and Sonoma County’s finest wineries. When asked on a job application if he had any particular office equipment skills, Ron wrote that he was proficient in the use of the Telephone and the Light Switch. This got the attention of the winery and he was hired immediately.
Starting in the winery’s warehouse gave Ron a solid grounding in winery operations and he gradually rose through the ranks, occupying nearly every position and eventually becoming the winery’s winemaker. It wasn’t until Ron felt that he had perfected his skills that he made the decision to start his own wine label.
Today, the culmination of Ron’s love-labor can be tasted in the great Chardonnay that he produces. The wine he makes bares the name Terisa, a recrafting of the name Theresa, which is the name of both Ron’s mother and Margaret’s mother.
If you love delicious white wine that has a soul, I promise that you will enjoy Ron Lilly’s excellent Chardonnay.
What the winery says
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About This Wine:
Grapes from Terisa Chardonnay came from the first rows of grapes along the Russian River in the beautiful Alexander Valley. The moderate summer of ’06 allowed for a long slow ripening of the grapes, producing intense flavors and balance. The grapes were harvested on October 12th, at 25° brix, hand sorted and whole cluster pressed. Half of the wine went to barrels right away with high solids and the other half was settled two days at 45° then racked clean into the other 10 barrels. The high solid barrels produced a baked pear nose and fat rich texture. The cleaner juice produced a more fruity pineapple nose with crisp mouthwatering mouth feel.
The wine was aged 10 months in 100% French oak – 50% new. The 2 lots were blended together then bottled in August.
About The Winery:
Philosophy – My goal is to make a lucious wine that is rich, yet supple. A wine that emphasizes the fruit components of the grape and the character of the vineyard. I want to allow the wine to “speak for itself” as much as possible. My intention is to produce a fresh, clean, ripe Chard with a crisp, lingering finish that highlights the fruit of a carefully selected vineyard without being dominated by oak or excessive “butter”. We’re proud of our 2nd vintage and current release the 2006 Terisa Chard. We feel confident you will be pleased with your very first sip. Enjoy Terisa with your friends & family.
Winemaking – I want my wines to emphasize the fruit and reflect the unique character of the vineyard. I perfer to use French oak with the Chardonnay grape because I like the subtle toast & vanilla it adds. I use a strain of malo-lactic bacteria which doesn’t produce a lot of diacetyl (a bi-product of malo-lactic fermentation). Therefore, I get the benefits of softer, more luscious mouth feel without that sometimes ’flabby butterball" style. I made this Chardonnay in two slightly different ways. Half the juice I put to barrels right out of the press with very high solids. The other half I settled in tank for 2 days at 45 °F, then racked the clean settled juice into the other half of the barrels. The cleaner juice made for a very fruity, fresh, aromatic, pineappley nose. The barrels with higher solids produced a more straight forward varietal character with more body & richness. I stir and top the barrels myself once a week, no one touches the wine but me. The wine is aged in 100% French oak for 10 months. The two separate lots were blended and then bottled.
About The Winemaker:
Ron Lilly – Winemaker, barrel topper, barrel washer, sales man & deliveryman
Ron Lilly & Margaret Mangan grew up in New York and met on a blind date Jan. 26, 1976. After ice skating on the Great South Bay under a full moon. Ron & Margaret went to see the best movie ever made, (Rocky 1). If they had seen Chariots of Fire Ron claims there would not have been a second date. In 1978 they sold their Volkswagen, bought a van, packed up everything they owned and headed to California Wine Country. Ron started working at Sterling Vineyards and Margaret began her career as an RN in the Intensive Care Unit, while raising their three daughters.
Ron Lilly has been involved in winemaking in the Napa Valley for 30 years. His philosophy is simple: to make a rich, round Chardonnay that is perfectly balanced with a smooth silky texture. Terisa exhibits light accents of oak & butter without sacrificing fruit. Maximum extract without excess. Terisa Chadonnay is an elegant, and we hope you’ll agree eloquent expression of this.
Blend: 100% Chardonnay
Appellation: Alexander Valley
Vineyard: Wasson Ranch
Aging: 100% French – 40% new, stirred weekly
Fermentation: barrel fermented, partial ML
Winemaker: Ron Lilly
Color: pale straw
Flavor profile: pear, golden delicious apple
Finish: crisp mouthwatering
Harvest Date: Sept. 21