Uncorked Ventures Blog
Spring is always an exciting time of year and I’m not talking solely about the NCAA tournament, Major League baseball starting or even the end of the incessant wind here in the East Bay. There is a certain energy that we all find as winter holidays and the corresponding trips to Tahoe end and people get back into their regular schedules as we all wait for spring to come in fully.
The whole idea of winter ending came to me this week after seeing the plum tree in my backyard flower and then begin growing leaves and it made me think that bud break in Napa happened earlier than normal this year.
Our friends at Beringer tell us that bud break actually took place on their estate vineyards about a week ago, making it the earliest start to the growing season in well, a lifetime.
There’s an old wives tale of sorts in the Valley about bud break happening before the end of February(Carneros had it this year for the first time on record) and even the few growers we know who aren’t liable to complain about every change in the weather, thought we might have a season that early this time around as well. Luckily the vines held out almost another month in much of the Valley, although this break is still well earlier than normal even if it isn’t disastrously so.
In any case, what does the coming of spring mean for you? What’s on the agenda for travel plans, vacations and the kids summers?
Tasting Notes: We couldn’t resist finding another Russian River Pinot Noir which throws the entire idea of ripe and full California wine on its head. This is more Burgundy than traditional Sonoma, especially in a cooler than average 2010 vintage. Hints of berry fruit on the nose blends well with what we’re told is traditional Leras Family Vineyard, a hint of bacon. Both winemaker and the winery owner told us in no uncertain terms that this wine will, much like a high quality Burgundy require some patience. They held it in barrel for an addition 6 months & it will reward cellaring and patience-if not please decant.
About Chloe Creek and Leras Family Vineyard: One thing we’ve started to do, is to follow specific vineyards. Leras Family has been home to multiple 95+ point wines in recent years, which isn’t surprising since the vineyard is now in its 3rd generation of family ownership and has been planted continuously since 1918. Chloe Creek takes advantage of its status as a smaller producer (377 cases here) to pick up smaller parcels from outstanding vineyards and we think the commitment to quality shows here. Their winemaker Dan Fitzgerald received a large part of his wine education in Europe which helps to explain some of the stylistic choices here although his time as winemaker at Robert Sinskey helped to shape his vision of smaller production Sonoma Pinot Noir as well.
About Keefer Ranch: We’ve been told privately by a few winemakers that this Keefer Ranch selection might turn into the next cult Pinot Noir, then the San Francisco Chronicle ran the story, Keefer has been growing grapes for close to three decades now and wineries which buy from them is a virtual whose who in Sonoma Pinot Noir: Kosta-Browne, AP Vin, Freeman, Siduri and Failla among others, making this an intriguing choice. It’s also incredibly rare that a vineyard would sell their best fruit. At 309 cases with a wine that is truly family made, vineyard owner Marcy Keefer continues to oversee the vineyard while her son Craig handled winemaking duties, this is a wine that we’re proud to feature based on not only the vineyard designation, but also the ability to showcase a wine which may well be a household name within a few vintages.
Tasting Notes by the PrinceofPinot: The nose blossoms over time offering lovely scents of black cherries, nutmeg, cut flowers, and underbrush. A little darker and more intense than the 2007 offering, but remains a feminine style with pleasing delicate dark red cherry fruit, gossamer tannins, an alluring silkiness, with an intense cherry flavored finish. Beautifully balanced. Not offering all it is capable of now, this wine deserves further cellaring for at least a year
As part of our Wine Exploration Wine Club:
Rustridge Racehorse Red: Chiles, Napa Valley 2008: Tasting Notes: Full bodied as you’d expect from a Zinfandel and Cabernet blend, especially from a cooler climate region of Napa Valley. Hints of cherry and currants. We take away a hint or more of spice on the finish as well as a slinky texture-making it a nice pairing with not only steak but a large group of grilled meats including Mexican and Greek food as well.
About Rustridge & Why We Thought This Was Interesting: When we first heard about a winery that focused on both raising race horses and making wine, we admittedly were skeptical. However, when we started to hear more about the estate and how the vines were planted in the early 1970’s, but the winery wasn’t created for another 13 years, we became more interested. Since the estate is both organic and dry farmed, we thought it might be interesting for our consumers-but we weren’t sold until we found out that Kent Rosenblum has been their consulting winemaker for a generation. He’s certainly built, a legacy, reputation and brand on making quality and affordable zinfandel-so these Zin/Cabernet blends seemed like a better and better shot. Plus, it’s virtually impossible to find Rosenblum’s hand on a production level this small, only about 1k cases in total are produced. This is a wine which will remind you of the best of Napa, just not at the usual price.
So here's a small addition-we thought this was an interesting wine, partially because it carried many of the characteristic flavor profiles, smells and senses that come with traditional Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon. Of course, you don't find many Napa Valley Cabernet's at a $20 price point.
As part of our Wine Exploration Wine Club:
About Anthony Yount and Kinero. Anthony is starting to feel like an old friend in the wine industry and certainly among the first appointments I would make as a consumer when I traveled to Paso Robles.
This wine is labeled and sold under our old friend Anthony Yount’s Kinero Cellars brand, but is actually a joint project with another young winemaker, Amy Butler of Ranchero Cellars. The wine is a Pinot Gris, but they don’t label it as such because they make it in a Vinho Verde style. That’s winemaker speak for being as light and fresh of a white wine as you can find anywhere and can even remind some consumers of a sparkling wine at times. Vinho Verde is an area in Portugal that kept lighter styled red wines in the country afloat for about a hundred years before consumers tastes started to evolve again. Given Paso Robles (where these two winemakers are located) helped to save the Rhone varietals in California-making a wine from this area of Portugal is their way to pay homage to another wine region willing to take chances. Lastly, we can’t help but say congrats to Anthony-he was featured as one of the San Francisco Chronicle’s top 5 winemakers to watch in 2013!
Oh, you'll probably see something from Miss Butler in the next few months as well.
Tasting Notes: Much more Oregon in style than Paso-which shows the winemaking technique at play. A strong prototypical Pinot Gris nose of green fruit settles into a comfortable acidity. We enjoyed it with a summer salad on a warmer than normal Saturday evening. If you have friends who only tend to drink Chardonnay, this is a nice entry into other white wine’s and it won’t scare them off with bracing acidity or a flavor profile which is completely unfamiliar.
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