From the very first time we tasted Terry Speizer's wines, we knew they were special and we had better act fast. Moreover, we were certain that Domaine Alfred would not remain under the critic's radar for long, and we were right. Nonetheless, in spite of the great demand for every drop of Chardonnay and Pinot Noir from this meticulous estate, we are pleased to present Domaine Alfred's 2005 Chamisal Vineyard Chardonnay, the winery's premier estate-bottled Chardonnay.
Located in the cool Edna Valley of San Luis Obispo, Domaine Alfred is blessed by the wonders of the Central California coast environment, which include a long growing season, idyllic soil, and a perfect climate. In other words, great terroir! Moreover, all of Domaine Alfred's wines are estate bottled, with most of the grapes emanating from the winery's historic Chamisal Vineyard.
Chamisal, the first vineyard in Edna Valley, was originally planted in 1972. Purchased by the ingenious Terry Speizer in 1994, Chamisal, a then dormant vineyard, was replanted with six clones of Pinot Noir and five clones of Chardonnay on a total of 60 acres. Subsequently, an additional Chardonnay clone was added, followed by four clones of Syrah planted on an additional 14 acres. In 2000, Grenache and Pinot Gris were introduced into Chamisal and an additional 8 acres of Pinot Noir were planted. The original Chamisal clone of Chardonnay has also been reintroduced into this historic vineyard.
An innovative fellow, Terry Speizer is a consummate perfectionist and a great Chardonnay and Pinot Noir winemaker. And as is the case with most exceptional winemakers, Speizer's philosophy is quite simple. "The grapes are the soul of our wine," Speizer states emphatically. "If we do an exceptional job on the soul, then all we have to do is give it heart." And what a heart Speizer and his staff at Domaine Alfred have put into each of the eight vintages this property has released to date, beginning with the winery's inaugural 1998 vintage. Such work has tempted some to call Speizer the "Wizard of Oz," for each of his wines displays heart as well as brains and courage.
Chardonnay: The World's Most Celebrated White Wine
Chardonnay is the most widely cultivated white varietal on the planet. Twice each year at harvest time (because the seasons are reversed in the northern and southern hemispheres) in its native France and in countless locales throughout the world, Chardonnay grapes command premium prices. In tribute, Chardonnay produces the finest, most flavorful dry white wines on the planet to which writers and connoisseurs devote countless columns and untold hours exalting its virtues and dissecting its flavors. Whether it be from Chablis or Champagne, Napa or McLaren Vale, or from the most illustrious of vineyards perched atop the slopes of Corton and Montrachet, Chardonnay is the yardstick by which all other dry white wines have come to be measured.
From its origins in the Burgundy region of France, Chardonnay has traveled the globe. Today, Chardonnay is produced on all continents, except Antarctica. In numerous locales Chardonnay produces outstanding wine that reflects in every detail the soil and the climate (terroir) in which it is grown. However, in California a few areas stand out for quality, and in the last decade none has been more successful than Santa Barbara and Sonoma counties and central California's Edna Valley.
With food, Chardonnay is a peerless match. Chablis-style Chardonnays provide superb complements in the company of seafood. And fuller, fleshier Chardonnay wines, typified by the best Australian and Californian versions, can more than hold their own with more complex fare, rich cream sauces, and meats. Moreover, the finest Chardonnay wines shine on their own, requiring nothing but a clean glass to please the palate. Enjoy!