Knights Valley Wine Treasures From Tim Carl

Tim Carl shows what terroir really means

These days, everyone talks about terroir.

But sometimes the message in our glass can be hard to decipher.

That's why we appreciate Tim Carl's efforts in California's Knights Valley AVA, located within the narrow valley that divides Napa and Sonoma.

From a sixth-generation wine family, Carl oversees two brands, Knights Bridge and Pont de Chevalier. Each features its own winemaker and viticultural practices, resulting in two different expressions of the exact same place.

As the name suggests, the Pont de Chevalier line is elegant and French-inspired. The 2010 Pont de Chevalier Chardonnay ($45 for 750 ml) reminds us of the precise, steely whites of Burgundy, offering citrus-like aromas, flavors of crisp Asian pear, and the faintest kiss of oak. The 2010 Knights Bridge Chardonnay ($65 for 750 ml), on the other hand, is richer and rounder, a blend of toasted brioche and lemon meringue. Its golden color embodies the opulence for which the area is known.

Thanks to this study in contrasts, the Knights Valley itself comes into sharper focus. We can hear the region loud and clear, whether it's speaking with a French accent or a Californian drawl.