Please The Palate Pick of the Week: The Terraces Chenin Blanc, Clarksburg 2016

Invited to a wine dinner at Crossings Restaurant featuring The Terraces wine from Napa Valley earlier this week, I braved the heat and the traffic to get to South Pasadena on time. It was pushing 90 degrees, and more than an hour in my car did not have me in the mood for the red wines I was anticipating. But, as we sat down for dinner, the first glass of wine was poured, The Terraces Chenin Blanc, Clarksburg 2016. In general, I am a fan of the easy-drinking chenin blanc with floral and fruit notes and delicate acidity. But, The Terraces chenin blanc blew me away. It is an exquisite wine and hence the Please The Palate pick of the week.

The Terraces is located in the eastern foothills of Rutherford in Napa Valley. The vineyard dates back to the 1870s and has, in fact, been producing fruit continuously since then. The winery was started in 1985 and Sharon and Tim Crull purchased the ranch in 1993 and the winery in 1999.

In the 1990s, chenin blanc was the most widely planted white grape in the Napa Valley but it was mostly pulled out to plant other grapes. In fact, California used to have 45,000 acres of chenin blanc planted but today there is just over 5,000 acres. Some of these vineyards are located in Clarksburg, a wine region between Sacramento and Lodi that is a relatively cool area with a marine influence.

The Terraces Chenin Blanc, Clarksburg 2016 has a delicate yet pervasive acidity that fills the mouth, almost dancing on the palate. The wine has notes of grapefruit, tangerine, apricot pits and honeysuckle. On the palate, stone fruit, pear, citrus and minerals come though.

The wine was gorgeous on its own but shone even brighter with the dish it was paired with, watermelon topped with uni, jicama, ginger and yuzu. The freshness and sweetness of the watermelon, the saltiness of the uni and the bright acidity of the wine were in perfect harmony on my palate.

I still had a little chenin blanc left in my glass that I kept throughout the dinner, as I proceeded to enjoy the chardonnay, zinfandel, cabernet sauvignon and tempranillo from The Terraces. But, I kept coming back to the chenin blanc and was amazed at the salinity and minerality that developed as the wine opened up. It smelled like the ocean and by the end of the dinner, I wanted to start over and enjoy some oysters with The Terraces chenin blanc.