The first time I visited Sonoma, one of my first stops was Gary Farrell. The order of my visits hadn’t been planned out with any particular logic behind it; things just worked out that way.
In hindsight, hitting Farrell early on was as fortuitous as things could have gotten. Because this Russian River Valley standout is reliably, year after year, one of the top producers in the area. From remarkable single-vineyard bottlings to the more affordable appellation selections, these wines have been mainstays in my personal cellar for years--ever since that first visit. Below are my tasting notes on two excellent current-release bottlings.
Gary Farrell Chardonnay “Russian River Selection” 2009, Russian River Valley
Subtle hazelnut creme on the nose, with passing whiffs of smoke, toast, lemon oil, creamed pear, and semi-dried apricot. On the palate, flavors of marzipan and persimmon are vibrant and buttressed with gorgeously filigreed acidity. Long and kissed with gently browned butter and a hint of vanilla pod, this is a Chardonnay on the elegant end of the spectrum for the appellation. Hints of white tea and lime zest sweep in on the finish, and further complicate this wine that manages the difficult feat of being creamy yet not syrupy, and deeply flavored yet wholly fresh. Lovely. Drink now - 2022.
Gary Farrell Pinot Noir “Russian River Selection” 2009, Russian River Valley
Cherry, cola, a hint of rubber and scorched earth, and brambly spice notes on the nose turn to brilliantly structured flavors of red and dark cherry, tart berries, mushroom, red licorice, and a touch of forest floor on the finish. This is built for the long haul, likely best from 2016 - 2028 / 30. The structure here is amazing, and the notes of brown spices should only continue to emerge and expand with time in the cellar.