As part of my on-going education of the out-of-the-way and basically completely unknown AVAs of Monterey and San Benito Counties, I picked up this Chalone. Now most wine people have heard of Chalone–it’s a Napa Chardonnay, right? A Lot of the locals here on the Central Coast have heard of Chalone because they bought Edna Valley Vineyards from the Nivens family–one of the local pioneers and winery-golden-child’s. But who knows there is a Chalone AVA in Monterey County? All by itself, not visible from The 101 on the East side of the highway directly across the valley from Arroyo Seco AVA and Greenfield-ish. You know where Arroyo Seco is, RIGHT?!?!? Oh boy, we have a lot of work to do here.
Deep ruby but clear. Not particularly staining. Give it a little air. An absolutely sumptuous bouquet of cedar, rubber band, pencil lead and dark, ripe fruit. It is a fruit-forward sorta nuance–but the fruit has a black heart. Mouth-filling and rich–coating everything with this velvet-blanket of fruit and spice. Now, it is one thing to see a thick, staining, impenetrable red wine be chewy and mouth-filling. But I really enjoy finding a wine which is bright and clear and medium-dense which is chewy and mouth-filling. It feels a little more ‘honest’–where the winemaker concentrated on purity of terroir and fruit and ripeness rather than pure extraction. Completely over-simplifying it, I know… but still: You get the idea. This is a wine which is a big, balanced meal–but you don’t have to floss afterwards. I can’t help thinking a little ‘Old World’ while the pretty nuances of forest-floor and a good barrel-program line the nose and the taste and all of them continue fully through the finish as the bright acidity and ample tannin take hold. There IS a touch of alcohol deep in the nose, but really becomes a non-event in the mouth and finish. Nicely balanced and I am going to search out the 3 or 4 other varietals under this producer’s label.
2011 ANTLE WINES Pinnacalitos de Chalone Antle Vineyard Chalone AVA Monterey Co 14.4