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Chalone Vineyard is an historic property founded by Dick Graff who made many benchmark Chardonnays and Pinot Noirs from this remote location perched at 1,800 feet above the Salinas Valley in the Gavilan Mountain Range. Like Josh Jensen at Calera, Graff sought out a site that had limestone-based soils. His first vintage under the Chalone Vineyard label was in 1966. Today, Chalone Vineyard Estate is the oldest producing vineyard in Monterey County. The vineyard's name is from an indigenous Costanoan Native American tribe, the Chalone, or Chollen. For the full story on Chalone Vineyard, consult the book, Chalone: A Journey on the Wine Frontier, written by Gregory S. Walter and W. Phillip Woodward.
As a shareholder of Chalone Vineyard stock during the 1980s and 1990s, I enjoyed many marvelous Reserve Pinot Noirs from this source. The annual shareholder's parties were legendary.
In 1998 an extensive renovation of the vineyard was undertaken. Today there are almost 1,000 acres, of which 250 acres are planted to vines. It is the only winery in the Chalone appellation.
Robert Cook joined Chalone in 2007 as senior winemaker. He produced an estate Pinot Noir from the Chalone Vineyard as well as a second bottling sourced from other Monterey vineyards. A Heritage Pinot Noir was only sold in the tasting room. A second value priced label, Gavilan, is also available.
Foley Family Wines acquired Chalone Vineyard and appointed Michael Michaud as consulting winemaker in April 2016. He had more than 20 years of experience in the Chalone AVA and was the winemaker at Chalone Estate from 1979 to 1997 where he worked closely with founder Dick Graff. Additionally, Gianni Abate left Morgan Winery to become the associate winemaker at Chalone Vineyard.
Currently Chalone offers estate Pinot Noir, Chardonnay, Chenin Blanc, Pinot Blanc and Syrah, all of which are reasonably priced.
Call for directions if you plan to visit at 831-678-2742. Picnic area is available.
2015 Chalone Vineyard Heritage Vines Estate Grown Chalone Pinot Noir
13.8% alc., 1,500 cases, $35. Vineyard is located at 1,800 feet near the Pinnacles National Park within Monterey County. Soils are sparse and underlain with limestone. Aged in French oak barrels. · Moderately dark garnet color in the glass. Brooding aromas aromas of blackberry jam, raisin, and cola. There is some apple core aroma initially (volatile acidity) that blows off in the glass. More agreeable on the palate, with full-bodied flavors of blackberry, black current and boysenberry with a hint of flower blossom. The texture is wholesome, the tannins are modest, oak is well integrated, and the wine flows nicely. Score: 89. Reviewed February 3, 2019 ARTICLE »
2012 Chalone Vineyards Estate Grown Heritage Vines Chalone Pinot Noir
14.5% alc., 2,836 cases, $26. Vineyard is at 1800 feet elevation near the Pinnacles National Park. Reddish soil underlain with limestone. Aged in French oak barrels. · Moderately dark reddish purple color in the glass. Very ripe fruited, featuring dried plum and black cherry essence accented with vanilla, floral and apple core notes on the nose. Welcome mid palate intensity and plushness, featuring highly ripened dark stone and berry fruits with a floral and oaky thread in the background. Sappy, with balanced tannins and some finish. I expected more from heritage vines. Score: 85. Reviewed January 16, 2017 ARTICLE »
2007 Chalone Vineyard Monterey County Pinot Noir
13.5% alc., $15. · Attractive cherry and raspberry scents veering toward raisin. More redder fruited than many wines in this lineup featuring summer strawberries and raspberries with a touch of tutti-fruity and sassafras. Flavors are on the ripe side. Reviewed September 5, 2009 ARTICLE »
2006 Chalone Vineyard Estate Grown Monterey County Pinot Noir
14.7% alc., 1,065 cases, $21.50. From estate vineyards in the Gavilan Mountain Range in Monterey County (Chalone AVA). Well-drained soils rich in limestone, with limited rainfall and low crop levels. · Hi-toned mineral-inflected cherries on the nose. Deftly oaked redder fruits in the mouth with well-defined raspberry notes and a hint of raisin. Nice richness on the palate and quite satisfying. This wine is a steal considering the respected heritage of this winery. Chalone also has a Monterey County bottling (Chalone Monterey) priced at about $12, but it is not totally from estate fruit. I did not sample it. Reviewed November 17, 2008 ARTICLE »