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The Story

There’s several cult cabernets in California, also some cult syrah wines (notably those from Sine-Qua-Non - I'll get back to those!), and a few of Pinot Noir. When it comes to whites, there’s still only one producer with some kind of cult stature – Marcassin. Helen Turley, the woman behind the winery, came to California in 1977 and started her career in the laboratory of Mondavi Winery. Later, she made wines at Chappellet on Pritchard Hill, at B R Cohn and then at Peter Michael Winery. She became a superstar winemaker of Sonoma and then Napa Valley with many highly acclaimed wineries in her consultant business. She was loved, she was feared, and her wines was awarded with top Parker scores. 


In 1991, she planted a 3.45 hectare vineyard in the cool true Sonoma Coast, Marcassin Vineyard, and begun to make great chardonnays, and pinots. Today, the wines are extremely hard to get, sold only through the mailing list. You'll also find them on the second hand market, but there they are very expensive.
The chardonnays are all made in the same way, whole bunch pressed, very slowly fermented with the indigenous yeast in 100 percent new French oak barrels, and always with full malolactic fermentation. The wine style is somewhat extreme, especially when taste young. Helen Turley says the wines need some years of bottle age, sometimes even 10 years – and although I normally don’t think California whites are able to age very well, I do agree with here on these wines. Give them 5-7 years from vintage, and don’t serve them to cold, 12-14 degrees is great. Like the wines from Kistler, these wines benefit from decanting.


Vintage 2002

The 2002 California vintage will be remembered as a long, mostly mild growing season, followed by warm weather near the end of September that pushed the ripening level upward, concentrated fruit flavors and condensed the harvest. An early April frost and May rains gave way to a mild summer with ideal growing conditions—warm days and cool, even cold, nights. Overall, the grape crop was balanced, showing excellent intense colors and flavor concentrations. While per-acre tonnage was generally lower than average, the overall yield of the entire Napa Valley appellation was average to above average.


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Written Notes

Color is pale cherry red with some yellowish nuances of maturity. Of the four this is the most elegant, also the lightest although it still offers a good depth, but not as open as the others. At almost ten years of age, there's still a lot of primary red fruit aromas, and really no signs of maturation, and it's quite complex.
On the palate it's almost medium bodied, very elegant and fresh with a fine and almost silky tannic structure, still it's a bit closed as the finish, which is totally dry and fresh, is not as long and open as in the others. The alcohol is a bit warm, unfortunately, and that's the main reason for not mistaking this wine from coming from Burgundy.
I would serve this at around 15 degrees Celsius, normally in a Burgundy shapes glass, but if you feel the alcohol warmth, you may well pour it in a Bordeaux shaped glass, that would help a bit.

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Sonoma, California
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