Thomas Fogarty Winery located in the Santa Cruz Mountains is a producer I’ve been impressed with over the last few years. They have been making wine since 1981.Their portfolio includes a wide range of offerings but Pinot Noir and Chardonnay stand at the core of what they do. With both varietals they make a host of selections, both single vineyard offerings and cuvee style wines. The single vineyard offerings, which are the heart of their portfolio in many ways, allow them to highlight the unique sense of place and time that separates one vineyard from another and one vintage to the next. Today I’m going to look at six distinct Chardonnay releases from them; 4 single vineyard selections and 2 cuvee style offerings.
First up is the Thomas Fogarty 2007 Santa Cruz Mountains Chardonnay. Fruit for this wine was sourced from three vineyards; Winery Estate (89%), Gist Estate (8%) and Camel Hill (3%). This wine was aged in French oak for 10 months. Just fewer than 2,600 cases of this wine were produced and it has a suggested retail price of $29.00.
Citrus aromas are underscored by a hint of toast in the nose of this Chardonnay. Orchard fruit and lemon cream flavors are on display through the palate which is dominated by a pure blast of fruit. Nutmeg and baker’s spice emerges and carries through the finish which is crisp and refreshing with solid length. Fine acidity makes this a food lovers wine. This is the most widely available of the Fogarty Chardonnays and it’s a fine example of mountain Chardonnay with depth, and balance to spare.
The Thomas Fogarty 2007 Estate Chardonnay was produced using barrel selection from two of their estate vineyards; Damiana and Langley Hill. Half of the fruit comes from each vineyard. This wine was aged in French oak for 16 months; 30% of the barrels were new. This wine has a suggested retail price of $37.
Pineapple, Golden Delicious Apple and gentle wisps of vanilla fill the effusive nose of this Chardonnay. Orchard and tropical fruit themes continue through the palate where they’re joined by stone fruit in the form of apricot and white peach. These flavors come together to from a core of fresh, vibrant flavors. They lead to the finish which shows off minerals, apple pie spices, toasty oak and solid acidity. This wine has a bit more complexity than the SCM Chardonnay. At three years old this offering is actually on the young side. If you have the patience to lay it down for a year or two you’ll be rewarded with an even lovelier wine.
The Thomas Fogarty 2007 Portola Springs Estate Chardonnay is a single vineyard effort with 100% of the fruit sourced at the vineyard of the same name. Portola Springs Estate Vineyard sits 10 miles from the ocean at an elevation of 1,920 feet above sea level. This selection was aged in all French oak for 18 months; 50% of the barrels were new. Less than 75 cases of this wine were produced and it sells for $48.
A wisp of candied apple emerges from the nose of this Chardonnay and beckons you to take a sip. Pear, apple, pineapple and lemon zest underscored by a touch of crème all make their presence felt in the palate of this Chardonnay. Apple pie spices emerge on the finish along with tart green apple and some savory fruit notes. This wine has solid acidity. It takes a bit of air for this wine to really show its charms. Of these wines, particularly the single vineyard offerings, the Portola Springs is perhaps the most reserved and austere.
The Thomas Fogarty 2007 Langley Hill Estate Chardonnay was produced using fruit from the vineyard of the same name. Langley Hill is Thomas Fogarty’s largest estate vineyard at just over 5 acres. It sits 10 miles from the ocean at an elevation of 1,920 feet. This wine was aged over 18 months in French oak; half the barrels were new. Less than 100 cases of this selection were produced and it has a suggested retail price of $48.
Aromas of citrus fruit join golden delicious apple characteristics in the engaging nose of this Chardonnay. Tropical fruits such as mango and pineapple lead an impressive plate which is fruity, full-bodied and loaded with spice notes such as nutmeg and clove. Lush fruit characteristics continue through the finish which continues the spice parade along with hints of Crème brûlée and a who’s who of mineral notes in droves. The finish is lengthy enough to be both impressive and noteworthy.
The Thomas Fogarty 2007 Albutom Estate Chardonnay is a single vineyard offering. 100% of the fruit was sourced from the namesake vineyard. Albutom Vineyard sits 10 miles from the ocean at an elevation of 1930 feet. This wine was aged for 18 months in French oak; 50% of the barrels were new. Fewer than 50 cases of this selection were produced and it sells for $48.
Asian pear leads the nose of this single vineyard effort. It’s underscored by a solid whiff of spices. The pear theme continues through the palate where Anjou pear flavors rule the day. White pepper and pineapple flavors with a sour fruit element mark the finish followed by toasty oak notes. This wine has a nice acidic bite. This selection is perhaps the most outgoing of these wines. The fruit is a bit more powerful and heftier than the other three single vineyard offerings. Yet, as with every wine I have tasted in their portfolio, it retains balance.
The Thomas Fogarty 2007 Damiana Vineyard Estate Chardonnay was produced using fruit sourced exclusively from the vineyard of the same name. Planted in 1978, this is their oldest vineyard. This selection was barrel aged in new French oak for approximately 18 months. Fewer than 100 cases were produced and it has a suggested retail price of $48.
Inviting fall aromas of apple pie spice and orchard fruit in general emerge generously from the nose of this Chardonnay. The fruit notes throughout the palate are bold, powerful and engaging in nature. Hints of citrus join the orchard flavors along with some yellow and green melon. Hazelnut, white pepper and minerals join toasty oak on a long, lusty and impressive close. This wine has vibrant acidity.
I had the good fortune to sample these wines side by side in a horizontal tasting. Doing so was educational and fascinating as well as rewarding. I learned a lot about the differences in the Thomas Fogarty Vineyards as well as how the subtly different ways they treated each wine helped bring the intrinsic characteristics to the forefront. Most enlightening was the differences between these wines. You might wonder how different six Chardonnays from the same producer, each from their own vineyards might be. Each of these wines is remarkably different and distinct. If you’re a Chardonnay lover you owe it to yourself to try these wines side by side if you can. Another impressive element is that each of these wines will drink well for a number of years. The average shelf life will be 3-5 years but a couple of the single vineyard efforts will go a bit longer.