Deep ruby color; black cherry, tobacco, leather, chocolate on the nose; dark cherry, plum, dark fruit, vanilla, licorice, oak spice, tea on the palate.
Dry; big California cab-blend style. No fining or filtration to allow the estate grapes fully present; 54% cabernet sauvignon, 34% malbec, 10% petit verdot, 2% carménère. All sustainably farmed. Relatively mild tannins and balancing acidity. Medium-plus body. Rich and juicy in the mouth. This is not an assertive, in-your-face blend. It seems built to be, in Sally Fields’s immortal words, for people to “like me, really like me.”
Fermented in stainless steel with pumpovers to limit tannin extraction. Full malolactic fermentation with bâtonnage. Aged 21 months in 100% French oak, 61% new. The estate red relies on presenting Chalk Hill terroir and estate vines, so the blending formula changes year-to-year depending on the weather at spring bug break and harvest. The wine is very approachable, fulsome, easy drinking red. It comes in a very heavy bottle, which unfortunate both environmentally and cost-wise.
Chalk Hill began in 1972 when Fred Furth flew his plane over the Russian River Valley and viewed a natural amphitheater 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. In addition, in June 2022, Foley purchased Silverado Vineyards from the Disney Miller family, adding 300 more acres in Napa’s Stags Leap District (where they winery is located), Commbsville, and Yountville.
Bill Foley is the owner 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, then again with Renaud at Roth Estate in Healdsburg before joining Chalk Hill.
Chalk Hill Estate Red, Chalk Hill Appellation 2018 is built to be widely accepted premium California cab-led blend. It fully succeeds. Rich, tasty red fruits. If there is criticism, it lacks distinctiveness, adventure, layers of depth. There are a lot of people who don’t want those complexities—just give me a quality red to pair with my steak. Fair enough. This wine is for you. Even sippers who want more challenges will find this easily enjoyable. Pair with rich meats; grilled steaks, but also more comfort foods like meatloaf, spaghetti and meatballs, meat-lover pizza; lamb; wild game—venison. Cheese—aged cheese; cheddar, gouda. alpine-style cheese. This is versatile and will work with any hard or semi-hard cheese you have at hand. $53-57