Deep purple color; blackberry, plum, chocolate, anise, tobacco on the nose; dark cherry, blackberry, plum, redcurrant, chocolate, leather, vanilla, chalk notes, oak on the palate.
Dry; firm, but well behaved tannins; balancing acidity (3.7 pH). Unlike previous vintage which needed decanting to come together, this is tasty and behaved on pop-and-pour. Full body. Smooth finish, medium length. Blend of 49% cabernet sauvignon, 40% malbec, 11% petit verdot. Sustainably farmed. Fermented in stainless steel, followed by 100% malolactic fermentation with bâtonnage. Finished in French oak, 57% new, for 20 months. No fining or filtration; 15.5% ABV.
Chalk Hill began in 1972 when Fred Furth flew his plane over the Russian River Valley and viewed a natural amphitheater carved in the hills of eastern Sonoma. He recognized it as an ideal site for a world-class vineyard and created an iconic Sonoma vineyard and winery. The property is more than 1,300 acres with 300 acres in vineyards; the remainder is wilderness areas, the winery, a hospitality center, and a culinary garden.
Bill Foley is the vintner today, purchasing the property in 2010. He is the owner of the National Hockey League Vegas Golden Knights, an attorney, a graduate of West Point, a former captain in the U.S. Air Force, and chairman or board member of major financial and insurance companies. Today, Foley and his wife Carol live in Northern California part-time and are active philanthropists for many causes, especially those in support of veterans and children’s education.
Courtney Foley, youngest daughter of Bill and Carol Foley, is the head of winemaking. Like her father, she is an attorney, but she also studied enology and viticulture at both Napa Valley College and Fresno State University. Choosing vineyards over courtrooms, Courtney worked under winemaker Leslie Renaud at Lincourt and Foley Estates in Santa Barbara County and Roth Estate in Healdsburg before taking her position with Chalk Hill.
Chalk Hill Estate also is a destination. From the website: “Perhaps no other winery captures the casual luxury of Sonoma County better than Chalk Hill Estate. Founded nearly four decades ago, this spectacular 1300-acre property features 300 acres of vineyards, wilderness areas, winery, hospitality center, culinary garden, residence, stables, equestrian pavilion, sports fields, fishing and swimming ponds, and guest houses. The winery’s vineyards are thoughtfully woven through the native foliage and contoured to fit the intricate terrain. More than two-thirds of the Chalk Hill Estate remains uncultivated. The higher elevations offer stunning views of the Russian River Valley to the west and the Mayacamas Mountains to the east.”
Chalk Hill Estate Red 2017 is rich, opulent. Hedonistic delight. Surprisingly smooth, in contrast to the previous vintage, which was more tannic and massive. Pair with beef in general; heavily marbled grilled steaks; barbecue; slow-cooked brisket; lamb chops; wild game—venison; dark meat poultry; roast chicken. $70-75