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Thursday, July 18, 2013

40 is the New 40: Happy Birthday, Chamisal Vineyards

I admit I’m older than Chamisal. Ok, so big deal. I actually look younger than their vineyards with their calcareous and rocky, dry soil. One of the first vineyards to be planted in the Edna Valley of San Luis Obispo County way back in 1973 to Chardonnay, the property has seen some changes. Chamisal came to prominence when Terry Speizer bought it and started kicking out some killer Pinot Noir, but he renamed it Domaine Alfred…let’s be honest, that’s a lame name. 
Terry was not, shall we say, user friendly however and though he made terrific wines, his social skills were as stiff as an old cork. But to the rescue came the Crimson Wine Group (who I like and respect) a private investor group who bought it from Terry and named it back to it’s original name from the 70s, Chamisal: a much cleaner and poetic name. 

Winemaker Fin addressing the crowd & a strategically placed wine glass for effect.
Crimson Wine Group, who know a good thing, doesn’t futz with what works so they are pretty hands-off of the day to day operation: their goal is to produce exceptional wines (they also own Pine Ridge in Napa and Archery Summit in Oregon). For their big B-Day party winemaker Fintan du Fresne, a very nice chap from New Zealand, made a special 40th Anniversary Chardonnay from the very first vines planted in ‘73. It’s a terrific wine using native yeasts which, alas probably won’t be made again as the vines are getting old. They were pouring quite a few wines that night and the 1999 Califa Pinot Noir was showing beautifully with subtle restrained fruit, as Pinot is supposed to be. See, this is why you attend events like this – you get cool stuff. Known for Pinot Noir and Chardonnay, the wines here are uniformly solid and dependable and if you’re in the area I strongly suggest you stop here. 
A happy crowd attended the 40th as the sun caused us to drink more Chardonnay

There is also Grenache and Syrah and frankly the region as a whole makes decent wines, but so what? You can find good wine everywhere. What you want to excellent wine and Chamisal fits that bill. So happy birthday, Chamisal, I enjoyed the big dinner party and the wines…it was a reminder that age can produce things of beauty. For more Chamisal info read my post from my Central Coast travel blog here:  

And Visit Chamisal Here: CHAMISAL VINEYARDS

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