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Baileyana Firepeak Chardonnay 2013
Critical AcclaimAll Vintages
Over 35 years ago, Catharine Niven envisioned a small vineyard in front of her Edna Valley home that would deliver high quality wines.
To achieve her goal, she bucked popular California viticultural trends and looked to the old world for her inspiration. She was one of the first women to own a winery and one who wasn’t afraid to do things differently. Baileyana, named for the place where she met her husband Jack, soon outgrew her small home vineyard. It has since been sourced from their estate Paragon Vineyard, Jack’s pioneering plantings going back to 1973. Baileyana offers beautiful, cool-climate Chardonnay and Pinot Noir, which are refined, rich, and perfectly balanced. She wasn’t entirely surprised by Baileyana’s early success, but Catharine didn’t dream that her small project would become the family legacy that it is today.
Now in the expert hands of the next two generations, the wines remain true to her pioneering spirit, as well as to the genuine, elegant style she exuded when walking into any room.
California’s coolest wine growing area, Edna Valley excels in the production of high quality Pinot noir, Chardonnay, Rhone Blends and aromatic white wines. It has a cool Mediterranean climate and an incredibly long growing season, giving late-ripening varieties plenty of opportunity to take their time to develop great phenolic complexity.
Its northwest-to-southwest orientation creates a direct path for cool Pacific air and fog to penetrate the valley from the Los Osos and Morro Bay area inwards. Low hillsides of both calcareous and volcanic soils are home to much of the vineyard acreage of the Edna Valley.
One of the most popular and versatile white wine grapes, Chardonnay offers a wide range of flavors and styles depending on where it’s grown and how it’s made. In Burgundy, Chardonnay produces some of the finest white wines in the world, typically tending towards minimal intervention in the winery and at its best resulting in remarkable longevity. This grape is popular throughout the world, but perhaps its second most important home is in California, where both oaky, buttery styles and leaner, European-inspired wines enjoy great popularity. Oregon, Australia, South America, South Africa, and New Zealand are also significant producers of Chardonnay.
In the Glass
When planted on cool sites, Chardonnay’s flavors tend towards grapefruit, green apple, minerals, and white stone fruit, while warmer locations coax out richer, more tropical flavors of fig, melon, and pineapple. Oak can add notes of vanilla, coconut, and spice (as well as texture), while malolactic fermentation can impart soft, buttery acidity.
Chardonnay is as versatile at the table as it is in the vineyard. The crisp, clean, Chablis-like styles go well with simple seafood, light chicken dishes, and salads. Richer Chardonnays marry well with cream or oil-based sauces.
Since the 1990s, big, oaky, buttery Chardonnays from California have enjoyed explosive popularity. More recently, the pendulum has begun to swing in the opposite direction, towards a clean, crisp style that rarely utilizes new oak. These Old-World style wines have been dubbed the “New California Chardonnays,” and anyone who claims they do not like Chardonnay should give them a try.