Goldschmidt Vineyard Alexander Valley Chelsea Merlot 2020
Named after Nick Goldschmidt’s eldest daughter, Chelsea Merlot highlights the juicy red fruit and spice notes from barrel-aged Merlot. Sourced from a beautiful vineyard along Route 128 just east of Geyserville, Chelsea Merlot is big and rich and pairs well with wood fired pizza, steak tacos, and grilled pork chops. One sip and it’s obvious this Merlot is made with Cabernet Sauvignon drinkers in mind.
Yolyn and Nick Goldschmidt are owner/vintners, and Nick is the winemaker. The winery offices are located in Healdsburg. Both originally from New Zealand, Yolyn and Nick have spent time living and working in the wine areas of New Zealand, Australia and South America.
Their focus is Cabernet Sauvignon from two prestigious vineyards in Northern California — Vyborny Vineyard, located on the northeastern slope in the Alexander Valley, and Game Ranch, located on an old river bottom on the eastern bench of the Silverado Trail. Both showcase the optimum silhouettes of Cabernet Sauvignon from Alexander Valley and Napa Valley.
The rolling hills and gentle slopes near the town of Sebastopol were once home to apple orchards filled with songbirds. By the early 1990’s though, most of the orchards were replanted with grapes. The factors that define a quality Chardonnay vineyard are numerous, but Nick Goldschmidt believes matching varietal and rootstock to the right vineyard site yields the most flavorful grapes.
High quality grapes grow only under certain optimum soil conditions, including a balance of nutrients within certain clays. These clay minerals play a critical role, as they can retain water and act as harbors for nutrients better than other soil types. Clays that offer slow nutrient transfer to grape vine plants are preferred. The highest quality grapes grow on the fine-grained, shallow marine quartz sandstones of the Wilson Grove Formation, where Singing Tree is located. These formations tend to produce soils that are well balanced in nutrient content and water retention.
Nearly a northern extension of Napa Valley, Alexander Valley starts just north of the small, Knights Valley, and is just a few minutes drive from the Napa town of Calistoga. It is Sonoma County’s hottest AVA. But the Russian River, which runs through the valley, creates cooler pockets and its soft, alluvial soil is ideal for grape growing, especially Cabernet Sauvignon. In fact, some believe that Alexander Valley Cabernets truly rival the best from Napa Valley and many of the heavy-hitter producers have largely invested here.
In addition to Cabernet Sauvignon, which makes up over 50% of plantings, Merlot and old vine Zinfandel thrive here. Ample, fleshy Chardonnay and Sauvignon Blanc dominate white wine production. Some old-vine plantings of Grenache have also been discovered and more recent experiments with Sangiovese and Barbera show great promise.
With generous fruit and supple tannins, Merlot is made in a range of styles from everyday-drinking to world-renowned and age-worthy. Merlot is the dominant variety in the wines from Bordeaux’s Right Bank regions of St. Emilion and Pomerol, where it is often blended with Cabernet Franc to spectacular result. Merlot also frequently shines on its own, particularly in California’s Napa Valley. Somm Secret—As much as Miles derided the variety in the 2004 film, Sideways, his prized 1961 Château Cheval Blanc is actually a blend of Merlot and Cabernet Franc.