Standing 1,500 feet above sea level in California's Gabilan Mountains, the terroir of Michaud Vineyard brings an exceptional quality to its wine. The Pinnacles National Monument stands just three miles east of the vineyard. Its rocky crags and peaks serve as a visual reminder of what the earth in this part of the world is made of: a combination of decomposed granite and limestone. This soil composition was so unique it prompted the formation of the Chalone appellation just over 25 years ago.
It's the same soil that has grown Michael Michaud's elegant wines. He began his 30-year winemaking career at Chalone Vineyard, where he crafted rich Burgundian wines with complex flavor profiles. He fell in love with the soil and arid climate, acquired land with his wife Carol, and began to gradually plant his own vines. With 19 vintages under his belt, he left Chalone in 1998 to give full attention to his own vineyard. And "full attention" is no exaggeration. From sunrise to sunset, Michael works as farmer, winemaker, and marketing manager for Michaud Vineyard.
"My goal is to make wines that communicate the unique qualities of the Chalone appellation," Michael says. "I do the winemaking and the farming myself with the help of my dedicated assistant and colleague, Justin Kahler. I want to keep production small, because I like getting my hands dirty and staying directly involved. That is my passion."
Mineral characteristics are delightfully evident in Michaud wines. They routinely receive high praise for their structure and balance and for flavors that will slowly unfold in the bottle. At the 2008 World Wine Championship Awards, Michaud's 2005 Estate Syrah and 2004 Estate Sangiovese both won Gold Medals, while its 2004 Estate Pinot Noir and 2004 Estate Syrah won Silver.
There is no reason to make a trip to Michaud quite yet, since there is no tasting room and Michael is sure to be hard at work. Fortunately, his wines, event announcements, and special offers are only a click away on the Michaud Vineyard website.
What To Buy:
'05 Chardonnay Peach, nectarine, apricot, apple $35
'05 Pinot Noir Ripe red and black cherries, currants, black raspberries $35
'04 Pinot Noir Ripe red and black cherries, currants, leather, black raspberries $38
'04 Syrah Black cherry, blackberry, hint of black pepper $32
650.529.0973; Fax: 650.529.0973
PO Box 716
Soledad, CA 93960
The vineyard is located 12 miles east of Soledad, but there is no tasting room. Wine purchases can be made on the winery's website.