Mark Aselstine
May 24, 2011 | Mark Aselstine


Last week we talked a bit about the Atlas Peak AVA and some of the exciting things happening there, since our wine club customers have already received their February shipment we’re now comfortable taking some time to talk about the wine and winery which we featured from Atlas Peak.

Vinroc is located high on Atlas Peak and we were interested in tasting their wine as soon as we saw their marketing slogan which said there were “More Coyotes than Tourists” on the mountain. That sounds like hard to find wine.

When we arrived, we were immediately greeted by owner/winemaker Michael G. Parmenter who gave us a quick visual tour of the property. Michael and his wife “Kik” Lee are in the process of building their dream on Atlas Peak. They started by building the wine cave which is cut back into the mountainside and have now moved on to building their home and tasting room. It’s a well designed space which seems to be a year or so away from completion, until then you’ll be tasting in the same space which we did, the cave itself.

The vineyard sits directly below the site of their new home and the soon to be finished tasting room, which must have one of the best views of any vineyard on Atlas Peak. We were immediately struck by the size of the vineyard, at just under five acres it was easy to see the hands on effort which goes into this wine. Michael talked about being able to harvest literally berry by berry or vine by vine if need be. With an operation consisting of Michael, his wife and two vineyard hands it’s pretty clear that these are wines which are truly hand made.

Ok, about the wine itself. Let’s start with a couple impartial reviews from names you’ll probably recognize:

From Wine Spectator: “92 Points. Well-crafted, dark, rich, intense, concentrated and well-structured, with a mix of loamy earth, mineral, graphite and dried currant flavors that echo red and black licorice. Full-bodied, with a hint of new leather. Drink now through 2019. 325 cases made. —J.L.”

From Robert Parker: “An impressive 2007 Cabernet Sauvignon from the Atlas Peak area of Napa Valley, this dense ruby/purple wine has sweet tannin and a very floral nose intermixed with cassis and plum. Round, generous, seductive and opulent, this is a classic 2007-delicious, forward, and ideal for drinking over the next 10-15 years”. Rating: 90.”

One of the things that struck Matt and I while we tasted were the tannins of this wine. Parker nails it insider his review (as usual) when he says they are slightly sweet. That was our experience as well, not in a residual sugar kind of way, definitely not like a Port, but to me it was more reminiscent of a berry being left on the vine until the absolute peak of ripeness. We were also impressed at how approachable the wine is, especially considering it comes from mountain fruit. We discussed it in our Atlas Peak AVA article last week, but the cool breeze coming up Atlas Peak from Carneros allows the fruit to regain lost acidity at night and gives the fruit a longer growing season.

To us, that drink ability factor helped set this wine apart from other mountain fruit. It wasn’t as bitty or condensed as we were accustomed to from Howell Mountain or Mt. Veeder.

That drink ability is a really good thing for consumers though for any number of reasons, but we think it also kept scores down a few points simply because it’s slightly unexpected from mountain fruit. The bottom for us at Uncorked Ventures, we feel like Vinroc is one of those wineries which is going to deliver ever increasing scores as time goes by, even though the quality of wine is largely already there.


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