#6 Wine of 2016: 2012 Marcassin Chardonnay ‘Marcassin Vineyard’

#6 wine Marcassin

OUR #6 Wine of 2016

2012 Marcassin ‘Marcassin Vineyard’

Chardonnay  |  Sonoma Coast |  Wine Spectrum 98

Robert Parker 100 POINTS: The 2012 Chardonnay Marcassin Vineyard, which will probably be released in a few months, displays great minerality, notes of honeysuckle, orange marmalade, poached pear, and white flowers as well as a touch of quince. A wine of great intensity, yet incredibly ethereal elegance, this light greenish gold-colored wine is full-bodied, stunningly rich, and altogether remarkable. When you consider that they use 100% new French oak and 100% heavy toast for both their Chardonnays and Pinot Noirs, it is remarkable how little oak appears in these wines. This wine should age well for 10-15 years, as most of the Marcassin Estate Chardonnays have done to date.

“What an extraordinary tasting this was at the Marcassin winery just north of Santa Rosa in Sonoma County. Just when you think the duo of Helen Turley and John Wetlaufer can’t make greater wines, they bowl over the taster with an array of exquisite quality that really must be tasted to be believed. Marcassin was probably California’s greatest Chardonnay after the famous Chalone winery fell from the pinnacle and onto hard times in the 1980s (and it has yet to rebound). Moreover, Marcassin set the bar for great Pinot Noir as well. And while both their Chardonnay and Pinot Noir have many competitors these days, John Wetlaufer and Helen Turley remain the reigning geniuses of these two varietals in California.
This was a remarkable tasting that simply blew me away, and I have been following their wines since the first Marcassins were made in the early 1990s. By the way, any doubts about aging potential should be crushed immediately, as even in the most challenging vintages in California, Marcassin Chardonnays and Pinots have aged as well as, if not better than just about any grand cru white Burgundy. 
The three Chardonnays tasted include two perfect wines. Perhaps the closest comparison is not to anything made in California, but a Corton-Charlemagne in a top vintage from the famous Jean François Coche-Dury.” ~ Robert Parker, from #223 March 2016


Helen Turley is one of the most influential winemakers in California, receiving critical acclaim for almost every wine she touches. She was instrumental in creating the cult wine phenomenon and her work with Bordeaux varietals may rival her contribution with Pinot Noir and Chardonnay. Turley has been the consulting winemaker for some of the best wineries in the country – Peter Michael Winery & Vineyards, Pahlmeyer, Colgin, Bryant Family Vineyard, Martinelli (the consulting winemaker from 1993-2010) – just to name a few of the nearly 20 clients.

Marcassin’s 20-acre estate vineyard, Marcassin Vineyard, is located on the Sonoma Coast and is planted two-thirds to Pinot Noir and one-third to Chardonnay. The original 40-acre estate was purtchased in 1985, and has been expanded to include 240 acres located at an elevation of 1,200 feet a short distance from the Pacific Ocean. 

Turley is said to plant her vineyard very densely, severely limit yields, and pick very ripe. In her winemaking, Chardonnay clusters are pressed whole, while Pinot Noir clusters are de-stemmed, cold soaked with one pump over per day. She uses natural yeasts, mostly new oak, and leaves the wines on the lees after fermentation. No fining, filtering or cold stabilization so the wines may have a fine sediment and occasionally tartaric acid crystals….Stylistically, the wines are rich and opulent with noticeable sweetness reflecting generous alcohol. The wines have a reputation for aging very well. 


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