90WA "Impressive white peach, citrus blossom and tinges of minerality to go with a focused, clean and layered feel on the palate. Aged 10 months in 30% new French oak, it should blossom with another handful of months in bottle, and shine for 1-2 years." - Jeb Dunnuck, Wine Advocate, 90 points!
Josh Jensen's winemaker mentors in Burgundy were adamant that pinot noir and chardonnay must be grown in limestone-rich soils, as present in the Côtes d’Or, to make great wines. Upon his return from France in 1971 he spent two years searching throughout California to find limestone before finally purchasing, in early 1974, a high-elevation parcel with a limestone deposit of several million tons. Located 90 miles south of San Francisco and about 25 miles inland from the Pacific Ocean, it is near Mt. Harlan in San Benito County. Its elevation is 2,200 feet above sea level, making it one of the highest and coolest vineyard properties in California.
Limestone had been commercially quarried from Jensen’s Mt. Harlan property a hundred years earlier, and to this day, next to his Viognier vineyard, there stands a magnificently well-preserved 30- foot tall masonry limekiln. The name “Calera” is the Spanish world for “limekiln,” which serves as the winery’s symbol and appears on every bottle of wine.
Calera worked tirelessly with FPMS (Foundation Plant Materials Service) to bring Viognier vines into California in 1973 despite the recommendation from UC Davis that the yields would be too low. It took many years to get the vine cuttings to pass approval but it resulted in some of the first and best clonal material for Viognier to be planted in Calfornia.
Unlike the Mt Harlan Viognier, which is the last fruit to come in for Calera, grapes for Central Coast Viognier are the first picked because of the lower elevations. In 2012, grapes came from Guerra and Gimelli vineyards, both located in San Benito County. Grapes are hand harvested, fermented on native yeasts and aged without racking in neutral French oak barrels. Only 1,200 cases are produced. Certified organic.
Viognier is an aromatic grape variety known for producing textural white wines with strong stone-fruit flavors. On the nose Viognier wines can be very floral, showing lavender and pollen aromas that are quite honeyed in sweeter examples. Apricots are the variety’s classic flavor association, often with a richness that can be interpreted as ripe peach. In the late 1960's just 40 acres (16ha) of Viognier vines were all that remained in the world. It took interest from the Yalumba winery, in Australia's Eden Valley, to breathe the first signs of life back into the variety, along with a handful of enterprising wine growers in California (notably Calera in the Mount Harlan AVA). During the 21st Century, Viognier has had a remarkable renaissance, and is now found in France, Italy, Spain, Switzerland, the US, Chile, Argentina, South Africa, Australia, New Zealand and even Japan.