Our Gavilan wines take their name from Monterey County’s magnificent Gavilan Mountain Range. We harvest the grapes for our Gavilan Chardonnay and Pinot Noir from the Chalone appellation, which lies on one of the range’s wild, isolated mountain plateaus. Gavilán means “sparrow hawk” in Spanish; hawks, condors and mountain lions are among our vineyard’s wild residents. Our Gavilan wines show fruity, approachable character primarily from younger vines, while our cellar-worthy Chalone Estate wines are sourced from older vines.
“The luscious wild child, cranberry, rose petal and sweet dried-spice notes of our 2013 Gavilan Pinot Noir go perfectly with Moroccan lamb stew over couscous,” says Winemaker Robert Cook. “The stew’s North African spices echo the wine’s inherent cinnamon and high-mountain sage expression.” While we made this wine to be more fruit-driven than our terroir-focused Chalone Estate wines, it shows the intriguing minerality that is the signature of the mountaintop Chalone appellation. Gavilan Pinot Noir’s fresh, approachable style also pairs deliciously with Spanish
paella, roasted turkey with sage stuffing and fresh grilled salmon rubbed with smoky paprika and herbs.
We selected the grapes for our 2013 Gavilan Pinot Noir from vines that yield delicious, fruity wines, but without the highly structured tannins we desire for our top-tier, long-aging Chalone Estate wines. Our Pinot Noir vines are planted on a plateau at 1,650 to 1,800 feet of elevation, with nutrient-poor limestone soils similar to those found in Burgundy and very low annual rainfall. The grapes for this wine were selected primarily from vines grafted to Dijon Pinot Noir clones that contribute bright, supple fruit character.
We hand harvested the grapes at night to capture bright fruit character and then destemmed the grapes into small stainless steel tanks. After cold soaking for gentle flavor, color and tannin extraction, we fermented the wine until dry. Extended skin contact softened the tannins before we gently pressed the wine and transferred it to French and Hungarian oak barrels for in-barrel malolactic fermentation and aging.
The fabulous 2013 vintage even surpassed the 2012 vintage in grape quality. A very low-rainfall winter was followed by a dry, warm spring and nearly ideal summer. These factors resulted in balanced vine canopies, excellent fruit set and small, concentrated grapes. “The harvest was very condensed; we picked all the grapes in a three-week span,” says Robert. “Instead of driving back down the mountain, I spent nights at the winery so I could begin crushing again very early in the morning. Late in the evenings, I’d unwind by pursuing my other passion—photographing wildlife in our remote vineyards, including cougars and bobcats. Those brilliantly clear, cold nights, with ideal temperatures during the days, made for an enjoyable harvest that fostered beautifully balanced wines.”
Barrel Regime: 9 months of aging - French and Hungarian oak - 20% new barrels
Acidity: 5.8 g/L