2015 Rutherford Hill Chardonnay



I am often asked what determines the price of a bottle of wine. And the easy answer is “the price the market will bear.”

Many wineries (especially thosw on the domestic side of the industry) are actively engaged in defying gravity – what goes up in price, stays up in price. Meaning once their wine has achieved a certain high price point, they don’t want it come down.

Which leads to a quandary. What if the wine doesn’t sell?

One option would be to lower the price until it does sell. But the problem is consumers (us) won’t pay the high price again.

A better solution (at least to the winery) is to create a separate label. Invent a wine, if you will. Or at least invent a place, or a name, usually fictitious, and put the “excess” wine into those bottles with the new label. It’s a great way to “move some juice” while “preserving the brand” of the first wine.

And that’s exactly what is going on here.

Years ago, the Chimney Rock winery and estate teamed up with the Terlato family to make “Cabernets that rival the very best of Bordeaux.” They also started making white wines. Now I understand, the reds are more famous, but the whites still command a hefty price tag – $50 a bottle for their Elevage Blanc. Now, I am here to tell you that Chimney Rock’s Elevage Blanc for $50 a bottle is great stuff. But it also isn’t flying off the shelves. So what did the Terlato family do?

They created the “Rutherford Hill” winery, which is simply Chimney Rock’s and the Terlato family “declassified” wines blended together. The resulting wine is this luscious Rutherford Hill Chardonnay:

The nose opens with gorgeous notes of pineapple, stone fruit – apricots, and guava, and a deliciousness of purity that can’t be denied. There’s nothing to mask the alluring pleasure of this wine because it’s never seen a barrel. But that doesn’t mean that there isn’t hedonistic texture and velvety curves to be enjoyed – the midpalate is round and soft, and while there is enough acidity to keep the wine juicy, it’s all about the comfort of snuggling down for the night with a scrumptious bottle. The finish is long, with an accent of minerality. Being a 2015, it’s right in the prime time of full-on fruit expression. Delightful!

This bit of industry insider talk may sound unfair, but it’s really just the simple economics of supply and demand. And hey, the economics work in our favor. Take advantage of this great offer.

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