2019 Balletto Sexton Hills Vineyard Russian River Valley Chardonnay
Balletto Vineyards is a story of resilience and evolution. Founder and owner, John Balletto entered the family’s vegetable farm business at 17 after the untimely death of his father in 1977. By 1994 the business had grown into the largest vegetable farm in Northern California with 70 different vegetables on 700 plus acres. However, with a multitude of increasing challenges, the Balletto’s saw a better future growing wine grapes in the Russian River Valley. Over a three-year period, they planted primarily Pinot Noir and Chardonnay. Starting in 2001, they reserved 10% of their best fruit for their own labels. Today, they farm 16 estate vineyards in the Russian River AVA. The wines are 100% estate grown and bottled.
Sexton Vineyards is situated in the Sebastopol Hills neighborhood and is planted in fine sandy loam and Goldridge soils. This wine is aged 100% in French Oak barrels of which 30% are new. Year in and year out, the prized single vineyard of Sexton Hills is always my favorite from Balletto. This pale yellow Chardonnay is bursting with savory flavors of honeysuckle, honeyed Meyer Lemon, caramelized citrus fruits and a hint of lightly toasted oak. In the background is a hint of crushed stones and minerality. All of these components come together in a wine that has beautiful weight, concentration and freshness. I can attest that the wines from Sexton Hills are very age-worthy.
By W Peter Hoyne