Wine Review: Chalone Vineyard Sauvignon Blanc
I’m usually not one to buy a Sauvignon Blanc — not a big fan of the grassy, pipi du chat flavor. So I’m not quite sure from where the 2008 Chalone Vineyard Monterey County Sauvignon Blanc came. Perhaps it was a sample. But to whomever put it in my white wine chiller — Thank you!
Rich and creamy with bright tropical and citrus notes, this is perfect for those who don’t like the average Sauvignon Blanc. Flavors of lemongrass and passion fruit, dancing with hints of lemon zest and grapefruit, this is a perfectly delightful wine to go with a fresh summer salad or flavorful Thai food.
Joe had prepared a Southwest Spinach Salad with avocado, grilled, cumin-rubbed chicken breast, queso fresco, and a cilantro and lime dressing, and we needed a wine for pairing. When I called out the list of white wines in the chiller, the Sauvignon Blanc seemed like the only possible choice.
Chalone Vineyards is oldest producing vineyard in Monterey County, and rests on the Gavilan Mountain Range on the north slope of Chalone Peak.
At 1,800 feet, the quiet splendor of the vineyards overlooks spectacular views of the wide-open Salinas Valley, made famous by local author John Steinbeck. The vineyard’s name comes from the peak, which derives its name from the indigenous Costanoan Native American tribe, the Chalone, or Chollen.
A Little History from Chalone Vineyards
I found this information on the Chalone Vineyards site.
In 1964, Dick Graff, a Harvard music graduate and former naval officer, tasted a Windsor Vineyard wine made from Chalone grapes. He was immediately entranced and after visiting the remote winery, was determined to own Chalone. In 1965 Dick embarked on what has now become a part of California winemaking and viticultural history, attending University of California, Davis to learn winemaking and then he and his mother, Estelle, saved the Chalone property from imminent bankruptcy. Almost single-handedly, Dick was responsible for introducing California winemakers to the intricacies of malolactic fermentation in white wines as well as the now widespread practice of fermenting and aging white wine in small oak barrels. He was also one of the first persons to import and sell barrels from Burgundy in the United States.
Chalone Vineyard is the only winery in the Chalone American Viticultural Area (AVA), a federally designated area that has climatic, geologic and geographic features that distinguish it from the land surrounding it. Dramatic climate changes occur at Chalone Vineyard not only from season to season but hour to hour. Temperatures can swing from intensely hot during the day (90°F) to considerably cooler at night (50°F) over much of the growing season. Grapes need these cold nights to maintain their acidity while fully developing their flavors.
The appellation is dry, with an average rainfall of less than 15 inches annually, and Climatological Data Reports from the U.S. Weather Bureau classify the Chalone appellation as Region I in some years and Region IV in others. Despite such variation, Chalone says they see very little difference in wine quality from year to year. They feel Chalone Vineyard’s unique character is not based on weather, but on its unique soils.
By the Numbers
We can find no winemaker notes, but the creator of this refreshingly delightful Summer wine should be proud. Prices range from $9.99 to $14.99 on-line. Alcohol by volume is 13.5%.
Wine Spectator rated Chalone Vineyard’s 2007 Chardonnay as a Smart Buy, giving it 92 Points. We couldn’t find a rating on this wine, but we think it will prove a winner!
And if you’re not familiar with John Steinbeck’s work…check out this trailer from The Grapes of Wrath.
Amy Corron Power,