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Brian Talley, Vintner
April 12, 2013 | Brian Talley, Vintner

When Should I Drink That?

One of the most common questions I get is “when should I drink that?”  We had a tasting a few days ago to help answer that question.  I sat down with Winemaker Eric Johnson, Vineyard Manager Travis Monk and Cellar Workers Nicole Morris and Pat Sigler for a tasting of 2005-2011 Estate Chardonnay and Pinot Noir—the two signature wines of Talley Vineyards.

We have produced both wines since our very first vintage, in 1986, and these wines are a real barometer of the season.  Both are blends from our various vineyard blocks in the Arroyo Grande Valley—historically Rincon and Rosemary’s Vineyards, but soon to incorporate newer plantings in our Monte Sereno and Las Ventanas Vineyards.

We started with the chardonnays.  I found the 2005 and 2006 wines to be just a bit past their prime.  Both were pleasurable and would be wonderful with rich dishes like grilled chicken, lobster or a triple crème cheese, but they lacked a bit of freshness.  The 2007-2010 wines were all in a sweet spot, displaying the lemon curd and mineral notes that make our chardonnays so distinctive.  The 2008 especially had an elegant mineral aspect, and was my favorite of the flight.  The consensus favorite was the 2010.  Everyone loved the potential of the 2011, but felt that it was young relative to the others in the flight.  My take home message for Estate Chardonnay, drink 3-6 years after the vintage.

Next we turned our attention to the pinot noirs.  As is typical of pinot noir, these wines were more variable by vintage, and tended to evolve more in the glass as they sat open.  For instance, many of us loved the delicate floral aroma and hints of leather in the 2005, but felt it faded with air.  On the other hand, the 2006 was a leaner and more elegant wine that became more expressive as it sat in the glass.  The 2007 and 2009 were riper vintages, emphasizing more black fruit, tannin and power—which some in the group loved and others didn’t.  The 2010 had a beautiful floral aspect and penetrating raspberry elegance.  The 2011 built on the character of the 2010, but with more richness.  Feelings about these wines were all over the place—which is typical of pinot noir, and why it’s such a fickle grape to work with.  All of these are fun to drink now.  Cheers!


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