2006 Reserve Chardonnay
Chardonnay •Pinnacles Vineyard
California: Monterey County
What We Say
EXTREMELY LIMITED QUANTITY ALERT:
Very little of today’s wine is remaining. Bright, delicious, complex and drinking beautifully, this wine will sell out.
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Mission Codename: The Essence of Soledad
Operative: Agent Red
Objective: Return to Estancia Estates and secure an allocation of their Reserve Chardonnay – before they run out.
Mission Status: Accomplished!
Current Winery: Estancia Estates
Wine Subject: 2006 Reserve Chardonnay
Winemaker: Scott Kelley
Backgrounder: Monterey County is home to some of the finest Chardonnay in the country. The Wine Spies have featured several Monterey County Chardonnays and, every time, our Operatives have scooped them up enthusiastically. Today we mark our return to Estancia – and return, with the final cases of their stellar 2006 Reserve Chardonnay, a wine that is in perfect form and still approaching its peak.
Wine Spies Tasting Profile:
Look – Light golden yellow, with perfect clarity ad perfectly even coloration, from core to edge. Swirl the wine wine and marvel at round after round of tall, skinny tears that fall slowly down the glass.
Smell – Bold and full on the nose, lush fruit and dried flowers jump from the glass. Bright, zesty lemon, pineapple and Anjou pear take the lead. As it warms a little, dried white flower petals, flinty minerals and toasted oak round out the nose.
Feel – Soft, smooth and velvety on the tip of the tongue. As it settles onto the palate, this wine takes on a more medium-bodied feel. Soft minerals and a bright acidity add complexity.
Taste – Bright and zesty, with fresh lemon, acacia flowers, flint, toasty oak and a hint of Asian pear. As the wine opens up (allow it to warm slightly), it reveals darker citrus flavors and hints of softest spice, toasted vanilla bean and a subtle earthiness.
Finish – Long and complex, but clean and refreshing, with fruit and soft spice that last a very long time.
Conclusion – The 22006 Estancia Reserve Chardonnay is a delicious wine that is fresh, intriguing and just a little complex. Bold aromatics greet the nose before you even lift your glass for a sniff. Flavors are of authentic fruit, minerals, soft oak, white flowers, complex darker toasty vanilla and subtle spice. While this wine is a 2006, it was built for a little bit of aging. The wine is approaching its peak, and it probably has another year or two left in it, for optimal enjoyment. Quantities are very limited, as we got out hands on every last case that the winery had. Act quickly, as this wine will certainly sell out!
Below is a recap of Agent Red’s recent interview with winemaker Scott Kelly when we featured another of his fantastic wines:
SUBJECT: Scott Kelley, Estancia
PLACE OF BIRTH: Salinas, CA
WINE EDUCATION: UC Davis
CALIFORNIA WINE JOB BRIEF: General Manager and Director of Wine Making-Estancia
WINEMAKING PHILOSOPHY: Estancia’s winemaking philosophy continues to be firmly rooted in terroir, with the goal of producing wines that reflect the unique vineyards and appellations in which they are cultivated.
SIGNATURE VARIETAL: Pinot Noir
CAREER HIGHLIGHT: Becoming GM and Director of Winemaking at Estancia.
WINEMAKER QUOTE: “It begins and ends in the Vineyard.”
AGENT RED: Greetings, Scott. We are thrilled to be showing your 2006 Estancia Reserve Meritage today. Thanks so much for taking some time to answer questions for our Operatives today.
SCOTT: Thank you very much. Always happy to chat with the Wine Spies!
RED: Was there a specific experience in your life that inspired your love of wine?
SCOTT: I knew I wanted to do this since I was seventeen. I grew up in agriculture family and had an early interest in chemistry while in high school. I really found winemaking to be the perfect blend of agriculture and chemistry. My older brother was into viticulture as well, so that probably influenced my career direction a bit.
RED: And where did you learn the most about winemaking?
SCOTT: Growing up I had a lot of varied interests, not just in oenology but also in food science, so I pursued studies in Fermentation Science at the University of California at Davis. In addition to winemaking, I also explored the principles and science behind distillation, food engineering and even a little cheese-making. Since my brother and I were experimenting with home brewing during the summers, I took the opportunity to study at Davis’ Institute of Brewing Studies, eventually earning a Master Brewers Certificate. After Davis, I joined the Carmel Brewing Company, and eventually assembled a brewpub in Monterey from the ground up, formulating the recipes and brewing all the beer that we would serve on tap. I had always enjoyed the engineering side of things such as fluid dynamics and heat transfer, and working in a small brewpub allowed me to be hands-on throughout the brewing process and use some of the mechanical skills I learned growing up.
Ultimately though, I found that brewing didn’t really fulfill my creative side, and I found myself gravitating back toward winemaking. In 2000, I joined the Robert Mondavi family of wines working on a variety of brands that took me from Australia to Italy. These experiences abroad really shaped my philosophy about wine and winemaking, my travels to Italy clarified the synergy between wine and food, while making wine in Australia introduced me to a new approach with a focus on the details and the idea that you only get one chance to make a wine great.
RED: What is your winemaking style or philosophy?
SCOTT: Winemaking fulfills my artistic side without giving up the innovative hands-on experience that keeps me in touch with my family’s roots in agriculture. I enjoy all of the challenges that each vintage presents in order to shape the style of wines we make at Estancia.. Our winemaking style is one that fully embraces the coastal terroir.
RED: Tell me, what makes the Monterey and the Central Coast region so special?
SCOTT: Born and raised in Monterey County, I have tremendous respect for the climate – the wind and fog and the impact it has on the fruit and wine. Whether it is using less oak in the Chardonnay to protect the tropical characters or fermenting Pinot Noir only in open-top fermenters to respect the silky tannins, I am really passionate about making estate-based wines that have truly have a reason for being.
RED: Please tell me a little bit about the wine we are featuring today
SCOTT: Estancia Meritage is a sophisticated, rich, complex and luscious wine harvested from the distinctive terroir of our Keyes Canyon Ranch and the Paso Robles AVA.. The 2006 Meritage was a blend of 58% Cabernet Sauvignon, 34% Merlot, 8% Petite Verdot. This wine has vibrant, dark black cherries with hints of anise, rosemary and sage. Accents of chocolate powder and soft oak. Intense flavors of chocolate dipped black fruit, accompanied by notes of sweet oak. Wonderfully structured ripe tannins lead to a nice long, fruit driven finish.
In 1999, Estancia planted its Keyes Canyon Ranch, covering nearly 700 acres of vineyards in appellation of Paso Robles. This unique appellation is home to more extreme temperature swings than any other wine-growing region in California. During the day, the vines bask in the warm sunshine and at night they are soothed by a cool marine layer from the Pacific Ocean. In addition, the infertile soils and rugged terrain of Keyes Canyon, encourages the vines to yield small fruit clusters with tiny berries packed full of rich berry tones.
The 2006 harvest was compact due to a wet spring, cooler than average summer, and then a record blast of heat at veraison. September 26th marked the beginning of harvest which continued through October 26th.
RED: What is your favorite pairing with today’s wine?
SCOTT: I think this wine is very versatile, but it would marry particularly well with steak or nicely grilled rack of lamb.
RED: Please share one thing about yourself that few people know
SCOTT: When I am not making wine, my fiancée Dena and I try to find time to pursue one of our many hobbies. We golf, cook, hunt, scuba diving and we go fly fishing for Steelhead in Oregon.
RED: What is your favorite ‘everyday’ or table wine?
SCOTT: It’s tough to pick a “favorite” as it really depends on what time of year it is or what we might be enjoying for dinner. Pinot Noir is always a favorite, and I have to say that that the more we play around with the Grenache fruit that we have on some of our Estate properties the more excited I am getting about that varietal.
RED: Thank you so much for your time. We learned a lot about you – and about your wine. Keep up the great work, we are big fans!
SCOTT: Thanks, this has been a lot of fun. I hope everyone enjoys the Meritage…it’s one of my favorite wines to make each year.
Wine Spies Winery Check:
The location of the Estancia Winery can be seen in this satellite photo.
What the Winery Says
About This Wine:
Appearance: Golden straw
Aroma: Touches of ripe pear, crisp apple and citrus influence the subtle notes of caramel and vallinin.
Flavor: Fresh pear, a spritz of lime and a dollop of lemon custard mingle with nuances of toasty oak leading to a lingering creamy finish.
Estancia Reserve Chardonnay is crafted from Dijon clones planted in the wineries Pinnacles Vineyard on the east side of the Salinas Valley at the base of the Gabilan Mountains. The vineyard lies adjacent to the winery and is challenged by both wind and water throughout the growing season.
During the summer months the vineyard is covered by morning fog that burns off as rising inland temperatures to the south suck air from the Monterey Bay in the north. This results in wind hurtling down the Salinas Valley where it is not uncommon for the region to endure 40-mile-per-hour wind gusts. Photosynthesis shuts down as winds rise above 15 mph, so taking a cue from farmers who’ve cultivated the
valley for 100 years, Estancia planted windbreaks. Rows of tall trees slow down the wind and increase air temperatures in the vineyard allowing the vines to flourish.
This region receives only 14 inches of rain per year and coupled with sandy soils the Pinnacles Vineyard requires irrigation throughout the growing season. Due to this need, Estancia was the first in California to boast a permanent irrigation system. One resulting benefit is the ability to modulate vine stress, though the plants now display sufficient maturity little manipulation is necessary for a balanced crop.
The challenges brought to the vineyard by wind and water coax the vines to produce small clusters with intense fruit characteristics. Thus, allowing the winery to craft a richly flavored Chardonnay packed with bright citrus, ripe pear and finishes with soft hints of oak.
About The Winery:
Estancia: Capturing the Esssence of “Place”
Roughly translated from the Spanish word for “estate,” Estancia’s name emphasizes our founder, Augustin Huneeus’ conviction that the world’s best wines capture the essence of their place of origin.
Huneeus was Chilean by birth and had been in the international wine business 25 years when he became a partner and acting president of Franciscan Vineyards in 1985. His experiences in South America and Europe gave him special insight on site selection and fueled his belief that good wine should uniquely express the place in which it’s grown.
In 1986, he purchased the former Paul Mason vineyard ranches in the Monterey town of Soledad and established it as the home of Estancia Winery and of cool climate varietals, planting the Pinnacles Vineyards to Chardonnay and Pinot Noir.
In 1999, almost 700 acres in Paso Robles were purchased as the vineyard base for Estancia Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Zinfandel and Red Meritage.
Today, our founder’s terroir-based belief continues with controlled farming practices and a company-wide commitment to high quality at an affordable price.
About The Winemaker:
Scott Kelley joined Estancia in the spring of 2007 as Director of Winemaking. In this role at Estancia, Scott is responsible for the day-to-day activities of winemaking. Some of these daily activities will include walking the vineyards, tasting each barrel to determine blending, aging and bottling, and working directly with the cellar to craft each wine with its own distinct flavor profile.
From the time Scott was 17 he knew he wanted to be a winemaker. Born and raised on a small ranch outside Salinas, California, his family has always been connected to agriculture. After one high school summer of working as a sugar sampler and mechanic for a vineyard management company in Soledad, Scott decided to combine his passion for chemistry and agriculture by pursuing a college education in enology.
Directly after graduating college, Scott began a short stint as an assistant brewmaster for Carmel Brewing Co. in Salinas, managing all aspects of brewing from grain to glass. A year later, he joined Golden State Vintners in Napa Valley as a laboratory supervisor then was promoted to cellar master and eventually assistant winemaker. Following Golden State Vintners, Scott then worked as a winemaker for La Famiglia and then Robert Mondavi Private Selection before joining Estancia in 2007.
Scott earned a Bachelor of Science degree in fermentation science from the University of California at Davis and was also awarded a Certification of Master Brewers Program. An avid outdoorsman, Scott enjoys golf, hunting and fly-fishing for Steelhead in Oregon. He currently resides in south Monterey County and is soon to be married to his fiancee, Dena.
Varietal Composition: 100% Chardonnay
Oak Aging: 6 months in American & European oak, 50% new
TA: 6.2 g/L