The cornerstone of the 2005 Esser Chardonnay is a single lot from Clarksburg. At 45% of the blend, its pineappley, ripe citrus character is dominant in the blend; along with the sweet vanilla barrel character from its fermentation, its aromas and flavors are impressive. The other lots added baked apple fruit and lots of creamy texture along with bright crisp apple fruit along with floral character.
The final blend offers soft inviting aromas of sweet citrus, tropical fruit, and crème brulee oak. The palate is round and accessible, with apple and pear notes.
German-born Manfred Esser began his career as a salesman for a large European winery; in 1974, he came to the United States. Esser joined Napa Valley's Cuvaison Winery as President in 1986 and, in a little over 10 years, made it one of the most successful estates in the industry. His unique approach to converting customers into "company ambassadors" has set an industry standard for client relations. Having achieved success at Cuvaison, Esser sold his partnership in 1998, fueled by the desire to begin a project of his own.
Years of preparation went into the development of the Esser Vineyards brand. Working closely with Manfred Esser is renowned consulting winemaker Paul Moser, whose style received praise for eight consecutive years from Robert Parker as a "breath of fresh air" in the California wine market.
Introduced in 2001, the Esser Vineyards portfolio launched with four California appellation wines: Chardonnay, Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot and Pinot Noir. Fashioned with the customer in mind, these fruit-forward, well-balanced wines offer style, value and elegance — the ultimate consumer-friendly California wines.
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California has nearly 100 American Viticulture Areas (AVAs) and accounts for almost 90% of wine production in the United States. In our section of Other California, we include wines from smaller AVAs as well as wines from the California AVA. Here are a few smaller AVAs you may see on the label:
Livermore Valley AVA
, located right outside of San Francisco and home to wineries such as Wente.
Lodi County AVA
, an AVA further east of San Francisco and known for its excellent, old-vine Zinfandels.
San Francisco Bay AVA
, a sprawling AVA that covers Contra Costa, Santa Clara and Santa Cruz counties, to name a few.
Wine that holds only the California AVA is typically a wine that includes grapes from a number of different AVAs, which leads to the general labeling of the wine as California. This does not denote the quality of the wine, only the diversity of where the grapes originate.
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.
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.