Here at Vinography I like to explore a broad range of wines available in California and around the world, and it's particularly interesting to compare some. In the last couple of weeks I introduced you to Jim Neal, a struggling, passionate young winemaker who started his career as a chef in wine country, and has now moved out of the kitchen and into the cellar.
Today, I'd like to bring you a wine from someone similar in spirit but very different in circumstance. While Michael Chiarello may have struggled in his beginnings as a chef, the point at which he decided to enter the wine business was marked less by struggle and more by star power. Chiarello, if you haven't heard of him, is a prominent celebrity chef who opened the much admired restaurant Tra Vigne in the Napa valley, and who manages to author cookbooks and star in TV shows in his spare time.
Another of his hobbies is gardening, and it was during some landscaping on a newly bought piece of property that he discovered the old gnarled stumps of Zinfandel vines literally in his back yard. Nursing these 90 year old vines back to health, Michael began yet another career as a winery owner of Chiarello Family Vineyards. With the help of the young, talented winemaker Thomas Brown (formerly of Turley Wine Cellars, now of Outpost, among others) Michael began to produce small bottlings of Zinfandel and Petite Sirah, and when I say small, I mean small -- some of them don't break the 100 case mark.
Currently his offerings also include this Cabernet which comes from a single estate vineyard in St. Helena. This wine spent 20 months in 100% new French oak and 267 cases were produced. The combination of Michael's orientation towards food friendly wines, and Thomas' style of rich but not overbearing wines has resulted in a wine that despite not having humble beginnings, has all the quality and spirit you'd expect from a small family producer.
Dark purple in the glass this wine has a great nose of cherry, blackberry, and blackcurrant fruit aromas. On the palate it is smooth and silky, with predominantly cherry fruit flavors, mellow tannins, and a hint of incense and spicebox that creeps in as the wine finishes.
The bold fruit of this wine will sumptuously accent flavors that are more earthy. Try pouring it with this wild mushroom crostini.
Overall Score: 9/9.5
How Much?: $45
There is a little more wine available at the vineyard. You can purchase directly from their Web site.
A wine book like no other. Photographs, essays, and wine recommendations. Learn more.
What's Holding Wine Back in America Vinography Images: From the Fog The World's First Wine Bar Vinography Unboxed: Week of May 31, 2015 Vinography Images: Sky Drama Secrets of the World's Best Wine Lists Vinography Unboxed: Week of May 24, 2015 Vinography Images: The Happy Canyon Drinking Time Itself: The Champagnes of Anselme Selosse The Great Prosecco Crisis of 2015
Wine Will Never Smell the Same Again: Luca Turin and the Science of Scent Forlorn Hope: The Remarkable Wines of Matthew Rorick Debating Robert Parker At His Invitation Passopisciaro Winery, Etna, Sicily: Current Releases Should We Care What Winemakers Say? The Sweet Taste of Freedom: Austria's Ruster Ausbruch Wines 2009 Burgundy Vintage According to Domaine de la Romanée-Conti Charles Banks: The New Man Behind Mayacamas Wine from the Caldera: The Incredible Viticulture of Santorini Why Community Tasting Notes Sites Will Fail Chateau Rayas and the 2012 Vintage of Chateauneuf-du-Pape A Life Indomitable: The Wines of Casal Santa Maria, Portugal Bay Area Bordeaux: Tasting Santa Cruz Mountain Cabernets Forgotten Jewels: Reviving Chile's Old Vine Carignane The First-Timer's Guide to Les Trois Glorieuses of Hospices de Beaune