“Cannery Row in Monterey in California is a poem, a stink, a grating noise, a quality of light, a tone, a habit, a nostalgia, a dream.” ~ John Steinbeck, Cannery Row
Monterey, California remains a memory of my youth. Memories of tasting my first artichoke, exploring Cannery Row, and visiting Monterey Bay Aquarium are etched in my mind. It has been almost 30 years since I have returned to this area of California’s central coast. While I am long due for a return to Monterey, I am able to enjoy wines from the region with some frequency.
Vines were planted in Monterey by Franciscan Friars over two hundred years ago those vines have long faded away. The modern wine movement swept into Monterey in the 1960’s, when Professor A.J. Winkler of UC-Davis classified Monterey County as Regions I and II (comparable to Napa Valley, Sonoma, Burgundy, and Bordeaux) in his overall classification of California grape growing regions by climate. This was an opportune moment for Monterey County to be seen as a first class region for cultivating wine grapes.
Monterey is a prime grape growing region due to its climate, geography and methodology. The climate is heavily influenced by the cooling air of Monterey Bay, providing stable temperatures and a longer growing season. The sloping land allows provides good drainage and the soil maintains a lower average temperature, naturally limited quantity and improving quality. Due to its young age, viticulturists of Monterey County benefiting from the successes and failures of those from other regions. They had years of scientific research to understand and put into practice the best traditional methods and modern techniques to make the highest quality wine possible.
Chardonnay is the most widely planted grape in the region, 40% of total grape acreage. The northern part of the region is also planted with Pinot Noir, Riesling, and Pinot Blanc. The southern part of the region is warmer; therefore, Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, and Zinfandel are found here.
In 1972, Al Scheid began growing grapes in Monterey County. Overtime the Scheid family expanded its winemaking portfolio. District 7 represents one of Scheid’s estate grown labels. These wines seek to highlight the best Monterey County has to offer through the eyes of their employees and the relaxed lifestyle of the area. The wines are value priced and all closed under screw cap for easy accessibility.
2016 District 7 Sauvignon Blanc Monterey USA ($16): 100% Sauvignon Blanc; pale lemon; pronounced aromas of ripe stone fruit, melons, tropical fruit, and citrus, think Chiquita Banana woman’s hat; crisp and refreshing, lively palate, racy pronounced acidity that make the mouth pucker, leaving a long tart citrus finish
2015 District 7 Chardonnay Monterey USA ($18): 100% Chardonnay; pale gold with straw hues; restrained aromas of yellow orchard fruit, pineapple, bright citrus, and a hint of caramel; soft creamy mouth-feel, but not buttery, much lighter, lots of juicy yellow fruit on the palate, racy pronounced acidity wraps the palate creating mouth-water refreshment; this wine spent 8 months in French oak with 30% new; however, it came out just right, rich, round, and linear
2015 District 7 Pinot Noir Monterey USA ($20): 100% Pinot Noir; medium- ruby; delicate but fresh aromas of cranberries, pomegranates, raspberries, forest floor, white mushrooms, violets, and trailing vanilla; tart fruit lightly dances across the palate giving way to forest floor and tea; medium tannins balanced with medium acidity in a medium spicy finish; $20 California Pinot Noirs scare me, this wine is not scary at all, it’s quite lovely, not complex but easy to enjoy
2015 District 7 Cabernet Sauvignon Monterey USA ($20): 100% Cabernet Sauvignon; medium+ ruby; shy aromas of black berries, plums, black raspberries, candied violets, cassis, baking spice, worn leather, trailing vanilla; crushed violets enter palate, midway juicy fruit arrives, ending with smoke, leather and dusty earth; medium+ tannins and medium acidity, would benefit from higher acidity but overall a good rich Cabernet that is sure to be a crowd pleaser.
To learn more about District 7 and purchase these wines visit the District 7 web site.