“I believe that the world’s greatest wines are defined by place, as opposed to winemaking manipulation.” Winemaker Eric Johnson
“Our goal in the winery is simple—to capture all of the potential of this special place. I believe that the best way to do this is with classical winemaking techniques: The wines are fermented with native yeasts, aged in French Oak barrels, and generally bottled without filtration.” Brian Talley
Talley Vineyards is located in Coastal San Luis Obispo County, one of the world’s great regions to grow Chardonnay and Pinot Noir, due to its cool marine-influenced climate and diverse soils. The resulting grapes have concentrated flavors and high levels of acidity—the building blocks of truly world-class wine. Winemaker Eric Johnson is committed to classical Burgundian methods in the cellar to produce expressive and complex wines that purely reflect their vineyard origins and the Talley family’s farming legacy.
Chardonnay is hand harvested and whole cluster pressed. The juice is only minimally settled in tank, then racked into light to medium toasted French oak barrels. The level of new oak used depends on the wine, but generally ranges between 15% and 25%. All of the wine is barrel fermented with native yeasts. Maximum fermentation temperatures are cool and range from 68°-74°F to preserve the natural fruit characteristics of the wine. As is traditional in Burgundy, all of the wine ages sur lie and undergoes malolactic fermentation to soften the natural acidity, while adding richness and complexity to the finished wine. The Estate Chardonnay is typically bottled after 9 months in barrel, while the Single Vineyard Selections spend 14-16 months in barrel.
Pinot Noir Winemaking
After hand harvest and cluster sorting, the Pinot Noir is predominantly destemmed, and berry sorted before berries gravity-flow into small open-top fermenters. Before fermentation, the must undergoes a "cold soak" of 3-5 days to extract color, aroma, and flavor. Native yeasts ferment the Pinot Noir, with the objective being a long, slow fermentation. After a cuvaison of about 12-14 days, the wine is racked, with minimal settling, into medium-heavy toasted French Oak barrels, where it ages for 15-18 months before bottling. Generally 30-35% of the barrels are new.
During their elevage, wines from individual vineyard blocks are kept separate for the first 8-10 months, before a series of blind tastings are conducted to assemble the Single Vineyard Selections. Year after year, these wines typically come from the same few blocks within each respective vineyard. The Estate Chardonnay and Pinot Noir generally incorporate all of the vineyard blocks farmed by the Talley family in the Arroyo Grande Valley. Before bottling, all barrels are tasted individually and any not meeting Winemaker Eric Johnson's strict quality standards are kept out of the final blend. The wines are then gently bottled, generally without filtration, using state-of-the art in-house bottling equipment.
Talley Vineyards wines are regarded as some of the most age-worthy Chardonnays and Pinot Noirs produced in California. Though enjoyable upon release, they will age gracefully for more than ten years after the vintage.