TN : 1994 Kalin Cellars Chardonnay LD Cuvee

I opened a bottle of this wine over this past weekend and enjoyed it immensely. My impressions are consistent with previous tastings from the 1991, 1993 and 1994 vintages. Frances and Terry Leighton release the wines only when they feel they are ready to be enjoyed, which can result in the wines being held at the winery for as long as 10 years. Pricewise I believe the wines are outstanding value.
The LD Cuvee is produced from grapes harvested from Long Vineyard in the Dry Creek area on the West portion of Sonoma County. Low yield and aging in 50% new oak. Here then are my impressions :

1994 Kalin Cellars Chardonnay LD Cuvee Sonoma

High fill; long cork, which broke off an edge through my careless handling in manually pulling up the cork; medium straw in colour; appeared full bodied as I swirled it in the glass; bouquet full and intense - spices, tropical fruit, mineral, and a touch of honey; round, rich and full on he palate; spicy pineapple and tangerine zest; excellent acidity that freshens each sip; a powerful wine that extends out to an extremely long finish, where the flavours last and last. At 21 years of age this wine shows no signs of deteriorating. On the contrary it would seem to have another 10 years easily.

I didn’t purchase enough of this remarkable wine, but intend to visit my local wine store today to see if they have any current releases available. [winner.gif]

Hank [cheers.gif]

Great note!

I love that producer!

I enjoy this bottling in its own way, but my few times with it, it seemed almost off dry and late-harvest desserty. Your notes sound similar. Did you find it that way?

Chris, the label indicates an alcohol level of 13.5%, whether that is precisely accurate or not, indicating a fairly high sugar level at harvest. I didn’t detect any botrytis influence. As far as I am aware the Leightons ferment the wines fully, leaving little residual sugar. The tropical fruit flavours might suggest some residual sugar but I attribute the richness in the wine to the concentration.

Interesting observation on your part.

Hank [cheers.gif]

Leave some for me, Hank! (of the current releases)

Counselor, I haven’t had this bottling but my recollection of the 93 version is that it didn’t seem overtly sweet, though there was a feel of honey and slight oiliness of texture.

A 95 LV Cuvee had last year in California (at the lunch where my WOTY was opened):

"1995 Kalin LV Chardonnay

Wasn’t I happy to see this, though? Salted cashew note to sniff at, white truffle too, muted fruit. Mm–just lovely. Silky with only a light oxidative touch, if that, and nummy pear. Butterscotch brushes the tongue on the finish. Great elegance and later, much butter-and-sugar pear and lovely, lilting sweetness. Complete charmer Tie #3"



How come Jon Bonne never mentioned these people??
Maybe they should make Provencal Rose…

+1, along with Tulocay’s lack of coverage.

Drew, it sounds like you and Mel need to expand your horizons beyond what Jon Bonne reports on. Kalin has been around longer than Bonne’s reporting, and has an excellent reputation.

Try a bottle and see for yourself.


FWIW, these wines are also imported now into the UK. Managed to grab a couple of bottles (chardonnay and SB) - still reasonbable priced even with the shipping factored in. Very pleasant and interesting wines.


I first met the Leightons in the mid 70s, sold their wine and even made some with them. I know their work.

My reference was to Bonne’s comments that makers of Provencal Rose were bottling and shipping too soon.

Hank, I remember a Semillon from years ago!

On the other hand, given Jon’s prediliction for the quirky, why hasn t he mentioned htem??

Have some experience with the Semillon and Sauvignon Blanc wines which are similarly released when thought ready. Very savoury. The fruit is in the background. Not for everyone based on my attempts to share it. Super food wines.


I take that back…he likes their semillon.

Your first post above flew over my head, Mel. I re-read your post, in case I missed something, but pretty hard to imagine what you were thinking. Thanks for the clarification in your second post.

Anyway, since you were so close to Frances and Terry you probably knew that they did make a sparkling rose at one time.

Bob, I remember Kalin’s Semillon as a wine that seemed to rise to the occasion when matched with a variety of foods.

Hank [cheers.gif]

My experience with the '95 LD & LV have been less then exciting. All 3 (1 LD, 2 LV) were oxidized ranging from drinkable (but eh) to completely shot. 2 more bottles of LV. Let’s hope things improve.

Love the producer but will say there is some bottle variation… 1 in 4 ish seem oxidized. When they are on, beguiling. Fantastic and great qpr.

Also prefer the sav Blanc to the Semillon

I agree with all of that. Where I found the chardonnay dessertish, the semillon and sauv blanc were more like you’d expect an aged dry white. But I also agree that these are wine geek wines - civilians don’t take to any oxidative qualities in whites, even great ones like Lopez de Heredia and Musar.


Somebody started a thread here about Provencal Rose and an article J Bonne wrote about how the Provencals were losing their souls in a rush to market their pink wines…maybe like the Beaujolais folk lost theirs w the Nouveau.

When you posted about a wine F and T released ten, twenty years after harvest, I couldn t resist.

I’ve had a few Kalin wines, tho never the Chard. Very nice/interesting wines…esp wrt appreciating the qualities of old/aged wines (obviously).

Sugar levels…a 13.5% white wine would most likely be picked at ~22 brix. A conversion ratio (from brix to % alc) of 0.61 is typical for whites. That, plus a small amount of alc increase due to cellar conditions, gets you to 13.5% (22 * 0.61 = 13.42%)

Reds otoh (open top fermentor reds) loses a lot of alcohol during fermentation when the fermentor top is off (which is most of the time during the heat of fermentation). A conversion ratio of ~0.585 is closer for reds…so a 13.5% red would probably be picked a little below 23 brix (23 * 0.585 = 13.5%)

Course, I don’t know what’s typical for Kalin (i.e. brix at picking)…do you? Do they pick super low? Anyways, 13.5% doesn’t seen like a high suger level.