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Chronicle Wines: Master Winemaker's Touch

Proprietor Mike Hengehold founded Chronicle Wines to feature small lot Pinot Noir and Zinfandel from the Sonoma and Mendocino growing regions. Hengehold sought out two noted winemakers in their respective crafts - Ted Lemon (Littorai) with Pinot Noir, and Dan Cederquist (formerly De Loach, now Balletto Vineyards and Crew Wine Company) with Zinfandel.

Ted Lemon’s training in Burgundy coupled with his passion for the concept of terroir and biodynamic farming have made him a leading producer of cool-climate Pinot Noir and Chardonnay. He believes in picking grapes that have sufficient natural acidity and brightness to pair well with all kinds of foods. He does not subscribe to the “bigger is better” school of winemaking since these wines are more for tasting than the dinner table. He is also not unnecessarily concerned with numbers such as Brix and pH as long as everything is in balance. The Pinot Noir grapes for Chronicle wines are hand sorted, de-stemmed without crushing and cold soaked. During natural yeast fermentations, a combination of punch down and pump over techniques are employed. An assortment of French coopers are used. The wines are never racked until just before bottling.

The inaugural Chronicle Pinot Noirs were released from the 2006 vintage.

2007 Chronicle Sonoma Coast Pinot Noir

13.8% alc., 492 cases, $35. Release date is February 2010. Sourced from Castaldi Vineyard (clone 777) and DeMeo Vineyard (Pommard clone). Aged 10 months in 35% new French oak. · The nose is a bit closed now but still sports delicate aromas of dark cherries, oak vanillin and a touch of good barnyard. Juicy and bright on the palate, featuring raspberry and pomegranate fruits with a little grit. Beautifully composed with supple tannins and bright acidity. A solid, well-crafted wine. Very good.

2007 Chronicle Cerise Vineyard Anderson Valley Pinot Noir

14.1% alc., 556 cases, $48. Release date is February, 2010. This 40-acre vineyard sits at between 800 and 1200 feet above the town of Boonville. Soils are thin, rocky, and quite marginal. The vines struggle to produce 2 tons per acre in the very best years. Lemon has sourced fruit from this vineyard since 2001. Clones are Wädenswil and Pommard. Aged 16 months in 50% new French oak. · Alluring scents of spiced plums, blackberry jam, sugared apples, and echoes of oak. Very tasty and charming dark cherry and berry melange with a hint of cola. Very smoothly textured with gossamer dry tannins and a good tang on the finish. More elegant and less tannic than the usual Pinot Noir from Cerise. Tasted fine the next day from a previously opened and re-corked bottle indicating age ability. This wine strikes your heart.

2006 Chronicle Old Vines Russian River Valley Zinfandel

14.7% alc., 448 cases, $28. · Aromas of dark red fruits, raisins and oak plank. Plenty of tannin overwhelms the pleasing core of plum and black current fruits. Very dry from the start to the finish. Decent.

2006 Chronicle Sonoma Coast Pinot Noir

14.3% alc., 495 cases, $35. An appellation blend of fruit from McDougall Ranch (52%), located in the true Sonoma Coast northwest of the town of Cazadero, and DeMeo Vineyard (36%) and Castaldi Vineyard (13%), both of which are farther south and more inland in the Olivet Road area of the Russian River Valley. Aged in 33% new French oak for 10 months. Unfined and unfiltered. · Deep reddish-purple color in the glass. The fruit aromas are very ripe, featuring raisins and prunes. The flavors follow in step with a bold core of black cherries and blackberries, notes of root beer and marzipan, and a sweet cherry lift on the finish. Silky textured with supple tannins. For fans of a ripe style. Decent.

2006 Chronicle Bacigalupi Vineyard Russian River Valley Zinfandel

14.5% alc., 165 cases, $36. · Lovely nose of fresh black cherries and berries with hints of pepper and oak char. Plenty of sweet fruit with herbal oak in the background. Very smooth and suave with generous fine-grained tannins and a tangy lift to the finish. Lighter in weight than the Old Vines bottling and more appealing to me. Ageworthy. Very good.

2006 Chronicle Cerise Vineyard Anderson Valley Pinot Noir

14.3% alc., 240 cases, $48. Aged 17 months in 50% new French oak. Lightly fined, unfiltered. · Black fruits with noticeable oak char in the nose and flavors. Opulent cherry and berry flavors with flamboyant tannins typical of this vineyard. Still chunky and awkward and lacks upfront charm. Check back in several years. Decent.

Chronicle wines are sold primarily through a mailing list at www.chroniclewines.com with limited wine seller distribution. Tasting is available by appointment: contact Becky McIver at 707-637-7461.

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