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Le P'tit Paysan Jack's Hill Chardonnay 2011
Critical AcclaimAll Vintages
The farther we looked, the more we found – remote, challenging vineyards, with hard depleted soils, and intense sunlight tempered only by the coastal breeze. Vineyards capable of producing only the most idiosyncratic wines. Our goal as winemakers is to lightly polish the roughest edges and leave the idiosyncrasy intact. It is here in the back country, filled with individual character, where Le P’tit Paysan comes to life.
We are not in "wine country." We have no trophy wineries, nor posh tasting salons. This is farm land, desolate hills, and solitude. What we do is simple, without artifice, and we enjoy it.
Winemaker Ian Brand puts a lot of miles on his car searching out and spending time in vineyards. He likes dirt roads, 12" vinyl, point breaks and hiding in the barrel room.
A geographic and climatic anomaly among wine regions, Monterey is a part of the expansive Central Coast AVA and contains five smaller sub-appellations, including the popular Santa Lucia Highlands. Rainfall is extremely low, necessitating the use of irrigation from the Salinas River for successful grape-growing, while harsh Pacific winds and coastal fogs drastically cool and dampen the region in the north.
In the cooler districts of Monterey, Pinot Noir, Chardonnay, and Riesling produce wines with a crowd-pleasing combination of ripe, juicy fruit and crisp acidity. Warmer subzones are home to fleshy, fruit-forward Bordeaux Blends comprised primarily of Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot.
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.