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Marcassin Marcassin Vineyard Chardonnay 2006
Fortunately, as the new plantings from Marcassin's Sonoma Coast vineyards come into production, there will be additional quantities of Chardonnay and Pinot Noir to help fulfill the ever increasing demand for these wines. Furthermore, from now on, Marcassin will only deal with their own fruit, and they are ending their relationship with the Martinelli family and will no longer share the fruit from the Three Sisters Vineyard for Pinot Noir and Chardonnay as well as the Blue Slide Ridge for Pinot Noir. One-hundred percent of that fruit will now go to the Martinellis as proprietors Helen Turley and John Wetlaufer concentrate on their estate holdings. I have been purchasing their wines since the early nineties, and it's remarkable how well the Marcassin wines age. Recent examples of the 1995 and 1997 Chardonnays (which were made from purchased fruit), particularly the Lorenzo and Gauer, are holding up beautifully. They are aging better than most white Burgundies of a similar age. Their Pinot Noirs are also performing brilliantly given what the 1998s, 1999s, and 2000s taste like after a decade of aging. With respect to upcoming releases (one is never quite certain what will be released when, as Marcassin's release program is relatively late, and difficult to predict), they should include the 2006 and 2007 Chardonnays and Pinot Noirs, which I tasted in late October, 2009. All the Pinot Noirs need considerable aeration, and are among the few Pinots that I would recommend decanting. They all are reminiscent of northern red Burgundies, particularly those from the village of Morey-St.-Denis. The 2007 Pinot Noirs are more backward than their 2006 counterparts, and, assuming they will be released this year, are best cellared for 2-3 years.
Critical AcclaimAll Vintages
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.
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.