Double Gold - 2011 San Francisco Chronicle Wine Competition
Manchester Ridge is one of the most spectacular vineyards I have ever visited, and at 2,000 feet in elevation looking out over the Pacific Ocean, it may have one of the best views in all of California. Fortunately, this vineyard is more than just a pretty face, as it produces outstanding Pinot Noir and Chardonnay in eroded sandstone soils that really express the site in which they are grown. This vineyard’s unique topography places it above the fog coming off the ocean, which allows the grapes plenty of sun exposure. Without this, they wouldn’t be able to ripen given the cool temperatures at this elevation in Mendocino County. This mix of cooler weather and plenty of sun seems to be perfect for allowing the grapes to ripen slowly and develop plenty of flavor, without becoming over-ripe. In the capable hands of the winemaking team mat Willowbrook Cellars, the result is a delightfully unique Chardonnay that truly expresses this wonderful vineyard.
The 2008 Willowbrook Cellars Manchester Ridge Chardonnay is bright golden straw in color. The nose shows exotic aromas of melon, lime, and green apple, along with toasty, yeasty notes. The palate shows apple, lime and an almost Burgundian undertone of earth or mushroom, which is very unusual in California Chardonnay, Medium light in body yet with plenty of intensity, this is the perfect wine for people who are sick of the oaky, fruity chardonnays that can be so fatiguing for the palate as the warm summer months approach. At just $22 you will not find a more interesting example of the versatility and diversity of flavors of which Chardonnay is capable. Don’t miss out on this bargain!
Willowbrook started in 2001 as a dream of winemaker, Joe Otos, then 26 years old. This dream became reality after he teamed up with retired technology executives, John Tracy and Ed Sillari. Sillari and Tracy had recently moved to the wine country and had begun separately to explore opportunities to pursue their passion for wine. Sillari was involved in wine sales and Tracy had acquired a hilltop vineyard in Forestville. Their combined experiences were all the pieces needed to get Willowbrook Cellars started.
During the first few years production was limited to about 500 cases split between Pinot Noir and Chardonnay. Willowbrook began to increase its production of vineyard designate wines; seeking out interesting small vineyards each with its own microclimate and flavor profile.
Willowbrook Cellars wines may be found in gourmet restaurants and in specialty wine stores, but because of the small case production, most of the sales have been generated by word of mouth.
Learn more at www.willowbrookcellars.com.