Deep gold color; honeydew melon, lemon, spice on the nose; honeydew melon, grapefruit, mango, guava, peach on the palate.
Dry; rich and full in the mouth. Even with excellent acidity (3.21 pH), this does not have the sharp, cutting feel of a Marlborough New Zealand sauv blanc. Instead, it reflects the special terroir of Chalk Hill appellation. The winery has been California leader, eventually a superstar, in chardonnay since the 1970s. Now they demonstrate they can do the same magic with sauv blanc. 14.6% ABV
Blend of 92% sauvignon blanc, 8% sauvignon gris. Natural yeast, bi-weekly bâtonnage for three months. Finished in 59% French oak, 13% new, and 41% stainless steel. Tracking with Chalk Hill procedures, the wine matures on the lees with scheduled stirring— bâtonnage rather than the more assertive pump over technique. The grapes grow on a hillside overlooking the estate gardens. The vineyard contributes a small amount of sauvignon gris to flavor and unexpected interest to the blend.
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. Although the soil is chalky-white, it is not chalk. The white soil is of volcanic origin. The vineyards have distinctive and varied terroir.
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 Sauvignon Blanc, Chalk Hill Appellation 2019 is smooth and fruity. Not as sharp in the mouth as New Zealand sauv blanc, but does reflect the varietal’s “salad in a glass” reputation. Just toned back a bit, which many will find a good thing. Clean, crisp, refreshing. Good food wine. Pair with shellfish; shrimp, fish and seafood in general; garden salads; vegetarian fare; goat cheese. $33