This was the lineup of wines that I tasted.

2011 Calera Chardonnay – Mt. Harlan Vineyard

OMG. I think I just found my BFF in a glass of Chardonnay! Or is that so very 2011?  In that case, it’s okay, because I’m talking about a 2011 wine. It fits.

My adventure to Calera actually began in Las Vegas at the Bacchanal Buffet at Caesar’s Palace, Christmas 2012. While the visit to Caesar’s was pretty horrific – in fact, I haven’t returned – the one jewel was the glass of Calera Pinot Noir which was presented to me to make up for all of the Wine Fubars they had committed.  I was good with that.  Well, that one glass of the Pinot was ethereal, in spite of being served in the worst wine glass this side of Denny’s.  Worse, even.

That sent me on one of my adventures when I spent ten days in the Central Coast in May 2013.  While I happily had my HQ at Paso Robles, there was also a strategic reason for staying there as well.  Paso Robles is beautifully centrally located between everything, and I could visit everywhere without having to worry about traveling for too long a period of time or finding myself overly fatigued far away from “home.”  With that in mind, I had plans to visit Calera while I was there, and managed to wrap it together with a visit with my youngest son at Monterey Bay, a drive down Highway One, and of course, enjoying the beautiful wines.

I bought the only case of wine I’ve ever purchased at a winery, and still don’t regret it.  Although the bottles were 375ml, it was still not cheap. The wines are expensive for a reason.  In fact, just a couple of months ago, Wine Spectator “discovered” Calera and showcased the founder, Josh Jensen.  I found it to be a fascinating story and am happy that I have at least one of each of the showcased Pinots. Yes, I not only bought a case, but a couple of extra bottles.  Just so I wouldn’t run out. You never can tell. And then, Wine & Spirits magazine named Calera as one of its Wineries of the Year. The accolades go on and on. While I’m happy for the winery, the budget pest keeps telling that the accolades don’t matter.  And for those of you who care (I do!) the winery is organic and uses native yeasts.  Love it.

In the case was this wonderful 2011 Chardonnay (Mt. Harlan), and I couldn’t be happier.  Before I sat down to taste/drink the wine, I prepped the video setup because I knew that it was going to be special.  And it was.

My little half bottle and the shimmering glass.

My little half bottle and the shimmering glass.

The wine has the cream, vanilla, and butter that you’d expect from an oaked chard, but it’s held so much in check that they are subtleties, not dominating features.  It’s balanced by white fruit – particularly pear (!!) and apple – and has a laser acidity that tells you that this is an excellent food wine. This is a complex Chardonnay, although oaked.  This is not a butter bomb.

The 2012 is the current vintage, and I can’t imagine that it would be a lesser wine than the 2011.  I promise to do a tasting video for each of the Calera Pinot Noir wines, as well.  They are well worth sharing – on video, I mean – although I plan to nom nom my way through them at dinner all by myself. Can’t wait!

Enjoy the video!

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