On a recent trip to the Bay Area, I was on the hunt for a good California Chardonnay. I’ve always been impressed by the wines of Chalone, both red and white. This historic and remote winery is located in the rugged Gavilan Mountains of Monterey County in central California. I have never visited the winery, though that has long been on my to-do list. My family has roots in the region, and as a Boy Scout I hiked the rugged trails of nearby Pinnacles National Monument and the steep slopes of the Santa Lucia Range. This is the California of a bygone era, where the natural beauty and open spaces still reign supreme.
Chalone’s vineyards are rooted in limestone, a rarity in California, but a keystone of many of the finest terroirs of France, including those of white Burgundy. It was the limestone that first sparked interest in the region’s grapegrowing potential in the early 20th century. Today, Chalone remains the sole winery located in the Chalone appellation, which is named after a local mountain.
The 2008 estate Chardonnay, made by Chalone winemaker Robert Cook, is fundamentally rich and robust, filled with pear, butter, fig and tropical fruit flavors, with a finish of spice and licorice. There’s no mistaking that it is from California. I rated it 90 points, non-blind, and it costs $25 a bottle.
WineSpectator.com members: Read the original blind-tasting review for Chalone Chardonnay Chalone 2008 (92, $25).
• Plus, get scores and tasting notes for recently rated Top Values among California Chardonnays.