2006 Chula Viña Chardonnay
Chardonnay •Chula Viña Vineyard
California: Monterey County
What We Say
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Mission Codename: Show me the Chula!
Operative: Agent White
Objective: Visit Cima Collina and acquire their Chula Viña Chardonnay
Mission Status: Accomplished!
Current Winery: Cima Collina
Wine Subject: 2006 Chula Viña Vineyard Monterey Chardonnay
Winemaker: Annette Hoff
The first grapes where planed in the Monterey area back in the 1830s by the missionaries. Monterey County’s Salinas Valley is a unique micro-climate that is ideally suited to the cultivation of Burgundian varietals which is why so many exceptional Pinot Noir and Chardonnay are produced there. The unique climate dominated by the marine fog that penetrates the valley keeps the vines cooler while its orientation protects it from stronger coastal winds that may negatively impact vine growth. After tasting this wine, we are sure you’ll agree that Monterey wines are simply delicious.
Wine Spies Tasting Profile:
Look – This wine is golden yellow with amber hues and excellent clarity (wine was stored and tasted at above 54 degrees so we did not experience any cloudiness caused as a result of the lack of cold stabilization). When swirled, this wine shows a slightly viscous quality with slow widely spaced tears.
Smell – Youthful and bright with aromas of fresh apple, pineapple and green melon. Just underneath the fruit is a touch of yeasty biscuit and just a hint of butter and oak.
Feel – Smooth, dry and creamy. Initially round, then the citrus and tropical zing hits at mid palate adding good acidity to this wine.
Taste – Flavors of tart apples and tropical fruit with hints of spice, citrus zest and a touch of nuttiness that are not overpowered by its subtle oak and butter components.
Finish – This wine finishes long and with lingering flavors of its citrus and tropical zest making this wine very refreshing.
Conclusion – Like all of Cima Collina’s wines, this Chardonnay shows a certain elegance, mainly from its minimalist handing. Both crisp and refreshing, but with good structure and a creaminess that adds to the body, this wine can be easily enjoyed with richest triple-cream cheeses and fruit or simply by itself on the last lingering days of summer.
Now that Cima Collina is a fully vetted winery, The Wine Spies are privy to their wines. When intel reports began flooding in about today’s wine, we only needed to ask Cima Collina for a private tasting.
To see how our relationship with Cima Collina began, what follows is our original mission report:
For more than a month, Agent Red had tried and failed to bring us a Cima Collina wine. Wine Spies HQ gave him one final chance to land this exceptional Monterey County wines from fabled lady winemaker Annette Hoff. Read the mission report below to see how he finally managed to snare this great wine!
Not every mission goes as smoothly as I would like them to. While this particular mission did not go horribly awry, it did take me an awfully long time to complete.
I first learned of Cima Collina wines from an Asset of mine, a private informant that has alerted me to more than a few great Monterey-area wines. This Asset, we’ll call him ‘_Monte_’, sent me an alert on my SpyComm device and told me to rush to try what he called Cima Collina’s ‘perfect pinot’. Included in the alert was all of the intel he had gathered on the wine, the winemaker, the vineyard and the winery. Everything sounded impressive and I trusted Monte’s judgment, so I headed to their tasting room in the village of Carmel-by-the-sea, a few miles south of Monterey.
While I pride myself on a good sense of direction, Carmel initially proved a difficult place for me. The town uses no street addresses! Instead, people navigate their way around by heading to ‘addresses’ such as: “_The West side of San Carlos, between Ocean and 7th, in the Paseo Courtyard, behind Kocek Jewelers_”, which happens to be the Cima Collina tasting room. Well, after a few mis-turns, I finally found the tasting room, which also houses a lovely gallery where the works of local artist are on display. On tasting the wine, I was immediately impressed and knew that I should procure an allotment for our Operatives. I got the business card of the manager of the winery, and was on my way.
Rather than place the winery under further surveillance, I decided to take a more direct approach and simply ask for the wine. Sounds simple, right? Well, after extended rounds of phone-tag, I decided to visit Cima Collina at a then-upcoming tasting event in downtown Monterey. There were many wineries at this particular event and when I found the Cima Collina table, it was mobbed. After fighting my way to the front, I introduced myself to the Winemaker and explained my plight. She was sympathetic and told me to keep trying. She explained that her wines were very popular and that they had been inundated with purchase requests. So, I kept trying. And kept missing. Then at another wine event, I met the hard-to-pin-down manager himself. Because he was so busy at the event, he asked me to keep trying him.
More of the same ensued and then, finally, just yesterday we actually spoke on the phone – and we simply and jovially arranged to secure some of this fabulous Pinot Noir for our Operatives. Busy wineries don’t get that way without a reason. A busy winery is usually a sign that something special is going on. In the case of Cima Collina, it was all about their fantastic wines, and this one is my favorites!
Wine Spies Vineyard Check:
The location of the Salinas Valley region can be seen in this satellite photo.
What the Winery Says
About This Wine:
Our Chula Viña Chardonnay delivers rich, dense flavors of ripe apple, melon and grapefruit. Notes of hazelnut and cedar round out the wine. The firm acidity of this Chardonnay creates a structure that gives it a refreshing profile. In our desire to maintain the wine’s authenticity we did not cold stabilize the wine, a process that can strip out flavors and nuance. As a result, the wine will have a slightly cloudy quality that will emerge with extended refrigeration time or when it is chilled below 45°. This has no effect on the flavors or aromas.
Our 2006 Chula Viña Vineyard Chardonnay reflects my belief that very carefully placed and well-tended vineyards will be the instrument that catapults Monterey wines to international status. By 2005 it was clear that Monterey winemaking was entering a renaissance. Our hope is that this wine furthers the artisan approach that is emerging in this unique region.
The Chula Viña Vineyard is located on a protected bench in the eastern hills overlooking the Salinas Valley. While the cooling fog keeps Chula Viña from ripening too quickly, its protected location assures the strong ocean-influenced winds do not stunt the vines progress. In combination with the warm afternoon sun, these factors provide a setting for the growth of stunning fruit.
The wine was aged in barrel and sur-lies for 10 months. The wine was produced and bottled without any fining or filtering and was not cold stabilized. This minimalist approach keeps the wine in its natural state, allowing the fruit flavors to shine through in their original state along with its complexity and delicacy.
About Cima Collina
Cima Collina produces artisan wines from small Monterey vineyards. The idea of an “artisan wine” is the partnership with growers who meticulously cultivate vineyards, the insistence on using only carefully chosen fruit, and the creation of wine on a barrel-by-barrel basis.
The focus on Monterey vineyards is an acknowledgement that this region is now and will continue to produce wines that are interesting, compelling and unique. Many factors conspire to make this a truly gifted region for growing grapes, from the cool maritime climate, well-drained soils and the energy of our winemaking colleagues a dynamic renaissance is currently underway in our region.
We invite you try the wines of Cima Collina as well as the other wines of the Monterey Wine Country we are confident will meet your highest expectations.
Annette began her winemaking career in Napa Valley under Winemaker Bill Dyer at Sterling Vineyards. In 1994 Hoff was chosen to oversee the winery’s in-house, yet self-running experimental winery. She move south in 1996 to Carneros and Saintsbury Vineyards where she took the enology position and confirmed what she’d always known: Pinot Noir was her first love.
Her fondness for Pinot drove her west, far west, in 1998 when she went to New Zealand to undertake a study of that country’s approach to Pinot Noir production working at various wineries in a freelance fashion. But it was only a few months when Estancia called and asked Annette to become the winery’s Pinot Noir Winemaker in Monterey. So, she headed west, back to the states, where she discovered a region she became convinced could be Pinot Noir and winemaking heaven. In 2004 Richard Lumpkin went looking for a winemaker as passionate about the Monterey wine region as he had become. He found Annette and asked her to manage Cima Collina and make the wines. It was the chance to apply her knowledge of winemaking and enthusiasm for artisan wine from the ground up. Annette released her first Cima Collina wines in 2005.