Marcassin California Cult Chardonnay and Pinot Noir Tasting

Friday, September 25, 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 Friday September 25th 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
Friday, September 25th

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:

See the source image

2010 Marcassin Chardonnay Marcassin Estate Sonoma Coast
Price: $375.00    Your Price: $330.00          Quantity in Stock: 2

(99 Points) With a slightly smokier edge to the honeysuckle, poached pear, pineapple and caramelized citrus notes, the 2010 Chardonnay Marcassin Vineyard hits the palate with a full-bodied, thunderous affect of fruit, glycerin and acidity. The wine reveals some smoke in the aromatics, but little, if any, in the flavor profile. Full-bodied, lovely, and again, close to perfection (as so often these wines are), this is a beauty to drink over the next decade or more. (RP)  (8/2015) Robert Parker's Wine Advocate

2001 Marcassin Chardonnay Estate Sonoma Coast
Price: $495.00    Your Price: $435.60          Quantity in Stock: 1


2001 Marcassin Chardonnay Three Sisters Sonoma Coast
Price: $225.00    Your Price: $198.00          Quantity in Stock: 1

(95 Points) Crisp, with good minerality, definition, and subtle richness is the 2001 Chardonnay Three Sisters Vineyard. Orange blossom, marzipan, citrus oil, crushed stones, and a touch of smoky scents emerge from this full-bodied 2001. It offers beautiful honeyed richness, great definition, and a long finish. I even noticed a hint of papaya. Drink it over the next 7-10 years. Wine Advocate # 157, Feb 2005

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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

2012 Marcassin Pinot Noir Marcassin Vineyard Sonoma Coast
Price: $300.00    Your Price: $264.00          Quantity in Stock: 6

(97 Points) The 2012 Pinot Noir Marcassin Vineyard, which comes primarily from the Calera clone (although I suspect there are a few mystery clones in their plantings), always seems to remind me of a grand cru from Burgundy’s Côte de Nuits, particularly Morey-St.-Denis. Dense ruby/plum, its sweet nose of strawberries, black cherry liqueur, fresh porcini mushrooms and forest floor is followed by a dark, full-bodied, rich and concentrated wine that is supple, dramatic, and even flamboyant. (RP)  (3/2016) Robert Parker's Wine Advocate

2010 Marcassin Pinot Noir Marcassin Estate Sonoma Coast
Price: $330.00    Your Price: $290.40          Quantity in Stock: 6

(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

2004 Marcassin Pinot Noir Estate Sonoma Coast
Price: $395.00    Your Price: $347.60          Quantity in Stock: 2

(98 Points) Utterly profound, the 2004 Pinot Noir Marcassin Estate has a deep plum/ruby/purple-tinged color and a sweet nose of black raspberries, roasted meats, forest aromas, soy, and fresh mushrooms. Layered and multi-dimensional, with sweet but noticeable tannin, and broad, intense flavors, this is a stunning wine that should drink nicely for a decade or more. Wine Advocate # 180, Dec 2008
2002 Marcassin Pinot Noir Marcassin Vineyard Sonoma Coast
Price: $495.00    Your Price: $435.60          Quantity in Stock: 5

(98)The profound 2002 Pinot Noir Marcassin Estate always reminds me of a top-notch Clos de la Roche from a domaine such as Ponsot. Notes of fresh mushrooms, forest floor, plums, black cherries, raspberries, and hints of white chocolate and smoke jump form the glass of this full-bodied wine. Its extraordinary nuances, amazingly complex, rich, broad palate, and spectacular finish suggest it should drink well for well over a decade. Wine Advocate # 162 Dec 2005

2000 Marcassin Pinot Noir Estate Sonoma Coast
Price: $375.00    Your Price: $330.00          Quantity in Stock: 2

(97)The magnificent 2000 Pinot Noir Marcassin Vineyard continues to develop even more complexity. Truly great stuff, this medium to full-bodied 2000 exhibits scents of rose petals intertwined with charcuterie, spring flowers, blue and black fruits, and hints of raspberries, cola, and mint oil. This profound, extremely nuanced, powerful, exuberant Pinot Noir boasts terrific definition and personality. Anticipated maturity: now-2014. Wine Advocate # 150 Dec 2003

2000 Marcassin Pinot Noir Blue Slide Ridge Sonoma
Price: $325.00    Your Price: $286.00          Quantity in Stock: 1

(92 Points) Fragrant aromas of damp earth, fresh mushrooms, gravel, anise, plums, and cherries emerge from the 2001 Pinot Noir Blue Slide Ridge, which reveals this vineyard’s distinctive perfume and singular quality. An atypical notion of herbaceousness is also present. Drink this gamy, rich, complex 2001 over the next 7-10 years. Wine Advocate #157 Feb 2005

1999 Marcassin Pinot Noir Estate Sonoma Coast
Price: $375.00    Your Price: $330.00          Quantity in Stock: 2

(95 Points) The 1999 Pinot Noir Marcassin Vineyard is less flamboyant than the ostentatious Blue Slide cuvee. It exhibits more animal, plum, raspberry, and earthy characteristics (meaty porchinis come to mind) in its broodingly backward, mineral-dominated personality. Additionally, there is great structure and purity, as well as layers of fruit and intensity. Anticipated maturity: 2004-2014. Wine Advocate # 142 Aug 2002

1999 Marcassin Pinot Noir Blue Slide Ridge Sonoma
Price: $375.00    Your Price: $330.00          Quantity in Stock: 2

(93 Points)  Medium color. Gorgeous nose; open, sweet, and seductive with delicious boysenberry fruit at the core. Shows good Pinot Noir character, although more “new world” than Burgundian. Big, powerful, and complex on the palate with more obvious sweetness than the other Marcassin Pinots. A few tasters thought it was too sweet, but most found it clean and smooth. The acidity is perfect, giving the wine liveliness. Long finish.



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