The grapes for our Monterey County Pinot Noir come from the coastal foothill regions in the Salinas Valley. In the cellar we work hard to maintain the character and richness of this wonderful fruit. The wine features rich aromas of tart black cherries with hints of both clove and nutmeg. Ripe flavors of raspberries and cola follow on the palate. A small amount of Petite Sirah adds richness, giving the wine additional weight. This is a full-bodied wine with balanced acidity and a supple mouthfeel. It has the elegance to work well with turkey or other fowl, meaty fish like tuna or salmon, and pasta with a creamy wild mushroom sauce.
Chalone Vineyard Winery
Perched high on the western slopes of the remote Gavilan Mountain Range on Mount Chalone, 1,800 feet above California's Salinas Valley, Chalone Vineyard represents a singular convergence of terroir and winemaking. Originally planted in 1919, the vineyard's ability to yield benchmark Chardonnay was discovered when Chalone Wine Group co-founder, Dick Graff, made his first vintage there in 1966. The time-honored Burgundian techniques he introduced complement the fruit's character to create the bouquet and flavors that are Chalone Vineyard Chardonnay's hallmarks. Chalone Vineyard's other estate-grown wines are equally distinctive. Chalone also produces Pinot Noir, Syrah, Pinot Blanc and Chenin Blanc.
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The largest of California's wine growing regions, the Central Coast produces the majority of California's wine. The district sprawls out, covering most of the vineyard land between San Francisco and Santa Barbara. Smaller sub-AVAs of the Central Coast include Monterey Bay, Paso Robles, Santa Ynez Valley, Santa Maria Valley, Santa Cruz Mountains and many others.
Grape varieties range from Pinot Noir and Chardonnay to Cabernet Sauvignon and Zinfandel. Some Central Coast wine is generic, bulk wine that contributes to the high production numbers of the area. But many winemakers and wineries, particular in some of the smaller AVAs, are small production artisans, creating unique and high-quality wine. The great thing about the Central Coast is its diversity - you're able to find a number of grape varieties and styles at a number of different price points.
It'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.
My parents and I tried this wine on recommendation from a food and beverage manager at one of the country clubs in Monterey - after tasting about 30 other wines - this was our pick. It was perfect and most importantly, everyone agreed with us. It's hard to find a red that will please 40 wine drinkers, but this lovely pinot worked.
Most wine ranges from 10-16% alcohol by volume. Some varietals tend to have higher (for example Zinfandel and Cabernet Sauvignon) or lower alcohol levels (Pinot Noir and many white varietals), but there is always some variation from producer to producer. Some wine falls outside of this range, for instance Port weighs in closer to 20%, while Muscat and Riesling are usually a bit below 10%.
Wine Style Guide
Light & Crisp
Light to medium bodied wines that are high in acid and light to medium fruit. Typically no oak.
Fruity & Smooth
Light to medium bodied wines with lots of juicy fruit, typically medium acid and medium oak.
Rich & Creamy
Full bodied wines that have typically undergone malo-lactic fermentation and/or spent time in oak.