Christopher Donatiello, a former New York based wine and spirits distributor, has teamed with investment
banker Bill Hambrecht to transform the site of the former Belvedere Winery on Westside Road in Healdsburg
which was acquired by Bill Hambrecht in 1989. The winery has been completed updated with all the latest
winemaking technology. The spectacular 14.5-acre estate has an organically farmed vineyard (Maddie’s
Vineyard), a contemporary wood and glass hospitality center and tasting room designed by noted winery
architect and landscaper, Ken Munson, and an organic garden that introduces visitors to flora that have a
natural affinity with the aromas found in the Burgundian varietals produced at the winery. The C. Donatiello
label was launched on June 21, 2008, and the winery has quickly become a welcome addition to the Westside
Road family of famous wineries, a lineup some have anointed the “Rodeo Drive of Pinot Noir.”
The focus of C. Donatiello Winery is small lot Pinot Noirs and Chardonnays from the organic estate vineyard
and specially chosen vineyards in the Russian River Valley. Winemaker Webster Marquez developed his skills
at Williams Selyem and Anthill Farms where he is partnered with two other winemakers. The entire operation is
very classy with considerable thought given to a distinguished image and tasteful presentation of the wines.
Premium quality is the goal here and the 2007 lineup of Pinot Noirs indicate that this precocious producer is a
fast rising star in the Russian River Valley.
I recently visited and sampled the 2007 C. Donatiello Pinot Noirs and re-tasted some of the wines later in my
usual tasting environment at home. All three wines are benchmarks for Russian River Valley Pinot Noir in the
2007 vintage. I just can’t say enough good things about them!
Web Marquez told me the fruit was “perfect” in 2007 and the wines are bright and fresh with good age ability
and more finesse than the 2006 wines. There were no special problems in 2007 except reduced yields due to
fruit set issues. July was very moderate for the Russian River Valley, which is critical for proper flavor
development. The 2006 vintage Pinot Noirs are maturing earlier while the 2007 vintage Pinot Noirs are tight at
this point and need decanting or time in the glass. The 2007 C. Donatiello Pinot Noirs were bottled in August,
2008. The 2007 Russian River Valley Pinot Noir needs more time and has not been released. The stylistic
goal for the winery’s Pinot Noirs is layered, elegant wines. Most of the winery’s Chardonnays will be released in
2007 C. Donatiello Floodgate Vineyard Block 15 Russian River Valley Pinot Noir
14.3% alc., 198 cases, $55. Clones 667 and 777
from the hillside block of this vineyard located in the northern Vine
A marvelous nose composed of bright aromas of red
cherries and berries, Provencal herbs, vitamins and a touch of oak.
Plenty of body and weight with layered flavors of sweet dark cherries
and raspberries exotically spiced and framed beautifully by supple tannins
and restrained acidity. Built for the long haul with more body and spice than
Tyra Banks on the Victoria Secret runway.
2007 C. Donatiello Maddie’s Vineyard Russian River Valley Pinot Noir
14.4% alc., 175 cases, $62. From the organically certified estate vineyard in
front of the winery. Aged 10 months in 50% new French oak barrels.
wine rewards the patient. A bit shy initially, the nose blossoms in time with
intense berry jam aromas and a riff of oak. Very tasty spiced cherry and
berry flavors pulled into focus by fine acidity and ripe tannins. Not as rich
as the Floodgate Vineyard bottling, but very satisfying in its own right.
2007 C. Donatiello Hervey Vineyard Green Valley Pinot Noir
13.6% alc., 515 magnums, $142.
Grapes from this vineyard were previously part of a blend for a large winery. This 9-10-acre vineyard
in southwestern Sebastopol consists of 8-year-old vines planted to clones 115, 667 and 777 at a very
cool site with plenty of fog. The result is an extra 3 to 4 weeks of hang time. Farmed by John Hervey,
a Spanish teacher and dedicated winegrower. This wine comes from a block of 667 clone only. Aged
10 months in 100% 1-year-old French oak barrels.
This is one of those wines you keep coming back
to. Bright and complex perfume of Bing cherries, fresh herbs, vanilla and soft oak. Stone fruit-driven
rich middle palate that has plenty of structural power yet retains an appealing elegance. The finish is persistent
like a dreamy three hour movie that never ends.
2006 C. Donatiello Russian River Valley Pinot Noir
14.2% alc., 2,750 cases, $48. A blend from the winery’s
two estate vineyards.
A charming if delicate wine displaying aromas and flavors of red cherries and
strawberries, herbs and spice with a soft and pleasing texture and a clean and vibrant finish.
C. Donatiello wines are available through a mailing list and at the comfortable tasting room (pictured below) at
4035 Westside Road, just minutes from downtown Healdsburg. Robert Conrad is the accommodating Director
of Hospitality (707-431-4409). Private tours and extensive tastings are available by appointment. The website