Balletto Vineyards: Under the Radar in Russian River Valley
How Do You Hide 600 Acres?
The Balletto family has a long history of farming in Sonoma County. They started out as vegetable growers and increased their land holdings over time to 600 acres. As farming economics changed, it grew harder to make a living growing vegetables, but growing wine grapes could still be a viable business. Slowly, they converted those 600 acres to grapes and today they are the source of over 500 acres of high quality Russian River Valley grapes to wineries around the region. While their grapes go into many wines, the wines have someone else’s name on them. You’ll notice there are some grapes they don’t sell…. They make their own wine from their favorite/top 10% of the grapes they grow.
I recently had the opportunity to give a couple of their wines a try. When I heard a bit about their approach: balance and elegance through lower alcohol, higher natural acidity and restrained use of new oak, I knew my answer would be “yes!”
Balletto Russian River Chardonnay, Cider Ridge Vineyard 2013 (online $22-$42)
From the winery:
Balletto Vineyards Cider Ridge Vineyard Chardonnay 2013[SRP $38]: There’s an opulent floral headiness with fresh cream and light oak spice, yet this richness is offset with bright citrusy lemon and tropical guava to bring balance and grace to the wine.
Eye: clear, medium lemon yellow, with a touch of greenish highlights
Nose: Clean, lemons and pears, a bit of richness from the oak, but no overt vanilla aromas (thank you!).
Mouth: Medium+ body, very good acidity, but a nice round creamy texture. The oak shows a little more in the palette, but isn’t objectionable.
With the round, creamy texture, I’d like this wine with a rich sauce with seafood or a cream sauce with chicken. We had it with a mustard coated cedar planked salmon, which was very nice. All in all, a quality Sonoma Chardonnay where the butter & vanilla have been kept under tight control.
Balletto Pinot Noir Russian River Valley AVA, BCD Vineyard 2014 (online $22-30)
from the winery:
Mocha and earth aromas playing off fresh cherries. It has a wide and silky palate, and just enough acidity and tannins to pull the wine through to a long and lasting finish.
Indigenous yeasts, aged in French oak with sparing use of new barrels, don’t want to dominate the wine.
Eye: Clear, medium ruby with very pretty cool shade ruby edge.
Nose: Clean, medium+ intensity, immediate impression of ripe dark cherries, with a little cedar and maybe a touch of smoke in the background. The fruit smells beautifully ripe and sweet.
Mouth: Medium- body balanced with a nice ripe fruit element. The cherry & cedar spice carry on in the flavor for a medium+ finish. Good acidity with light but present tannins.
Strong fruit, with good body, an excellent example of what Russian River Pinot Noir can be when it is made with a bit of restraint.
We enjoyed this wine very much with cedar planked salmon, a very nice wine.
Balletto Vineyards at Dinner with Cedar Planked Salmon
Recipe can be found here: Cedar Planked Salmon with Mustard-Dill Sauce.
Disclosure: These wines were provided as samples with no expectations for a post. All opinions expressed are my own.