2012 Les Cailles Chardonnay
In a time of impatience and instant gratification, the opportunity to enjoy a well-aged Chardonnay is a rare pleasure. Claude has updated his tasting notes in June 2023:
Les Cailles comes from a vineyard just north of Sebastopol adjacent to the Laguna de Santa Rosa, the largest tributary of the Russian River. Originally planted in 1971, these are among the oldest Chardonnay vines in the Russian River Valley. The vineyard is immaculately and sustainably managed.
The 2012 growing season climatic conditions were ideal in every sense of the word. Despite such a stellar vintage, we managed the yield aggressively. We harvested at first light and thoroughly sorted in the winery. Following a gentle 100% whole cluster pressing, the juice was settled for 24 hours before transferring to concrete eggs for fermentation sur lie. Malolactic fermentation was arrested to preserve brightness and focus. Additional barrel aging in 600L Taransaud barrels for 11 months preserved acidity and focus.
The Inspiration and the Challenge
Having white Burgundies as benchmarks, especially the wines of Raveneau, Jobard, and Coche, we were never to anxious to even attempt to craft Chardonnay in the new world as we have always felt that the wines were over the top with buttery popcorn mouth feel, way too much oak, high alcohol and clunky to say the least -- they seem more like a martini than a Chardonnay. Our success with Sauvignon Blanc and especially with ST Andelain, convinced us to begin a three-year commitment with a fabulous, well-established vineyard in the Russian River Valley. Our Commitment to experiment with different vinification as well as aging for 23 months total results in a Chardonnay of great elegance, length, and verve.
Les Cailles is our limited production Chardonnay with only 77 cases made. Until now, the 2012 vintage was only sold to select restaurants in New York and Washington DC.
Tasting Notes, 10 years later - Jobard Meursault in Sonoma
Le Regard / The Look
Crystalline purity of a Citrine gemstone, with golden depth of straw with a hint of jade, highlighted by mineral suspension due to whole cluster press.
Le Nez / The Nose
Sumptuous aromas of mirabelle plums, flint, alpine flowers, wet granite, and crystallized orchard fruit. As the wine shades its chill and opens up, the nose burst with elegant yellow floral bouquet, lemon curd, crisp Anjou pears, acacia, elderflower, spiked with citrus zest. Les Cailles’s nose delivers an outstanding focus and elegance, verve and detail, very Meursault “en la Barre”.
Degustation / The Taste
Ten years in the cellar has created a sensual and round front palate, very focused and creamy lifted by grapefruit and kaffir lime zests; Acidulated baked apple, quince, starchy mirabelle, lemon curd, white pepper, and fennel tops, perfectly interlaced with white Alpine flowers and salty caramels. As the wine opens, the middle palate is exquisitely floral, fine-boned, and textural, with creamy layers of marzipan, toasted sourdough bread, stoned fruits, and confit citrus. The unctuous and fine tannin texture is a clear result of extended aging in the large 600L Tarransaud barrel, and of course, the additional decade in the cellar, giving Les Cailles an unparalleled round mouthfeel and length. The wine transitions seamlessly to a perfectly balanced elegant finish accented by mandarin oil, peppery dill, and flinty acidity infused with sea brine, creating an impressively elegant and profound wine showing great poise, searingly intense, rarely seen outside of Burgundy.
Les Cailles…Meursault West…Soliste.