Claiborne & Churchill, located in San Luis Obispo, has a focus on the dry, white wines of the Alsace region of France. They produce about 10,000 cases of wine a year with a focus on traditional European winemaking techniques. It’s a gem of a winery if you love great whites.
The grapes for this wine come from the first real harvest of the Estate Riesling vineyard at Claiborne & Churchill. Unlike most producers, C&C using barrel aging even on their Riesling. Their 2010 Estate Dry Riesling was in neutral oak barrels for four months.
This was a microscopically small bottling, with only 180 cases produced. So we enjoyed savoring this wine.
While the minerality is not as pronounced as a Finger Lakes Riesling, the barrel aging adds to the complexity. It is almost bone dry at 0.3% residual sugar, so the focus is on the texture and subtle flavors, rather than the fruit. There is a bit of earthiness, great acidity and maybe even a bit of “petrol” such as may be found with aged Riesling.
At $25, this is a great buy. Of California Riesling producers, Claiborne & Churchill certainly ranks among our favorites.