I may live in the Russian River Valley – indisputably, home court to any number of world-class Chardonnay winemakers – but I’m here to tell you that, if well-made, sexpot Chards are your thing, then you need to get your Chard-guzzling booty over to the Alexander Valley, and stat. You won’t find nearly the selection (the simple math is fewer wineries making less wine), you’ll drive a few extra miles between tasting rooms (it’s a sparsely populated region), but for quality, value, and stylistic consistency, nobody is producing better hooch than the cellar rats of the Alexander Valley.
If you were to think of RRV Chardonnays as the all-grown-up beauty queens of today’s Hollywood (think Nicole Kidman or Michelle Pfeiffer), and Sonoma Coast as the edgy up-and-comers of tomorrow’s (say, an Emma Watson or Kristen Stewart), then AV Chards would have to be the voluptuous blonde bombshells of the classic silver screen, all Mae West and Marylin Monroe, with their graceful curves, inimitable class, and breathy sex appeal. What I find so special about the best of these wines, however, is that what’s in the bottle consists of much more than just a metaphorical pretty face. Like Mae and Marylin, the better Alexander Valley offerings all maintain their own fierce individuality, one might even say attitude, while at the same time sharing an unmistakable common thread, a sense of place, or terroir, that even the most die-hard ABCer would begrudgingly concede, and that sets them apart from many of their more westerly cousins.
All of which lines me up for The World’s Best Unpaid Job: I’m going to spend the next few days soaking up the postcard-perfect scenery of the Alexander Valley, bar-hopping my favorite tasting rooms in and around Highway 128 (yes, I’ll spit), and talking to the men and women that grow these special wines. Check back in for Part 3, coming soon to a liver near you.