Talley: Meursault-like Honeysuckle and Hazelnut
When we asked our friend, Michael Madrigale, Wine Enthusiast’s #1 Sommelier in America, what he thought about Talley’s Chardonnay, and he sang the same song we’d been singing: “When you serve a bottle of Talley Chardonnay to a white Burgundy drinker, they think they’re sipping Meursault — albeit at a fraction of the price.” As for Stephen Tanzer and Robert Parker, no under-$30 estate-grown American Chardonnay has garnered so many 90- to 95-point scores.
The 2014 Talley Vineyards Estate Chardonnay Arroyo Grande Valley provides ample proof of this, and the critics agree. Wine Enthusiast rated it 92 points and Robert Parker’s Wine Advocate calls the wine “chiseled, clean, and beautifully precise.” With this knockout 2014, Talley has again earned a place among California’s elite, alongside Kistler, Ramey, Kongsgaard, Luc Morlet, and Peter Michael.
The winter of 2013-2014 was quite dry. Bud break came early. The fruit set was large and even. By spring, the vines were strewn with lots of loose clusters but berry size was small. For decades, the Talleys have been one of the most successful farming families on the Central Coast, employing a small army of workers.
In 2014, Brian Talley took full advantage. While some in Arroyo Grande delighted in the large crop set and chose not to “green” harvest, the Talleys did as they always do, dropping crop aggressively so as to spike maturity and concentration. The call to pick came early under perfect conditions. Berries were small. Natural sugars were high while acids remained vibrant — as parallel to Meursault in California as they come.