2004 Bishop's Peak Chardonnay Edna Valley

Bishop's Peak Chardonnay Edna Valley The Talleys have been making some of California's most exciting and sought-after Chardonnay and Pinot Noir for a couple of generations. By the time Don Talley passed the torch to his son, Brian, Talley Vineyards' wines were so prized that there was a huge wait list just to get on the winery's mailing list.

In the late 1990s, Brian Talley figured out a way to release more wine--and please a few more wine lovers--without sacrificing quality. For years, he and his father had been sharing viticultural expertise with their neighbors, often independent producers who, as Brian describes it, "shared the same passion about farming and soil as we did." Brian realized that, by choosing and making wine from his neighbors' best grapes, he could release more wine under a new label: Bishop's Peak. Since great wine is always Brian's bottom line, annual production would remain small, but he'd nevertheless be able to increase the number of bottles he released.

Bishop's Peak came on line in 1997 and has since become one of the best "poorly kept secrets" among industry insiders (and those on the Talley wait list). The label takes is name from the ancient volcano that towers above the city of San Luis Obispo. As the tallest of a series of volcanic peaks (the "Seven Sisters"), it is one of the most important landmarks in San Luis Obispo County. One of Brian's stated goals with this label was to make wines that reflect the character of San Luis Obispo County's two winegrowing regions: Paso Robles to the north, and the Edna and Arroyo Grande valleys in the south.

The grapes in this vintage come from vineyards in the Edna Valley, where Burgundy varietals thrive in the cool microclimate and calcareous marine sedimentary soil.

Brian sourced most of the grapes in this wine from the Edna Ranch. Planted in 1990, Edna Ranch focuses on growing optimal grapes stylistic to its appellation. The balance of the fruit comes from Wolff Vineyards, one of Edna Valley's most historic--and innovative--Chardonnay vineyards. Like the Talleys, Jean-Pierre Wolff employs mostly organic farming techniques and avoids pesticides. To improve soil conditions, prevent erosion, and provide fertility, he plants cover crops throughout the vineyards. Jean-Pierre is equal parts farmer and scientist: one of his vineyards is a beta site for a new type of electronic soil moisture sensors, and his estate is a biodynamic research site for the Central Coast Vineyards Team as part of initiative to reduce dependency on herbicides and pesticides.

Talley made only 4,000 cases of the 2004 Edna Valley Chardonnay. It offers aromas of ripe pear, melon, and golden delicious apple, a clean, crisp Chardonnay flavor profile, and a fresh, acidic finish. Drink now-2008.

Because this wine was meant to be opened and enjoyed, Brian bottled it with an easy-open Stelvin screwcap enclosure.