The Block wine program at ABC is on fire, and the selection of these vineyard block estate wines has never been deeper or better! We blog, tweet and post Block wines in one form or another every month it seems–I hope you find this blog refreshing. We taste plenty of wine samples sent to us for consideration for the Block program that just don’t make the cut. The selection process is interesting, as we have 7-9 palates giving feedback on the juice–just imagine what happens when you put that many cork dorks in a room together! Fortunately, we are all professionals, and we realize that we can put our personal taste aside and decide pretty consistently if a wine is a value and represents well, even if it’s not something we would drink regularly. What I’m saying is we taste from our guests’ perspective, not necessarily our own.
So when a wine is presented and it fits my perspective, I am usually very excited about getting it into stores. This happened last spring, while meeting a few of the staff of Foley Wine Group, who had recently purchased one of my favorite California wineries, Chalone. Chalone is a winery ideally situated at an elevation near Soledad on the Gavilan benchland and Pinnacles National Park. Originally planted in the 1890s, the property was purchased by Richard Graff in 1964. His dream was to produce Burgundian style wine with California fruit. He introduced oak barrels and malolactic fermentation to California. His Chardonnay placed third of ten whites tasted at the famous Judgement of Paris in 1976. Yeah, they’re good! At 1800 feet above sea level, the wines are clean and focused, with purity of fruit and a sense of place. Everything I look for in wines! Due to the success of the winery, Chalone is now one of California’s AVAs, or American Viticultural Areas. Yes, an AVA with just one winery!
So in the spring of 2016, we met at the Roth Estate (before a spectacular dinner across the street at Chalk Hill Winery). We were fortunate to secure both Pinot Noir and Chardonnay juice from the Chalone Vineyards for our Block line. If you haven’t yet tried either, you need to. The Block 808 Chardonnay 2014 Chalone ($21.99) and the Block 815 Pinot Noir 2014 Chalone ($25.99) are available now, but I can assure you not for long!
Shayne Hebert, Wine & Spirits Sales Manager
Follow me on Twitter @abcwineshayne