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Marcassin Marcassin Vineyard Chardonnay 2004

Chardonnay from Sonoma Coast, Sonoma County, California
  • RP97
  • WS94
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Winemaker Notes

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.

Critical Acclaim

RP 97
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.

WS 94
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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Marcassin

Marcassin

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Marcassin, , California
Marcassin
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.

Sta. Rita Hills

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A superior source of Californian wine beloved by Burgundy fans, Sta. Rita Hills is the coolest, western most sub-region of the larger Santa Ynez Valley appellation in Santa Barbara County. This relatively new AVA is unquestionably one to keep an eye on.

The climate of Sta. Rita Hills is a natural match for Chardonnay and Pinot Noir. Thanks to the crisp ocean breezes and well-drained, limestone-rich calcareous soil, grapes ripen just enough, retaining brisk acidity and demonstrating saline minerality and harmonious balance.

Pinot Noir

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One of the most difficult yet rewarding grapes to grow, Pinot Noir is commonly referred to by winemakers as the “heartbreak grape.” However, the greatest red wines of Burgundy prove that it is unquestionably worth the effort. More reflective than most varieties of the land on which it is grown, Pinot Noir prefers a cool climate, requires low yields to achieve high quality, and demands care in the vineyard and lots of attention in the winery. It is an important component of Champagne and the only variety permitted in red Burgundy. Pinot Noir enjoys immense popularity internationally, most notably in Oregon, California, and New Zealand.

In the Glass

Pinot Noir Is all about red fruit—strawberry, raspberry, and cherry. It is relatively pale in color with soft tannins and lively acidity. It ranges in body from very light to the heavier side of medium, typically landing somewhere in the middle—giving it extensive possibilities for food pairing. With age (of which the best examples can handle an astounding amount), it can develop hauntingly beautiful characteristics of fresh earth, autumn leaves, and truffles.

Perfect Pairings

Pinot’s healthy acidity cuts through the oiliness of pink-fleshed fish like salmon, ocean trout, and tuna. Its mild mannered tannins don’t fight with spicy food, and give it enough structure to pair with all sorts of poultry—chicken, quail, and especially duck. As the namesake wine of Boeuf Bourguignon, it can even match with heavier fare. Pinot Noir is also very vegetarian-friendly—most notably with any dish that features mushrooms.

Sommelier Secret

Pinot Noir is dangerously drinkable, highly addictive, and has a bad habit of emptying the wallet. Look for affordable but still delicious examples from Germany (as Spätburgunder), Italy (as Pinot Nero), Chile, New Zealand, and France’s Loire Valley and Alsace regions.

MLNMARCCHARD_2004 Item# 112037

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