The idea behind Beau Rivage is to produce a classically balanced and affordably priced table wine, using organically farmed fruit and artisanal winemaking techniques. The search for good value, responsibly farmed grapes that attain full flavor development with moderate potential alcohol led us to Chenin Blanc from Clarksburg, California.
They believe that good wine is a necessity of life. The idea behind Beau Rivage is to produce a classically balanced and affordably priced table wine, using organically farmed fruit and artisanal winemaking techniques. The search for good value, responsibly farmed grapes that attain full flavor development with moderate potential alcohol led them to Chenin Blanc from Clarksburg, California.
While Chenin Blanc’s homeplace is the central Loire Valley, since William Kelley’s day job is reviewing Burgundy for The Wine Advocate our winemaking practices are inevitably influenced by the Côte de Beaune and beyond. Fermented in used barrels and demi-muids from some of France’s best coopers and matured on the lees, they have drawn inspiration from conversations with the likes of Jean-François Coche, Arnaud Ente and Klaus-Peter Keller. Closer to home, Sandland’s Tegan Passalacqua and—above all—Kalin Cellar’s Terry Leighton have decisively shaped the kind of wine they try to make and how they make it.
The vineyards just inland from the Sacramento River Delta, along the deep banks of the Sacramento River, comprise the Clarksburg AVA. The River Delta channels in cold air and fog from the Pacific Ocean creating a cooling effect in this area. Warm summer days quickly change to chilly evenings and make a great environment for grape growing. While a range of grape varieties grow here, Chenin blanc stands out the most, distinguishing itself in the appellation.
The Clarksburg Wine Growers and Vintners Association, made up of nearly 50 grower members and over a dozen wineries, has been working since the late 1980s to promote the high quality wine of its region.
Unquestionably one of the most diverse grape varieties, Chenin Blanc can do it all. It shines in every style from bone dry to unctuously sweet, oaked or unoaked, still or sparkling and even as the base for fortified wines and spirits. Perhaps Chenin Blanc’s greatest asset is its ever-present acidity, maintained even under warm growing conditions. Somm Secret—Landing in South Africa in the mid 1800s, today the country has double the acreage of Chenin Blanc planted compared to France. There is also a new wave of dedicated producers committed to restoring old Chenin vines.