In my previous articles on Carneros (Exploring Carneros – Part 1 and Exploring Carneros – Part 2), we explored Carneros’s historical background. Now, let’s use Carneros Chardonnay to look at why Carneros is so unique.
Carneros lies at near sea-level elevation, in a valley that carves down to an inland bay near the Pacific Ocean. In prehistoric times, Carneros was actually under water. This is likely the source of the region’s thick, clay-like soil and its propensity to store water and have drainage challenges.
Carneros’s weather patterns include foggy mornings, low rainfall and cooling winds from the adjacent San Francisco Bay. These patterns make Carneros look a lot like the Burgundy region of France. It’s no surprise then that Carneros’s two most important grapes, Pinot Noir and Chardonnay, are the grapes of Burgundy!
However, Carneros lies at a much more southerly latitude than Burgundy, and the angle of the sun’s rays and their intensity are both of greater magnitude. These factors, coupled with the unique soil, play a key role in distinguishing Carneros’s wines.
So how are Carneros’s wines different from other region’s wines? On the Chardonnay side, I will quote Wikipedia by saying that “Carneros Chardonnay is marked by its high acidity that can bring balance to the fatter, rounder Chardonnays produced in…warmer climate areas…”
For a look at Carneros’s Pinot Noirs vs. those of other regions, you will need to wait until next week. How’s that for a teaser? 🙂
Until next week, I hope you get to enjoy some of Carneros’s wonderful wines.