2006 Chenin Blanc
Chenin Blanc •Heller Estate
California: Carmel Valley
What we say
[Welcome to Accolades Week at The Wine Spies! All this week, we’ll be featuring wines that have won awards or high praise from judges and wine writers. We start this week off with an exceptional wine, a Chenin Blanc from Heller Estates!]
Voluntary Psych Eval
Subject: Agent Red
Status: Fit for active field duty
Report: Agent Red arrived on time for his appointment this morning. I observed that he looked visibly shaken. I invited him to get comfortable and asked him how I could help him. What follows is a transcript of our conversation, sealed and classified Omega clearance level only:
Agent Red: Doc, I’m afraid that I might be losing it. I found a white wine that I… that I actually love! There, I said it!
Doctor X: I see. Tell me more about this wine.
Red: Agent White was in the field. France, Loire Valley, I think. The Chief assigned me to review recent judging from the Monterey State Fair, you know, to look for standouts. Well, I tried a bunch of the winning wines and when I got to one particular white wine, a Chenin Blanc from Heller Estates I braced myself, expecting to be underwhelmed. Instead, I was bowled over!
X: And how did that make you feel?
Red: Confused at first. The color was a lovely light gold. I can appreciate the colors of any wine, but it was the aroma of honeydew and starfruit with grapefruit and honeysuckle that really grabbed me. These smells were so ‘right there’ and so, well, real that I could not resist taking a sip.
X: What happened then?
Red: A fruit explosion of grannysmith apple, pear, white peach and lychee made me feel all giddy. I actually giggled out loud! I have to get a grip on myself, doc. What if an active asset had seen me? My credibility could be blown.
X: Its understandable that you have these feelings, Agent. We all sometimes stray from our normal habits. This is human, its natural. In fact, its healthy to expand your horizons. Just because you are a lover of red wines does not mean that you cannot enjoy other varietals. Especially not one as good as the Heller Chenin Blanc! I’ve heard good things.
Red: Yeah. It just won the coveted Bronze Medal from the judges at the County Fair in Monterey, where the wines are made. And, the Quarterly Wine Review calls the wine a “showstopper”. Self avowed Chenin Blanc fan Eric Asimov of the New York Times calls this wine one of “the best American Chenin Blancs” and praises it for its “crisp… apple and honey flavors… and prickly minerality”. Also, Frederic Koeppel’s wine site says that the wine is, “among the loveliest and most enticing of all white wines made in California and the states best example of… Chenin Blanc”.
X: Wow, Red. That was really a mouthful! You see how exhilarated you are by this wine? Its okay to love it, Red, really.
Red: Wait, I still haven’t told you about the winery, the winemaker, the amazing people I met at the tasting room, the fact that all Heller wines are organic and sulfite free….
X: Sorry, Red. Our time is up. You’ll have to save all of that for another day. Perhaps you’ll spy us a nice Heller Estates red wine soon.
Red: As good as their wines are, you bet I will!
What the winery says
Aroma: Super-ripe honeydew melon and bright concentrated grapefruit with nice floral throughout. All sorts of citrus notes along with hints of juicy guava and subtle peach.
Palate: Luscious mouthfeel. The perfect combination of bright, lively acid and smooth, long residual sweetness makes the mouth of this Chenin shine. Look for flavors of lychee, citrus, ripe pear and green apple.
Comments: 2006 was a difficult and unpredictable growing season but it yielded some incredible grapes– despite its problems. A prolonged winter and cold spring set bud-break and all other yearly markers for our growing season off by approximately four weeks. By July when we usually start to see veraison in our chardonnay and pinot we were still green and tart. A highly unusually heat spike for two consecutive days and multiple days of over 110 F caused some alarm but in the end, overall, we were very pleased with our outcome.