Saturday, January 17, 2009

Cellar Sale at Clos LaChance

I read a "tweet" from Clos LaChance yesterday, announcing that they were holding a Cellar Sale this weekend, with wines going for $3-$7 a bottle. Well with the economy the way it is I could certainly use some bargains so I decided to check it out.

Clos LaChance produce around 60,000 cases annually from their 150 acres of estate vineyards. Although the winery is located in San Martin, in the heart of Santa Clara Valley the wines are generally labeled with the Central Coast appellation, presumably on the grounds that it's a more recognisable name nationally.

It seems that the winery had teamed up with a company called WineStyles who have a chain of stores that appear to sell their own labelled wines. Most of the wines being sold - by the pallet - carried these labels.

Crisp ($4) A 2006 Sauvignon Blanc. My tastes tend to run to new Kiwi Sauvignon Blancs, with the fresh, vibrant fruit and acidity. After a year or two they tend to smooth out a bit and lose that edge; this seems to be what has happened here. A decent wine, but not to my tastes.

Collaboration ($4) A 2006 blend of Sauvignon Blanc and Semillon, made to promote the charity Share Our Strength. I preferred this to the previous wine; the Semillon gave more complexity. Bought some.

Silky ($4) A 2006 Chardonnay, unoaked. My local Safeway used to carry Clos LaChance's Emerald Throated unoaked Chardonnay, and it was a retty good bargain, often on sale for $7-$8. This is the same thing; bags of fresh, tropical fruit. Bought some

2006 Bronzy Inca Chardonnay ($5) This is the oaked counterpart to the Emerald Throated. Having just tasted the previous wine I felt that the oak had diminished the fruit without adding much in return.

2005 Hayes Valley Merlot ($5) Quite a bit of structure, not showing much in the way of fruit. Possibly just a bit closed right now, but since I'm buying to drink now I passed.

Fruity ($5) A 2004 Merlot, similar to the Violet Crowned. A soft wine with plenty of fruit that's drinking nicely. Seemed like a real bargain at the price; I tried to buy a case but only ended up with 4 bottles.

Collaboration ($7) A 2005 Meritage, companion to the white. Quite heavily oaked compared to the others, this still showed plenty of raspberry and blackberry fruit. Bought some.

Unlabelled ($3) A 2006 Merlot, made to promote random charitable causes. I think the idea is that the charity slaps its own label on. Like the Hayes Valley it was structured and not showing much fruit, but had some potential. Hard to turn down at $3 a bottle, but you have to draw the line somewhere.

2007 Muscat ($5/375) Though I enjoy sweet wines I rarely buy Muscats as they tend to be simple and one-dimensional. However they do tend to pair with fruit desserts much better than Sauternes so it's handy to have some in, and this was a better example than many, particularly for the price. Bought some.