Wine: Savor a benchmark cabernet
- Unique environs distinguish Chalk Hill from the neighboring appellations - the cooler Russian River Valley to the west and the warmer Alexander Valley to the northeast
A great and consistent Sonoma County wine year after year is the Chalk Hill Estate Cabernet – in this case, a 2012.
Proprietor William P. Foley II says all of Chalk Hill wines are considered benchmarks among their peers.
Chalk Hill, the appellation, is one of 13 in Sonoma County a region of fine wine, remarkable beauty, and agricultural abundance.
Unique environs distinguish Chalk Hill from the neighboring appellations - the cooler Russian River Valley to the west and the warmer Alexander Valley to the northeast. Elevations in Chalk Hill are higher; soil fertility is lower.
In amazing proximity, the soils range from shallow to deep, from thin to thick, from gravel and rock to heavy clay. An old river bed caps one hill; an unusual serpentine vein ranges through another and, under topsoil, is a distinctive layer of chalk-colored volcanic ash which inspired the name of Chalk Hill, the appellation, and the estate.
Chalk Hill's location places it in a perfect location to take advantage of the benefits afforded both. The topography creates a broad spectrum of different sites which can be planted with both red and white varieties. The lower, cooler sites are perfect for Chardonnay, while the steeper, warmer, south-facing slopes are superbly suited to ripen Bordeaux varietals.
Water conservation is addressed with a precisely-controlled drip irrigation system, and mechanical tilling of the soil is minimized, as is the resulting dust and the need for fossil fuels.
The 2012 Chalk Hill Estate Cabernet is well done and flexes tannic muscle. This results in a taut mix of roasted coffee, dried herb, compact dark berry and cedary cigar box notes with a chewy finish.
This wine is on Chop239 wine list and would pair nicely with our bone in Ribeye. Enjoy and salute.
Marco Porto is owner of chop239, and is a wine connoisseur. Along with Vessy Tyler of Sale e Pepe, Laura Owen of CJ’s on the Bay, and Adamo Serravalle of Marco Prime and DaVinci’s, is a regular contributor to this column.