2010 Chesebro, Roussanne, CM Ranch, Carmel Valley AVA, Monterey County.
After recently talking about Roussanne, the difficult to grow white Rhone grape found in both the Southern and Northern Rhone region, most famously in Chateauneuf du Pape Blanc and Hermitage Blanc wines, like Chateau de Beaucastel’s Old Vine Chateauneuf Blanc 100% Roussanne and Jean-Louis Chave’s legendary Hermitage Blanc, where it is blended with Marsanne, I got a chance to taste an excellent library selection of pure and nicely aged Roussanne. Made by the Chesebro Winery, based in Carmel Valley, this wine, which was shown to me by Will Chesebro, the son of founder Mark Chesebro, who explained his love and hate relationship with Roussanne, which they sadly for me, ended up taking out of their family site all together. Coming from those vines, which in recent years got grafted over to Pinot Noir, at their home ranch in the valley, this distinctive version of the grape, from the 2010 vintage, is still amazingly fresh and vibrant even as the color has turned a lovely shade of mature gold/yellow in the glass and the medium bodied all Roussanne delivers taut and chiseled layers of baked apple, dried apricot, quince, white fig, lemon curd and verbena, along with truffle, honeycomb, waxy paraffin and bitter almonds. There is zesty citrus, a faint earthy maturity and delicate dried flowers that round out the flavors here and winemaker Mark Chesebro’s light touch with wood in the winemaking has allowed for purity and varietal character to shine through here, this rarity provides an exciting drinking experience and it is a good place, for peak enjoyment right now. This grape, which I am big fan of, has powerful intensity, with gripping extract, is slightly oily by nature and goes great with dishes like lobster and or roasted poultry, with this Roussanne being best with robust cuisine.
Well respected grower and winemaker, Mark Chesebro, who was, more than a decade ago now, a winemaker at Bernardus, one of the best known Carmel Valley and Monterey properties, does a tiny collection of wines under his personal label, which includes some local favorites like his Albariño, Grenache Blanc, Sauvignon and Vermentino whites, along with a couple of Rhone red blends, Pinot Noir, Gamay and even a Cabernet Sauvignon all from either his own ranch in Carmel Valley or vineyards he oversees in Arroyo Seco. As mentioned in my prior reviews, Chesebro, who studied chemistry and biology at UC Riverside and UC Santa Cruz, before going back to school at UC Davis to study enology and viticulture, makes honest and traditional no fuss wines. His main mission, was to create a sustainable farm and vineyard, as he puts it, and to live off the land and do his best in partnership with nature to have a low carbon footprint and not be chained to the over processed and inhumane world. His ideas were based on a suggestion of some Europeans he met while at UC Davis, though they have evolved over the years, through trail and error, currently he and his family lives on a sustainable ranch in deeper Carmel Valley, where they grow fruits, such as grapes, which he makes into wines like this one and apples, that his son Will, who has joined the family winery and who is getting more and more involved in the wines, makes a fine Spanish style dry cider. I really was thrilled by this older vintage Roussanne and appreciated the opportunity to taste it, and for those who like mature white wines and especially Roussanne, will be well served to check out this micro library release from Chesebro, which will be limited to their mailing list and just a few cases will be available at the Carmel Valley Village tasting room.
($35 Est.) 92 Points, grapelive