Wednesday, June 16, 2010


Thomas Fogarty Gist Ranch Chardonnay

The Santa Cruz Mountains make a lovely place in which to get lost.  “Get lost” is used in the figurative sense here, but if you can't listen to and follow directions, it may take on a more literal context when you visit Thomas Fogarty's winery.

We visited the Fogarty Winery a few years ago, on a trip to Half Moon Bay.  Fogarty isn't what I would call convenient to Half Moon Bay, but we were making a day of it anyway.  Down the coast for a picnic in Pescadero, a stop at a particularly rustic looking restaurant for a cool, refreshing lemonade and off we went – up into the Santa Cruz Mountains.  It was a long way to the top, as the song says, but after following the winding mountain roads for what seemed a good part of the afternoon, we finally arrived at the Fogarty Winery.

The visit definitely is worth it, but check the website for directions and then call ahead. As stated on their website, “Mapquest and GPS are both unreliable guides because the mountain roads don't always compute."  Also, pay attention to your driving.

The Grapes

2005 produced a small but perfectly ripened yield of fruit in the Santa Cruz Mountains. The Gist Ranch Vineyard is a 100 acre chunk of land 2200 feet above seas level on a ridge southeast of the winery and about 14 miles from the Pacific Ocean, in position to grab those cooling ocean winds. The west-facing block is planted in Dijon clone 96.

Preparing to open the bottle, I'm thinking the sandstone and shale in the Santa Cruz Mountains earth should give a nice minerality and sixteen months in French oak should give nice vanilla notes.

The Wine

The oak is quite present on the nose of this Estate-grown Chardonnay, with those creamy vanilla notes really smelling like a cream pie.  On the palate, I get the taste of the little, round pears that grew in my backyard as a kid.  There are strong spice flavors coming through, with a sharp, focused acidity.  The finish lingers nicely.

We brought the Fogarty Chardonnay to a vegetarian Thai restaurant on Melrose – Butan – and tried it with a number of different items.  It seemed to work best on salads and spicy dishes, less so with peanut-based sauces.

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