From the Wine Shop
Calluna Estate, Chalk Hill Cabernet Blend Sonoma County, California 2014 (750mL)
Although you may have heard of the Chalk Hill AVA in passing, most aren’t deeply familiar with this hidden gem of an appellation in Sonoma County. Calluna’s picturesque vineyards, perched on the western side of the Mayacamas range, enjoy the highest elevations in the entire appellation. In turn, this delivers excellent sun exposure, minimal frost, cooler overall temperatures, and retained acidity in the grapes for a balance that is closer to Bordeaux than the valleys of Sonoma and Napa.
Before David Jeffrey founded Calluna Estate in this unique appellation, he obtained a degree in enology and viticulture from Fresno State then set out to learn at the hands of one of Bordeaux’s masters. He studied under Dr. Alain Raynaud at Chateau Quinault l’Enclos and returned to the States with a vision to craft true Bordeaux-style wines in a cooler locale than his neighbors. As an interesting side note, the owners of Château Cheval Blanc and Château d’Yquem bought land next door—clearly, David is on to something. Today, Calluna’s wines are expertly crafted with balance and sense of place as a top priority, and the result is an undeniably pleasurable bottle of wine; Old World elegance with a Californian accent. This has not gone unnoticed by the critics: Calluna’s praise reaches far and wide, and the demand for their exquisitely built reds keeps rising with each year.
Although many producers in Napa and Sonoma craft wines from Bordeaux varieties, the majority shoot for longer hang time and jammy fruit, aging their wines in an abundance of new oak, which inevitably masks the varietal purity and voice of terroir. David chooses to do things the old-school way—as in Bordeaux—and the critics have come calling with enthusiasm just the same. Today’s long-aged, perfectly preserved 2014 Estate Red is predominantly composed of Cabernets Sauvignon and Franc with some Merlot, Petit Verdot, and Malbec rounding out the final quarter of the blend. The hand-harvested fruit is manually sorted then fermented in open-top tanks, as is traditional in Bordeaux, with twice-daily pump-overs for three weeks. The wine is aged for 21 months in 40% new French oak and is bottled unfiltered.
Within 30-45 minutes of pouring today’s 2014 Chalk Hill in a decanter, its reticent edge will blow off and a pure, nuanced, and intensely savory Cabernet blend emerges. In a large Bordeaux stem around 60 degrees, this smoking red erupts with perfumed aromas of boysenberry, redcurrant, black cherry, and Damson plum before melding into more fragrant notes of cedar, cigar wrapper, eucalyptus, vintage leather, tobacco leaf, purple flowers, crushed earth, and green peppercorn. The palate impresses with layers of that dried/ripe dark forest fruit and a profoundly savory core that radiates with sweet spice and herbs. This is a real stunner, a wine built to impress for many years to come or one that can be thoroughly enjoyed now with those that appreciate the finest reds coming out of Left Bank Bordeaux and the elevated hills of Napa.
- CountryUnited States
- Sub-RegionSonoma County / Chalk Hill
- SoilLoam Over Sandstone & Shale
- BlendCabernet Sauvignon 58%, Cabernet Franc 18%, Merlot 17%, Petit Verdot 5%, Malbec 2%
- OakFrench Barrels, 40% New
- Temp.Serve at 60° F
- GlasswareBordeaux Stem
- Decanting30-45 minutes
- PairingHerb-Braised Beef Short Ribs
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Through the grapevine
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