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Produced exclusively from grapes grown on the family’s Dunne Ranch, the 2008 Pietra Santa Dunne Ranch Vineyard Chardonnay captivates from the moment the cork exits the bottle. Bright and fair in color with just a glint of the sun, the 2008 Pietra Santa Chardonnay appeals immediately to the senses; its forward vibrant bouquet reveals heady scents of crisp mountain apples, pears, melon, and soft indulgent spice tones. Made un-oaked, the taste of expertly tended Chardonnay, rather than the preponderance of wood, dominates the heady aroma and gratifying flavor profile of this wine. Kudos to winemaker Alessio Carli for fashioning a flavorful interesting Chardonnay that remains delicious and downright fun to drink from start to finish, even for those whose mantra has been known to include the phrase “anything but Chardonnay.” Although completely un-oaked, faint tones of sandalwood and vanilla neatly frame the fruit and spice and linger on this wine’s fulfilling finish. For optimal enjoyment, we suggest moderate chilling (40º-45º F).
Given the vibrancy, balance, and natural acidity of the 2008 Pietra Santa Dunne Ranch Chardonnay, it makes the ideal pairing partner to a wide variety of cuisines. However, this wine’s attributes also allow it to double as a superb aperitif or good old-fashioned sit around sipping kind of Chardonnay, which has become somewhat of a rarity today. In an ideal world, one has a glass of Alessio Carli’s alluring Chardonnay before dinner and a glass or two with dinner. For starters, we suggest pairing this wine with a Mediterranean style chicken salad with grapes and nuts or prosciutto wrapped crab cakes served with grape leaves filled with honeyed cream cheese and topped with a mango and red wine reduction. Fried mozzarella stacked with fried green and red vine ripened tomatoes over mixed greens with toasted sesame vinaigrette offers an off beat but tasty pairing, too. For main courses why not pair this Pietra Santa Chardonnay with pan seared Alaskan halibut served with asparagus and drizzled with Dijon hollandaise. Stuffed chicken breasts, sautéed veal medallions in butter and white wine, and many cream based pastas pair beautifully with this amiable Chardonnay, too. Enjoy!
Pietra Santa is a family run estate producing outstanding artisanal wines and olive oils. It is located 25 miles from Monterey Bay in the beautiful Cienega Valley. Founded in the early 1850’s by Frenchman Theophile Vache, it is now owned by the Blackburn family. Pietra Santa fashions an array of delicious wines, thanks to the acumen of Italian winemaker Alessio Carli and the estate’s unique terroir. The estate’s proximity to the coast emits cooling maritime breezes that temper the summer sun, resulting in a long growing season and vibrant balanced wines. Moreover, the winery’s location on the San Andreas Fault creates soils rich in granite and limestone that naturally lower vineyard yields and add distinctive flavors to the wines. The winery was named Pietra Santa, Italian for “Sacred Stone, in honor of these exceptional soils.
Although Pietra Santa spans more than 400 acres spread across Cienega Valley, adjacent bench lands, and nearby Gabilan Mountains, only 120 acres are devoted to wine grapes. Each of the winery’s nine grape varieties benefits from the estate’s varied terrain. Chardonnay and Pinot Grigio enjoy steep, terraced hillsides and thrive in the bright morning sun as well as cool, afternoon shade. Meanwhile, Pinot Noir and Sangiovese are grown on the moderate bench land, while Zinfandel, Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot are planted in the deepest parts of the valley to receive maximum sun exposure. Pietra Santa’s oldest vineyards date to 1905.
What is perhaps most impressive about Pietra Santa is how winemaker Alessio Carli brings out the best in each of Pietra Santa’s varietals. Tuscan by birth, Alessio first learned to make Chianti with his father. He then went on to study agronomy at college and later earned a graduate degree in enology. In Tuscany, he spent two years at Fattoria Il Castagno where he supervised the fattoria’s production of both wine and olive oil. He also served as Assistant Winemaker at Badia a Coltibuono, one of Chianti’s most celebrated estates, before coming to California in 1990. He has worked exclusively with Pietra Santa since 1998. His expertise with Sangiovese, an indigenous Tuscan grape, is nationally renowned. However, Pietra Santa’s Dunne Ranch Chardonnay may be the winery’s best kept secret and Alessio Carli’s ace in the hole, but choosing one progeny over another at Pietra Santa is akin to “Sophie’s Choice.” From our experience Alessio’s olive oils are quite exceptional as well. In short, Pietra Santa is one of California’s rising stars, and its wines are not to be missed.
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