What do fast cars and fine wines have in common? If you’re Kevin Buckler — owner and founder of The Racers Group (TRG), TRG-Aston Martin Racing and Adobe Road Winery — then everything. A passionate professional race car driver, Buckler created TRG in 1992, and has gone on to win multiple awards including an overall win and 4 class wins at the Rolex 24 Hours of Daytona, a win at the 24 Hours of Le Mans, and the title of 2002 Porsche World Cup Champion. But Buckler couldn’t leave his passion for wine in the dust — in 2002 he and his wife, Debra, opened Adobe Road Winery which has also gone on to score big points with big-named critics.
Like custom building the perfect race car, Buckler knows that crafting the perfect wines requires all the the right parts. This means, above all else, access to good grapes. “We work hard to make sure each bottle of Adobe Road wine showcases the best attributes of each individual vineyard,” says Buckler, “We choose the best parts of Sonoma and Napa Valley.” So far I must agree, because to me nothing says perfectly balanced Chardonnay than a handful of grapes from Bacigalupi Vineyards in Sonoma’s Russian River Valley.
The other thing a sturdy car and solid wine have in common are the team members that help create that final masterpiece. Buckler surrounds himself with experts in the wine industry, as he himself continues to learn how to craft the wines he both enjoys and enjoys sharing with others.
To learn more about the winemaking path of Adobe Road, I turned to head winemaker Garrett Martin.
About the Wine: The Adobe Road 2014 Bacigalupi Vineyard Chardonnay is made from 100% Chardonnay grapes harvested from Bacigalupi Vineyard, located along the Sonoma Coast. The wine went through partial malolactic fermentation and aged “lightly on the lees,” according to winemaker Martin.
When asked about the higher ABV (to me, 14.9% ABV for a white wine was surprisingly high), Martin says, the answer is really all about balance. “Each grape gives us grapes at slightly different levels of base components,” he says, which, of course, includes sugar — the main contributing factor to a wine’s resulting ABV. He goes on to say that as he tastes the grapes at harvest, he considers which winemaking techniques will achieve an overall “center of gravity.”
“Sometimes the wine’s center of gravity looks unusual in numbers,” says Martin, “but tastes perfect.”
Flavor Profile: You can’t help but smile when pour the Adobe Road 2014 Bacigalupi Vineyard Chardonnay into the glass. It’s a steady stream of golden yellow, pooling into the glass like liquid sunshine. The initial aromas are quite strong with apple, honey, and melon. There’s a clear line of acidity, so swirl and sniff again and find the warmth of baking spices — nutmeg, cinnamon, maybe even a hint of clove.
The palate is full and round up front with the juiciness of a soft apple. This dissipates when, about 1/4 to 1/2 way through, the acid cuts in adding a vivaciousness. Here that spice-heat sensed on the nose enraptures the tongue, warms the mouth, lungs, and chest. Dominant flavors are of apple, pear, melon, honey, oak wood, cinnamon, nutmeg, and all spice. The aftertaste is a fun one, reminiscent of a pumpkin pie.
This is indeed a “hot” wine, and in my opinion is best served chilled. When I conducted my second tasting, I did just that. At a cooler temperature, the fruit flavors stay alive, the heat is less dominant, but those spices stay in tact.
Food Pairing: There are two ways you can go with this wine. Thinking of the aftertaste mentioned above, along with all those fall flavors that burst to life on the palate, I believe the Adobe Road 2014 Bacigalupi Vineyard Chardonnay would pair perfectly with grilled pork chops, roasted peaches, and a butternut squash purée — if you’re going the traditional fall comfort route.
That being said, these flavors pair perfectly with Asian cuisine. I paired the Adobe Road 2014 Bacigalupi Vineyard Chardonnay with a homemade ramen — the base of which was a ginger and lemongrass infused broth. Those aromats get along so well with the fruit and spice notes in the wine. And, if served chilled as I recommended, the acidity and alcohol do well to cut through the hearty vegetables and glutenous noodles.
More Info: I received the Adobe Road 2014 Bacigalupi Vineyard Chardonnay as a sample for review. (Cheers Gail!) Retail: $48. For more information about Adobe Road Wines and to purchase wines directly, please visit the Adobe Road Wines website.
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