We review pretty much everything Chalk Hill puts out, so it may seem redundant to take a visit to this prized winemaker in person. But on a warm summer day before Covid mask requirements were about to begin again, I couldn’t imagine a more bucolic and pleasant way to spend a couple of hours than here in the hills of Sonoma, California.
Chalk Hill graciously poured my group the wines in its Reserve Tasting plus a few surprise extras from its library. Brief thoughts on everything tasted follow. (Prices reflect bottle prices when purchased at the winery.)
2020 Chalk Hill North Slope Pinot Gris – Pretty and lightly floral, just as it should be. Lemon and lime pop nicely on the otherwise gentle and quiet palate, just as it should be. B+ / $40
2019 Chalk Hill Sauvignon Gris – A rare bottling of 100% sauvignon gris, this lovely tropical bomb is a delightful way to start the day, featuring ample lime, pineapple, and a slug of vanilla to round things out. Somehow it stays dry, not sweet, on the finish. A / $40
2019 Chalk Hill Estate Chardonnay – A classically well-oaked wine, full of vanilla and apple notes, fading to pears over time and showing some acidity on the finish. Bold and creamy, it’s one of Chalk Hill’s more straightforward bottlings, but it’s never short of a delight. A- / $45
2019 Chalk Hill Wright Creek Chardonnay – Quite oaky, but balanced by a tropical kick, ample acidity, and a lime-focused finish, this takes the Estate chardonnay and plumps it up with a bolder, more soulful character. (For more thoughts on Chalk Hill’s single block chardonnays, see this post.) A / $NA
2016 Chalk Hill Syrah – Wholly atypical of syrah, this somewhat older vintage wine is a perfumed, raspberry-focused bottling that lacks the heavy tannin and beefiness typical of the varietal. Lingering chocolate notes continue to show an unusual sweetness. B+ / $65
2017 Chalk Hill Cabernet Sauvignon – Quite approachable today, full of cherries, currants, and a lick of chocolate, giving it a fairly classic but not overly tannic structure. Spicy and ripe, with a lengthy, soothing finish. A- / $90
2017 Chalk Hill Clara’s Vineyard – A blend of 80% cabernet sauvignon, 15% petit verdot, and 5% syrah. Great acidity here, with a lively mix of strawberry and mixed florals. Light on its fight and supple on the finish. A- / $85
Chalk Hill is open daily by appointment from 11am to 3pm.