Peter Paul’s 2009 Russian River Valley Chardonnay was picked at perfect ripeness, whole cluster pressed
and barrel fermented using a blend of indigenous and cultured yeasts. It was then aged for nine to 12
months in French oak barrels before being gently bottled without filtration. Once in the glass, it leads with
an attractive aromatic display of lemon custard, poached pear, citrus blossom and freshly baked brioche.
The full-bodied, richly textured palate—featuring flavors reminiscent of Bartlett pears sautéed in lemon,
butter and a dollop of honey—is framed by toasty, sweet oak with notes of wood smoke, vanilla and
assorted baking spices.
Lemon custard, poached pear, citrus blossom and vanilla.
The Russian River Valley is the heart of Sonoma wine country. Characterized by its close proximity to the
Pacific Ocean, this is one of California’s coolest winegrowing regions. During the growing season, the fog
typically rolls in during the late afternoon and retreats back to the Pacific by noon the following day. This
“natural air conditioning” allows the grapes—most notably Chardonnay and Pinot Noir—to ripen more
slowly while retaining flavor, aromatic intensity and elevated levels of acidity. Peter T. Paul fell hopelessly in
love with wine after he was introduced to the wonders of Burgundy and Château d’Yquem. A graduate of
the University of New Hampshire and Boston College, he went on to do quite well in the financial services
industry, which enabled him to pursue his lifelong passion for wine. In 1999, he bought Grove Street
Winery and is now the owner and chairman of Peter Paul Wines, based in Healdsburg, California. The
winemaking team of Daniel Moore and Jeff Morgan source sustainably farmed grapes from premier
vineyard sites in Sonoma, Napa and Oregon’s Willamette Valley.
While it is important to match dishes to Chardonnay’s inherent citrus, pear, apple and even tropical fruit
flavors, it is also critical to pair foods with the right weight and texture. The generous use of French oak has
had a profound stylistic impact on Peter Paul’s 2009 offering and nudges it up a few notches on the heft
scale. While this full-bodied Chardonnay can offer deep satisfaction when served without food, it is best
enjoyed with dishes of similar weight and body, such as rich seafood entrees, like monkfish and lobster, as
well as poultry, pork and veal. In my recipe for Chicken with Roasted Lemon and Rosemary Sauce, chicken breasts
are cooked with potatoes, and the sauce is flavored with roasted lemon juice and rosemary and then finished
with a little butter. The wine’s rich character is the perfect complement to the buttery chicken.
In 1995, Peter Paul founded the Headlands Foundation, a nonprofit organization that focuses on
supporting local organizations and worthwhile causes that make life better for children and their families.
The foundation has given away millions dollars to such organizations, primarily in the Northern Bay
communities of California.