“There are hundreds of wine producers in California that excel at producing wines with an artisan approach. Crafting small lots of wines such as Pinot Noir and Chardonnay, two Burgundian varietals that at their best are made to display not only ideal balance and true character that represent their particular varietal, but also offer a sense of place, wines that reveal the identity of where the grapes are grown.
In this article, I will focus on three producers in northern California that brilliantly capture their specific area’s character and personality regarding Pinot Noir and Chardonnay.
Thales Vineyard, Russian River Valley, source of Pinot Noir for one the best wines from MacRostie Vineyard and Winery.
MacRostie Vineyard and Winery, Sonoma County
Founded by Steve MacRostie in 1987, this has been one of the shining stars in the Carneros Sonoma area, especially with Chardonnay. Pinot Noir, with much of the fruit sourced from Russian River Valley and Sonoma Coast, has become equally important for the winery, which recently moved its location from Carneros to a state-of-the-art facility on Westside Road in Healdsburg in the Russian River Valley. While Steve Macrostie was the original winemaker, he turned these duties over to the effervescent Heidi Bridenhagen in 2013; she had served as assistant winemaker there since 2011. Her style is one that showcases bright varietal fruit with a notable sense of origin; the wines always display very good acidity and are elegantly styled.
Note that all of the Macrostie Chardonnays and Pinot Noirs (as well as all of their other wines) are bottled with screw caps, which the proprietors believe preserve the wines’ freshness and purity.
2019 MacRostie Charles Heintz Vineyard Chardonnay – 95 Points
Brilliant light yellow; aromas of golden apple, spiced pear and goldenrod. Medium-full, this has excellent ripeness, very good acidity, and a delicate creamy, lush feel, all the while coming across as very delicate on the palate. This has beautiful finesse along with exquisite balance, and will be especially appealing to Chardonnay lovers who tire of excessive wood notes in their wines. A marvelous success that can be enjoyed tonight with lemon sole or halibut, or put away for three to five years.
An estate vineyard of MacRostie since 2013, this site was named for Steve’s wife Thale. Beautiful delicate garnet; aromas of bing cherry, pink roses and carnations, this is a delicious Pinot Noir with very good acidity, impressive varietal purity, medium-bodied tannins, nicely integrated notes and a lengthy, supple finish with delicate notes of black spice. Pair this with roast chicken tonight or lay away for another five to seven years.
Beautiful delicate garnet (almost pink); aromas of bing and black cherry, pomegranate and chrysanthemum. Medium-full, this has ripe fruit character, very good acidity, earthy notes in the finish and rich tannins. Give this a few years to settle down, as it will improve for another five to seven years. If you want to pair this with food tonight, serve it with cornish hen.
Light yellow; aromas of guava, melon and saffron. Medium-full, this is quite rich on the palate and displays more intense wood notes and power than the Heintz Chardonnay. This is more in the style of many California Chardonnays from the 1980s and 1990s and needs to be paired with very rich seafood (lobster, swordfish) or meats such as roast veal. Enjoy over the next 3-5 years.”
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