Chalk Hill Sauvignon Blanc
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Vineyard/Proprietary Chalk Hill
Type Sauvignon BlancRead About the Wine
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Robert Mondavi revved back and punched his brother Peter right in the face.
Mingling blood and wine in the drain, Peter tried to recover but Mama stepped in first, separating the two men. Mama fired Robert and gave Peter a hug.
In the ensuing fit of anger, Robert started his own winery. By 1968 he was confronted with a problem. California had adopted France’s native Sauvignon Blanc grape and made great wine with it. Wines that were not French, but better than French.
But nobody wanted them.
Driven by brilliance, commercialism, or simply the physical necessities inherent in a small winery, Robert threw his Sauvignon Blanc into oak barrels and named it Fume Blanc. The result was a smash hit.
Robert’s winery has now tragically been bought and sold, but many of his ideas are still being pursued and perfected, here at home and, surprisingly, abroad.
One such winery is Chalk Hill. Following in the footsteps of Robert’s grand dream to make breathtaking Sauvignon Blanc, Chalk Hill planted vines in 1974.
Chalk Hill, as you might guess from its name, is in a rather special place. While some may claim that the clay soils of Sancerre or the gravelly earth of Graves creates the world’s most striking Sauvignon Blanc, I would argue that they have never tasted the outstanding white wines from Chalk Hill’s estate.
With Chalk Hill’s Sauvignon Blanc you get the compelling Old World depth of taste and California propensity for extravagant fruit. Smells of fresh peaches, pineapple and pear surge from the bottle. The palate is extremely ripe – they believe in stirring the lees to enhance its already toothsome, luscious mouth feel – and carries the wine through its substrates of honeydew melon, lychee and mango flavors. It finishes with a lively, refreshing acidity and mineral purity. This is front and center California Sauvignon Blanc.
Curiously, one market that once considered Chalk Hill’s style of Sauvignon hackneyed, unsophisticated, and just un-elegant, has adopted it wholeheartedly – Bordeaux, France. Chalk Hill regularly plays host to aspiring French vintners, and the wine I always feel to be a kindred spirit is Chateau Margaux’s Blanc. To me the main difference is not in terms of style (Margaux’s Blanc clocks in at 15.5% alcohol with 33% new oak [more than Chalk Hill]), but rather price. Go ahead – I dare you to compare!
Enjoy this scrumptious wine as a cocktail on the patio, with a delightful salad of crab, avocado and grapefruit; or carry it on through a meal of roasted chicken with morels and ramps. Don’t worry, it’s bold enough to accomplish it all.