Balanced and Delicious: Pierano Estate Chardonnay


pierano

A lot of wine comes out of Lodi, California. And a lot of it doesn’t appeal to me.

But Pierano Estate Vineyards makes some fine Lodi wines. And they’ve been at it for a long time.

Pierano’s colorful history dates back to the Gold Rush days, when Giacomo Pierano got off the boat from Italy and set out to find gold. What he found instead were a lot of gold miners in need of everything from pick-axes to potatoes. He opened a Mercantile in one of Lodi’s mining camps and made good money supplying the other newcomers’ needs.

When he returned to Italy a few years later to fetch his bride, he took cuttings  of some Italian Zinfandel vines from his family’s vineyards. These he planted on his new land in Lodi, tending the vineyards and selling grapes while his wife worked the store.pierano 2

Let’s skip to the next generation, who were at the helm of Pierano Estate Vineyards when Prohibition was declared. Many wineries went bust during those 13 years, but Pierano actually profited. Because Zinfandel grapes were their only crop, and Zin had not yet been recognized by the government as “wine” grapes, they were able to make good money bootlegging their grapes to Italian home winemakers in New York and Canada. Good thinking!

Pierano is now run by the fourth generation, who have been making and selling their own wine for almost 20 years. They use many of great-grandfather Giacomo’s methods, such as head pruning their old vine Zinfandel and hand picking their grapes, but have expanded to many more varietals.

Let me back up now and explain my opening statement, that I don’t like many Lodi wines. The climate in this region, which sits at the base of the Sierra Nevada foothills, is quite warm. Many of the wines I’ve tasted from Lodi have flavors that are over-ripe, cooked, and raisin-y.

The Pierano wines I’ve tasted are different. Their Viognier is crisp and clean, which shows great balance compared to many of the cloying, overly-rich Viogniers on the market. They also do two very fun blends, “The Other” White and Red, that are well-balanced and very popular with my customers.

Pierano’s 2008 Lodi Chardonnay is also a pleasant surprise. The nose shows warm vanilla and spice, and leads to a palate that’s rich but not over-ripe. The fruit is tropical and the mouth-feel is creamy, but nothing is too heavy. The finish is soft, but doesn’t get weighed down by too much “butter.” In short, this wine is well-balanced. Yes! That’s what I look for in a Chardonnay.

I checked the winemaker’s notes and was pleasantly surprised to see some winemaking practices I wouldn’t expect in a wine at this price ($12 or so). The fruit is hand-picked, and done in two stages so that the first-picked grapes retain lots of natural acidity and the second batch capture the ripeness. The wine is also 100% French oak aged, which ain’t easy to afford these days, when a single French oak barrel goes for $1200 or so.

Peirano’s website says that the family is out to make the best wines in Lodi, and based on what I’ve tasted, they get my vote.

Cheers!


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3 Responses to “Balanced and Delicious: Pierano Estate Chardonnay”

  • Thanks for your observations on the 2008 Chardonnay. Just tried it and was pleasantly surprised. Quite elegant for the price and I do appreciate value as I try to be fiscally responsible in spite of my affliction!
    Can you recommend any of their other wines?

    • Hi Linda — Glad you enjoyed the Pierano Chard. You should try their blends, “The Other” White and “The Other” Red. The white contains Chardonnay, Sauvignon Blanc and a bit of Viognier, and it’s unoaked so there’s no “woody” taste at all: great pear, melon and tropical fruit with a crisp, snappy finish. The red is a blend of Cabernet, Merlot and Syrah, so it’s quite full-bodied. The Merlot gives some rich plum fruit, and the Syrah adds a hint of smokiness: bold but not dusty dry on the finish. Both wines usually sell for $12 or less.
      Give them a try and let me know what you think!

  • hey great information your site contains will return when I have time to read more.

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