I recently had the pleasure of meeting and tasting with John Corcoran from Grgich Hills Estate winery, a winery I have not tasted in a few years, and I was very pleased at the outcome.  Grgich Hills is located in Rutherford in California’s NapaValley; and was founded in 1977; one year after winemaker Mike Grgich won the infamous Paris tasting with his 1973 Chateau Montelena Chardonnay.  They are currently self-proclaimed stewards of the land, and since 2003 produce wines grown exclusively in their own estates.  The estate vineyards are certified organic and Bio dynamic, and they operate the winery on solar power.

The wines of Grgich Hills are obviously from California, yet they maintain an interesting, somewhat ‘old world’ style.  Limited use of oak, elegant fruit profiles, and consistent acidity and structure all add to the quality, and the expression of the terroir or sense of place.  I tasted the Fume Blanc, two vintages of Chardonnay, Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon, and their Yountville Selection Cabernet Sauvignon.  My impressions are as follows.


Fume Blanc 2010: delicate youthful aromas of lemongrass, hints of under-ripe melon, slight citrus and green apple notes.  The palate is dry, with very crisp acidity and light bodied white citrus, spicy minerality, and grassy notes with a juicy finish.  A great wine for light seafood, shellfish or anything with lots of chevre on it.

Chardonnay 2009: mild, youthful bouquet of vanilla, floral, leesy spice notes, with subtle hints of toast, ripe citrus and orchard fruits.  The palate is dry, with juicy acidity, medium weight with a slight rich feel.  Flavours of citrus, green apple, lees notes, light oak, and a lemony finish make it a match for Brie cheese, pasta in cream sauce, or crab legs and garlic butter.

Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon 2008: moderate, youthful aromas offer red and black currant, cherry, light sweet oak, licorice, cedar, and delicate leafy notes.  It is dry on the palate with moderate balanced structure, juicy acidity, ripe black cherry, cassis, tangy prune and cocoa flavours with a slight toast in the finish. Enjoy with a grilled steak or rack of lamb.

Yountville Selection Cabernet Sauvignon 2007: produced in very small quantities, this offers a full nose of youthful sweet hay, toast, prune plum, cassis, savoury sweet pepper, tobacco and delicate woodspice.  Dry and full bodied, with a ripe upfront fruit note.  The balanced elegant structure, slight grip to the tannins, and chocolate, cherry, cassis, violets, prunes and spice lead into a lingering finish.  A match for prime rib, osso bucco, or roasted game.


Michael Kompass