Tuesday, April 04, 2006

The wines of Talbott Vineyards

Talbott Vineyards was the first tasting room that I visited during my 2-day trip to Carmel Valley.

The story of Talbott Vineyards begins in 1950 when Robert Talbott Sr., his wife Audrey, and his son Robb moved to Carmel, California where they started a tie company. Eventually, the Talbotts became leaders in the luxury tie business as well as increasingly passionate about wines. In 1982, Robert Talbott and his son Robb founded Robert Talbott Vineyards and started planting Chardonnay on the 24-acre Diamond T Estate vineyard near their home in Carmel Valley, 8 miles from Carmel Bay.

The Diamond T Estate vineyard is planted with tightly spaced Chardonnay vines in almost soilless conditions of shale and granite on a 1,200 foot mountaintop. Due to challenging growing conditions, crop yields are extremely small and maritime influence as well as elevation leads to an extended growing season.

In 1994, the Talbotts bought the Sleepy Hollow Vineyard in the middle of the Santa Lucia Highlands appellation, along the western edge of the Salinas Valley. This hilly, 450-acre vineyard has a gravelly loam soil with a high percentage of gravel and rocks. It is a cool growing site with a predominately east-northeast exposure. Sleepy Hollow is planted in both Pinot Noir and Chardonnay. It also contains 12 acres of newer Syrah plantings.

Talbott is a family winery with both Robb and his wife Cynthia Talbott directly involved with winery management and operations. Many of their wines are named after family members.

Tasting notes:

2004 Kali Hart Vineyard Chardonnay: named after Robb and Cynthia's youngest daughter, Kali Hart. Made from purchased grapes grown in Monterey County. 80% is aged in neutral French oak, the rest in stainless steel. Light yellow color and a fruity nose of green apples. On the palate, lively acidity and a great freshness.

2004 Logan Chardonnay: named after Robb and Cynthia's son, Robert Logan. Produced from Talbott's Sleepy Hollow Estate Vineyard, it is 85% barrel fermented and aged in neutral French oak for 10 months. Creamy nose, ripe flavors of pear and pineapple on the palate, and a fat mouthfeel.

2002 Talbott Chardonnay Sleepy Hollow Vineyard: Produced from older vines from the Sleepy Hollow Vineyard. 100% barrel fermented in French Oak and aged on the yeast lees. Smoky nose, full-bodied on the palate with stone fruit flavors, well-balanced with some nice acidity on the finish.

2002 Talbott Chardonnay Cuvée Cynthia: Same as the Talbott Chardonnay but bottled without fining nor filtration. Butterscotch and apple flavors, rounder on the palate, many more acidity on the finish.

2001 Talbott Chardonnay Diamond-T Estate: From the Diamond-T vineyard. Deep golden color. Intense nose of pineapple, creamy flavors of baked flan on the palate, long finish.

2002 Talbott Chardonnay Cuvée Audrey: named for Audrey Talbott, Robb Talbott's mother. Also from the Diamond-T vineyard but bottled without fining nor filtration. Deep golden color, intense nose of tropical fruits, has many more acidity and a longer finish.

2001 Logan Pinot Noir: From the Sleepy Hollow Vineyard. Medium-bodied and soft on the palate. Easy to drink but seems to become oxidized after some time in the glass.

2000 Case Pinot Noir: named after Robb and Cynthia's oldest daughter, Sarah Case. From the Sleepy Hollow Vineyard. Aged in French oak. Nose of vanilla and red fruit. On the palate, smoky, earthy with a lengthy finish. Very tasty.

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