2020 Jolie-Laide, Melon de Bourgogne, Rodnick Farm, Chalone AVA, Monterey County.
This 2020 Jolie-Laide Melon de Bourgogne is a bright and vibrant white wine with beautiful tension and mineral charm, it shows a touch of peach, honeydew and green apple to go along with a zesty citrus blast in a refreshing and bone dry lighter framed wine that shows clean and finely focused detailing, making it natural companion to briny sea food dishes. This vintage was crafted with restraint and is less leesy relying on its steely nature to entertain and it does just that with a subtle roundness emerging with time and air in the glass in this ultra pale wine that showed really well in a recent blind Loire Valley varietal tasting and did exceptionally as a pairing with Pico, a soft goat Brie like cheese. The Jolie-Laide Melon adds touches of tangy herb, delicate white flowers, saline infused sea shells and wet stones, giving it a brisk and un-fruity personality, while still confidently pleasing overall and having a good balance. Winemaker Scott Schultz, who has worked for Pax Mahle for many years, is one of the rising stars in California and his Jolie-Laide lineup continues to impress, especially his Halcon Vineyard Syrah, his Trousseau, Cabernet Pfeffer and Gamay blend, the solo Gamay, the Shake Ridge Rhone Blend and this one.

The Melon de Bourgogne or Melon grape is a variety of white grape grown primarily in the Loire Valley region of France and most famously in the Muscadet region, though, while rare It is also found in North America, especially now in Oregon where it started to take off in around 2007, but it has been here in California longer, much longer in fact than we originally knew. Recent DNA testing has shown that plantings here in the Chalone AVA that have been called Pinot Blanc since the 1970s turned out to be Melon! Here in Scott Schultz’s Melon de Bourgogne, the grapes come from the chalky soils of Chalone and the organic Rodnick Vineyard, one of the sites that was used in the classic Chalone Estate wines made by Dick Graff and Phil Woodward. Jolie-Laide’s winemaking is low intervention and natural using whole cluster pressing, cement and neutral wood with some skin contact in the whites, though this one seems less so than other vintages that I’ve tried. Melon, like Picpoul, Vermentino and Albarino is finding a welcoming home in Monterey County, after discovering it had been here quite awhile, and this one, perfect for oysters, is really worth searching out. Jolie-Laide’s new Fall releases are about to drop and I’m excited to see what is coming out, it is a great time to join this mailing list, these wines are incredibly impressive small lot wines, not to be missed.
($26 Est.) 90 Points, grapelive

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