2016 Pali Charm Acres Chardonnay
West of the Russian River Valley, beginning at Occidental and continuing all the way north and west to Fort Ross, lies a wild and primitive land – the Sonoma Coast.
Before visiting, I did not realize how primitive it could be – much of it lies off of California’s power grid, and none of it has centralized running water. Telephone lines were never put in, and cellular reception is often blocked by the valleys.
But despite these hardships, pioneering vintners in the last 20 years choose to farm here. Why? Because it is an amazing environment for Burgundy varieties! This close to the ocean, the climate is marginal—very unlike Napa’s sunny and 72 degrees all the time. Further, the valleys of the Sonoma Coast create a fog trap, protecting Chardonnay from California’s potentially high temperatures. Finally, southeastern exposures are perfect for drainage and early ripening.
There are many several producers out on the Sonoma Coast, but this one – Pali – has to be my find of the year. Why? Because it tastes amazing and it’s a steal.
The 2016 glides through the glass with a luxurious mixture of tranquil melon fruit, hints of limestone and touches of baking spices – ginger, allspice and star anise. The palate is full-bodied and rich, a Chardonnay that while not being oaked, delivers a textural density that is simply soul-satisfying … working perfectly as a cocktail or at the dinner table. The finish builds in waves of that texture, the resulting wine delivers a powerful array of flavors to the senses – citrus zest, almond paste, sea brine and a chalky, textural body. At four years of age, it’s in the perfect moment to deliver its wealth of flavors.
And it’s a steal. The winery initially released their Pinot at $25. And I was happy selling it at that price – it’s all in the bottle.
However, they also want their wine in the hands of Chardonnay lovers. So when I met with them earlier this year, they offered me a wonderful “get to know you price.” I took it. I think you should, too. Cheers!