2014 Chileno Valley Vineyard Riesling
Fresh, bone dry Rieslings have long been one of this winemaker’s favorites (think Austria), so when Mark Pasternak offered us a small amount from his 25 year old, dry farmed Riesling vineyard in 2011 we jumped on it. The site is up on a bench above Chileno Valley, a picturesque, windswept neighborhood in northwest Marin. The Corda family planted 35 acres here in 1991 to a hodgepodge of varietals, most of which never ripened in the chilly climate. When Mark Pasternak took over the farming, everything got budded to Pinot Noir except for 4 acres that he was convinced would be perfect for the cold loving Riesling. Like most of Mark’s projects, his quality instincts were as good as his economic vision was questionable. The long, cold season down here—this fruit was actually our last harvested in 2014—gives a wine of laser brightness, complex minerality, low alcohol, and wonderful natural acidity.
Riesling is a wonderfully complex, expressive and beautifully aging varietal. As a newly bottled wine, it shows its focused fruit, steely minerality and fresh drinking acidity. With age, the classic white peach and grapefruit give way to rich apricot, lychee and earthy aromas and flavors. Either way, it’s a particularly enticing and vineyard driven wine.
The extended season this year beautifully developed the Chileno Valley fruit, without even touching its wonderful acidity. The nose is an intriguing combination of sweet floral and spicy citrus, with a backdrop of Riesling’s classic diesel aromas. With time in the glass, ripe pineapple and lime zest come on, along with a flintiness that is echoed in the mouth. Lemon oil, white grapefruit, and melon flavors are wrapped in a racy acidity that feels like the ocean breeze coming in from the Petaluma Wind Gap. The invigorating freshness of the wine instantly makes you crave oysters on the half shell, steamed clams or other simply prepared shellfish to pair with it, not mention a sunset from the hot tub. 300 cases produced.
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