Northern California’s 2018 vintage was typical of vintages two decades ago. Summer temperatures were moderate, and harvest was 2-3 weeks later than recent years with long, slow maturation. As a result, the 2018 vintage wines are phenolically ripe and superbly balanced, and it was a real pleasure to taste the Dutton Goldfield new releases from the 2018 vintage.
We’ve reviewed Steve Dutton and Dan Goldfield’s wines on a regular basis. We last tasted them at the winery in Sebastopol, but COVID has forced us to taste at our Washington DC offices this year. If you would like to know more about one of California’s top producers of Pinot Noir and Chardonnay, please consult one of our earlier articles available on our blog.
The International Wine Review regularly reviews wines from all of California’s premier winegrowing sites with a special focus on Pinot Noir, including the places where Dutton Goldfield sources grapes for the wines reviewed here: the Russian River Valley, Green Valley, the West Sonoma Coast, and Mendocino’s Anderson Valley. In addition to articles published on our blog, IWR publications with particular emphasis on Pinot Noir include in-depth reports on The Santa Rita Hills, the Anderson Valley, the West Sonoma Coast, Santa Barbara County, the Santa Lucia Highlands, Los Carneros, and Sonoma County.
Dutton Goldfield 2018 Chardonnay Dutton Ranch Russian River Valley ($39) 91 Opening with scents of yellow peach and ripe pear with a honeysuckle accent, the Dutton Ranch Chardonnay is full and round on a creamy palate with beautifully integrated acids and a lingering finish that evokes river stones and fresh ripe stone fruit. Sourced from several of the Dutton Ranch vineyards, mostly in the Green Valley, separately fermented and aged in oak prior to blending in the spring. Matured 10 months in 40% new French oak. 13.5% alc.
Dutton Goldfield 2018 Chardonnay Dutton Ranch Rued Vineyard Green Valley of Russian River Valley ($55) 93 Showing a perfumed nose of orchard fruit, lemon citrus, and flint, this is a delightfully delineated wine with a firm lemony acid backbone, pure and fresh flavors, and chalky mineral and lingering fruit extract on the finish. An outstanding, beautifully focused, cool climate Chardonnay. From a vineyard planted in 1969 by Warren Dutton. The wine is barrel fermented, goes through full malo, and is aged 17 months in 50% new French oak.
Dutton Goldfield 2018 Chardonnay Walker Hill Vineyard Dutton Ranch Green Valley of Russian River Valley ($50) 92 Aromas of mineral-accented orchard fruit with nuances of gun flint and sweet spice. It offers a firm, deep and tactile palate with energetic pear and citrus zest flavors complemented by well-integrated toasted oak. Finishes clean, long and dry. 14.1% alc.
Dutton Goldfield 2018 Chardonnay Devil’s Gulch Marin County ($55) 94 Light yellow gold. Richly aromatic with scents of ripe orchard and citrus fruit and a whiff of flintlike smoke. Beautiful entry with an exciting interplay between mature yellow fruit and bright acidity. Concentrated fruit flavors accented by honeysuckle and just a hint of hazelnut show on a leesy palate, finishing with lemony extract. Sourced from Mark Pasternak’s vineyard in Western Marin County and fermented in 42% used French oak. Poor set resulted in the 2018 crop being especially low yielding. 13.8% alc
Dutton Goldfield 2018 Pinot Noir Angel Camp Vineyard Anderson Valley ($62) 94 This very special valley in California’s Mendocino County has acquired a reputation for producing some of the country’s very best Pinot Noir, and the 2018 Dutton Goldfield Pinot Noir from the Angels Camp Vineyard doesn’t disappoint. Medium dark red in color, this is a beautifully balanced, red fruited, cool climate Pinot. There’s lovely red cherry and berry on the nose enhanced with hints of dried flowers and herbs. The medium weight palate has a refined mouth feel and a purity of flavor that mirrors the bouquet. All in all, a first class California Pinot Noir! Owned by Brian Zalaznick, the gravelly Angel Camp Vineyard is located west of Philo on a knoll overlooking the Navarro River. Clones 828, 667 and Pommard cofermented and aged 17 months in 50% new French oak. 14.1% alc.
Dutton Goldfield 2018 Pinot Noir Dutton Ranch Russian River Valley ($45) 92 This Pinot Noir from Dutton Goldfield is drinking superbly right now, and it’s an excellent value. It’s a blend of fruit from different vineyards, which may partly explain its appeal. It offers exceptionally fresh, bright red fruit with herbal notes and seamlessly integrated oak, even in its youth. There’s good depth of flavor and a lovely, silky mouthfeel. A blend of fruit from several Russian Valley Vineyards, mostly located in the cool Green Valley. Each vineyard lot is hand sorted, destemmed, cold soaked for 5 days, open top fermented and matured in 40% new French oak, blended, and then matured an additional 6 months in French oak. 13.5% alc. Excellent value.
Dutton Goldfield 2018 Pinot Noir Azaya Ranch Vineyard Petaluma Gap ($62) 92 Medium dark red. Has a complex nose of violets, raspberries, and ripe red cherries accompanied by a light herbal quality. Soft and plush on the attack with a dry, medium weight palate showing layered flavors of red berries and cherries with a light cedar accent. Finishes dry, long and finely focused. The Azaya Ranch sits on a south and west facing hill in Hicks Valley. Made from three clones—667, 828 and 115– all destemmed, open top fermented, and matured in 50% new French oak for 17 months. Alc 13.7%.
Dutton Goldfield 2018 Pinot Noir Devil’s Gulch Vineyard Marin County ($72) 91 Ruby red. A very pretty wine showing a perfumed bouquet of red cherries and berries. There’s striking purity on the attack with a vibrant palate of cranberry and persimmon accented by a hint of kirsch and enlivened by bright acidity. The finish is long and pure red-fruited with fine, gracious tannins. While youthful, it’s drinking beautifully now. Owned by Mark Pasternak, Devil’s Gulch is located on a steep hillside adjacent to Point Reyes Peninsula. The soils are shallow, the climate harsh, yields small (1.6 tons/acre) and the berries small. The grapes were separately fermented and aged in two lots—the terraces and the upper slope—and the final blend made in Spring 2019. Devil’s Gulch excels in perfect years like 2018. 13.8% alc.
Dutton Goldfield 2018 Pinot Noir Docker Hill Vineyard Mendocino County ($68) 92 Medium dark ruby. A spicy nose with vibrant dark berry aromas complemented by rich loamy earth and graphite. Suave and seamless on a supple, juicy palate with ripe black cherry and briar flavors and sweet, melded tannins and finishing with a peppery bite. From a 1000’ high vineyard planted in 2010 located 8 miles southeast of the city of Mendocino on the coast. It’s a site that’s cooler than the Sonoma Coast. Aged 17 months in French oak (45% new). 14.1% alc