April 16, 2010 Leave a comment
by Henry Barrow
I met Mike Hengehold, owner of Chronicle Wines in Sonoma, for breakfast at the Viceroy Hotel in Miami for a conversation about his wines and a tasting. Early morning is a great time to taste wine because your palate is fresh and so is your attitude.
Mike is Vice President of sales for Luna Vineyards, but this is his own project. You know this classic car collector is an optimist. He’d have to be to start an a wine company during a depression.
After a “get to know each other “ period of time, Mike poured me the first wine of the morning::
2007 Chronicle Sonoma Coast Pinot Noir
By now you all know that Pinot Noir is my favorite grape and I am more critical of this grape than any other. I remind you of that, because I was seduced by this wine. First the color was true Pinot, light and shimmering. Then the nose of cherry, strawberry, some floral and spice notes led to soft, elegant, velvety flavors. There are enough tannins to give great balance and suggest that the wine wants to be served with food. I immediately thought of smoked salmon. I was wondering why Mike served me the best wine first. That thought was erased when the second wine was poured.
2007 Chronicle Cerise Vineyard Pinot Noir
When you think of Anderson Valley you think of Pinot Noir, and this beauty shows you why. After thinking the first wine I tasted would be the ultimate wine of the tasting, I was suddenly faced with absolutely the best pinot from Sonoma Coast I have ever tasted. This wine introduces itself with great Pinot color, a nose that leaps out of the glass and draws you inside. Black cherry and even some blackberry fruit embraces your senses. This is a Pinot Noir for the ages. The nose, the flavors, the underlying ripeness of the grapes, the elegance, the great balance, and the overall beauty of the wine have placed me under its spell. Alas, only 556 cases of the wine were made. Not all of us will get to taste this wine.
2006 Bacigalupi Vineyard Zinfandel
The Bacigalupi Vineyard was planted in the heart of the Russian River Valley basin in 1950 and is one of the most famous and coveted areas for old vine zinfandel grapes. With that in mind I was expecting something really good, and I got more than I expected. Here the color is what you expect from old vine grapes, deep, dark, rich looking. That leads to the nose of dark berry and cranberry and some spice. Blackberry and dark cherry fruit fill your mouth at first taste and then vanilla and spice come into play. This is what you want when you open an old vine zinfandel.
If these three wines I tasted are an indication, Chronicle will soon be listed on the Honor Roll of Sonoma Coast wines. If you can find them, get them. If you wish to learn more, the web site is www.chroniclewines.com. Check it out.