Due Regazze Vineyards (JPB's Vines in Cameron Park, CA)

Thursday, May 5, 2011

Random Thoughts From the Winologist

April was just busy. Travel for my day job and for the holidays allowed me the opportunity to not only drink some great wine, but catch up with friends and family as well. Below are some notes and observations that you might find helpful. For those who have been following my farming hobby (Due Regazze Vineyard), I regret to inform you that an early April frost has wiped out much of the 2011 vintage. Mother Nature has once again reminded me that a farmer’s economic fate lies in her hands. With that said, the mother of my children (Mrs. Winologist) reminds me not to leave my day job!

This month’s favorite value: Bourassa Vineyards Synergy 2007 Cabernet- Raj from Lake Forest Wines turned me on to this and for $18 dollars a bottle, it is an absolute steal! It is hard to get a great quality Napa Valley Cab at this price point and the 2007 vintage is being talked up as the best Napa vintage of the decade. I picked up some black currant in the bouquet and black cherry once tasted. Although it was easy to drink upon opening, a little air really brought out the character of the wine.

Runner up Value: Owen Roe Sharecroppers 2008 Cabernet- I will be the first to admit I am a huge fan of Washington Wines and Owen Roe wine maker David O’Reilly has proven he can make great wines at all price points. This wine sells for the same price as the Synergy but is a bit more fruit forward which is probably the result of aging in neutral oak barrels.

Summer Treat: Frank Family 2009 Chardonnay-Need a white wine that needs to be impressive for a potential guest? Look no further than Frank Family. This winery is traditionally known for making great Zinfandel and Cabs but their Chardonnay is delicious as well. The price point is out of my white wine wheelhouse but for a special occasion, I would spend the $28 dollars and make a white wine drinker’s day.

Tasting in Sonoma: Recently, I was fortunate enough to host a wine tasting tour for some “day job” customers in Sonoma. We provided the transportation and they chose the wineries. I’ve always viewed Sonoma as a bit more laid back than Napa and also a little more economical. Turns out none of the wineries we visited could be classified as economical. To be fair, these small, boutique wineries are not trying to compete with the major brands that produce a half million cases of wine each year. They are marketing the concept of quality over quantity. All the wines tasted were delicious. However, I usually find when phrases such as “hand crafted” or “Artisan Wines” are used to describe a winery; the price of those wines will cost more than I usually pay.

Our group’s favorite stop was Sojourn Cellars. The wines were fabulous and our host, Lesli John was knowledgeable and very patient with a group that had the attention span of lab rats. We tasted four Pinot Noir wines and two Cabernets. All wines were priced between $40 and $70 dollars and have received scores in the 90’s from various wine publications. While you might find these wines online, you are most likely going to have to contact the winery to get them.

Soujourn 2009 Pinot Noir Rogers Creek Vineyard- Good structure
and balance with a familiar earthiness found in Pinot Noir. A great
quality wine that got better as it opened up. Drinkable now, but would
benefit with another year in the bottle.

Soujourn 2009 Pinot Noir Sonoma Coast- This non-vineyard
distinct wine was a blend of Pinot grapes grown from various
vineyards primarily from the southern end of the Sonoma Coast
appellation. I found it to be slightly more acidic than the Rogers
Creek but still well made and drinkable right now.

Soujourn 2009 Pinot Noir Sangiacomo Vineyard- Of the four Pinot
wines tasted, the Sangiacomo was my favorite by far. This wine had more body to it ( a cab drinkers preference) and had hints of dark cherry and raspberry picked up on the finish. The complexity reminded me of some of the Oregon Pinot wines I’ve tasted.

Soujourn 2009 Pinot Noir Gaps Crown Vineyard-This would be
My runner up to the Sangiacomo Pinot as it had identical complexity
but I felt this wine needs more time in the bottle to really show off its character. Because I lack the patience to hold wines of this quality,
I prefer owning something I can drink now.

Soujourn 2007 Spring Mountain Cabernet Sauvignon- Remember my thoughts on the Synergy; 2007 vintage is outstanding for Napa.
I found the Spring Mountain easy to drink with soft tannins and a smooth elegant finish. This is 100% Cabernet and if you prefer a medium bodied style Cab, this is a great pick.

Soujourn 2007 Howell Mountain Cabernet Sauvignon- Howell Mountain has been the home to many cult wines produced out of
Napa. The fruit from this area creates some of the most full bodied, bold, punch you in the mouth styled Cabs you can buy. This wine is
no exception. Although it was the most expensive wine tasted, I would prefer this wine over other big name cabs that are twice the price. I even picked up a bottle for my friend Crusty old Mick, who is a Howell Mountain wine aficionado, to taste. It’s just that good.

What I loved most about our tasting was Lesli’s explanation on the importance of Terroir. Terroir is another important sounding French word that describes a vineyard’s climate, soil, and growing conditions. You can have the greatest winemaker in the world, but if your grapes are grown in Iowa, the wine is going to be less than stellar. Lesli pointed out that all of their Pinot wines are made the same way: same oak barrels, same time in aging. The difference in flavors goes back to the type of grape and where it was produced. She even had jars of soil on the table to show the differences in location.

Overall, I enjoyed my trek into Sonoma and for those that feel Napa is getting a little too busy, I would recommend the journey. Just make sure to bring your credit card.

Until next month….


1 comment:

  1. Wish the wholesaler permit would hurry up so I could get involved in the Synergy....

    Great write up!