Kudos to Chalk Hill for one of the drier, more subtle Chardonnays on the market. Theyve controlled the ripeness, reining in the tropical fruits to retain minerality, and allowing acidity to provide crispness. Nonetheless the wine impresses for opulence and complexity.
This is a rich, flamboyant Viognier, showing lots of ripe, fruity flavors and a nice burst of acidity. It’s high in alcohol, which gives some prickly heat, but the pineapple custard, tangerine and crème brûlée flavors are frankly delicious.
Made with 82% Cabernet, this interesting wine is showing all kinds of possibilities. It’s a good red now, sturdily dry and tannic, with red cherry, pomegranate, sweet tobacco and allspice flavors. But it’s a little juvenile. I would decant it as long as possible, and it should enjoy a cellar life of up to 10 years.
Solid and elegant, this standard-bearer offers round, plummy aromas and flavors, as well as cocoa and tobacco accents. The fruit is very clean and bright, and the flavors well defined on the lush, well-balanced palate. Finishes dark and juicy, with fine tannins. This wine should improve over the next three to five years, and then drink well until 2008.
Consciously built along the lines of cult Cabernets, this is a ripe, extracted wine of gentle acids and elaborate oak. It’s filled with berry, chocolate and coffee flavors, but it’s actually quite tannic. That drying feeling on the finish suggests cellaring. —S.H.
Just over the hill from both Napa and Sonoma valleys, Chalk Hill has similar conditions. This nicely ripened wine brims with pure black currant aromas. Shows fine balance and finesse, coming across as light and complex. —S.H.
Delicate for a California Sauvignon Blanc, with a lilting, airy texture. The flavors are ripe and lush, suggesting spicy lemon yogurt and figs. Hits the palate with a blast of acidity. Finishes sweet although it’s technically dry.
Compared to a lush Napa Cab, this has a distinct green olive and French-cured olive character. It must be the terroir, but oak, toasted and spicy, plays an important part. Finally, there’s Cabernet’s inherent currant flavor. The wine is thoroughly dry and balanced, with smooth tannins. It’s a unique Cabernet, but in its own way, very fine.