2011 Stolpman Vineyards Golden Point White Wine Santa Ynez Valley
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Stolpman Vineyards and Rajat Parrt The Jackson Hole Challenge

Rajat Parr grew up humbly in Calcutta before someone figured out that the boy had been born with an unworldly sense of taste and smell. After relocating to the Bay Area, Parr quickly climbed the ranks from waiter to sommelier. Then, Michael Mina met the young Indian. Parr's olfactory gift wasn't lost on the restaurateur. Soon after that first meeting, Mina turned the cellar keys over to Parr at Michael Mina, RN74, and a half dozen other hotspots around the country.

When word got out that the Four Seasons Hotel had lured Michael Mina to Jackson Hole, the winery scramble was on. Every national salesman from Napa to Los Olivos was speed-dialing and texting Rajat. They all knew the game. While a placement on the Four Seasons wine list would be a feather in any winery's cap, the greatest prize was in the featured glass pour. In just a few weeks after the Four Seasons announcement, Parr was showered with more bottles than he could hope to taste.

Parr is famous for his pinpoint "mineral" palate, and is well known for calling out obscure bottles in blind tastings among sommelier friends. As a result, overripe, alcoholic whites would never see the light of day at Jackson Hole. That being said, Parr isn't blind to what he believed to be the makeup of the Jackson Hole audience. The featured white had to be rich and crowd-pleasing -- but it also had to satisfy Rajat's personal predilection for firm backbone and acid cut.

Rajat's story of his discovery the Stolpman Vineyards "Golden Point" is a good one. When Parr first sat down in front of hundreds of white wines, almost every selection was accompanied by winery propaganda. The sommelier paid little attention to the tech sheets and full color brochures. Instead, he dove right in, quickly smelling and tasting, eliminating dozens of wines in a half hour.

Finally, he came upon an unusual white -- a rich, honeysuckle blend of rare Roussanne and broad-shouldered Chardonnay. The bottle had been shipped unlabeled and with no supporting material. Only a yellow Post-it had been affixed to the bottle. The scribbled text read: "Sorry, couldn't resist. Had to join the foray. Sashi."

Why did Parr walk away from hundreds of sporting brand name labels more commonly found in Four Seasons restaurants? Why opt for Sashi Moorman's magical Stolpman Vineyards blend that marries luscious honeysuckle Roussanne (the same that makes for the Wine Advocate's 92-94 point "L'Avion"), with rich, broad-shouldered Chardonnay? In the end, it really was all about what Moorman -- and now Parr -- call "The Golden Point.

Gorgeous golden to the edge with beautifully delineated aromas of ripe melon, apricot pit and honeysuckle. But it's the finish of the 2011 "Golden Point" that made Parr's Jackson Hole challenge into a one horse race. The most famous sommelier in America called his Michael Mina/Four Seasons selection "bright, intense and beautifully focused," a crowd-pleaser for almost every palate, a marriage of Saint-PĂ©ray exotic nerve and coastal opulence. The rest of the field never really had a chance.

Tasting Notes

2011 Stolpman Vineyards Golden Point White Wine Santa Ynez Valley
"Brilliant gold to the rim, infused with melon/apricot aromatics, laced with bitter honey. Broad-shouldered and juicy on the attack, packed with apricot and honeysuckle. Despite all the richness provided by the extended hang time of the 2011 vintage, this plush Roussanne/Chardonnay blend is bone dry. A rare and unusual coastal white that manages to straddle the line between Old World minerality and New World opulence."
-- WineAccess Travel Log


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