Exploring new wineries never gets old! On this crisp spring day, we had the pleasure of discovering a hidden gem in Livermore: Enoteca Five.
As the number of wineries in Livermore grows, by necessity their footprint must expand. Research Drive, just off Vasco Road, has become home to several wineries, including Wood Family Vineyards and Arroyo Cellars. Continuing around Research drive, past Wood Family, and then past Arroyo Cellars, one comes to Enoteca Five. The tasting room is tucked into the left side of a single story tilt-up building, so sharp eyes are required. It is worth the effort!
The tasting room area is designed to optimize the tasting experience. We especially appreciated the solid white tabletop that formed the bar, allowing the color and density of each glass of wine to be easily evaluated. The space was bright and cheerful, with every element in some way connecting back to wine and wine making.
As we entered, we were greeted by owner/winemaker Michael Chalkley. Like many winemakers, Michael began by making wine at home. After taking some winemaking courses at Saint Mary’s College, he took a position at the Wine Commune, an early on-line auction company enabling budding winemakers to build a customer base without their own bond. This allowed Michael to rapidly expand his knowledge while dipping his toe in the wine market. He then moved to Premier Cru before taking a harvest internship at Dash Cellars, where he met Shauna Rosenblum who went on to open Rock Wall Wine Company. He also spent time working with Kevin and Barbara of R&B Cellars before heading to the Livermore Valley. With such a pedigree, it is no surprise that he is now enjoying success with his own label!
Michael started our tasting with his 2017 “Wanderlust” Chardonnay. We enjoyed the crisp citrus and kumquat notes and thought that it showed the complexity of a red wine in a white wine’s body. Off to a great start! Michael then went off the flight, taking some of his unreleased 2018 Riva Ranch Chardonnay, which was just completing a 15 month aging in French oak barrels. Already smooth, creamy, and delicious, we can’t wait for this to be available for purchase. Our next taste was one of our favorites: a 2011 Cabernet Franc, made from Russian River fruit. Reminiscent of Loire Valley Cabernet Franc wines, the clarity and nuance made friends all around. This wine leapt to the head of our take Home list.
Next up was another favorite: a 2017 Zinfandel from Duarte Vineyards in Oakley. This wine really showcased the fruit of the Zinfandel varietal without the aggressive spice and tannins of many hot-climate Zins. Once again to the Take Home list. We wrapped up our tasting flight with a 2017 Cabernet Sauvignon, blended with a splash of Ghielmetti Vineyards Merlot. Soft and engaging, this wine showed plum and blueberry notes leading to a ghostly finish. Quite a nice showing for the varietal.
With a Take Home list bursting at the seams, Michael packaged up all of our wine as we expressed our appreciation. We promised ourselves that we would return to Enoteca Five soon!
About the Author: John grills a mean steak and is always in the market for another wine fridge. Believes that if a winery has more than 10 employees, it's probably too big. Buys wine faster than he drinks it, but who cares?