Marcassin Three Sisters Vineyard Chardonnay 2006
Chardonnay from Sonoma County, California
Fortunately, as the new plantings from Marcassin's Sonoma Coast vineyards come into production, there will be additional quantities of Chardonnay and Pinot Noir to help fulfill the ever increasing demand for these wines. Furthermore, from now on, Marcassin will only deal with their own fruit, and they are ending their relationship with the Martinelli family and will no longer share the fruit from the Three Sisters Vineyard for Pinot Noir and Chardonnay as well as the Blue Slide Ridge for Pinot Noir. One-hundred percent of that fruit will now go to the Martinellis as proprietors Helen Turley and John Wetlaufer concentrate on their estate holdings. I have been purchasing their wines since the early nineties, and it's remarkable how well the Marcassin wines age. Recent examples of the 1995 and 1997 Chardonnays (which were made from purchased fruit), particularly the Lorenzo and Gauer, are holding up beautifully. They are aging better than most white Burgundies of a similar age. Their Pinot Noirs are also performing brilliantly given what the 1998s, 1999s, and 2000s taste like after a decade of aging. With respect to upcoming releases (one is never quite certain what will be released when, as Marcassin's release program is relatively late, and difficult to predict), they should include the 2006 and 2007 Chardonnays and Pinot Noirs, which I tasted in late October, 2009. All the Pinot Noirs need considerable aeration, and are among the few Pinots that I would recommend decanting. They all are reminiscent of northern red Burgundies, particularly those from the village of Morey-St.-Denis. The 2007 Pinot Noirs are more backward than their 2006 counterparts, and, assuming they will be released this year, are best cellared for 2-3 years.
The Wine Advocate - "The 2006 Chardonnay Three Sisters Vineyard (700 cases) possesses a superb texture in addition to abundant amounts of popcorn, white currant, hazelnut, and tropical fruit blossom characteristics, superb purity as well as acidity, a full-bodied mouthfeel, and a beautiful finish. In a vintage that was challenging for many California Chardonnay producers, the Three Sisters and the 2006 Marcassin Estate Chardonnays stand out as candidates for "wines of the vintage.""
Wine Spectator - "A rich, full-bodied style, showing melon, spice and green apple flavors, with a slice of citrus. Clean and alluring, building depth on the finish, where the smoke and roasted fig flavors become more prominent."
If you haven’t heard of Helen Turley, or tasted one of her wines, you’ve definitely not been paying close enough attention to the wines coming out of California in the last 10 years. She is arguably one of the most influential winemakers in the business, receiving critical acclaim for almost every wine she touches. Aside from her own boutique winery, Marcassin, which she runs with husband John Wetlaufer, Helen has been the consulting winemaker for some of the best wineries in the country – Colgin, Bryant Family, Martinelli – just to name a few.
Marcassin (french for 'young wild boar') is a VERY small winery – in fact it’s so small that the wines have actually been made at the Martinelli winery in Russian River Valley. Located on the Sonoma Coast, the Marcassin vineyard is planted to 50/50 Chardonnay and Pinot Noir and is about 10 acres in size. Fruit for the other vineyard designated wines is sourced from other neighboring vineyards. Marcassin will always be a small winery; John & Helen feel the perfect size is 100 barrels, enough for 2,500 cases.
Helen’s winemaking philosophy is simple: great vineyards, meticulously farmed, limited yield, long hang time and natural yeast. She approaches every project with these same priorities. View all Marcassin Wines
About Sonoma CountyRelated Links:
Twice as large as Napa in size, Sonoma County only makes about a half the amount of wine as her northeasterly neighbor. But Sonoma, with her size, is able to vouch for more diversity within her borders, including sub-AVAs that are climatically varied. The atmosphere of Sonoma is decidedly laid back and down home country style. But in wines, they are keeping up with the Joneses, or Napa-ites if you will. Grape varieties are more varied here, from Pinot Noir and Zinfandel to Cabernet Sauvignon and Chardonnay.
Notable FactsThe largest sub-AVAs of Sonoma include Dry Creek Valley, Russian River Valley, Alexander Valley and Sonoma Valley. Each sub-AVA, with its own micro-climate, is unique in its grape varieties and styles of wine. Dry Creek makes a mean Zinfandel while Russian River produces stand up Pinot Noir and Chardonnay. The Alexander Valley makes some of the better Cabernet Sauvignons in the county and Sonoma Valley creates excellent wines from all the above varieties. Other grapes found throughout Sonoma include Sauvignon Blanc, Merlot and Syrah.
About CaliforniaIt's not rare to see a wine's country of origin listed as "California." A country into itself in the wine world, California makes enough varieties and styles to match many European wine countries. It produces a diverse range of wines that span the quality spectrum.
The most famous of the California wine regions is Napa Valley, and these wines are certainly outstanding – but it's not as broad and diverse as its larger neighbor, Sonoma County. Down south, Santa Barbara's Santa Maria Valley is well-known for its Rhône blends, as well as cool-climate varieties like Pinot and Chardonnay. The Central Coast, the largest California AVA, has many different microclimates that lead to a wide range of wines with many sub-AVAs.
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