Iconic Pinot Noir & Chardonnay.
We believe that the world’s greatest Pinot Noir are made in two places: the Cote de Nuits in Burgundy – and on Mount Harlan in California, by Josh Jensen’s team at Calera. We are therefore very proud to offer a small selection of wines from one of our favourite growers, and hope to be able to offer a wider ranger wines in the near future.
2010 Mills Vineyard Pinot Noir 96/100 Wine Advocate £480 IB / case of 6
The transparent ruby-colored 2010 Pinot Noir Mills Vineyard has considerable structure and depth hiding under all of its texture and richness. Offering up notions of sweet cherries, strawberry, underbrush, crushed flowers and chalky minerality, it has a massive mid-palate, incredible purity and a seamless, elegant overall profile. It, too, will have 10-12 years or more of prime drinking. Drink now-2025.
2010 Ryan Vineyard Pinot Noir 94/100 Wine Advocate £300 DP / case of 6
A larger scaled, structured effort that oozes kirsch, strawberry, raspberry, incense and liquid flower-like aromas and flavors, the 2010 Pinot Noir Ryan Vineyard hits the palate with a full-bodied, voluptuously textured feel before firming up considerably on the finish with layers of tannin. It’s a beauty, but needs 2-3 years of bottle age and will shine through 2025+. Drink 2015-2025+.
2012 Central Coast Pinot Noir 90/100 Wine Advocate £ 132 IB / case of 6
The only 2012 Pinot Noir I was able to taste, the straight 2012 Pinot Noir Central Coast is 95% destemmed and spent 11 months in 10% new French oak. A superb value, it gives up ripe berry fruits, flowers, underbrush and rose petal-like nuances in a medium-bodied, ripe, textured and balanced profile. It’s a knockout quaffer to enjoy over the coming 2-4 years.
RV note – Medium ruby coloured with a floral scent which hints at rose petal and herb. Lovely palate with sappy, perfumed pure Pinot fruit that really coats the mouth. Fresh orange, cherry and raspberry flavours, silky and plush textured. The finish hints at plums and cream. Best served cool.
2012 Central Coast Viognier 89/100 Wine Advocate £ 96 IB / case of 6
The 2012 Viognier Central Coast is another rocking value to not be missed. Apricot, marmalade, orange blossom and flower oil-like aromas and flavors all flow nicely to a medium-bodied, richly textured white that’s geared for enjoying over the coming year.
2012 Central Coast Chardonnay 90/100 Wine Advocate £ 102 IB / case of 6
Calera’s 2012 Chardonnay Central Coast offers classic ripe apple and orchard fruits, creme and brioche in a medium-bodied, vibrant and clean style. Aged in 10% new French oak for 10 months, buy this beauty by the case and drink it over the coming couple of years.
2012 Mt Harlan Chardonnay 94/100 Wine Advocate £ 162 IB / case of 6
Showing more tension and energy, the 2012 Chardonnay Mt. Harlan is an incredible effort that exudes ripe apple, white peach, white flowers and mint aromas and flavors. Medium-bodied and elegantly styled, the acidity is beautifully integrated, and the wine builds in richness and depth with time in the glass. Coming from limestone soils, 100% barrel-fermented and aged 10 months in 30% new French oak, it’s a brilliant Chardonnay to drink over the coming 4-5 years.
RV note – Pale gold coloured. The 2012 Mt Harlan Chardonnay evolved considerably over the course of an evening. Initially reserved on the nose with cool apple, flint and mint notes, it later opened up considerably, offering rich orchard fruit and spice elements. Likewise on the palate the wine ranged from racy and fresh at the point of being poured, through opulent and peachy. It finally closed down toward the end of the evening becoming more “Burgundian” and mineral – at one point it seemed to have moved close in flavour profile to the Lafon Meursault ‘Clos de la Barre’ it was paired with.
The Calera story is an intriguing one and highlights why self-confessed Burgundy addicts like ourselves feel such affinity for this winery. In the late 1960s, the founder of Calera, Josh Jensen was studying Anthropology at Oxford. Having grown up in the San Francisco bay area, Jensen was already deeply interested in wine and whilst in Europe decided to pursue his passion for Burgundy, working on two harvests at the Domaine de la Romanée Conti (in 1970) and at Domaine Dujac (in 1971).
The impression this made was indelible: Jensen returned to California with the intention of finding a unique terroir and climate suitable for the production of great Pinot Noir. His search took 2 years. In 1974 Jensen finally purchased a high-elevation parcel of land on Mt Harlan, some 2200 ft above sea level. In addition to being one of the coolest vineyard sites in California, Mount Harlan is blessed with limestone rich soil – which Jensen knew was key to the great Burgundies of the Côte d’Or.
The land Jensen bought, practically speaking, was a nightmare for the aspiring vigneron – there were no paved roads to the property; no electricity, no phone lines and little water. Nevertheless he persevered: The first harvest for Pinot Noir at Calera was 1978. By 1983 Jensen had also planted a small amount of Viognier (doubtless influenced by a passion for Chateau Grillet) and shortly afterward in 1984 he planted 6 acres of Chardonnay, complementing Calera’s Burgundy inspired Pinots.
If Jensen’s visionary belief inspired the birth of Calera, today’s wines are testament to the fruition of that dream. Calera’s Pinot Noirs are distinctly delicate and composed in comparison with the overwhelming majority of Pinot Noirs from Sonoma and Napa. The cool Mt Harlan and central coast vineyard sites ensure all of Calera’s Pinot Noirs are blessed with a fresh acidity that showcases limestone derived minerality and savoury nuance. The winery makes 7 Pinot Noirs in total – the Central Coast wine offered above – and six single vineyard wines we hope to be able to offer in due course…..
Calera also produces world-class white wines from Chardonnay, Viognier and even a tiny amount of Aligote – a varietal seldom seen outside of Burgundy ! The elegance and restraint of Calera’s Pinot Noirs is echoed by the style of their white wines. The Central Coast Chardonnay and Mt Harlan Chardonnay both offer the kind of racy, fresh fruit that is more often seen in Burgundy than California, whilst the Viognier offers a laid-back and subtle representation of a grape variety that can make wines that are ‘in your face’.