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The Long and Winding Pinot Trail, Part IV

In 1977, brothers Ron and Chick Marshall purchased an existing restaurant named Mr Stox in Anaheim, California and converted it into a destination dining Mecca for foodies and wine lovers. They quickly amassed an impressive collection of wine and in 1983 received the Wine Spectator Grand Award, an award they have retained to the present time.

Comfortably married and established in my medical practice in the early 1980s, I began to take a renewed interest in wine. I attended many winemaker dinners at Mr Stox, the most memorable of these featured the wines of Domaine Romanee-Conti (DRC).

I had became interested in Chalone Pinot Noir. Chalone had developed a cult following in the 1970s and the wines were quickly snapped up by wine fanciers of the time. Owner and winemaker Richard Graff had purchased the Chalone property which was located on a wind-swept plateau in the Gavilan Mountains, a remote outpost 50 miles east of Monterey. Graff chose the site because of its volcanic soil underlain with limestone.

Graff’s winemaking was modeled after Burgundy and his Pinot Noirs reminded me of the DRC wines I had tasted at Mr Stox. The Chalone Pinot Noirs were fermented with stems giving them structure. They were aged 18-24 months in the same French oak barrels that were used at DRC. The barrels were kept in caves that were cool and dark. Later, the wines were put into special bottles made in France from a special Burgundy mold.

I was particularly fond of the Reserve Pinot Noirs first produced in 1978. They were focused, tightly-knit, and well-balanced with many layers that revealed themselves slowly with each sniff and sip. The Reserve Pinot Noirs were produced only from old vines on the property and were sold only to shareholders. So, naturally, I became a Chalone shareholder in order to acquire the wines.

In the mid 1980s, another winemaker was making a name for himself - Gary Farrell. To be continued… ..

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