Marcassin Marcassin Vineyard Chardonnay 2004
Chardonnay from Sonoma Coast, Sonoma County, California
Marcassin Estate continues to grow, although still ever so tiny, with just over 20 acres of tightly spaced vineyards on the Sonoma Coast. They also supplement their estate bottlings with purchased fruit from vineyards owned by the Martinelli family which they help manage, the Three Sisters Vineyard for Chardonnay, and Pinot Noir from the Blue Slide Vineyard. Their dominant Chardonnay clones continue to be based on the old Wente clones taken from the Hudson and Hyde Vineyards, and the Mt.Eden clone. The Pinot Noir material is dominated by California heritage clones. Little changes under the firm's leadership of Helen Turley and her husband John Wetlaufer (now married 42 years), and as someone raised in Maryland, I am proud to say they were schooled at the renowned St. John's College in Annapolis, Maryland. They have always been committed to the highest quality of wines possible. It is akin to being tutored by a great master to sit down and taste through their series of Chardonnays and Pinot Noirs. They added a few wrinkles this time by throwing into the tasting a 2005 Domaine Leflaive Batard-Montrachet, which was completely obliterated by their own Chardonnays, and with the Pinot Noirs, a highly rated grand cru red Burgundy from the 2005 vintage that didn't fare particularly well either. Their point was that not only are their wines superior (and I would certainly agree with these comparisons), but also that some of the most famous names in Burgundy have more sizzle and snobbery behind them than actual quality. The Pinot Noirs are very complex and need lots of aeration/decanting to strut their stuff. They continue to remind me of grand crus from Morey St.-Denis, especially wines such as Ponsot's Clos de la Roche because of the following.
The Wine Advocate - "The Chardonnay Marcassin Vineyard is often the quintessential Chardonnay of the New World. With respect to the 2004, high acids, a greenish hue (also apparent in the Three Sisters cuvee) to the light straw/gold color, and notes of quince, crushed rocks, white currants, and subtle hazelnut, tropical fruit, and white peach characteristics are found in this beautiful Chardonnay. There is a subtle underlying buttery character, but the minerality and acidity both jump forward. This white seems to have a tannic structure much like a red wine. Still incredibly young, it should hit its peak in 3-4 years, and last for 12-15. It is clearly becoming the most consistent, long-lived Chardonnay of California. NOTE: Prices are approximate as the winery releases the wines at very reasonable prices, but buyers who resell them usually do so in the $300-350 per bottle range. "
International Wine Cellar - "Pale yellow-green. Knockout nose combines stone fruits, minerals, fresh herbs, honey, flowers, grilled nuts and earth. Round and lush yet racy and light on its feet, with compelling flavors of pineapple, grapefruit and crushed stone. A huge but classy wine with considerable finesse. Wonderfully rich yet subtle on the back end, where it stains the palate with fruits, minerals and soil tones."
Wine Spectator - "Weaves together a complex web of mature pear, fig and golden raisin, with mineral and hints of smoke and anise. Elegant, stylish, mature and focused. Medium- to full-bodied, ending with a subtle, delicate Meursault-like flintiness. Drink now through 2012. 350 cases made."
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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 half as much wine as its northeasterly neighbor. Because of its vast size, however, Sonoma is able to achieve far more diversity within its borders, which include sub-AVAs that are climatically varied. The atmosphere of Sonoma is decidedly laid-back and down-to-earth, but the wines are serious and well-made, ranging in style from subtle and elegant to rich and powerful. 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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