Steven MacRostie doesn’t shout. He lets his wines talk for him. And for over 20 years, they have done just that, demonstrating how the meticulous matching of climate and soil to grape varietal creates beautifully balanced, individual wines. He established MacRostie Winery and Vineyards in 1987, and with his first vintage proved his theory — that when Chardonnay, a cool-climate grape, is grown in the right climate, such as Carneros, the relatively cool California region that skirts the southern parts of Napa Valley and Sonoma, the wine expresses its origin and individuality.
In 1992, he made his first MacRostie Carneros red, Pinot Noir, another cool-climate grape. And in the 1990s, he found a rugged mountainside ranch of volcanic soil in the far western part of Carneros in Sonoma; it became his Wildcat Mountain Vineyard, the source of excellent Chardonnay and Pinot Noir.
I tasted Wildcat Mountain Chardonnay 2006 a year ago and remember it as bright, silky, crisp and well structured with a whiff of vanilla and a sophisticated subtlety. MacRostie also makes Chardonnay from various Sonoma vineyards. Recently, I enjoyed his 2008 Sonoma Coast Chardonnay, fresh, vital, displaying a lively acidity, a hint of green apple and, like all MacRostie wines, fine balance.
MacRostie Carneros Pinot Noir 2007 is a revelation among California wines of this varietal. It shows all the rich fruit that comes with youth and, generally, in grapes grown in the benign climate of this western state. At the same time, it hints at Burgundy, the mother of all Pinot Noir, with its elegance, satiny texture and touches of spice.
Because he has made his mark and reputation on outstanding Chardonnay and Pinot Noir from various parts of Sonoma, it may come as a surprise that Steve MacRostie also turns out a palate-pleasing Merlot from the Beckstoffer vineyard on the Napa side of Carneros. Blended with 6 percent Cabernet Sauvignon, it is dark-shaded, rich, smooth and luscious — in short, a delicious wine.
Along with their high quality, MacRostie wines are also attractively priced. The Carneros and Sonoma labels range from $24 to $29, while the more limited-production Wildcat Mountain Vineyards wines are $40 to $45. Still one more remarkable thing about them.
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