I wasn’t familiar with MacRostie Winery and Vineyards when I received some samples from the California property not long ago, and so I began my tasting of them without any preconceived notions. The results were rewarding and delightful — some first-rate, original wines.
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MacRostie is located in the relatively cool-climate Carneros area of the Sonoma Valley, which can produce delicate and expressive chardonnays and pinot noirs, and it is with these varieties that MacRostie has made its name.
The winery was founded in 1987 by Steve MacRostie, who had spent a dozen years making chardonnay and pinot noir at Sonoma’s Hacienda Winery and wanted a label of his own. Some insights into his philosophy are revealed on the winery’s Web site, which notes that MacRostie championed “a more fresh and sophisticated style of chardonnay” and dedicated himself to “crafting wines embodying an authentic sense of place.”
That freshness, sophistication and place jump out of a glass of MacRostie’s 2006 Carneros Chardonnay, which, at about $23, is a superb value, revealing lush fruit combined with exceptional balance that makes it a delight to sip on its own and an excellent wine to pair with food, perhaps a roasted loin of pork with a honey and citrus glaze.
The Carneros chardonnay, MacRostie’s flagship wine with 23,750 cases produced, shows notes of green apple and apricot with touches of nutmeg and vanilla from subtle use of oak, which frames the wine but doesn’t dominate it. This comes from the fact that only 20 percent of the oak barrels in which the wine was fermented and aged were new (new oak imparts a stronger flavor than previously used barrels) and a small part of the wine was fermented without oak, in stainless steel tanks, to emphasize the delicate fruit components.
The wine’s complexity also comes from the blend — the grapes are from nine separate Carneos vineyards from which MacRostie sources its fruit, including the winery’s own Wildcat Mountain vineyard, which is marked by its volcanic soils.
I was impressed as well by MacRostie’s 2005 Carneros Pinot Noir, a $30, smaller-production wine of about 3,000 cases. This one is also notable for its dimension and originality and shows earthy raspberry fruit, on one hand, coupled with interesting herbal accents, including sage and rosemary. It matched nicely with chicken roasted with lemon, white wine and herbes de Provence.
Among other wines, MacRostie also makes a Carneros merlot and limited-production Wildcat Mountain pinot noir and syrah.
Edward Deitch is the recipient of the 2007 James Beard Foundation Journalism Award for Best Multimedia Writing. He welcomes comments from readers. Write to him at firstname.lastname@example.org
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