Tuesday, January 11, 2011

A Little Bit of France in Carmel Valley

Chateau Julien Wine Estate (www.chateaujulien.com) includes a spectacular French style building surrounded by vineyards, lovely trees and gardens, and cobblestone walkways and courtyards.  Located about 5 miles out Carmel Valley Road, at 8940 Carmel Valley Road, it is the perfect setting for all kinds of wine tastings and events.

 We loved walking into the foyer of the building and then into the elegant tasting room called “The Great Hall.”  Our wine tasting ($5.00) included 6 wines and was held around an 18 foot antique table—very European.
The first wine we tasted was a Pinot Grigio, a clear, clean, non-oak-aged white.  The next was a creamy Chardonnay, followed by a peppery 2006 Merlot, and a Malbec that our server thought would be wonderful paired with a rack of lamb.  We then tasted a 2006 Black Nova II, a big wine which was a blend of Zinfandel and Syrah.  We liked all of the wines. 
We ended our tasting with two appealing Ports.  One was the Julien Port, a young, light smooth port which was aged in oak for 10 months.  The second was a full, rich 1997 Quinta Port, which we can’t wait to pair with Point Reyes Blue cheese. 
We also learned that there are 5 acres of Sangiovese vines on the property which are used for Chateau Julien’s Sangiovese and Rosato wines.  Someday, we’d like to try those.
Like many of Carmel Valley wineries, this is a family run business. Bob and Patty Brower started work on the winery in 1982 and opened the tasting room to the public in 1984. Recently, the Browers’ son, Bobby, has joined the endeavor. Many on the staff have been with the winery for over 10 years, some over 25 years, including their winemaker Bill Anderson. It’s quite a testament to a well-run winery, as are the many awards and accolades that their wines have garnered. 
So if you’re longing for a touch of Europe and some fantastic wines, take a drive out the Carmel Valley Road to Chateau Julien. It is the only combined processing plant-tasting room which is open to the public in the valley.  For a description of the tours and tastings available, check the website at www.chateaujulien.com or call 831 624 2600. You’re in for a visual and taste treat.

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