Chronicle Wines: Master Winemaker's Touch
Proprietor Mike Hengehold founded Chronicle Wines to feature small lot Pinot Noir and Zinfandel from the
Sonoma and Mendocino growing regions. Hengehold sought out two noted winemakers in their respective
crafts - Ted Lemon (Littorai) with Pinot Noir, and Dan Cederquist (formerly De Loach, now Balletto Vineyards
and Crew Wine Company) with Zinfandel.
Ted Lemon’s training in Burgundy coupled with his passion for the concept of terroir and biodynamic farming
have made him a leading producer of cool-climate Pinot Noir and Chardonnay. He believes in picking grapes
that have sufficient natural acidity and brightness to pair well with all kinds of foods. He does not subscribe to
the “bigger is better” school of winemaking since these wines are more for tasting than the dinner table. He is
also not unnecessarily concerned with numbers such as Brix and pH as long as everything is in balance. The
Pinot Noir grapes for Chronicle wines are hand sorted, de-stemmed without crushing and cold soaked. During
natural yeast fermentations, a combination of punch down and pump over techniques are employed. An
assortment of French coopers are used. The wines are never racked until just before bottling.
The inaugural Chronicle Pinot Noirs were released from the 2006 vintage.
2007 Chronicle Sonoma Coast Pinot Noir
13.8% alc., 492 cases, $35. Release date is February 2010.
Sourced from Castaldi Vineyard (clone 777) and DeMeo Vineyard (Pommard clone). Aged 10 months in 35%
new French oak.
The nose is a bit closed now but still sports delicate aromas of dark cherries, oak vanillin and
a touch of good barnyard. Juicy and bright on the palate, featuring raspberry and pomegranate fruits with a
little grit. Beautifully composed with supple tannins and bright acidity. A solid, well-crafted wine. Very good.
2007 Chronicle Cerise Vineyard Anderson Valley Pinot Noir
alc., 556 cases, $48. Release date is February, 2010. This 40-acre
vineyard sits at between 800 and 1200 feet above the town of
Boonville. Soils are thin, rocky, and quite marginal. The vines struggle
to produce 2 tons per acre in the very best years. Lemon has sourced
fruit from this vineyard since 2001. Clones are Wädenswil and
Pommard. Aged 16 months in 50% new French oak.
Alluring scents of
spiced plums, blackberry jam, sugared apples, and echoes of oak. Very tasty
and charming dark cherry and berry melange with a hint of cola. Very smoothly
textured with gossamer dry tannins and a good tang on the finish. More elegant
and less tannic than the usual Pinot Noir from Cerise. Tasted fine the next day
from a previously opened and re-corked bottle indicating age ability. This wine strikes your heart.
2006 Chronicle Sonoma Coast Pinot Noir
14.3% alc., 495 cases, $35. An
appellation blend of fruit from McDougall Ranch (52%), located in the true
Sonoma Coast northwest of the town of Cazadero, and DeMeo Vineyard (36%)
and Castaldi Vineyard (13%), both of which are farther south and more inland in
the Olivet Road area of the Russian River Valley. Aged in 33% new French oak
for 10 months. Unfined and unfiltered.
Deep reddish-purple color in the glass.
The fruit aromas are very ripe, featuring raisins and prunes. The flavors follow in
step with a bold core of black cherries and blackberries, notes of root beer and
marzipan, and a sweet cherry lift on the finish. Silky textured with supple tannins.
For fans of a ripe style. Decent.
2006 Chronicle Bacigalupi Vineyard Russian River Valley Zinfandel
alc., 165 cases, $36.
Lovely nose of fresh black cherries and berries with hints
of pepper and oak char. Plenty of sweet fruit with herbal oak in the background.
Very smooth and suave with generous fine-grained tannins and a tangy lift to the
finish. Lighter in weight than the Old Vines bottling and more appealing to me.
Ageworthy. Very good.
2006 Chronicle Cerise Vineyard Anderson Valley Pinot Noir
14.3% alc., 240 cases, $48. Aged 17 months
in 50% new French oak. Lightly fined, unfiltered.
Black fruits with noticeable oak char in the nose and flavors.
Opulent cherry and berry flavors with flamboyant tannins typical of this vineyard. Still chunky and awkward and
lacks upfront charm. Check back in several years. Decent.
Chronicle wines are sold primarily through a mailing list at www.chroniclewines.com with limited wine seller
distribution. Tasting is available by appointment: contact Becky McIver at 707-637-7461.