It's no secret that quality, inexpensive Pinot Noir and Chardonnay are hard to come by all across the board. And for good reason: the two mainstay grapes of Burgundy are truly a study of opposites. Pinot, a delicate, thin-skinned grape, is notoriously particular about where and how it performs best. Chardonnay, the chicken of wine grapes, grows rampantly all over the world but suffers from insipidness when over cropped. It often ends up clunkily over-oaked and lacking in finesse. These are two grapes for whom specific soils and state of the art practices (both of which are expensive) are entirely of the essence when it comes to fine winemaking.
But the market is calling for it. As the American palate evolves to enjoy lighter-bodied wines, people are demanding distinctive, affordable domestic Pinot and Chardonnay. Oenophiles and neophytes alike love nothing better than finding a killer bottle of wine at a sweet price. So what's the solution?
Luckily Brian Talley, third generation proprietor at Talley Vineyards in Arroyo Grande Valley, is filling the chasm with his Bishop's Peak Pinot Noir and Chardonnay, both of which ring it at less than $15 a bottle for 2010 bottles, and under $20 for 2011. These delicious entry-level wines cater to the lover of fruit, finesse, and minerality all at once." I started Bishop's Peak because I felt that there was a void in the market for well made, value priced California wines." Talley explains. "There are lots of wonderful European wines made in a style that preserves their unique character and integrity. I thought we could do the same with Bishop's Peak."
Talley, whose family farm was established in 1948, quickly developed an international reputation for growing some of the finest quality fruit and vegetables in the west. As the wine bug swept California in the 1970, the Talleys decided to take advantage of their excellent slopes of loam and calcareous clay and cool climate: ideal conditions for Burgundian style winegrowing. They produced their first estate wine in 1986. The Bishop's Peak grapes are sourced entirely from local growers on the eponymous ancient volcano that towers above San Luis Opisbo. Brian Talley chose the Bishop's Peak soils to best convey their commitment to the unique terroirs of San Luis Opisbo County wines. "Bishop's Peak wines are made to be enjoyed immediately," advises Talley. "They are the house wines of the Talley household."
2011 Bishop's Peak Pinot Noir - average retail $20.00
2011 Bishop's Peak Chardonnay - average retail $15.00
Lily Davis is the Marketing Manager and Staff Writer at Woodland Hills Wine Company in Los Angeles.