California’s Best Take on Burgundy

Today’s Story: Calera Wine Company

Calera Wine Company is a very highly regarded wine estate established in 1975 by Josh Jensen. Located in the Mt. Harlan AVA in San Benito County on California’s Central Coast, Calera consists of several single-vineyard holdings known for their Pinot Noir. Josh picked up a passion for winemaking and Pinot Noir working harvests in Burgundy, first with Domaine de la Romanée-Conti and then with Jacques Seyesses at Domaine Dujac. His mentors taught him that Pinot Noir and Chardonnay are best planted in limestone soils, so when he returned to the US Josh searched for land with excellent vineyard potential and, most importantly, limestone. Josh purchased his ideal property in 1974, later planting 24 acres of Pinot Noir in 1975 and producing his first vintage in 1978.

Today Calera produces six single-vineyard Pinot Noirs from Selleck Vineyard (4.8 acres), Reed Vineyard (6.04 acres), Jensen Vineyard (13.8 acres), Mills Vineyard (14.4 acres), Ryan Vineyard (13.1 acres), and de Villiers Vineyard (15.6 acres). They also produce Chardonnay (10.4 total acres), Viognier (2.2 total acres), and Aligoté (0.2 total acres). With an average elevation of 2,200 feet above sea level and coastal influences from the Monterey Bay, Calera’s vineyards are some of the coolest climate sites in the entire state of California. These vineyards are certified organic, and much of the work (including harvest) is done entirely by hand.

Minimal intervention winemaking is the name of the game at Calera, as both Josh and his winemaker Mike Waller share a philosophy of producing terroir-driven wines that are both elegant and incredibly age-worthy. This begins with the structure of the winery itself, which is designed to be entirely gravity-flow and is set across seven distinct levels built into the mountainside. There’s a great schematic of the winery here, as you can clearly tell minimal handling of the fruit and wines is of utmost importance. Calera also utilizes high percentages of whole-cluster fermentation with only native yeasts, and the wines experience little to no pumping to preserve purity and focus. The wines are not racked while they age, which is done using modest percentages of new oak (around 30%) to preserve the variety’s characteristics and wine’s sense of place. The wines are bottled unfiltered but lightly fined after 16 months of aging for the single-vineyard Pinot Noir.

Today’s Wine: 2010 Jensen Vineyard Pinot Noir

100% Pinot Noir; 14.1% ABV

The 2010 Jensen Vineyard Pinot Noir is deep garnet in color and opaque. I let this open up in the glass for 30-45 minutes, which helped to bring out the more nuanced aroma characteristics. The aromas are of medium intensity, but the nose is rather complex and showcases aromas of black cherry, plum, licorice, dried violets, cigar box, forest floor, truffle, garden herbs, and a hint of baking spice. The flavors are also of medium intensity, and the palate displays notes of black raspberry, muddled strawberry, fig, black cherry, tobacco, leather, mild mushroom, and green herbs. Dry and medium-bodied with medium (+) acidity, medium (-) tannins, high alcohol, and a long finish. This is in a great spot right now, but certainly has the legs to go another 3-5 years.

Price: $75. While this is on the pricier end for California Pinot Noir, I believe it’s worth every penny and I’d even argue it offers solid value. This is a wine that frequently stands up to the great wines of Burgundy, and its balance, complexity, length, and age-worthiness are profound.

A Wine of Personality

Today’s Story: Thackrey & Co.

Thackrey & Co. (which is somewhat of a misnomer because it consists of practically only its founder, Sean Thackrey) is a small and esoteric winery located in Bolinas of Marin County, California. An art gallery director by trade, Sean transitioned into winemaking during the late 1970s and early 1980s and by modern standards is rather unconventional in his craft. Though he started with Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot from the esteemed Fay Vineyard in Napa (now owned by Stag’s Leap), he found the varieties and resulting wine too “proper” and set out to purchase varieties like Mourvèdre, Petite Sirah, and Syrah to broaden his horizons.

Thackrey’s philosophy can be described quite easily as esoteric, as he eschews classroom and lab learning but rather views winemaking as a natural process that has no clear order and is filled with necessary and unavoidable challenges. He also takes many of his practices from long-forgotten ancient methods, one of which is allowing his wines to ferment at least 24 hours under the stars which can be found in ancient texts of Greek poet Hesiod. In fact a large number of Thackrey’s winery operations occur outdoors amongst leaves and pine needles in his eucalyptus grove, as there is a significant lack of order on his homestead where these wines are crafted. Don’t expect this perceived mayhem to stop with the wines either, as Thackrey often never knows the final blend of his wines but they are brooding, powerful, and eccentric.

Thackrey is known largely for two of his wines, one being the non-vintage Pleiades which is a blend of roughly six different varieties and is rumored to be at times Syrah-dominant and at others Sangiovese-dominant. The blend changes each release, which is signified by Roman numerals on the label. The second wine is his flagship, named Orion, and its fruit is sourced from the Rossi Vineyard in St. Helena. For much of its history, Thackrey thought the Orion bottling was old vine Syrah but, following a study of the vineyard, five types of vines could not be identified and the bottling is now labeled as an “old vine California red.” Total production sits around 4,000 cases per vintage, and while this background probably seems rather chaotic the wines are in high demand and often receive high praise from critics. I can tell you that of the four Sean Thackrey wines I’ve had over the years, I am always blown away and welcome the rustic power they bring.

Today’s Wine: NV Pleiades XXVIII

Unknown Blend (rumored to include Syrah, Grenache, Mourvèdre, Sangiovese, Barbera, Carignane, Viognier, and potentially other varieties); 14.4% ABV

The NV Pleiades XXVIII is medium garnet in color. This is one of those wines that constantly evolves over time in the glass, so I did not decant it but drank it over several hours. The aromas are of pronounced intensity, with a complex nose of black cherry, blood orange rind, licorice, rose, violet, smoked meat, leather, tobacco, tar, cracked pepper, and pine. There’s slight heat from the ABV, but this should integrate with time. The flavors are of medium (+) intensity, but the palate is also complex and displays notes of cherry, redcurrant, red plum, anise, tobacco, cola, smoke, grilled herbs, and baking spice. This dry red blend is full-bodied with high acidity, medium tannins, high alcohol, and a medium length finish. Overall a very fun and thought-provoking wine. Bottled November 2020.

Price: $22. This is a very fun and unique wine that I think is absolutely worth trying. I haven’t had anything quite like it, but the quality and complexity are quite profound. Quite an interesting wine to shake up some palate fatigue.

An Old World Style Syrah From the Santa Lucia Highlands

Today’s Story: Sandlands Vineyards

Sandlands Vineyards is a small family-owned and operated passion project of Tegan and Olivia Passalacqua established in 2010. Tegan, a winemaker with a proven track record of crafting fantastic old vine Zinfandel at Turley Wine Cellars, branched out into this side project with a focus on ancient and “forgotten” varieties. In the far reaches of California winegrowing in Lodi, Contra Costa County, Santa Lucia Highlands, Amador County, and the more familiar Sonoma Coast, Tegan sources Chenin Blanc, Cinsault, Trousseau, Carignane, Mataro, Syrah, Zinfandel, and other varieties from vines that are at times more than 100 years old. Though these varieties and the vineyards he sources from have been farmed for decades and generations, they oftentimes lay outside of the “norm” for California viticulture and are even mostly planted in decomposed granite (i.e. sand). What’s more, the vineyards Tegan works with are typically head-trained, dry-farmed, and own rooted. Tegan crafts these wines in a traditional and minimally invasive manner, allowing the unique terroir and vine to shine through in each bottling which results in lower alcohol, easy drinking, but complex wines. Production is miniscule and quantities are quoted by the barrel, so these can be hard to find and the mailing list is the easiest way.

I previously wrote about Sandlands’ 2018 Lodi Red Table Wine, which is an interesting blend of 33.3% Cinsault, 33.3% Carignane, and 33.3% Zinfandel all from very old vines. If you’d like to check out other wines in their portfolio as well, visit the Sandlands website here.

Today’s Wine: 2018 Santa Lucia Highlands Syrah

100% Syrah; 12.8% ABV

The 2018 Santa Lucia Highlands Syrah is deep purple in color, certainly showcasing its youth. I let this open up for 1.5 hours and then drank it over the following 1.5 hours, which I think it needs at this stage. The aromas are absolutely gorgeous and of medium intensity, showcasing notes of crushed blackberry, black plum, wild blueberry, violets, licorice, gravel, graphite, and grilled herbs. Flavors are also of medium intensity, with the palate displaying notes of blueberry, blackberry, orange rind, leather, tobacco, cracked pepper, green herbs, and smoke. This dry red is medium-bodied with medium (+) acidity, medium (+) but refined tannins, medium alcohol (shows slightly due to youth), and a long finish. Too young for sure, but already so delicious.

Price: $40. Prices are already on the rise for these wines, but at $40 (which is now low for the secondary market) I still think this is a very solid value for Syrah. It drinks rather Old World in style, and the complexity already is quite generous. Once the alcohol finishes integrating, this will be a showstopper.

Ultimate Napa Valley Cult Cabernet

Today’s Story: Harlan Estate

Harlan Estate is a highly regarded “cult” Napa Valley winery, established in 1984 by developer H. William Harlan in the western hills of Oakville. The Harlan property consists of 240 acres, about 40 of which are cleared for viticulture activity and planted to 70% Cabernet Sauvignon, 20% Merlot, 8% Cabernet Franc, and 2% Petit Verdot. Harlan’s first commercial vintage is the 1990, which was released in 1996, and over time the estate has commanded incredible critical praise and accompanying price action in becoming what many people refer to as the ultimate cult Napa wine. A staple in the winemaking process at Harlan is rigorous selection of fruit both in the vineyards and the winery, as only the highest quality fruit is accepted, triple sorted, and destemmed. Fermentations occur in open top vats with indigenous yeasts, then the wines feed into the barrel room for aging in French oak barrels for 24-36 months depending on vintage. Production is fairly limited, with 1,200 to about 2,000 cases produced of the flagship Harlan Estate bottling and about 900 cases produced of the estate’s second wine called The Maiden.

Today’s Wine: 2015 Harlan Estate

Proprietary blend, but I believe about 85% Cabernet Sauvignon with the balance Merlot, Cabernet Franc, and Petit Verdot; 14.8% ABV

The 2015 Harlan Estate is deep ruby in color. This powerful and opulent red needs at least 3 hours to open up in the decanter at this stage, but one is highly rewarded with the air time. Aromas are of pronounced intensity, with the remarkably complex nose showcasing cassis, blackberry, blueberry, violet, licorice, cigar box, pencil shavings, graphite, scorched earth, coffee grounds, vanilla, caramel, and clove. Meanwhile the palate also offers flavors of pronounced intensity, displaying notes of blackcurrant, blackberry, blueberry, anise, violet, tobacco, graphite, mocha, chocolate, and clove. This dry red is full-bodied with medium (+) acidity, high but velvety tannins, high alcohol, and a long finish.

Price: $1,350. The value conversation kind of goes out the window at this price-point, and all I can really say is this is a gorgeous cult Napa Cab that hits on all the quality measures. The balance at such a young age is already near perfect, the length of the finish hits that one minute mark, and the intensity and complexity speak for themselves. Glorious wine, but it really needs the air or cellar time.

Young Napa Cab With Exceptional Vineyard Pedigree

Today’s Story: Memento Mori

Memento Mori is a producer of premium Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon, established by friends Hayes Drumwright, Adriel Lares, and Adam Craun with their inaugural vintage in 2010. Prior to establishing Memento Mori, the three friends traveled often to Napa and met Juan Mercado of Realm Cellars on one of these occasions. Juan introduced Hayes, Adriel, and Adam to famed winegrower Andy Beckstoffer and they negotiated the purchase of a small block of grapes from his Georges III Vineyard. Winemaker Sam Kaplan (also of Arkenstone and Nine Suns) joined as Memento Mori’s founding winemaker and he remains in the post to this day. Though Memento Mori no longer purchases fruit from the Georges III Vineyard, today they source from Beckstoffer’s Dr. Crane and Las Piedras vineyards, as well as the Weitz Vineyard, Oakville Ranch, and Vine Hill Ranch vineyards. The Memento Mori flagship wine is a blending of these sites, though they do produce highly limited quantities of single-vineyard bottlings as well.

Today’s Wine: 2017 Vanitas

100% Cabernet Sauvignon; 14.8% ABV

The 2017 Vanitas is opaque deep ruby in color and nearly black at its core. Given its youth, I decanted this for 3 hours though it is surprisingly expressive and complex. The nose is of pronounced intensity, offering up aromas of crème de cassis, blackberry, black cherry, black plum, black licorice, a hint of bell pepper, dried herbs, scorched earth, cedar, clove, and chocolate. There’s a touch of heat, though this should integrate with bottle age. Meanwhile the palate is also of pronounced intensity, showcasing notes of blackcurrant, blackberry, blueberry, anise, sweet tobacco, savory grilled herbs, a touch of vanilla, clove, charred oak, and mocha. This dry red is full-bodied with medium (+) acidity, high but fine-grained tannins, high alcohol, and a long finish. Gorgeous now, but I need to revisit this in 3-5 years when I imagine tertiary notes may start surfacing.

Price: $100 (Wally’s Los Angeles exclusive). This is actually very well priced for a premium Napa Cab, even if it is the label’s “entry level.” The purity and depth of fruit is exceptional, and the primary note complexity at this stage only showcases promise for the years to come. Pedigree of the vineyards (Beckstoffer Dr. Crane and Las Piedras, Weitz Vineyard, Oakville Ranch, and Vine Hill Ranch) shines.

Unique White Blend for Napa Valley

Today’s Story: Massican Winery

I very recently wrote about Massican when I reviewed the 2019 Sauvignon Blanc, however I loved that wine so much I wanted to return today for another bottling.

Massican Winery was established in 2009 by winemaker Dan Petroski (also of Larkmead Vineyards) and was born out of his passion for Italy and the country’s lifestyle, culture, and wines. Massican is a very unique endeavor in Napa Valley, focusing exclusively on white grape varieties including Tocai Friulano, Ribolla Gialla, Pinot Bianco, and Greco common in northeastern Italy as well as the more “expected” varieties of Sauvignon Blanc and Chardonnay. True to Dan’s mission, the Massican wines are not only made with uncommon varieties for Napa but they are also not the stereotypical oaky white wines the region is known for. Dan uses varying amounts of new and neutral oak as well as stainless steel, also not allowing his wines to go through malolactic fermentation so they maintain the crisp, fresh, and refreshing characteristics of each grape variety. Another contributing factor is how Dan picks his grapes at lower sugar levels, preserving the vibrant acidity and resulting in often lower-alcohol wines.

Today’s Wine: 2019 Annia

53% Tocai Friulano, 39% Ribolla Gialla, 8% Chardonnay; 12.8% ABV

The 2019 Annia is pale yellow in color, and almost pale gold. The aromas are of medium intensity, with the nose showcasing notes of yellow apple, tangerine, white peach, pear, honeysuckle, crushed stone, and mild green herbs. Meanwhile the flavors on the palate are also of medium intensity, with notes of white peach, lemon zest, pear, tangerine, white florals, and beeswax. This dry white blend is light- to medium-bodied with medium acidity, medium alcohol, and a medium (+) length but well-rounded finish. I didn’t find this as vibrant or complex as the Sauvignon Blanc I recently reviewed, but it still makes for a fun summer wine and a perfect match for shellfish.

Price: $30. This is a fun wine for the price, however I do prefer the Massican Sauvignon Blanc and I think that offers stronger value given its complexity, vibrancy, and mouthwatering higher acidity. I still think this Annia is worth checking out though, because it’s uncommon to find these varieties coming out of Napa and it is a well-made wine.

Coveted Paso Robles Rhône Blend – For Good Reason

Today’s Story: Saxum Vineyards

Saxum Vineyards is a highly regarded winery in the Willow Creek District of Paso Robles, established in 2002 by husband and wife Justin and Heather Smith. The winery is situated in the James Berry Vineyard, a property purchased by Justin’s father around 1980 which he planted to white grape varieties popular at the time. However, toward the end of the 1980s the Smith family started replanting their vineyard to Rhône varieties following the suggestion by a friend, and today Saxum is known for their Grenache, Syrah, and Mataro dominated blends.

The Saxum vineyards are planted on steep hillsides and rocky soils, with the region offering sunny days and cool ocean breezes. Yields are kept low to create healthy, concentrated berries and the fruit is picked at optimal ripeness to ensure profound texture in the finished product. A sustainable and rather uncertified organic viticultural philosophy is followed by minimal intervention in the cellar, allowing each of the ten crus produced by Saxum to show a true sense of place while being profound and elegant at the same time. Saxum produces roughly 8,000 cases of wine per vintage nowadays, with all bottles highly allocated to a mailing list with a very small amount making it to retail or restaurants. To put this demand into perspective, I’ve been on the Saxum waiting list for about 4 years already and from what I hear have several more years to go.

To learn more about Saxum, particularly their individual bottlings with incredible libraries of tasting notes, check out the website here.

Today’s Wine: 2016 Broken Stones

52% Syrah, 18% Mataro, 10% Grenache, 10% Tempranillo, 8% Petite Sirah, 2% Roussanne; 15.9% ABV

The 2016 Broken Stones is opaque deep purple in color with deep ruby hues. I decanted this for 3 hours and drank it over the following 2 given its youth. There’s pronounced intensity on the nose, offering up aromas of blackberry, juicy black plum, black cherry, violet, lavender, licorice, roasted game, grilled herbs, scorched earth, gravel, clove, vanilla, and charred cedar. With the proper stemware, the alcohol level goes practically unnoticed. Meanwhile the palate also offers flavors with pronounced intensity, including blackberry, blueberry, black plum, anise, smoked meat, violet, cracked black pepper, dried green herbs, a touch of smoke, vanilla, baking spice, and coffee grounds. This dry red blend is full-bodied with medium acidity, high and grippy tannins, high alcohol, and a long finish. Surprisingly the alcohol practically blows off and this wine showcases great depth, balance, and immense promise at such a young age.

Price: $135. While there are better “values” out there, I think this is fairly priced in the secondary market even though it gets released at $98. The complexity, elegant power, and depth to these wines are truly special based on the several I’ve tasted over the years and this 2016 Broken Stones is no different.

Complex Anderson Valley Pinot Noir in a Traditional Style

Today’s Story: Radio-Coteau

I wrote about Radio-Coteau a short six days ago, however I was so pleasantly taken aback by the 2011 Las Colinas Syrah I ventured out to pick up a bottle of their Pinot Noir. If you read the backstory on Radio-Coteau in my last post, feel free to skip the next paragraph and jump right into today’s tasting notes.

Radio-Coteau is somewhat of a cult winery (though not in the sense many people use the term nowadays) established by winemaker Eric Sussman in 2002. Though the winery is situated in Sebastopol and Eric owns a ridgetop estate vineyard above the town of Occidental, he also sources fruit from vineyards throughout the cooler climates of the northern coast within western Sonoma County and Anderson Valley. Eric brings his impressive history with wine to Radio-Coteau, one that includes stints in Washington’s Yakima Valley, the 1995 vintage in Pauillac on the Left Bank of Bordeaux, and the 1996 vintage in Burgundy at Domaine Comte Armand of Pommard and Domaine Jacques Prieur of Meursault. It was in France when Eric first heard the term “radio-coteau,” which means “word of mouth” or literally “broadcasting from the hillside.” Coupled with his flair for Old World style wines, Eric named his winery after this phrase to signify both a tight-knit community mindset as well as his wines being a true representation of the terroir. Working extensively with organic and biodynamic viticulture in well-drained marine soils, Eric produces refined examples of Chardonnay, Riesling, Pinot Noir, Syrah, and Zinfandel.

Once again, I do recommend a visit to the winery’s interactive website here.

Today’s Wine: 2010 Savoy Pinot Noir

100% Pinot Noir; 14.1% ABV

The 2010 Savoy Pinot Noir is medium to deep garnet in color. Given 45 minutes or so to blossom in the glass, this showcases pronounced intensity with aromas of black cherry, black raspberry, stemmy wild strawberry, red rose petal, black olive, leather, forest floor/wet leaves, dried green herbs, mint, clove, and cinnamon. Meanwhile on the palate I get equally complex flavors with pronounced intensity, with notes of black cherry, plum, pomegranate, red rose, tobacco, forest floor, earthy mushroom, grilled herbs, cracked green peppercorn, clove, and charred oak. This dry red is medium-bodied with medium (+) acidity, medium (-) tannins, high alcohol, and a long finish. This is very Burgundian but the ripeness of the California fruit does shine through. While the alcohol doesn’t show heat per se, the body is certainly boosted by it. 462 cases produced.

Price: $75. This is getting up there in price for Cali Pinot, however I think it does deserve to fight up alongside the “big boys” of cult Pinot Noirs that sell for $100-125. While there are no doubt better value plays closer to $50, I would buy this again.

A Marriage of Napa Valley and Burgundy

Today’s Story: Hyde de Villaine (HdV Wines)

Hyde de Villaine Wines (HdV) is a family owned and operated wine estate established in Carneros in 2000 as a joint venture between the Hyde family of Napa Valley and the de Villaine family of Burgundy. Spearheaded by Larry Hyde, a member of one of the region’s most highly regarded winegrowing families, and Aubert de Villaine, co-director of Domaine de la Romanée-Conti, HdV came to fruition through Aubert’s marriage to Pamela Fairbanks who is Larry’s cousin. Using fruit exclusively from the coveted Hyde Vineyard in eastern Carneros, HdV crafts Chardonnay, Pinot Noir, and small amounts of Syrah as well as a Cabernet Sauvignon/Merlot blend utilizing minimal intervention winemaking in an effort to allow the wines to speak of their terroir, variety, and vintage.

The vines which provide fruit for HdV Wines are farmed with a combination of sustainable, organic, and biodynamic practices to both ensure the land is viable for generations to come and this helps the grapes truly express themselves rather than a heavy hand. HdV receives first right of refusal in the vineyards, with remaining fruit sold to Napa heavyweights of the likes of Kistler, Patz & Hall, DuMOL, Ramey, and Schramsberg amongst others. HdV typically picks their fruit a couple weeks earlier than those around them, in large part to preserve more of the natural acidity and a beautiful minerality after the style of Burgundy. There is rigorous sorting in the vineyards, at the picking bins, and again at the winery to ensure only the highest quality fruit makes it into the wines. The winery itself is organized such that gravity plays a dominant part, and the wines see a combination of stainless steel, wooden vats, and oak barrels over time. Overall the winemaking philosophy is minimal intervention, again circling back to the idea that all wines should demonstrate a true sense of place. Chardonnay ages in 15-20% new medium toast French oak for about a year, followed by 3-4 months in stainless steel before being bottled unfined and unfiltered.

To learn more or explore the HdV portfolio of wines, check out their website here.

Today’s Wine: 2016 Le Début Chardonnay

100% Chardonnay; 13.9% ABV

The 2016 Le Début Chardonnay is transparent medium gold in color. After about 30 to 45 minutes in the glass, the nose showcases aromas of pineapple, ripe pear, peach, lemon zest, honeysuckle, dried vanilla, almond, and light butter with medium intensity. The palate is much more pronounced in intensity with notes of yellow apple, yellow pear, lemon curd, peach, pineapple, wet stone, dill, vanilla cream, and light smoke. This is dry and medium- to full-bodied with medium (+) acidity, medium alcohol, and a long finish. 550 cases produced.

Price: $50. This is a very good Napa Chardonnay, and on a value perspective I believe it is relatively fairly priced. You can certainly find wines of this quality or slightly better for about $10-15 less, but naturally they become much harder to find. I would certainly explore more wines in the HdV portfolio.

Santa Cruz Mountain Chardonnay With a Burgundian Flair

Today’s Story: Ceritas Wines

Ceritas Wines is a small, family-owned winery spearheaded by husband and wife duo John and Phoebe Raytek. John and Phoebe source their fruit from trusted vintners mainly in the West Sonoma Coast and Santa Cruz Mountains, with all sites practicing sustainable or organic viticulture. John is highly involved in the vineyards they source from, and in many cases the vintners only sell fruit to Ceritas and are labeled “Monopoles.” Considering himself a winemaker of the Old World style, John believes that fruit should lead the way throughout the winemaking process and he is merely there to watch over, listen, and learn about each unique site. In the cellar, John practices minimal intervention but “flexible” winemaking, with the wines meant to showcase with honesty and transparency the terroir of each specific vineyard site.

If this backstory sounds familiar, perhaps you know of Ceritas or perhaps you’ve read my prior reviews of their wines. I previously wrote about the 2017 Porter-Bass Vineyard Pinot Noir, the 2016 Peter Martin Ray Vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon, and most recently the 2016 Trout Gulch Vineyard Chardonnay.

To discover more, such as detailed descriptions of each vineyard site or view the other wines in the Ceritas portfolio, check out their website here.

Today’s Wine: 2017 Peter Martin Ray Vineyard Chardonnay

100% Chardonnay; 13.3% ABV

The 2017 Peter Martin Ray Vineyard Chardonnay is transparent pale gold in color. This took about 45 minutes to really blossom in the glass, with the nose eventually opening up to showcase medium intense aromas of yellow apple, lemon, white peach, honeysuckle, flint, wet stone, dried vanilla, and a hint of smoke. Meanwhile the flavors on the palate are quite pronounced, with notes of crisp yellow apple, white peach, lemon, a touch of pineapple, honeysuckle, dill, flint, and a hint of stony mineral. This dry Chardonnay is medium-bodied with high acidity, medium alcohol, and a long finish.

Price: $65. This is a really, really good bottle from Ceritas again. With time in the bottle this should add extra gorgeous complexities and the acidic backbone should help it hold up as the wine develops. This being said though, I think I’d pay the slightly higher secondary market price for the Trout Gulch Chardonnay (though both Chards released the other week at $59 each on the mailing list). Though a year older, the 2016 Trout Gulch I had not too long ago seems to be in a class of its own and that seems to be the general consensus vintage after vintage.