2018 Chileno Valley Vineyard Riesling
Chileno Valley Vineyard
100% Stainless Ferment
Cold vineyards like Chileno Valley love long temperate growing seasons like 2018, which give them an extended time to ripen in these marginal areas. Our Riesling came in a full week after our last vineyard this year, pushing us into November for harvest. The wine shows this in its textural quality, which is sensed even in the aromatics. Lemon, lime, and honeydew melon are weaved with wisteria and honeysuckle floral notes in the nose. The mouth brings a focused core of citrus wrapped with a creamy embrace, which dissolves into a bright lemon sweet tart finish. A little crushed oyster shell minerality at the end foretells of the telltale diesel notes that the best Rieslings show with age. All manner of fresh shellfish will make a great match, especially raw oysters and steamed clams, as well as a spicy ratatouille. It’s equally as versatile with cheeses, from Marin French’s Breakfast Brie to Cypress Grove’s Lambchopper.
Fresh, bone dry Rieslings have long been one of this winemaker’s favorites (think Austria), so when Mark Pasternak offered us a small amount from his 25 year old, dry farmed Riesling vineyard in 2011 we jumped on it. The site is up on a bench above Chileno Valley, a picturesque, windswept neighborhood in northwest Marin. The Corda family planted 35 acres here in 1991 to a hodgepodge of varietals, most of which never ripened in the chilly climate. When Mark Pasternak took over the farming, everything got budded to Pinot Noir except for 4 acres that he was convinced would be perfect for the cold loving Riesling. Like most of Mark’s projects, his quality instincts were as good as his economic vision was questionable. The long, cold season down here gives a wine of laser brightness, complex minerality, low alcohol, and wonderful natural acidity. Riesling is a complex, expressive and beautifully aging varietal. As a newly bottled wine, it shows its focused fruit, steely minerality and fresh drinking acidity. With age, the classic white peach and grapefruit give way to rich apricot, lychee and earthy aromas and flavors. Either way, it’s a particularly enticing and vineyard-driven wine.
Our hedonistic goal in crafting this wine is to maintain the tremendous brightness, focus and freshness that our favorite Rieslings of the world express. It’s been said that aromatic varieties (like gewürtz and riesling) show site more than any other because the winemaking least interferes with what comes off the vine. To this end, we ferment the wine in stainless steel at a cool 48 degrees F to retain the fresh esters of fermentation and the central core of fruit. We employ a yeast isolate from Geisenheim romantically named (in the German tradition) 58W3, which emphasizes the estery freshness and gem-like fruit of the variety. The wine sees no malolactic fermentation, and is bottled in the spring after harvest. In order to show off the pristine freshness and ebullient brightness imparted by this wonderful site, we leave no residual sugar whatsoever.