Pine Ridge Vineyards
2007 Dijon Clones Chardonnay
California: Carneros (Sonoma & Napa)
What We Say
SUPERIOR WINE ALERT:
Today’s Carneros Chardonnay is an exceptional wine with exceptional character. If you are a fan of Napa Valley Chardonnay, or just fantastic Chardonnay, then this wine belongs in your collection.
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Mission Codename: Better than ever
Operative: Agent Red
Objective: Return to Wine Spies Operative favorite, Pine Ridge Vineyards, and secure an ample allocation of their exceptional 2007 Carneros Dijon Clone Chardonnay for our Operatives who, last year, purchased the 2006 in record numbers
Mission Status: Accomplished!
Current Winery: Pine Ridge Winery
Wine Subject: 2007 Dijon Clones Carneros Chardonnay – Napa Valley
Winemaker: Michael Beaulac
Backgrounder: Carneros Chardonnay is revered for its quality, elegance and smoothness. The Carneros viticultural area, a wine growing region which straddles the Napa Valley and Sonoma Valley, has been a great source of wine that we have featured here. Always, those wine have been of supreme quality. The cool Carneros region provides ideal growing conditions for Chardonnay – and Chardonnay literally thrives there. Today’s Chardonnay is truly representative of the the best that region has to offer
Wine Spies Tasting Profile:
Look – Gorgeous golden yellow, with perfect clarity and a beautiful and very unique thin rim of dark gold. When swirled, the wine settles quickly, leaving behind a cascade of skinny legs.
Smell – Bright and inviting, I found myself inhaling deeply of this wonderfully aromatic wine. Leading with citrus and white peach, followed by soft orange blossom honey, pineapple, white nectarine with hints of hawthorn flower and vanilla.
Feel – Light-weight on the attack, the wine is soft and voluptuous across the mid-palate – without the buttery feeling that many find unappealing in some Chardonnay. As the wine warms, it present a fuller feel, with more roundness. Tannins are soft and balanced.
Taste – Very delicious, especially as the wine warms a little. This deeply flavorful wine shows off flavors that almost exactly mimic what is present on the nose. Added flavors include touches of green apple, lemon curd, soft spice and flinty minerals.
Finish – Long and flavor-filled, especially when not drunk too cold. Fruit flavors linger for a long time and then a soft dryness appears, remind you to take another flavor-filled sip.
Conclusion – Like liquid sunshine, this wine warmed our souls. Sorry for the hyperbole there, but this wine deserves it! From four first sips, we were in love. This, coming from a group of Wine Spies that are getting harder and harder to impress with Chardonnay. This wine, especially when enjoyed at a little higher than fridge temperature_, is a real delight that is full of flavor. This wine pairs well, even with more challenging foods. We paired with spicy Thai tofu and wok fried veggies (_thank you, Agent Tipsy!) and the combination was stellar! Between bites, the palate was refreshed with each sip of this gorgeous wine.
WINEMAKER INTEL BRIEFING DOSSIER
SUBJECT: Michael Beaulac
WINE EDUCATION: The school of hard knocks…started as a cellar rat and worked my way up!
WINEMAKING PHILOSOPHY: Elegance is the key. A wine should have velvet tannins that cover the palate and once swallowed should linger for several seconds.
AGENT RED: Greetings, Michael. We are thrilled to be showing your 2007 Dijon Clones Chardonnay today. I was a big fan of the 2006, and I find this wine to be even better. Thanks so much for taking some time to answer questions for our Operatives today.
MICHAEL: It’s my great pleasure to be here again, Red.
RED: Was there a specific experience in your life that inspired your love of wine?
MICHAEL: I had a bottle of Jean Gros Vosne-Romanee and realized what a very good bottle of wine could taste like.
RED: What wine or winemaker has most influenced your winemaking style?
MICHAEL: Christian Mouiex
RED: Who do you make wine for?
MICHAEL: Our fans and consumers. There is nothing better than to be in a restaurant and seeing someone enjoying a bottle of wine that I made .
RED: Please tell me a little bit about the wine we are featuring today.
MICHAEL: This wine is beautiful blend of French and California styles – the beauty of Carneros fruit in a vibrant style that retains these fruit flavors. We don’t put this wine through malolactic fermentation so there is a nice acidity that makes it perfect for food, but yet there is a lot of complexity that comes from barrel fermentation and French oak aging for nine months. It has lovely tropical fruit aromas of peach and nectarine with hints of vanilla and toast on the nose. Bright citrus flavors and a creamy, silky texture on the palate makes this wine a delight to drink – it has beautiful balance that has become the hallmark of this bottling
RED: What is your favorite pairing with today’s wine?
MICHAEL: Seared diver scallops with preserved lemon cream prepared by our chef, Eric Maczko
RED: In your opinion, what makes the Napa Carneros region so special?
MICHAEL: Napa is THE perfect place to grow grapes. The warm, sunny days followed by the cool nights lets the grapes ripen with the right balance of flavor, sugar and acidity
RED: What is occupying your time at the winery these days?
MICHAEL: Getting my Dijon Clone Chardonnay and Le Petit Clos Chardonnay ready for bottling.
RED: How would you recommend people approach your wines and wine in general?
MICHAEL: Always remember that the wine is made in the vineyard and should show its place of origin. Even more importantly, wine is about sharing with friends and family – don’t over-think it
RED: Is there anything else you’d like to share with our readers?
MICHAEL: Drink more Chardonnay!
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 Pine Ridge Winery in the Stags’ Leap district in Napa County can be seen in this satellite photo.
What the Winery Says
Awards & Accolades:
90 Points – Connoisseurs’ Guide to California Wine – Full and somewhat rounded at entry and always showing plenty of enlivening acidity, this wine is weighty and rich while also being light enough on its feet to be a worthy accompaniment to pan-grilled salmon i lets now or over the next several years.
About This Wine:
Our 2007 Chardonnay is bursting with rich tropical and stone fruit aromas of peach, white nectarine and grapefruit interlaced with hints of orange blossom, toasted vanilla and lemon cream. On the palate, juicy citrus, peach and pear fruit perfectly offsets the creamy, silky texture, and accents of toasted brioche, vanilla and lemon curd remaining over the extended finish. This wine can be enjoyed now or held up to 5 years.
ORIGIN: This unusually complex and balanced wine is produced from grapes grown in our narrowly spaced estate vineyards in the sloping Carneros region. Pine Ridge was one of the first wineries to pair French Dijon clones with Carneros soils, which, in combination with utilizing a system of controlled stress yields intense fruit flavors from smaler berries. The result is a California Chardonnay that is stylistically original, a perfect marriage of both French and California winemaking regions.
VINEYARD: Overcast mornings and cool afternoon breezes contributed to a slow and even rate of maturity of the fruit. Consequently, these grapes possess an optimal balance of sugar and acid, and an outstanding intensity of fruit flavors. Closely planted to 3.5’ X 6’ spacing with devigorating rootstock, our Carneros estate vineyards feature Dijon Chardonnay clones 76, 95, and 96. After a long growing season, vineyard blocks were selectively harvested over a four-week period into small, 25 pound boxes to ensure that each grape was picked once optimal flavor was achieved.
WINEMAKING: The 2007 vintage was almost picture perfect, with early budbreak, light fruit set and cool growing season, leading to low yields of small, flavorful grapes. Hand-harvested during the first two weeks of October, the berries were sorted and whole-cluster pressed directly to a mix of new, 1-year and 2-year old French oak barrels. The wine was aged sur-lie for nine months with occasional stirring of the lees to promote complexity but did not under go malolactic fermentation in order to retain the natural, bright fruit flavors. It was bottled in July, 2008.
About The Winery:
What does it take to make a world-class wine? Before setting out to make one of our own, we asked ourselves this fundamental question. Looking to the most esteemed winegrowing districts of France for our answer, we found that the greatest of the great embrace three principles: pride of ownership, profound stewardship of the land, and a relentless dedication to quality. These values were already reflected in our vineyard management and our winemaking-in our dense plantings, meticulous pruning, and hand harvesting; in our artistic blending and careful selection of coopers—but our goal was to surpass our best.
Building on the groundwork laid by the founders, we set out with ardor and high aims for our vineyards, our winery, and our wines. We would care for every vine as if it were our only vine and design a grape reception and sorting process second to none. Within a year of starting, we rebalanced the vines and completely revamped our grape-handling procedures. Every vintage since has been testament to the success of our viticultural and enological pursuits.
About The Winemaker:
I look forward to working with the seasoned team here to continue to produce classically proportioned wines that are the hallmark of Pine Ridge. – Michael Beaulac, winemaker
After a long and thorough search to find the successor to a winemaking history dating back to 1978 when the winery was founded, Michael Beaulac has been appointed Winemaker and General Manager at Pine Ridge Vineyards. Inheriting the role shaped by Stacy Clark for over 25 years, brings his expertise in winemaking with an emphasis on Bordeaux varietals from his eight years as winemaker at St. Supery Vineyards and Markham Vineyards prior to that.
“Pine Ridge has a tremendous portfolio of outstanding wines that capture the essence of our exceptional estate vineyards.” says President and CEO of the Crimson Wine Group, Erle Martin. “Stacy was instrumental in bringing the winery to where it is today, and we are excited to now have Michael on board to build off of our legacy and usher Pine Ridge into a new and exciting era. “
In his new role, Michael will oversee all grape growing and winemaking operations as well as facilities management at our winery. “With the winery’s exceptional reputation and collection of estate vineyards, this position is a winemaker’s dream. I look forward to working with the seasoned team here to continue to produce classically proportioned wines that are the hallmark of Pine Ridge,” says Michael.