baileyana gfc chardonnay 2008 and baileyana gfc pinot noir 2007, california
WHAT: These are beautiful wines made in an Old World style, smoothly textured and nicely balanced. They are drinkable now and can be cellared for several more years.
The winery says its philosophy can be summed up in nine words: "Old World inspired. Surpassing New World standards. Sustainably grown." Sometimes slogans are empty, but these folks really believe in theirs.
The Chardonnay is bright and fresh, made in classic style. The flavors are citrus, apple and pear with a nice acidity that lets it stand up to food. The wine spent nine months in French oak barrels.
The Pinot Noir has a beautiful red color with rich black and red fruit flavors, particularly cherry. The wine has some backbone, but the tannins are smooth and pleasant.
The GFC on the label stands for Grand Firepeak Cuvee, indicating the grapes came from the Firepeak Vineyard, and the winemaker took special care in creating the blends for the wines.
WINERY: This family-owned boutique winery is in the Edna Valley of San Luis Obispo. Part of the Niven Family Wine Estates, Baileyana was founded by Catharine Niven more than 25 years ago after her husband, Jack, introduced her to the wine industry when they moved to the Edna Valley in the 1970s. They were among the pioneers in planting wine grapes in the Central Coast area.
While Jack focused on the large-scale business with Paragon Vineyards, Catharine focused on 31/2 acres in her front yard. She decided to plant Pinot Noir and Chardonnay grapes and used techniques from the Burgundy region of France. She named the winery after the neighborhood where she and Jack met.
Catharine eventually passed the winery along to her children, and two of them -- Jim and John -- now run it. They laid the groundwork for planting their estate, Firepeak Vineyard. Today, Catharine's grandsons John and Michael also work in the business.
They also produce Syrah from the Firepeak Vineyard. A high-tech winery was built in 1998. Other labels in the Niven Family stable include Zocker, Tangent, Cadre and Trenza.
GOES WITH: The Chardonnay was outstanding with grilled shrimp marinated in ginger, lime and soy sauce. It will pair well with fish dishes, and with chicken and shrimp in cream sauces.
The Pinot Noir was very good with thick pork chops on the grill, seasoned with fresh rosemary. It would be great with duck, veal and hard cheeses.