Fess Parker Winery
2006 Ashley's Vineyard Chardonnay
Chardonnay •Ashley's Vineyard
California: Santa Barbara County: Sta. Rita Hills
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Mission Codename: Western Influence
Operative: Agent White
Objective: Acquire a superb Chardonnay from Santa Barbara County
Mission Status: Accomplished!
Current Winery: Fess Parker Winery
Wine Subject: 2006 Ashley’s Vineyard Chardonnay
Winemaker: Blair Fox
The Sta. Rita Hills AVA, located within Santa Barbara County and almost entirely in the Santa Ynez Valley was established in 2001 and is considered one of California’s best regions for growing the Burgundian varietals of Pinot Noir and Chardonnay due to its cooler climate. The AVA’s weather is heavily influenced by cool coastal breezes and persistent Pacific fog. Just less than 200 acres in the AVA are under vine. Interestingly, the name of the appellation was changed from Santa Rita Hills to Sta. Rita Hills so as to not conflict with Chilean powerhouse winery Vina Santa Rita.
Wine Spies Tasting Profile:
Look – Light straw-yellow with gold and slight orange-honey hues through the clear core. Slow thin legs cluster and fall gracefully along the edge of the glass when swirled.
Smell – Fragrant aromas of lemony citrus, pineapple and other tropical fruit balanced over a sweet hint of baking spice and vanilla. A toast of toasted oak and sweet kettle corn round out the fresh redolent nose of this wine.
Feel – Medium bodied and dry, the initial attack is cool with bright acidity and a touch of spice that is balanced over a rich, slightly weighty creaminess that hits mid palate and lingers through to the finish.
Taste – Classic flavors of rich, sweet and tart citrusy lemon meringue; tropical pineapple and tart Anjou pear are well integrated with a touch of vanilla and sweet baking spice and hints of toasted oak.
Finish – Clean, balanced and lingering tropical fruit, sweet vanilla and spice and a touch of oak that fades effortlessly and invites another sip.
Conclusion – The 2006 Fess Parker Winery Ashley’s Vineyard Chardonnay is a lovely and extremely well balanced Chardonnay. Not overly oaked – nor a butterball – This wine has the slight aroma of sweet kettle corn that contrasts with with the bright tropical fruit and the sweet vanilla and baking spice over the hints of oak makes this wine both complex and elegant. Perfect for food pairing or enjoying all by itself. An excellent example of a California Chard that can rival its Burgundian brethren.
When I was a little Agent, my father took me on a journey through my family history. It was rife with intrigue, unsavory characters, artists, criminals, tales of fortunes won and lost – and even actual spies, and even an honest-to-god (only) horse thief.
My fathers father, a gentleman professor of romance languages and a student of history, had traced our roots back many generations. The generations which fascinated me the most were those that occupied early American history. The distant relative that held the most fascination was Daniel Boone.
American Folk Hero, explorer, businessman, military man and woodsman, it was Boones role in extending American civilization and his moniker, “the Columbus of the woods”, that interested me most about the man. Or at least the popularized versions of the man. I became an avid student of the Disney series, Daniel Boone, and even took to wearing a coonskin cap. Granted, I was 6 years old.
Many years hence I became a Wine Spy, blazing trails of my own with Wine Spies co-founder, Agent Red. Red suggested that we were pioneers and that comment triggered memories of long-ago relative, Daniel Boone. A few days later, I rented the Disney series and, as I was watching the credits, spotted a name familiar to me from the wine industry, Fess Parker! Fess played played Daniel Boone in the Disney series of the same name.
This revelation led me to call on the winery immediately, declaring to them excitedly that I was ‘related’ to them. When I explained myself, I was met with a somewhat quizzical chuckle. Apparently, they felt that my claim was a bit of a stretch. Imagine that!
Long story short, I made an appointment with the winery, to taste their wines – and I fell in love. Their 2006 Ashley’s Vineyard Chardonnay was particularly wonderful and, right then and there, I secured a cache for our Operatives. With fruit from the Sta. Rita Hills appellation, this wine strikes a great balance of serious, fun and sincere – just like Fess Parker himself.
As for Daniel Boone, while he was not perfect by any means, he did blaze trails and he did make important discoveries – just as I try to do with the wines that I spy for you every day, dear Operative…
Wine Spies Vineyard Check:
The location of the Fess Parker Winery in Santa Barbara’s famous Foxen Canyon can be seen in this satellite photo.
What the Winery Says
Awards & Accolades:
Recommended – USA Today
Recommended – Stephen Tanzer’s International Wine Cellar
About This Wine:
This refreshing chardonnay offers pineapple, citrus, pear, and tropical aromas with a delicate touch of lychee nut and spice. The flavors are clean with hints of citrus and apple combined with vanilla and pear. This well balanced chardonnay has good acidity and a nice creamy finish.
About The Winery:
When Fess Parker was cast in the roll of Davy Crockett in the mid-1950’s, it caused an international sensation and changed his life forever. So too did the purchase of 714 acres in the Santa Ynez Valley change the course of the Parker family’s history.
Realizing the potential of Santa Barbara County as a premium grape-growing region, Fess and his son, Eli, originally set out in 1989 to plant a small vineyard and sell fruit to local producers. But, as Fess’ daughter, Ashley explains, “ Fess is from Texas, so he can’t do anything small. “The Fess Parker Winery and Vineyard now farms almost 700 acres on four vineyards throughout Santa Barbara County.
The characters Fess portrayed, Davy Crockett and Daniel Boone, inspired generations of Americans. Throughout the late 1950’s and 1960’s Fess was at the pinnacle of a television career that has an unprecedented impact upon American popular culture. But is was Fess’ entrepreneurial spirit that prompted his leaving Hollywood to go into business for himself. The traits that Crockett and Boone embodied – integrity, resourcefulness and good humor — carried over to Fess’ personal life and formed the foundation upon which the family business was built. First-class hospitality has always been at the core of their ventures, first as hoteliers and eventually with the opening of the winery.
Working as a family has always been a great source of pride and pleasure for the Parker family. Eli Parker began in the family business as assistant winemaker in 1989. After several years of learning the craft at the side of renowned and accomplished winemakers, Eli took the reigns as winemaker himself with the 1995 vintage. A leader of the winery since it’s inception, it was in 1996 that Eli formally assumed the title and responsibilities of President. In the early 1990’s, Ashley ran the first tastings out of the barrel room and represented the winery at trade shows. In 1998, Ashley became Eli’s partner, working on the public relations and sales and marketing teams. The presence of Fess and his wife Marcy as the founding visionaries of the winery is a vital and enduring one.
About The Winemaker:
BLAIR FOX – Head Winemaker – Graduating from UC Davis in 1999 with a combined degree in Viticulture and Enology, Blair Fox gained winemaking experience at Sunstone Winery in the Santa Ynez Valley (1999-2001), and at Haselgrove Winery – a custom-crush winery in McLaren Vale, Australia (2003).
He also traveled through France’s Rhône Valley before returning to his hometown of Santa Barbara. He then joined Fess Parker Winery & Vineyard as Associate Winemaker, overseeing the Rhône varietal wines. Fox had previously consulted in the vineyard for the winery’s 2002 harvest.
“Having focused on the winery’s estate Syrah and Rhône varietal vineyards, I’m excited to add on the responsibility for Ashley’s and Bien Nacido vineyards and control the Burgundian part of our portfolio (Pinot Noir and Chardonnay),” said Fox. “The vineyards and clonal selection here are of such high quality, and the Parkers are a great family to work for.”
Fox continues the stylistic direction set by Eli Parker when capturing the terroir of the vineyards. He aims to continue raising the bar for the award-winning Fess Parker wines, such as the 2001 Rodney’s Vineyard Syrah (91pts, Wine Advocate), 2002 Bien Nacido Vineyard Pinot Noir (93pts, Wine Spectator), and 2001 American Tradition Reserve Syrah, (92pts, Wine Advocate).
VINEYARD SOURCES: 100% FROM LOS HERMANAS
VINEYARD: (FORMERLY ASHLEY’S VINEYARD) IN STA. RITA
BARREL AGING: 10 MONTHS IN 40% NEW FRENCH OAK
ALCOHOL: 14.5% ALCOHOL BY VOLUME
PRODUCTION: 2463 CASES
BLOCKS: H, G, R, S, P, I, J
HARVEST DATE: HARVESTED COMPLETELY ON OCTOBER 25
COOPERAGE: SIRUGUE, DARGUAD & JAEGLE, DE
MURCUREY, ERMITAGE, D’AQUITAINE & CLAUDE GILLET