2019 Chileno Valley Vineyard Riesling
Chileno Valley Vineyard
October 25, 2019
100% Stainless Ferment
The nose is brisk with zesty lime, with rounder notes of Crane melon softening the edges. Sweet lemon blossom and a steely oyster shell minerality back up the fruit notes. Lime curd and pomelo lead in the mouth, carried on a supple texture that balances the energizing freshness. The white grapefruit finish is clean, leaving you with a kiss of an ocean breeze that makes any type of seafood a perfect pairing.
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.
Food Pairing Notes
Smoked trout, Hamachi sushi, fresh oysters, and poached shrimp would all be great dates, as would light pork or chicken recipes. It’s also wonderfully versatile with cheese, with a creamy goat or Gouda being particularly nice mates.
4.5 Stars, Wine of the Week - Sonoma County Press Democrat-Peg Melnik; 91, Planet Grape; 91, Owen Bargreen