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Matetic Vineyards, San Antonio Valley (Chile) Chardonnay “Corralillo” 2017 ($20, Quintessential Wines)
 Solid Chardonnay for fans of dry style and smoky oak accents.  Bright Meyer lemon, mango and papaya fruit aromas balance the oak toast nicely, and the wine manages my crisp and creamy vibe well, finishing with a vibrant balance of the nose elements.  A perfect salmon pairing foil at a nice price. 
90 Rich Cook


Posted by Michael Apstein on January 11, 2019 at 10:51 AM

It’s not a Gambal…It Works

The newly established Gambal-Work partnership in the Sta. Rita Hills of California has just released their first wines, a pair of exquisitely exciting Chardonnays--some of the best I’ve had from California.  The enterprise draws on Alex Gambal’s 25 years of experience in Burgundy, where he is still making wines under the Alex Gambal label and that of Peter Work, a Dane who has considerable experience with vineyards in the Sta. Rita Hills.  They are joined by Jeff Newton, who has 30 years of experience with the viticulture of Santa Barbara County, and Michael Mayfield, who is in charge of the operation’s finances.

The wines are from two vineyards, Bentrock and Francesca, which lie on the western part of the Sta. Rita Hills appellation.  Although the vineyards are separated by approximately 7 miles, as the crow flies, the wines are far more different than the proximity of the vineyards suggests.  Since the winemaking and grape variety is the same, the differences can be explained only by the different locales of the vineyards.  It is a stunning example of how terroir--the French word for a sense of place--exists and is thriving in California.  Gambal explains that the soils and exposure of the vineyards are, indeed, very different.

The Gambal-Work Francesca Vineyard Chardonnay (95 points, $65) is breath-takingly alive and vibrant. A stone-y mineral quality dominates and enlivens the palate. Pure and linear, the focus is definitely on the mineral aspect, not on the fruitiness of the grape.  It’s a long and refined wine that tingles the palate with each sip.

A chalk-y mineral component in the Bentrock Vineyard Chardonnay (95 points, $65) grabs your attention and nicely offsets the wine’s restrained fruitiness. It’s a touch riper and rounder than their Francesca Vineyard bottling, but all the elements are beautifully integrated in this wine, whose charms explode in the finish.

If forced to make a comparison with Burgundy (and after all, that’s Gambal’s breeding ground), the Francesca bottling speaks of Puligny Montrachet while the Bentrock evokes Chassagne-Montrachet. 

For Gambal-Work, vineyard designation is definitely not a marketing tool--it’s the real thing.  Invite friends over and try them side by side.  As of now, the wines are available only at winery or via shipment within California or to Colorado, North Carolina, Washington, D.C. and Wyoming.  They’re worth a search.

Full disclosure, I’m a friend of Gambal and am likely underscoring the wines.

Dr. Michael
This Issue's Reviews
The Best From 2018
Robert Whitley

For those who revel in great wine, 2018 was a splendid year for the wine industry. From the hundreds of new releases that I tasted and reviewed over the course of the past 12 months, I've singled out the two wines, one domestic and one imported, and the two foreign and domestic wineries that impressed me most. These are exceptional wines and truly great wineries, all deserving of the most enthusiastic accolades.
Balanced, Complex and Charismatic: My Eight Favorite Wines from 2018
Marguerite Thomas

Although evaluating and scoring wines is far from an exact science, it's clear that certain standards must be met in order for the system to have any meaning at all. When we're assessing them, flawed wines obviously do not merit a high score, or any score at all if the flaw is serious (the presence of TCA, or 'corked' wine, for example). But once flawed wines are excluded, most of us (you, me) are guided by personal preference when it comes to evaluating wines. How much experience we've had tasting wine is also a factor that helps determine how we rank them (there's nothing that sharpens a wine lover's palate as effectively as tasting a whole lot of different wines).
Wine With
WINE WITH…Pasta with Duck Breasts in Red Wine Sauce

We probably all know the difference between lasagna and linguine, or between ravioli and rigatoni, but could you tell cavatappi from casarecce, or cappalletti from campanelle? According to Italy Magazine, from agnolotti to ziti the world is blessed with some 350 different pasta shapes. While there are many reasons for this abundance, including geographic variations, the fact is that the general shape of each type of pasta determines which sort of sauce is best suited to it. There are no hard and fast rules here, but in general, thin pastas (angel hair and spaghettini for example) adapt best to light, thin sauces, while flat ribbon-like pasta such as fettucine, pappardelle, and tagliatelli are designed for thicker, meaty sauces. Tubular pastas--orecchiette, penne, rigatoni--are perfect for capturing medium weight sauces, and tiny pastas along the lines of annelini, star-shaped stellini, and ditalini are commonly used in soups.
On My Table
Pursuing the Holy Grail of Pinot Noir
Mary Ewing-Mulligan

New wineries and new vineyards emerge constantly in California, but few have the heritage that Emeritus Vineyards can claim. Its origin dates to 1999 when Hallberg Ranch, a 115-acre estate in the Green Valley district of Russian River Valley, came up for sale. Pre-Prohibition, this site had been a vineyard but subsequently it became orchard land. Because of its size, its cool climate and its classic Goldridge soils (mineral-rich sandy loam), this 'extraordinary piece of land' captured the imagination of Brice Cutrer Jones. The founder and, until 1999, the owner of Sonoma-Cutrer Vineyards, he purchased Hallberg Ranch and with his friend and now vineyard manager, Kirk Lokka, set out on his mission to make Pinot Noir that would rival California's finest. In 2007, Emeritus Vineyards acquired the Pinot Hill vineyard in the Sebastopol Hills.