Friday, June 25, 2010

Examiner Bio Clos LaChance Winery - Nature's preserve and fine wines in Santa Clara Valley

Clos LaChance Winery was started in 1987 in the Saratoga backyard of founders Bill and Brenda Murphy. The name is derived from Clos (meaning vineyard) and LaChance (Brenda Murphy’s maiden name). As the winery grew they eventually opened a new 60,000 case winery production facility in San Martin in 2001, with the hospitality center opening the following year. The tasting room offers a variety of wines while visitors take in the expansive views of the Santa Clara Valley wine country from the patio/picnic area behind the winery. They have also installed a Bocce court and the winery facility is a popular wedding venue.

Surrounding the San Martin facility are 150 acres of sustainably farmed Estate Vineyards. Bill and Brenda Murphy are strong advocates of working with nature. They utilize natural biological controls with natural predators. The natural area surrounding the vineyards is home to hawks, owls and even a pair of eagles who manage the rodent population. Using a variety of cover crops they protect and even enhance the soil, even fertilizing with chicken manure and mushroom compost from local farms. Grape skins, stems and seeds are also returned to the soil after fermentation. Water used to process the wines is recycled in a series of onside reclamation ponds to irrigate the vineyard.

They have established a protected Wetlands area across from the vineyard blocks to enable runoff water to percolate back to the soil. The Wetlands are now home to a number of birds and animals including ducks, snowy egrets, herons and endangered Tiger Salamanders.

Clos LaChance wines are sorted into three classifications. The Special Selections Series is a limited production from exceptional sites. The Estate Series are selected wines produced exclusively from the Estate Vineyards and CK Vines Santa Cruz Mountains sites. The Hummingbird Series is a line of quality affordable wines form Estate vineyards and selected sites and each wine is named after a species of Hummingbird. The hummingbird is the symbol of Clos LaChance selected both for its aesthetic beauty and its ability to keep other birds away from the grapes.

The recently released 2008 Biagini Vineyard Chardonnay from the Special Selections Series is produced from grapes found in the small Biagini Vineyard hidden in Santa Cruz Mountains overlooking Corralitos. It has the aromas of butterscotch with pear and apple and lingering toast. On the mouth the same flavors carry through with a bit of caramel and creamy butter on this full-bodied wine. It has a nice blend of acid and fruit that continues into the balanced finish. Price is $35.

The 2006 Estate Grenache from the Estate Series is sourced from the Estate vineyards in San Martin surrounding the winery facility. The dark rich color invites you to breathe in the aromas of strawberry, plums, spice and vanilla. On the palate the same flavors shine through along with raspberry and red cherry. It is a nicely balanced wine with a medium plus finish. Price is $30.

A shining example of the Hummingbird Series is the 2006 Colorful Puffleg Meritage. The Colorful Puffleg is an endangered hummingbird found in Colombia where fewer than 250 birds are believed to exist. A portion of the sale of each bottle of the 2006 Colorful Puffleg Meritage is donated to the Hummingbird Society specifically for its efforts to save the Colorful Puffleg Hummingbird. This Meritage is a blend of 55% Merlot, 28% Cabernet Sauvignon, 7% Cabernet Franc, 7% Petite Verdot and 3% Malbec. You will enjoy the rich aromas and flavors of blackberries, plums, black cherries and chocolate. Also detected is licorice and vanilla. It has a beautiful long finish. The price is $25.

You can find Clos LaChance just off Watsonville Road on Hummingbird Lane in San Martin. 

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