Saturday, January 2, 2010

Many faces of Adelaida Cellars

Winemaker Terry Culton came to Adelaida Cellars in west Paso Robles in 2002, and since then he has crafted wines of excellence and many faces. I don’t know what the secret is, but as always I guess it is to be found in the vineyard. The strange thing here, however, is that Chardonnay, Viognier, Pinot Noir, Syrah, Cabernet Sauvignon and even Nebbiolo, grows in a series of adjacent vineyard blocks (57 hectares in total) in the same small valley, although on various altitudes. Although travelling all over the world, up to date to over a thousand of wineries on all continents, I’ve never before came across a vineyard like this. And it seems to work!

2008 Chardonnay HMR Vineyard / 87 p
Only 300 cases were made of this quite elegant chardonnay, fermented in neutral French oak with partial malolactic fermentation. It’s for sure a cool climate chardonnay, with a crisp acidity and delightful lemony fruit. The oak gives more texture that taste of flavor, and there also some steely notes that I guess derives from the mineral rich soil. It’s a very elegant wine with a greater relationship with fine burgundies than the regular Californian chardonnays, but the aftertaste i unfortunately quite short, which of course is a bit sad. Drink it over the next 3-4 years.

2006 Pinot Noir HMR Vineyard / 88 p
The grapes for this wine comes from one of the oldest vineyards with Pinot Noir in California, they were planted 1964 and 1965. Production is traditional, open top fermenters with manual pigeage and malolactic fermentation in small French oak barrels, of which only 25 per cent are new. This is a lovely pinot, at least for those who look for a more refined wine with a dry and classic structure, and although it is more complex than fruit driven, it is loaded with sour cherries. As the other wines from Adelaida, the finish is a little bit dry. Drink it 2010-2016.

2007 Zinfandel Michael Estate Vineyard / 90 p
This is a pure Zinfandel from old head pruned vines, and to select the very best and fully ripe berries, the grapes are harvested in several tries. The upbringing took place in neutral French oak barrels for almost two years, and neither the oak nor the 15.9% alcohol is very important in the wines flavor profile (there’s only a slight warming sensation in the aftertaste). Instead there are loads of pure, dark and aromatic fruit flavors and the tannins are relatively silky. It’s a very good zinfandel indeed. Drink it 2010-2015.

2006 Syrah Reserve Viking Vineyard / 92 p
This is one of the most impressive wines of Adelaida Cellars. It comes from a very low yielding quite steep slope, and the juice is fermented in small open top fermenters with daily pigeage and then the wines has been stored in French oak barrels (a third new) for almost two years. This is a dark, quite rich and spicy beauty, with hints of black pepper, licorice, violets and black currants, but it’s not as charming on the palate as on the nose – it is way too structured for that. But with some air, it opens up and reveals a lovely combination of backbone and upfront fruit. For a even more complex wine experience, keep this wine another year or two. Drink it 2011-2021.

2006 Cabernet Sauvignon Reserve Viking Vineyard / 91 p
This top notch wine of Adelaida Cellars it beautiful, and shows that Cabernet Sauvignon can stand on its own here I west Paso Robles, a wine region well known for its blends. Fermentation took place in open top fermenters, and the wine has then been stored in French oak barrels, only 40 per cent new, over two years. I like this wine for it absolute elegance, the pure and intense cassis flavors it offers, the notes of mineral and the very well integrated and polished structure. Still it is very young, but not closed, it just need some more years to really show its true complexity. Drink it 2010-2021.

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