Nestled on a small pocket of the northern tip of the Russian River Valley is a small wine producing AVA known as Chalk Hill.
This entire region in California is known for its warm and sunny days which are followed by a drop in temperature in the early evening and a cooling morning fog which encompasses the valley floor. This unique micro climate creates the perfect conditions to grow the notoriously difficult Pinot Noir grape as well as the local superstar Zinfandel.
Chalk Hill at the north is at a higher elevation than the valley and because of this it is considerably warmer throughout the day and is not touched by the cool morning fog. These factors make it difficult to successfully produce Pinot Noir and Zinfandel and many local producers of note tend to plant the vines of much heartier grapes.
One of those producers is Zacherle www.zacherlewines.com. Nile Zacherle and Whitney Fischer Zacherle have both lived a life in wine and that pedigree is evident in the style and quality of every wine I have tried from them.
One of my absolute favorite wines in the store right now is the 2007 Zacherle Chalk Hill Syrah. This blend of predominately Syrah with some Petit Syrah is a knockout and at the price may be the best value in the entire store.
The wine has subtle cured meat notes which are rarely seen in Syrah from this side of the pond. This northern Rhone characteristics continue with hints of pink peppercorn and a constant interplay between leather and floral notes.
While the nose screams that this wine may be from its ancestral home, the Rhone, the palate finally reveals a sense of its true birthplace. Dark black current and dates are predominate and the rich, full body of the wine hints at the deep cherry flavours that I tend to associate with many wines from California.
This wine is presently drinking wonderfully, but I have put four in my cellar just to see where it goes, although it is difficult to imagine it attaining a much better balance than it currently has, because currently it is sublime.
Come on down to Vine Arts at get a bottle while it lasts. There is not much left in the province and at $27 it will not last long. Especially if I continue to go through it the way I am.