What We Say 2007 Santa Lucia Highlands Chardonnay
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Mission Codename: My Main Manzoni
Operative: Agent Red
Objective: In time for Summertime imbibing, send Agent Red back to Manzoni Winery, in Monterey County, and direct him to procure Mark Manzoni’s multi award-winning Chardonnay.
Mission Status: Accomplished!
Current Winery: Manzoni Winery
Wine Subject: 2007 Santa Lucia Highlands Chardonnay
Winemaker: Mark Manzoni
Backgrounder: Monterey County’s Santa Lucia Highlands boasts 2,300 acres of wine grapes and a near-perfect environment for Chardonnay, which makes up more than half of the grapes grown in this region. The reason for this massive proportion? Santa Lucia Highlands grows some of the best Chardonnay in the country! Today’s stainless steel and French barrel aged Chardonnay is made from grapes that deliver big character and a bevy of rich aromas and flavors.
Wine Spies Tasting Profile:
Look – Light yellow gold in color, with glinting highlights on the surface of the wine at at its edges. When swirled the wine shows a heavy surface, which hints at its texture. When the wine settles, it leaves behind tall columns of skinny legs that run slowly down the glass.
Smell – Loaded with a variety of fresh, fruity and earthy aromas, this wine leads with bold citrus and pineapple notes. These are soon followed by spiced Bartlett pear, orange peel, bread dough, banana peel and hint of vanilla.
Feel – Weighty and velvet smooth, with a big overall feel and lush tannins that slowly take shape, adding a soft mineral dryness at the rear palate.
Taste – Delicious and vibrant with firm acidity that hold off of the fruit together in a compact bundle of sweet citrus, pear, pineapple, zest, light spice and tender white minerals.
Finish – Long and very flavorful, with tropical notes that seem to go on forever – ending with a hint of soft sweet spice.
Conclusion – This stainless and oak fermented wine shows off the very best of both, with great balance in feel, flavor and finish. Where some all-oak Chards can be overly buttery, and some steel-fermented examples can show great fruit but lack character, this wine delivers deep flavors and great fruit, without compromise. The Santa Lucia fruit really shines through, as well, with a boldness that drives great flavor and complexity – without being overpowering. If you love fantastic Chardonnay, this wine is a perfect summertime treat that comes with a big recommendation.
Mission Report:WINEMAKER INTERVIEW
AGENT RED: Greetings, Mark [Manzoni]. We are thrilled to be showing your 2007 Santa Lucia Chardonnay today. Thanks so much for taking some time to answer questions for our Operatives today.
MARK: I am pleased to have our wines on your website, again!
RED: Was there a specific experience in your life that inspired your love of wine?
MARK: Mainly from social experiences and having friends in the wine industry. You can only drink so much beer.
RED: What wine or winemaker has most influenced your winemaking style?
MARK: The Wines of Steve Pessagno, who when I first met him was working for Lockwood Winery and also had his own Label in the works and who also our winemaker. Farming in the Salinas Valley and The Santa Lucia Highlands more specifically this appellation is perfect for growing Chardonnay, Pinot Noir and Syrah. So once I started tasting the wines of this region my love grew for wines from this region. Talking specifically of our Chardonnay I never really liked an over-oaked Chard, nor did I like an un-oaked Chard. So when I talked to Steve I told him I was looking for a style in-between. And he has done a wonderful job doing just that.
RED: Who do you make wine for?
MARK: Well I always figured that if we couldn’t sell it, we could always drink it. But as luck has it we are able to do both. We sell throughout California and are also out in the Idaho, Colorado, Nevada, Ohio, and Delaware markets.
RED: Please tell me a little bit about the wine we are featuring today.
MARK: Chardonnay from the Santa Lucia Highlands is always loaded with incredible fruit intensity and firm acidity. Mandarin rind, ripe pear and tropical aromas of pineapple and banana accentuate the nose. Through the process of “sur lee” aging the wine has developed a soft texture with medium weight and a yeasty/creamy character. A touch of austere citrus with a smoky finish due to French oak are also evident. This wine is fashioned in an approachable style that pairs well with lighter foods, especially chicken and white fish.
RED: What is your favorite pairing with today’s wine?
MARK: Definitely will have to choose Calamari.
RED: In your opinion, what makes the Santa Lucia Highlands so special?
MARK: Approved in 1991 as a unique AVA, the vineyards here are planted on the southeast facing terraces of the Santa Lucia mountain range, overlooking the Salinas River Valley. The vines’ elevated locations take full advantage of the morning sunshine before the afternoon maritime breezes cool the vineyards. This climatic combination results in an especially long growing season, which allows the grapes to fully develop and attain maximum varietal potential. Ancient, glacial alluvial soils pair with ocean fog and breezes to create a true Region I climate. Cool weather-loving Burundian varietals Chardonnay and Pinot Noir flourish here; Rhone grape types emulate their French northern districts brethren, thriving in the SLH’s slightly warmer, more wind-protected canyons and slopes.
RED: What is occupying your time at the winery these days?
MARK: Mostly just tending to the vines right now, and keeping an eye on our 2009 Vintage wines that are in barrel right now.
RED: How would you recommend people approach your wines and wine in general?
MARK: Drink what you like, don’t let anyone tell you different. We all have different palates and I know not everyone will like my wine, because if they did I would have to build a lot bigger winery. But you will never know until you do try it. Experiment, you’ll be amazed how many different wines and styles of wines are out there. And have lots of fun experimenting.
RED: Is there anything else you’d like to share with our readers?
MARK: Life is too short to drink bad wine, and the price tag does not designate a wine good or bad. Cheers,
RED: Thank you so much for your time. We learned a lot about you – and your wine. Keep up the great work, we are big fans!
Wine Spies Vineyard Check:
The location of the Manzoni Estate Vineyards tasting room can be seen in this satellite photo.
What the Winery Says
Manzoni Estate Vineyards
Awards & Accolades:
90 Points & Gold Medal – 2009 BTI World Wine Championships
About This Wine:
Chardonnay from the Santa Lucia Highlands is always loaded with incredible fruit intensity and firm acidity. Mandarin rind, ripe pear and tropical aromas of pineapple and banana accentuate the nose. Through the process of “sur lee” aging the wine has developed a soft texture with medium weight and a yeasty/creamy character. A touch of austere citrus with a smoky finish due to French oak are also evident. This wine is fashioned in an approachable style that pairs well with lighter foods, especially chicken and white fish.
The Vineyard: The Lucia Highland Vineyard which is located in the northern, coolest part of the Santa Lucia Highlands appellation, is where we get the Wente Clone 4. Moderately warm and breezy days are followed by cool evenings and foggy mornings, ideal conditions for intensely flavorful Chardonnays.
The Vintage: The 2007 vintage was one of the coolest in the past three decades. Mid day temperatures from May through August averaged 80 degrees and delayed harvest substantially. In late September we experienced two minor rainstorms but they had little to no effect on the vintage. The Chardonnay was harvested under ideal conditions, resulting in an extraordinary Vintage.
Winemaking: Hand harvested fruit was immediately pressed into stainless steel tanks to settle for 72 hours prior to being transferred to a combination of French oak barrels and stainless steel tank for fermentation. After the completion of primary fermentation, the young wine was allowed to go through 100 percent malolactic fermentation to add complexity and a supple mouthfeel.
About The Winery:
“From the start, our business has been family-owned and family-run. Our grand vision is to distinguish ourselves with perfection through limited production,” says Mark Manzoni
“It is this dedication that gives us distinction in a rapidly expanding industry – dedication to standards of hard work, integrity, and uncompromising quality creates wines worthy of our customers tastes.”
Fine winemaking is both an art and a passion, but also requires an understanding of the science of alchemy. The Manzoni family relies on the idea of terroir. This is the time-honored method of combining soil, slope, sun exposure, with a nod to the gods of weather that let the grape varieties show their unique characteristics.
They have chosen to grow grapes on California’s cool coastal mountains, ridges, and hillsides and benchlands. Here, they strive to give you the richest, most intense flavors with a unique and memorable character.
“We believe that our family philosophy and our beliefs in vineyard methods, along with our dedication to perfecting our winemaking skills, result in amazing wines that you will find consistently intense, complex and palate pleasing.” – Mark Manzoni
Appellation: Santa Lucia Highlands
Bottling Date: March 04, 2009
Harvest Date: October 9, 2007
Release Date: February 05, 2010
Special Designation: Lucia Highland Vineyard