I’ve been having a hard time with Chardonnay lately. I’ve been finding them too overworked: either over-oaked or incorporating too much malolactic fermentation — in the worst cases both. I don’t like to start off a post with a negative, but you have to understand where I’m coming from. The Chardonnay’s of late have left me wondering — what does Chardonnay actually taste like? What is its entity? What is its innate nature? Ok, I’ll go there…where is its soul?
I found it. Here. With this wine. This is the Chardonnay I’ve been looking for. This is the pretty much the Chardonnay I want to always be in my cellar.
I am a skeptical Sauvignon Blanc drinker. When done well (to my palate), the varietal offers flavors of fruits and florals, herbs, and minerality. The mouthfeel should be crisp and refreshing, yes, but also provide a bit of texture, body, and weight. Some of this is dependent on the clone use; a lot of it is based on the terroir; but ultimately the finesse, the seamless flow from the tip of the tongue through to the back of the palate, up into the nasal and down toward the core — that is crafted by the winemaker.
Since this is my first post about J. Cage Cellars, a winery I hadn’t heard about until proprietor Roger Beery contacted me, I’d like to include a little bit of background about who they are and what they’re about…
I walked into the Selby tasting room in downtown Healdsburg not really knowing anything about it. I’d heard great things, and I’d walked by the tasting room on more than one occasion — and kept on walking simply because it was packed. And now I know why.
Selby Winery was founded in 1994 by Susie Selby and her father David. For most of those first years the winery was a bit of a “side project:” David lived predominantly in Dallas with his wife; Susie worked as an assistant winemaker for a larger company. It wasn’t until David’s death in 1997 that Susie went full-force into Selby, making what was once her father’s pipe dream into a real wine country reality. Today Selby Winery makes sixteen different varietal and Susie is still at the head of the helm — taking on no partners or investors.
“Enjoy wine; enjoy life” is Susie’s motto and, indeed, it shows in her wines. Go to the tasting room and pick any varietal you like — they all just taste like they’re handcrafted with passion. I wanted to leave Selby with a bottle of everything. But I showed restraint and picked just one — this 2014 Dry Creek Grenache.