The Chalk Hill appellation is an area on the west side of the Mayacamus Mountain Range in northeast Sonoma County--warmer than the rest of the Russian River Valley, cooler than Alexander Valley. Chalk Hill is best known for its white wines, particularly Chardonnay, and the Salerno brothers, winemakers at Manzanita Creek, say they are committed to producing wines that reflect the terroir.
That's why I bought this wine, for the terroir...along with the fact that it had been marked down from $23 to $10 at World Market. Unfortunately, I didn't learn much about the terroir or personality of Chalk Hill wines because the winemakers had been a little heavy-handed in their use of new oak. I get very powerful and quite pleasant smells and flavors of lime and vanilla. Very rich on the palate. This certainly meets the definition of "big and buttery." But where is that special Chalk Hill fruit? I know it's there, under all that oak, because the big concentrated flavors are persistent and not a thin veneer, as in many heavily oaked wines. While the wine is very pleasant to drink now, I will wait a few months to let the oak and fruit integrate a bit more. At $9.99, it is unquestionably a good value.