Chardonnay, 1982. Hamilton Cellars| Vintage Wine History and Information

by Paul Kalemkiarian Sr | January 1985

I am delighted that Ed Masciana chose to take the plunge and go into the wine business for himself. I have known him for over 15 years. Throughout that time we have challenged each others palates with our discoveries. He is a true “no nonsense” wine devotee.

It was three years ago when he entered the wine field as a career. He was hired as the new marketing director for FM Vineyards Ltd. (see Nov. ’82 and May ’83 Club selections). Since all the hours he is awake, and maybe some his sleeping hours, are spent on wine investigation, Ed decided that the time was ripe for him to put his signature on his palate!

To my knowledge, he has become the first California negociant-eleveur. My description of a negociant-eleveur in the March ’83 newsletter reads: A negociant is basically a wine distributor who selects wine from different vintners and markets them under his own label. He “negociates” wine. The negociant-eleveur goes one step further… He elevates the wine he negociates for! He has ageing cel­lars, he has blending vats, and he has a palate. He really is the extension of the winemaker.”

Ed established Hamilton Cellars as his label. He gives his reason for becoming a negociant: “While there is a lot of talk regarding the wine glut, few are able to talk about the glut of good wines. I went searching for the good wine available and found very little. (sounds like the Wine of The Month Club creed!) Looking for a chardonnay, I passed up many samples, but came across two interesting ones. One, from a famous vineyard in Santa Maria, which was fermented in the barrel for a rich, buttery flavor, but lacked acid backbone to complement food. The other was a marriage of two San Luis Obispo vineyards, stainless steel fermented and very crisp. Voila! It took master winemaker Kurt Lorenzi to make sure the wines would marry well.”

So Ed is on his way. He comments: “Good wines don’t have to cost a great deal. It constantly amazes me how other wines are priced because the producer thinks his wine is better than another overpriced wine. And so the spiral continues…”

This chardonnay is his first release. Only 1000 cases were available. 600 are going out of state, and the Club is getting a lions share of the rest. For the price, it is a buy as chardonnays go.

The chardonnays with a Central Coast appellation have had a broad range of styles. From the young, unoaked, fruity style preferences of some of the winemakers to the buttery, vanillin-oak, age-oriented styles of others. The former has been labeled a California style by some writers and the latter the traditional style of Burgundy. Hamilton Cellars is a blend of these two styles. This noble white grape of Burgundy is becoming very universal. (remember the Italian chardonnay featured as a club selection last November).

Our wine is golden yellow. A true chardonnay essence dominates the aroma. Textbook two year chardonnay nose. The taste is fruitier than expected from the nose. Medium to full body, good acid balance, with concentrated flavor of the variety. Dry, yet not austere. Finishes fast. Remarkable good selection- Mr. Negotiant!

Cellaring Notes: Has 12 months. Really at its best now.

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