During the 1970s, Don Talley looked on as his family's neighbors in Santa Barbara County and the Edna Valley converted acre after acre of farmland into thriving vineyards. Convinced that the steep hills above his father's specialty vegetable plots were ideally suited to wine grapes, Don sought advice from viticultural experts from UC-Davis and Napa Valley. By 1982, a small test plot had been cleared and planted to five varieties, and in 1986 Talley Vineyards produced its first wine using a shed next to the farm's vegetable coolers as a winery. Since then, Don has given way to his son, Brian, and Talley Vineyards has become one of California's most consistently outstanding Pinot Noir and Chardonnay producers.
One can trace Talley Vineyards' success to two main factors: the family's farming expertise and the enviable location of the estate's vineyards. About 75% of the grapes in the Talleys' Estate Chardonnay come from their Rincon Vineyard, with the balance from Rosemary's Vineyard. The 87-acre Rincon Vineyard is located eight miles northeast of the Pacific Ocean and is the family's oldest vineyard, with the first plantings dating back to 1983. Many of the vines in the Rincon Vineyard grow on their own roots and are low in vigor and yield small quantities of fruit with great concentration and complexity. The vineyard's loam and calcareous clay soil is reminiscent of the vineyards of Burgundy, particularly those located in the Cote de Nuits. The shallow soil, coupled with the steepness of the hills, facilitates drainage and results in yields averaging less than three tons per acre.
A mile west of the Rincon Vineyard, Rosemary's Vineyard is located on a hillside shared by Don and Rosemary Talley's home. It's characterized by white, rocky sandstone and loam soil, with some clay in the subsoil. Like the Rincon Vineyard, Rosemary's Vineyard is steep and very well drained. And because Rosemary's Vineyard is closer to the ocean, it's slightly cooler.
Vintage after vintage, this is one of California's most remarkable Chardonnays. Barrel-fermented in a high percentage of new French cooperage, the wine was aged sur lie for 11 months before bottling. The 2005 has a beautiful nose of peach, flowers and spicy oak. Fresh pineapple and tropical fruit flavors on the palate with a great, long, mineral finish. Drink now-2010.
Suggested Food Pairing:
A Dungeness Crab Feast with all the trimmings--corn on the cob, tomato salad, and fresh mozzarella.