Napa Valley AVA
If passion and persistence have anything to do with success, Nick Allen and Carte Blanche Winery are well on their way
Nicholas Allen always felt destined to wind up in the wine business and continue his family’s long-standing history with the world of wine. His great grandfather was none other than the late Clarence Dillon, a half-French American financier whose love for French wine led him to purchase France’s oldest operating château, Château Haut-Brion, a Bordeaux masterpiece, in 1935. His family’s company, Domaine Clarence Dillon, also purchased Château La Mission Haut-Brion in 1983. Growing up on a farm in Bedminster, New Jersey, home to five generations of his family, Nicholas loved hearing the legendary stories of his family’s involvement in the French wine industry and from an early age it peaked his imagination.
After attending the University of Denver, Nicholas spent nearly ten years dabbling in real estate and starting a family, but the wine bug kept calling and he finally gave in. He had become fascinated by both the science and nature of great wines - the grand alliance between winemaker and nature, art and technology. Wine production became Nicholas’ professional passion and he was inspired to create his own boutique label in Napa Valley - Carte Blanche. With the help of his close friend, Luc Morlet, a noted French-born winemaker, Nicholas made his initial release in 2008.
Nicholas’ vision with Carte Blanche is to respect the terroir in each wine and honor what the Earth has given. He has selected specific vineyard sites, each with their own personality, to create wines of distinction, precision, and balance. Each bottling is made with a generations-old commitment to creating limited, hand-crafted wine through hands-on viticulture, vineyard management, and classical winemaking methods. Carte Blanche currently releases a Chardonnay, Pinot Noir, Cabernet Sauvignon and a handful of proprietary blends, all from premium sites in Napa Valley and Sonoma County.
In 2014, Nicholas handed the winemaking reins to Helen Keplinger, a noted winemaker in her own right. A UC Davis graduate, Helen boasts stints with the likes of the iconic Heidi Barrett and also Kathy Joseph (Fiddlehead Cellars), Michel Rolland (Harland Estate, Calla Valle) and David Abreu (Kenzo Estate, Abreu Vineyards). She also has extensive international experience with the noted Cellars Melis of the Spanish Priorat growing region just outside Barcelona. Helen has become known for making distinctive wines, for having a keen understanding of specific vineyard sites, and knowing how to make wines expressive of their place. She has also been named ‘Winemaker of the Year’ by Food & Wine magazine. It is with great pride that we present this Pinot Noir to our Garagiste Wine Club members, from an exceptional, under-the-radar producer. Please enjoy!