2008 Cazar Chardonnay
Russian River Valley, California
Table Wine is one of the top spots in Asheville to get traditionally made wines from small family producers, and we are more than pleased to be stocking our first wine from Bill Hunter. Bill is the man behind the highly rated Chardonnays and Pinot Noirs from Chasseur (French for hunter), and I truly admire his hands-off approach to making wine. In a previous life, when I was employed with The Country Vintner, I sold an awful lot of Chasseur Chard and Pinot in the Highlands and Cashiers markets, and I’m glad to see that Bill is now bottling a delicious and affordable “second wine”.
What makes Mr. Hunter different than a lot of winemakers in California is not what he does to his wines, but what he doesn’t do to them. He believes that great wines are made in the vineyard as opposed to the laboratory and that if you have good, mature, ripe fruit you don’t really need to do much to the wine for it to taste great. Thus, Bill chooses to use wild/native yeasts to ferment his wines as opposed to yeasts developed in a lab that are created to bring out certain flavor components and characteristics in a wine. The wild yeasts are those that are present in the vineyard and on the vines, and many of us believe that using these yeasts results in wines that express a true sense of place. Bill also believes in long, slow and cool fermentations, thus ensuring that every ounce of flavor is extracted from the high quality grapes, and he doesn’t fine or filter his wines, thus preserving all of the good stuff inherent in good grapes. The result is a delicious, rich and lively expression of Chardonnay.
The first whiff I get upon pouring the wine is an almost caramel, roasted nut aroma, but as I sink my nose deeper into the glass, I get at the nice, ripe orchard fruits within. As the wine comes closer to room temperature, more tropical fruit notes come out as well as some wet stone/mineral accents that you rarely find in California. On the palate, the wine is pretty full bodied and nicely textured, but there is a nice vein of acidity that holds everything together. Pear, white peach, honeyed citrus and nutmeg are the first notes I write down. For about $22, you get a lot of the attributes that you typically pay $40 to $50 for, so this goes down as a great value wine in my book. I see this wine as a great aperitif to serve before dinner, but if you must, try it with scallops in a creamy citrus sauce or roast chicken stuffed with lemon and herbs.