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.
A vast appellation covering Sonoma County’s Pacific coastline, the Sonoma Coast AVA runs all the way from the Mendocino County border, south to the San Pablo Bay. The region can actually be divided into two sections—the actual coastal vineyards, marked by marine soils, cool temperatures and saline ocean breezes—and the warmer, drier vineyards further inland, which are still heavily influenced by the Pacific but not quite with same intensity.
Contained within the appellation are the much smaller Fort Ross-Seaview and Petaluma Gap AVAs.
One of the most popular and versatile white wine grapes, Chardonnay offers a wide range of flavors and styles depending on where it is grown and how it is made. While practically every country in the wine producing world grows it, Chardonnay from its Burgundian homeland produces some of the most remarkable and longest lived examples. As far as cellar potential, white Burgundy rivals the world’s other age-worthy whites like Riesling or botrytized Semillon. California is Chardonnay’s second most important home, where both oaky, buttery styles and leaner, European-inspired wines enjoy great popularity. Oregon, Australia and South America are also significant producers of Chardonnay.
In the Glass
When planted on cool sites, Chardonnay flavors tend towards grapefruit, lemon zest, green apple, celery leaf and wet flint, while warmer locations coax out richer, more tropical flavors of melon, peach and pineapple. Oak can add notes of vanilla, coconut and spice, while malolactic fermentation imparts a soft and creamy texture.
Chardonnay is as versatile at the table as it is in the vineyard. The crisp, clean, Chablis-like styles go well with flaky white fish with herbs, scallops, turkey breast and soft cheeses. Richer Chardonnays marry well with lobster, crab, salmon, roasted chicken and creamy 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. In Burgundy, the subregion of Chablis, while typically employing the use of older oak barrels, produces a similar bright and acid-driven style. Anyone who doesn't like oaky Chardonnay would likely enjoy its lighter style.