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Saddleback Cabernet Sauvignon 2000
Born to Danish immigrants, Venge's exposure to wine came at an early age: his parents operated a wine and liquor import and distribution company in Southern California. Venge continued his pursuit of wine at the University of California in Davis where he earned a BS in Viticulture in 1967.
Following a tour of duty in Vietnam as a Navy Reservist, Venge moved to the Napa Valley to pursue his interest in winemaking. In the subsequent years, Venge worked for notable wineries, such as Charles Krug, Sterling, Villa Mount Eden and Groth. During his tenure at Groth, Venge became the first American winemaker to receive a perfect 100 point rating from wine critic Robert Parker Jr. The 1985 Groth Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon catapulted Venge to a venerated position in the California wine industry.
A source of some of the finest, juicy, silky and elegantly floral Chardonnay in the Côte de Beaune, Puligny-Montrachet lies just to the north of Chassagne-Montrachet, a village with which it shares two of its Grand Cru vineyards: Le Montrachet itself and Bâtard-Montrachet. Its other two, which it owns in their entirety, are Chevalier-Montrachet and Bienvenues-Bâtard-Montrachet. And still, some of the finest white Burgundy wines come from the prized Premier Cru vineyards of Puligny-Montrachet. To name a few, Les Pucelles, Le Clavoillon, Les Perrières, Les Referts and Les Combettes, as well as the rest, lie northeast and up slope from the Grand Cru.
Farther to the southeast are village level whites and the hamlet of Blagny where Pinot noir grows best and has achieved Premier Cru status.
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.