April 13, 2021, 5:18PM
Updated 3 hours ago
Great wine has been made during every kind of social upheaval, from war to Prohibition to pandemics.
“We didn’t ask to carry on that tradition, but we rose to the occasion,” said Heidi Bridenhagen, winemaker of Healdsburg’s MacRostie Winery. “The pandemic is a collective experience — we’re all going through it. I’m so proud of the way we came together with professionalism, empathy and pride in our craft.”
Bridenhagen is behind our wine of the week winner, the MacRostie, 2019 Sonoma Coast Chardonnay, 14.5%, $25. This budget-wise tropical chardonnay has gorgeous flavors of mango and pineapple, with a kiss of vanilla. It’s lush yet balanced, buoyed with crisp acidity. It’s impressive and overdelivers for this caliber of chardonnay.
Other tasty chardonnays include Alma de Cattleya, 2019 Sonoma County Chardonnay, 14.1%, $26; Argyle, 2018 Reserve Chardonnay. 13.5%. $35; Dry Creek Vineyard, 2019 Dry Creek Vineyard Block 10, Russian River Valley Chardonnay, 14.1%, $34, and Notre Vue, 2019 Russian River Valley Chardonnay Musque, 14.5%, $36.
As for the MacRostie chardonnay, the style is one that founder Steve MacRostie set: bright and impeccably balanced, Bridenhagen said.
“It’s a style we have stayed true to for almost 35 years,” she said. “Our wines have lovely aromatics and fruit, but they’re framed by vibrant acidity, which adds poise and precision to the wines while also keeping them bright and dynamic.”
The most challenging part of making chardonnay is keeping its symmetry in check, Bridenhagen said.
“I believe in making balanced wines, where all of the elements are in harmony,” she said. “When you achieve this goal, the senses are able to perceive subtler, nuanced elements that can make a chardonnay incredibly lovely. But if you apply too heavy a hand in terms of malolactic fermentation, new oak, toast levels or several other key steps during winemaking, you can lose that balance and lose those more delicate qualities.”
Bridenhagen, 37, has been working at MacRostie for more than a decade. She studied biochemistry at the University of Colorado at Boulder with the goal of becoming a doctor.
“I quickly realized that while I love biochemistry and have a scientific mind, I was destined for something a little more creative, a career that kept me outdoors and active,” she said. “I went wine tasting in Sonoma County in June of 2007 and I absolutely loved it — the food, the wine, the scenery and the people. The more I thought about it, the more I realized that winemaking was a really exciting way to combine my scientific mind with my more creative side.”
The winemaker said there’s an innate purity to chardonnay, and showcasing the grape’s graceful elements requires creative thinking and a light touch.
“Our MacRostie Sonoma Coast Chardonnay is our flagship chardonnay,” Bridenhagen said. “It holds an incredibly important place in our portfolio in terms of introducing wine lovers to the quality and style of our wines. Because of this, we constantly strive to ensure that it’s a wine that overdelivers in a big way.”
Wine writer Peg Melnik can be reached at email@example.com or 707-521-5310.
Wine, The Press Democrat
Northern California is cradled in vines; it’s Wine County at its best in America. My job is to help you make the most of this intriguing, agrarian patch of civilization by inviting you to partake in the wine culture – the events, the bottlings and the fun. This is a space to explore wine, what you care about or don’t know about yet.