Marcassin Chardonnay and Pinot Noir Tasting - The Ultimate California Cult Chardonnay and Pinot Noir Producer from The True Sonoma Coast

Saturday, August 15, 2020 - 07:30 PM

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“It is well to remember that there are five reasons for drinking: the arrival of a friend; one's present or future thirst; the excellence of the wine; or any other reason.”  - Latin saying

I always say everyday above ground is reason to drink and although we are not open for regular service at the Wine Bar, we will take one reservation for the Wine Cave on any Thursday, Friday or Saturday night when we have an event scheduled in the Wine bar. 

We will take up to 15 people but will accept as few as 6 for a curated dinner by Chef Toni.  We must know in advance what food items you want so you will have to coordinate the menu with Toni ahead of time but she can put together any of your favorites from past Wine Bar menus or whatever you want if she has enough notice. The best thing about this table is the view of the wine, we have the largest selection of vintage wine in South Florida and everything is available at a retail price!!  You may want to bring a sweater it is 64 degrees in the wine cave.


And since we recently acquired a nice little collection of one of California's finest Chardonnay and Pinot Noir producers’ wines we figured this would be a good way to spend Saturday August 1st drinking the ultimate California Cult Chardonnay and Pinot Noir made by Helen Turley, yes I’m talking about Marcassin Vineyard from the true Sonoma Coast. 

Join us as we experience several vintages of both the Chardonnay and Pinot Noir from the ultimate cult Chardonnay and Pinot Noir producer from California.  Just for fun and comparison we will include a few of Marcassin’s neighbors to compare.  The fee for this tasting which includes dinner is $295 + tax for reservations call 954-523-9463 or e-mail

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Marcassin California's Ultimate Cult Chardonnay and Pinot Noir Producer
Saturday, August 15st

2011 Marcassin Chardonnay Estate Sonoma Coast
2012 Marcassin Chardonnay Estate Sonoma Coast
2014 Marcassin Chardonnay Estate Sonoma Coast
2013 Flowers Chardonnay Camp Meeting Ridge Sonoma Coast
2009 Marcassin Pinot Noir Estate Sonoma Coast
2010 Marcassin Pinot Noir Estate Sonoma Coast
2011 Marcassin Pinot Noir Estate Sonoma Coast
2012 Marcassin Pinot Noir Estate Sonoma Coast
2013 Marcassin Pinot Noir Estate Sonoma Coast
2013 Peter Michael Winery Pinot Noir Ma Danseuse Sonoma Coast

Cheese and Charcutiere
Foie Gras Torchon with Pear Compote
Seared Sea Scallops with Lemon Citrus Vanilla Rum Beurre Blanc
Crispy Duck Confit with Cherry Pie Sauce and Pomme Frites
Epoisse and Strawberry Tart


The fee for this tasting which includes dinner is $295+ tax, for reservations call 954-523-9463 or e-mail  Please let us know when you make your reservation if you do not eat steak and Toni will be happy to make an alternative menu selection for you. 

A bit about Marcassin Winery:
Opinions about producers and their wines are as varied as the many different varietals and styles of wines produced in the world today.  There are many “in the know”, wine lovers that will tell you the highly rated/limited production “cult wines” of California are overpriced.  With the nation’s leading wine critics scoring many of these $300+ wines consistently in the 95+ point range, it would seem that the quality is not an issue.  So, if you want to drink wines from producers like:  Screaming Eagle, Bryant Family, Colgin, Araujo, Kistler, Schrader and Marcassin, you have to be in the six figure+ range in the income category.  So, are these wines overpriced?  We will refer to the old adage that “price is only relative to what you can afford.”

If you are infinitely wealthy and want to start a winery in California that aspires to be in the leagues of these great producers one of the surest ways to get immediate attention is to hire one of the top winemakers in the industry and in California her name is Helen Turley.  Helen made her name by fashioning rich, polished Cabernets for B.R. Cohn, Bryant Family, Peter Michael, Colgin and others.  When she and her husband, John Wetlaufer, started their own winery in 1990, Marcassin Estate, it quickly earned its reputation with stunning Chardonnays. For all that, Pinot Noir was always the goal.

In an interview with the Wine Spectator Helen’s partner and husband tells part of their story.  "This is what we wanted to do from the beginning," says Wetlaufer, 57, his goatee sprinkled with gray, his black hair thinning at the part, wrinkles crinkling around his eyes. "The Chardonnay only came first because we couldn't find vineyards we wanted to buy Pinot Noir grapes from."  Today, the cutting edge for Pinot Noir in California is on the cool outer reaches of the Sonoma Coast. Williams Selyem already had made stunningly original wines from the region's Summa and Hirsch vineyards. Turley and Wetlaufer discovered the area's potential some 14 years ago, when they tasted a Sea Ridge Pinot Noir.  "The wine had something we hadn't found in those from Carneros or Russian River Valley," says Wetlaufer. "There was something that reminded us of Burgundy."

In 1990, Turley went to see a property for sale just up the road from the vines that made that wine. "There was a special feeling about the place," she says. "Of course, we also got backhoes in there, did soil samples and backed it up with science. But it just felt right from the start."  The vineyard rises from 1,200 to 1,350 feet about 3.5 miles from the ocean. "The first ridge is too cold. The third ridge is too warm. Like the mama bear, this one is just right," says Turley, 57, who stands 6-feet tall, with steely blue eyes and medium-length grayish blond hair. "It's a warm spot in a cool region."

By 1991 they had planted 6.5 acres, using California Pinot Noir and Chardonnay clones that they had been scoping out for years, plus a few of the newly available Dijon clones.  In 1995, birds ate most of the initial crop.  "We made one barrel of Pinot Noir,"  Wetlaufer sighs. They installed bird-netting for 1996, and the resulting wine earned (96) points from Wine Spectator. Marcassin 2002, tasted from barrel, has amazing richness and power; the berry, cherry, plum, mineral and earth flavors seem to explode out of nothing, the texture is so fine and elegant.

What does it take to make wine like that? Attention to every detail, like the close-spaced (and therefore harder to work) vineyard. Close spacing, Wetlaufer argues, allows each vine to put all its energy into fewer grapes, improving balance and concentration. The average in California when they planted the vineyard was around 600 vines per acre; Marcassin's vineyards range from 1,100 to 4,000 vines per acre, the density found in Burgundy.

Their winemaking process also looks to Burgundy, especially to Henri Jayer, whose Burgundies the two admire above all others. That includes cold-soaking the freshly harvested and ruthlessly culled grapes in stainless steel fermentors sized precisely to accommodate designated portions of the vineyard. Turley gently sprinkles the fermenting wine to moisten the cap, rather than punching it down. She only allows de-stemmed whole berries in the fermentors, because stems can add rough tannins.

Even after the wine in the fermentors is dry, the whole berries still hold some fermentable sugar; when the must is pressed and transferred to barrels, the fermentation actually finishes in the barrel. Turley believes this extra fermentation creates silkier wine that better integrates the barrel flavors.

Marcassin makes several other Pinot Noirs. One is from Blue Slide Ridge, a vineyard adjacent to Marcassin's own. Owned by the Martinelli family, for whom Turley and Wetlaufer consult, Blue Slide Ridge seems to make a wine of greater fruit intensity but less complexity than that from Marcassin's own vines. Another source is Three Sisters, just down the road. A final bottling, significantly softer and more plummy, comes from Bondi Home Ranch, several miles away in the rolling hills near Sebastopol. 

All the wines from Marcassin Vineyard in the store:

2014 Marcassin Chardonnay Marcassin Vineyard Sonoma Coast
Price: $275.00    Your Price: $242.00          Quantity in Stock: 2

(96 Points) The 2014 Chardonnay from the Marcassin Vineyard could be described as a letdown after two perfect wines, but of course, it’s not. It shares the great intensity of its predecessors, doesn’t seem to have quite the complexity and profound depth of either the 2012 or 2013, but since it’s younger, that may appear with more time in the bottle. Certainly the tangerine oil, caramelized citrus, honeysuckle and lemon blossom are all present in this wine of impressive fruit purity, equilibrium and length. Like the 2013 and 2012, it has at least 10-15 years of aging potential.. -Wine Advocate

2013 Marcassin Pinot Noir Marcassin Vineyard Sonoma
Price: $275.00    Your Price: $242.00          Quantity in Stock: 17

(94 Points) The 2013 Pinot Noir Marcassin Vineyard doesn’t have quite the drama, depth of flavor or profound depth of the 2012. This dark plum/ruby-colored wine offers displays crisp acids as well as notes of Chinese black tea and orange rind, and builds incrementally in the mouth to a medium to full-bodied finish. By Marcassin standards, it’s just a brilliant wine rather than a compellingly great one. Robert Parker's Wine Advocate

2010 Marcassin Pinot Noir Marcassin Estate Sonoma Coast
Price: $330.00    Your Price: $290.40          Quantity in Stock: 9

(98 Points) Not surprisingly, the finest wine of this trio is the 2010 Pinot Noir Marcassin Estate. Deep plum/ruby/purple-colored to the edge, it offers notes of boysenberries, mulberries and a hint of raspberries. The site’s minerality is well-positioned in the full-bodied flavors which continue the blue fruit invasion, so to speak, but with more forest floor and composty notes, and a complex, northern Cote de Nuits Vosne-Romanee or Morey-St.-Denis personality expressed in the gorgeous fruit. The sweetness of the tannin, the finish of 40+ seconds, and the great intensity this wine exhibits make it another compelling Pinot Noir from these two reclusive geniuses. Drink it over the next decade or more.  Robert Parker's Wine Advocate


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