Winter is more enjoyable when the dinner table has a bottle of the 2006, Chimney Rock, Elevage Blanc, Napa Valley on it.
Chimney Rock was founded in 1980 when international businessman Sheldon “Hack” Wilson purchased a 185-acre golf course in Napa Valley.
Located in the highly regarded Stags Leap District, Wilson replaced nine holes of sand traps and fairways with 75 acres of cabernet sauvignon, merlot, chardonnay and sauvignon blanc. It was a good foursome for wine lovers.
In 1984, the talented winemaker Philip Togni produced Chimney Rock’s first wines. He continued at Chimney Rock until 1987, when winemaker Doug Fletcher arrived from neighboring Steltzner winery. Its newest winemaker, Elizabeth Vianna, took the mantel from Fletcher in 2005.
Vianna, a Vassar College graduate, was working as a toxicologist at New York’s Cornell Medical Center when she was smitten with the wine bug from drinking Bordeaux with a New York friend. It made her switch careers and coasts. She enrolled at the University of California at Davis, where she earned a master’s degree in enology and became assistant winemaker at Chimney Rock in 2002.
During a recent visit to New York, Vianna poured Chimney Rock’s 2005 cabernet sauvignon and its Elevage wines, the 2005 red and 2006 white. The Elevages are the winery’s Meritage wines, California’s term for Bordeaux-style blends. Both are excellent. The red is one that I collect, and the white as elegant as any California white wine I’ve tasted.
The 2006, Chimney Rock, Elevage Blanc, is its third vintage and made from a blend of 65-percent Sauvignon Blanc and 35-percent Sauvignon Gris. It has an intense and intriguing bouquet of aromas ranging from fruit to flowers with puffs of peach, apple blossoms and cilantro appearing and then shifting in the glass. I found it a delightful exercise to keep inhaling the scents throughout the tasting.
The fruit flavor was just as pleasant; the sauvignon blanc supplies a nice steam of acidity that gives the 2006, Chimney Rock, Elevage Blanc perfect balance and freshness.
Unlike many other California winemakers, Vianna has restrained the oak influence in the wine by judiciously using equal parts stainless steel, new and used French oak barrels during five months of aging. Vianna added a year of bottle aging before offering the wine to consumers. The result of all this attention to detail is the 2006 Chimney Rock, Elevage Blanc has the depth and richness of California with the elegance of Bordeaux. Sometimes we benefit when others get bit by the wine bug.
I enjoyed the wine at lunch with a rabbit terrine. On a winter’s night, this wine will be perfect with a celery root and fennel salad; a warm onion tart, and creamy polenta with gorgonzola cheese. Keep a few bottles in the cellar, because when it’s time to turn on the outdoor grill, the 2006, Chimney Rock, Elevage Blanc, will be a great partner to shrimp, salmon steaks and chicken.
The 2006, Chimney Rock, Elevage Blanc, Napa Valley retails for approximately $36.