Josh Jensen and his legendary Calera Vineyards were featured in Marq Devillier's wonderful 1994 book - "The Heartbreak Grape: A California Winemaker's Search for the Perfect Pinot Noir". The story tells the tale of Josh's quest to grow the very finnicky Pinot Noir grape in California in the early days before Pinot was cultivated here. In pursuit of his dream to create authentic Burgundian style wines, he sought to find the place in California suitable to achieve that goal. It tells of his research to find the right terrior - all the attributes of the right location, soil, climate, drainage, and other nuances of 'place' that make up the character and personality of a wine from grapes of a particular site. Josh chose Mt. Harlan, an area not then know for grapes or winemaking. The rest, as they say, is history. While it is a human interest tale, it also provides a rich insight into the challenges and travails of setting up a winery, and a business, and achieving one's dream to make noteworthy wines.
Calera’s Mt. Harlan Vineyards are located in Hollister, California, in the Gavilan Mountains, 25 miles east of the Monterey Bay. The site was chosen for its limestone soils and ideal climate. At an average elevation of 2,200 feet it is among the highest and coolest vineyard sites in California.
As in the great region of Burgundy which inspired Josh to pursue his dream of making great wines in the old world authentic style, he planted the varietals of Burgundy, Pinot Nor and Chardonnay. The wines produced from Calera’s Mt. Harlan Chardonnay Vineyard display a minerality that is much more typical to fine white Burgundy than to California chardonnay, meeting Josh's objective of creating wines in the style of the old world classics.
We are long time fans of Calera Pinot Noir's and are delighted to showcase this Chardonnay release. Calera's 6 acre Mt. Harlan Chardonnay Vineyard was planted in 1984 on the same south facing slope as the Mills Vineyard Pinot Noir. This vineyard was planted on its own roots using plant material from stray chardonnay vines that were found interspersed among the pinot vines of the original vineyards. Each year this vineyard yields only slightly more than 2 tons to the acre of very intense flavorful chardonnay fruit.
The 2009 Mt Harlan Chardonnay is medium bodied, clean and crisp with nice balanced acidity for pleasant easy drinking, yet its sophisticated and complex to be enjoyed with fine foods. Scents of lemon, gooseberry and honeysuckle, it opens with flavors of golden apple and pear and a layer of subtle almond and vanilla with a touch of smoky oak on the smooth lingering finish.
This was a great accompaniment to grilled salmon fillet and roasted potatoes.
RM 90 points.
Enjoy the wine, and the book!