Domestic Selection: Chardonnay, 1987, Chateau Julien

In the short span of 6 years that this winery has been in exis­tence, it has made a name for itself internationally. The awards and medals list is impressive from competitions in San Francisco to London. But, that is not why I se­lect a wine. It has to win our award!… by its taste and value.

Why such success in such a short time? After all there are over 700 wineries in California now, and that, is not easy competition! There are at least 2 answers to the question.

One… the fact that Chateau Ju­lien does not have an active vine­yard of its own. It buys grapes from only the best local vineyards, such as Cobblestone Vineyard in Monterey, The Paraiso Springs Vineyard in Monterey county, and from actor Wayne Roger’s Ran­chero Tierra Rejada Vineyard in San Luis. This allows them to con­centrate on wine making, leaving the grape growing to others.

Two… they have a talented winemaker in Bill Anderson. A Stanford and U.C.Davis graduate, he has stints at Mt. Eden Winery, and Kathryn Kennedy Winery to his credit. His emphasis is making wine for food accompaniment.

The winery is a French Coun­try Chateau type structure on the Carmel river in Monterey county, ten minutes from Carmel by-the-Sea. It is five miles east of Highway One on Carmel Valley Road. If you are in the area, it is well worth your while to visit. Call ahead to find out about their wine tastings and tour hours (408-624­2600).

Their Monterey appellation chardonnay made high marks in my log book. For the price, it is a find. They also make some indi­vidual vineyard designation char­donnays that are quite good, but for more money, of course!

This noble grape of Burgundy fame does well in Monterey coun­ty. At times, it could have a “Mon­terey grassiness” character, in ad­dition to its basic nature. This is curiously absent in this wine, and a plus in my opinion.

This chardonnay has a light golden yellow color. It is bursting with the aroma of the variety, with a distinct apple element. Deep pen­etrating bouquet. Very clean and pleasant. The taste has restrained fruit, with a dominant, rich varietal flavor, leaning on some oak. Dis­tinct succulent green apples flavor that lasts in your mouth. Full body, with perfect acid balance. Serve chilled with sautéed white fish or red snapper.

Cellaring Notes: Will complex, for 2 years.

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