92 Points – Wine Spectator
There is a lot of talk in the wine media about vintage when it comes to Pinot Noir and Cabernet, but you don’t often hear people talking about Chardonnay vintages in California. Part of the reason for this is probably that Chardonnay is made in so many different styles that it can be hard to generalize; a cool vintage might be great for those making a more restrained style, whereas a hot vintage may be better for those producers whose style leans toward big and bold. A vintage like 2009, however, seemed to perfect for just about everyone, as the long fairly cool season allowed flavors to develop slowly, but with no threat of rain at the end of the season, worth seeking out no matter what your style preference may be. Today’s Heist features the 2009 Russian River Valley Chardonnay from our friends at Athair, whose wines we have featured many times in the past. This is a wine that leans toward the bold side of the spectrum, but without veering off in the direction of buttered popcorn, where so many otherwise promising Chardonnays are lost. This wine also recently received a 92 point score from the Wine Spectator, so our tiny allocation of the last 20 cases is sure to sell-out quickly.
The 2009 Athair Russian River is sourced predominantly from two Russian River vineyards with outstanding pedigree: Saralee’s and Lazy W. This chardonnay shows a pale medium-gold color, with an expressive nose of lemon, melon, apple skin, and candle wax. The palate is spicy and lush, exploding with exotic tropical flavors. Kiwi and Key-lime are joined on the finish by a hint of toasty oak and vanilla. This is extremely rich Chardonnay, perfect for pairing with a cream sauce or soft cheese, yet made in a style that is not overwhelming. At around $25, you very rarely see Chardonnay of this richness and pedigree. Don’t miss out on the last of Athair’s stellar 2009 vintage!
Tom Keith, President
In 1977, Tom Keith discovered the Threshold of Heaven, Sonoma Valley, California. Over the past thirty years, while raising his three children here, he honed his skills as an amateur winemaker. The fruits of his labor and his passion for winemaking led to medals being awarded for all of his varietals, including Chardonnay, Sauvignon Blanc, Zinfandel, Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc, Merlot and Pinot Noir.
After 34 years of operating an International Men's Apparel business, Tom had an "Ah-Ha" moment and made a major life change. He had an opportunity to follow his dreams, which were to direct his energies into the wine industry. It is with this purpose that he and his son-in-law, Jim, began the journey with Pinot Noir as their first release in 2006.
Jim McMahon, Winemaker
Jim McMahon, WinemakerJim was raised in Sonoma and attended college at Cal Poly, San Luis Obispo, majoring in Biology. Trying to find a career that built upon his major, Jim explored the wine industry. After working his first harvest in 1997 at a Central Coast Winery, it was apparent to him that he had found his niche. He moved home to the Sonoma Valley and started working at Kenwood Winery. It was at Kenwood that Jim received his ‘formal’ training in winemaking. Starting as a lab tech, he soon moved up the ranks to Assistant Winemaker. After almost nine years at Kenwood, Jim decided it was time to move on to a different winery and a different valley, which brought him to Luna Vineyards in Napa. Jim is currently the Winemaker at Luna.
In 2002, Jim met the love of his life, Courtney, whom he wed in 2004. In this union, Jim also met his business partner, Tom Keith, Courtney’s father. They quickly realized they shared a passion for wine in Tom’s cellar, and Athair was born.
Jim’s approach to making wine begins with quality fruit and solid winemaking skills. These fundamentals are critical to creating a good wine. However, to Jim, combining them with passion and pouring his heart and soul into the process is how a good wine becomes something special and superb.
Learn more at www.athairwine.com.