2018 Chesebro, Vermentino, Cedar Lane Vineyard, Arroyo Seco, Monterey County.
Brilliantly vivid and electric in the glass the Chesebro Vermentino is an awesome crisp Summer white wine with clean and vibrant citrus and white peach fruit along with fresh mouth watering acidity and mineral tones. Mark Chesebro, the ex Bernardus winemaker, who started his own label back in about 2005 around his estate Cedar Lane Vineyard was one of the first to champion this varietal in California. He is now joined by a diverse group of influential winemakers that love this grape from the iconoclastic Randall Grahm of Bonny Doon, who absolute believes this Mediterranean grape is the future of California white wines, to Megan and Ryan Glaab of Rome Cellars and the Rhone vine specialist Tablas Creek, who’s excellent clones and dedication have moved the needle on Vermentino without question. In the old world, Vermentino, one of the famous Chateauneuf du Pape grapes, also known in France as Rolle, makes for some amazing wines, especially along the coast of Provence, Liguria and Tuscany, as well as on Sardinia in Italy, and in particular on the Island of Corsica where the natives call it Vermentinu. Be sure to check out the great ones (from Corsica) imported by Kermit Lynch, like Yves Leccia, Clos Canarelli and Comte Abbatucci. This high acid grape can make a wildly entertaining range of styles from zingy offerings, like this version from Mark Chesebro to exotically ripe and lush bottlings, to some unique skin contact examples, like one of the two from Ryme Cellars. Mark Chesebro and his sons run this small family winery, based in Carmel Valley, they very much believe that wine is made in the vineyard and spend most of their efforts exclusively working the vines and try to make authentic wines without any flash or showmanship in the cellar.
The zesty dry 2018 Chesebro Cedar Lane Vermentino is formed from a great vintage in the region and its Arroyo Seco terroir which is set on ancient marine sediments, sand and river stones with warm days and cool nights giving the vines refreshing kick. For 2018 Chesebro let the vintage shine through with vivid flavors, no oak and dynamic energy of form in this 100% Vermentino that was fermented and aged in stainless steel with minimum lees and no malos. This is a white of remarkable purity and brisk detail with a lighter frame and weightless body that shows brisk layers of lemon/lime, white peach, quince, orange marmalade and subtle tropical fruits along with a crystalline minerallity, salty essences, wet stones, light herbs and delicate floral tones. This low alcohol and crunchy Vermentino is dynamite with oysters, mussels in white wine broth, sushi, sardines and linguine and clams or just for warm evening aperitif sipping and or picnics. Nothing extraordinary or trick winemaking needed here, this is just devious and brightly focused wine by a no nonsense winemaker looking to make a quality product at a fair price that reflects his ethics and the vineyard’s sense of place. Chesebro does quite a series of straight forward offerings with a Rhone focus including Syrah, Grenache, Roussanne, but also with Albarino, Pinot Noir, Musque clone Sauvignon Blanc and Chardonnay, all coming from mostly estate grown fruit from his and partners Mission Ranch Vineyard, the home vines at the CM Ranch in Carmel Valley and Cedar Lane, where this wine came from. This latest Vermentino, which I tasted at their tasting room in the Carmel Valley Village, 12 miles from downtown Carmel by the Sea is my favorite of the whites, but I also love their estate grown organic Cider made in the dry Spanish style from tangy apples, drink them over the next couple of years.
($21 Est.) 91 Points, grapelive