Gary Farrell

A modern, very dramatically situated winery, crying out to be used as a Bond villain's lair.

2004 Chardonnay Russian River Selection, Russian River Valley, Gary Farrell, 14.2%
This is made from nine different vineyards (including 4% from the Bien Nacido Vineyard in Santa Barbara County!), fermented entirely in French oak (30% new barrels) and malolactic fermentation was encouraged in only half the barrels.  3208 cases were produced.
There’s peachy ripe fruit on the nose, which is lightly creamy with only a touch of oak evident.  Round and quite silky on the palate, with very good balance.   It has nice fruit character and is very much a cross between the light fresh style and the more traditional big Napa style.   Very Good Indeed.  89/100

2004 Chardonnay, Westside Farms, Russian River Valley, Gary Farrell, 14.3%
The fruit for this is grown by Ron and Pam Kaiser on their 40 acre vineyard on Westside Road on the banks of the Russian River.   The vineyard replaced an organic farm and is planted with chardonnay and pinot noir under the influence of next door Rochioli.   The resulting wine was fermented entirely in French oak with selected yeast strains, before being aged sur lie for ten months.  All barrels underwent malolactic fermentation.  291 cases were produced.
The nose has creamy apples with some zesty citrus.   Full, round palate.  It feels much bigger than the Russian River Selection Chardonnay and a bit hot.  Very Good.  86/100

2004 Chardonnay, Starr Ridge Vineyard, Russian River Valley, Gary Farrell, 14.2%
The Starr Ridge Vineyard is a 24-acre site, owned by Gary and Debbie Farrell, located in the cool, breezy hills, directly across the Russian River from the Rochioli Vineyard, around seven miles south of Healdsburg.   The chardonnay (Dijon clones 95 and 96, which produce small berries) was planted in 1996.  The two clones were picked, processed and barrel fermented separately, and (purely for the clone aficionados out there) this wine is a blend of 39% clone 95 and 61% clone 96.  396 cases were produced.
This has a supremely elegant nose: quite blossomy and zesty, but with a nice underlying minerality.  The palate is very precise and focussed with lovely balance: there’s a fine acidity that keeps it very balanced and increases the light zesty feel on the palate.  It feels quite a bit more food friendly than the other two chardonnays.  There’s a sweet spicy feel on the finish with exceptional length.  Excellent.  95/100

2004 Pinot Noir Russian River Selection, Russian River Valley, Gary Farrell, 14.2%
92% of the fruit comes from the Russian River, 4% from the Bien Nacido Vineyard in Santa Barbara County and 4% from Carneros.   The wine, of which 7099 cases were produced, was aged in one-third new, one-third one-year old and one-third two year old French oak.
There’s strawberry scented red fruit on the nose, which feels quite fresh and clean.  There’s a light, fresh feel on the palate, with good fruit, balanced by a light acidity and a gentle structure.  Very Good+.  87/100

2004 Pinot Noir Starr Ridge Vineyard, Russian River Valley, Gary Farrell, 14.4%
The Pinot Noir in Gary and Debbie Farrell’s 24 acre Starr Ridge Vineyard represents four different clones, three Dijon clones and one Pommard clone.  Each clone was picked and processed separately.  After 12 days of ‘cold-soak’ and fermentation, the wine was aged in40% new French oak barrels.  966 cases were produced.
It has deep, fresh berry fruit on the nose, which is much deeper and more concentrated that the Russian River Selection pinot, and there’s almost a hint of white chocolate on the nose.   Similarly, it is more concentrated on the palate too, with a much more silky feel than the Russian River Selection pinot.   There are complex berry fruit flavours with good structure and a nice spicy wood feel on the finish.  Exceptional length after.   Very Good Indeed/Excellent.  93/100

2004 Pinot Noir Starr Ridge Vineyard Dijon Clones, Russian River Valley, Gary Farrell, 14.3%
In fact, despite the name, this is made exclusively from one Dijon pinot noir clone (clone 777).  Aged in 35% new French oak, a mere 179 cases were produced.
There’s quite a bit of cherry fruit on the nose: it seems fresher and simpler than the blended clones, Starr Ridge Vineyard pinot noir.  The palate is very similar to the nose: clean and quite fresh.  There’s good balance, but overall it feels a touch simple.  Very Good.  86/100

2004 Pinot Noir Allen Vineyard, Hillside Blocks, Russian River Valley, Gary Farrell, 14.1%
The Allen Vineyard is on Westside Road and was planted in the 1970s by the Rochioli family.  The Hillside Blocks (planted with the Pommard clone) are adjacent to the Rochioli Vineyards, in one of the best areas of the region.  203 cases were produced.
This has deeper, more black fruit on the nose: quite concentrated fruit, but with no jamminess.  Deep and full on the palate, yet it also has a very nice elegance.  But there’s also some power in there.   Good berry flavours, and very concentrated and complex on the finish.  Excellent.  96/100

2004 Zinfandel, Dry Creek Selection, Dry Creek Valley, Gary Farrell, 14.5%
The fruit for this comes from the Sawyer Vineyard in the Bradford Mountains, which dates back to 1974 and is planted with the Alice Recko 1900 clone.  The Dry Creek Valley has less fog influence than the Russian River Valley, and the resulting slightly higher temperatures and increased hours of sunlight benefits the Zinfandel, for which the Dry Creek Valley is best known.  563 cases of this wine were produced, which they regard as being for medium to long-term ageing.
The nose is redolent of blackberries and dentists’ waiting rooms.  Quite big and direct on the palate, but it’s in a different style to many zinfandels.   It’s really quite elegant and restrained, though with plenty of tannic structure.  It could do with another 3-4 years.  Very Good Indeed.  90/100

2003 Merlot, Sonoma County Selection, Sonoma County, Gary Farrell, 14.5%
This is a blend of 85% merlot and 15% cabernet sauvignon from four vineyards: the Wilson Vineyard (48%) in Dry Creek Valley, Redwood Ranch (26%) in the Alexander Valley, Calypso Vineyard (15%) in the Russian River Valley and Redwood Hill (11%) in the Mayacamas Mountains.  1087 cases were produced.
It has a plummy, cedary nose with a real chocolatey feel.  Big, velvety, caressing palate.  It’s a touch hot, especially on the finish, and notably so after.  It’s a good, well-made wine, but it’s a bit simple and seems to have had some of the merlot vinified out of it.  Good.  84/100

2002 Cabernet Sauvignon, Sonoma County Selection, Sonoma County, Gary Farrell, 14.3%
The immediate impression on the nose is of some toasty oak, but there’s also some fruit, but rather strangely, it’s raspberry fruit, with some chocolate notes too.  There’s quite a fresh elegant feel on the palate.  It has notably good balance, but with a strong fruit character.   Very Good Indeed.  92/100

2002 Cabernet Sauvignon, Redwood Hill Vineyard, Sonoma County, Gary Farrell, 14.3%
Redwood Hill is a small vineyard, owned by Patrick and Susan Coonan, planted in 1990 on rocky red soils on terraced hills at 1500 feet above sea level in the north-eastern foothills of the Mayacama Mountains.   he vineyard is above the fog level, but still benefits from cool evening temperatures, which helps slow maturation.  The wine was aged for 18 months in French oak (30% new) and then aged in bottle for a further 30 months.  204 cases were produced in 2002.
This has a very seductive, deep, complex nose with black fruit.  There’s forward fruit on the palate – quite concentrated fruit – and it’s a bit chocolatey on the finish.  There’s a good tannic structure, building on the finish.  Made in a very forward style.  Very Good+.  87/100


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Last updated:  8 January 2008