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Posts Tagged ‘Pinot Noir’


Indie Winemakers attended a preview of the 2008 vintage and wines new to the USA market. Wines were arranged by variety, region and vintage.  The event was sponsored by the New Zealand wine and grape industry found at www.nzwine.com.  Featured Wineries included:
Allan Scott Family Winemakers, Amisfield Wine Company, Anchorage Wines, Artisan Wines, Babich Wines, Brancott Vineyards, Cape Campbell Wines, Carrick, Clos Henri Vineyard, Craggy Range, The Crater Rim, The Crossings, Dashwood, Drylands Wines, Eradus Wines, Fairhall Downs Estate Wines, Forrest Estate Winery, Framingham Wines, Giesen Wines, Gladstone Vineyard, Goldwater, Gunn Estate Wines, Hans Family Estate, Huia Vineyards, Invivo Wines, Isabel Estate Vineyard, Kemblefield Estate Winery, Kennedy Point Vineyard, Kim Crawford Wines, Lawson’s Dry Hills Wines, Man O’ War Vineyards, Matua Valley Wines, Monkey Bay, Mount Grey Estate, Mt Difficulty Wines, Mud House Wines, Nautilus Estate, Nobilo, Omaka Springs Estates, Oyster Bay New Zealand, Palliser Estate Wines of Martinborough, Prophets Rock, Rapaura Springs, Saint Clair Family Estate, Seifried, Spy Valley Wines, Staete Landt Vineyard, Stoneleigh, Surveyor Thomson Wines, Te Mania, Terrace Heights Estate, Trinity Hill, Vavasour, Villa Maria Estate, Vinoptima Estate, Waipara Springs Wines, Wild Earth Wines, Winegrowers of Ara, Wither Hills Vineyards Marlborough and Woollaston Estates.

Here’s a bit about the viticultural areas of New Zealand and the varietals that we found to be best of that region (South Island to North Island):

Central Otago – Great Pinot Noir
Canterbury/Waipara – Pino Noir and Reisling
Nelson – Sauvignon Blanc, Pinot Noir
Marlborough – King of Sauvignon Blanc, nice Pinots as well
Wairarapa – Pinot Noir
Hawkes Bay – Bordeaux style, Rhone style and Syrah
Gisborne – Gewurztraminer
Waiheke Island – Syrah

Man O War – no US distribution, yet.  Keep an eye out for their wines, they are big yet very well balanced. The Chardonnay was fermented and matured in new french oak.  Fresh citrus of lemmon and melon with enough acid backbone to provide a clean taste.  Definite cedar notes on the nose and mid-palatte.  The Cab Franc was deep ruby in color, deep blackberry fruit, clean, big monster, youthful, very ripe, pleasant cherry fruit flavors, dominated by tannins; long finish.

Saint Clair – had several vineyard designated Sauvignon Blancs to try.  Most of these wines do not make it to the States.  My favorite was the 2008 Saint Clair Wairau Reserve Sauvignon Blanc. Very pale green, bright; sweet, ripe, grassy, lemony, gooseberry, grapefruit-citric aromas with a faint hint of mineral; big, sweet, ripe, grapefruit, grassy, somewhat rich flavors; slightly tart, crisp balance; long finish.

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Indie Winemakers attended the Santa Lucia Highlands Trade tasting event Monday, April 7. 

Not being a big Pinot Noir & Chardonnay drinker, I had lots to learn on this trip.  I’ve heard of the influences this region has had on the great Bergundian grape but had not had an opportunity to taste them.  First, I must say how friendly and straight-forward the winemakers are here.  I met several who were probably suprised that I had not heard of them, but were very gracious and took the time to explain their passion of this region.  It was obvious that they were in it for the passion of winemaking and the SLH AVA.

I am now on every ones waiting list and joined as many wine clubs as I could possibly afford.  YeHaw.

Many well known vintners and brands from outside the Santa Lucia Highlands rely on the appellation’s grapes for their top vintages. The prevalent varietals grown here are Chardonnay and Pinot Noir with some Syrah.  Many of the wineries below poured wine sourced from grapes grown at Garys’ Vineyard, Rosella’s Vineyard and Sleepy Hollow’ Vineyard.  Considered to the be the premiere vineyards of the region, each winemaker had their own presentation of the fruit.  Rather than try and give a review of each winery’s final product, we have given a general observation about the differences between these vineyards.

Gary’s Vineyard from SLH.  Gary’s aroma was full of dark berries.  There was a lot of sweet fruit in the mouth. Strawberry, raspberry and cherry jam was noted. On the mid-pallet, the wine felt rich, lush and smooth.

Rosella’s Vineyard from SLH.   Rosella’s was a bit brighter in taste.  Rather than dark berries, I noted more cherry on the nose and palate. On the mid-pallet, the wine felt rich, lush and smooth.

Sleepy Hollow’ Vineyard – from SLH.  These grapes were planted in 1973 making them the oldest Pinot Noir vines in North America.  The result is intense fruit aromas of plum and spice. On the palate, we tasted cherry and blackberry with smokey undertones.  The minerality of these grapes created a very smooth and long finish.  

The following are wineries we were able to attended at this event.  We missed many more. Here are our notes:

Boekenoogen – Family owned vineyard that until recently, was only selling grapes to other wineries.   Tried the 06 Chardonnay $30 retail, 350 cases produced.  Light yellow-green; complex, attractive butter and mineral aromas show lees, malolactic fermentation and oak; mineral deep flavors; soft mouthfeel, medium to full body with richness; balanced. Pleasing, complex style; very nice wine
Belle Glos – Belle Glos showcases distinctive single-vineyard Pinot Noirs produced from some of California’s top wine-growing regions.  Met with winemaker Joseph Wagner at this event.  Great guy with a real passion for winemaking.  He spoke in length about the Gambit Series “Gary’s Vineyard” Pinot Noir. Produced without adding sulpher, these are fragile wines!  But the result is a wine with depth, complexity and texture.  This had lots of ripe fruit and spicy aromas. In the mouth its full bodied, very soft and supple with great balance. Those aromas expand and explode in wave after wave of intensity as you breathe out through your nose.  Get it if you can find it…..

Bernardus – Met with winemaker Dean Dekorth.  Cool guy with a sense of humor to go with the serious side of winemaking.  Tried the 05 Rosella’s Vineyard Chardonnay.  500 cases produced $40 retail.  This wine is showing really nice right now.  Straw yellow. Toasted oak and muted tropical notes of pineapple and guava. Full bodied with excellent flavor on the palate. Impressive balance, not overly fat or buttery, with crisp acidity.

Cru – Met with winemaker Michael Leven and bonded over leaving the corporate world to start somthing we love and the importance of food and wine pairing.  Great guy who puts a capital A in artesian winemaking.  Cru is focused on site-designated Chardonnays and Pinot Noirs from Monterey County.  Tried the 06 Chardonnay Vigne De Monte Nero Vineyard 200 cases produced retails for $29.99.  This wine has bright fruit flavors and acidity.  A beautiful harmony of fruit and oak provide the main theme, followed by a lingering, well-rounded finish. I was thinking how great a cold dungeness crab salad would taste with it. 

Kosta Browne – Met with winemaker Michale Brown.  History – the guy starts out in the restaurant business, decides to become a sommelier, then determines that he should start making wine.  So, he goes over to a great winery run by Robert Rex called Deerfield Ranch and becomes assistant winemaker.  In 2001,  2 days after 9/11 he and his partners put together a prospectus to raise money for a new winery, and succeed!  Today, they sell their Pinot Noir and a little Syrah on a mailing list allocation that reaches a 10 year waiting list.  Tried the 06 Rosella’s and Gary’s Vineyard from SLH.  Folks, get on the mailing list and wait your turn to get these well crafted wines.
Loring – This winery is focused on Pinot Noir.  They produce single vineyard designated wines from 14 vineyards.  As mony other wineries pouring here today, they focus on sourcing Pinot Noir grapes from the best vineyards in each appelation known for Pinot Noir. They poured the Gary’s and Rosella’s Vineyard 06 Pinot Noir. This is a winery worth trying. I can’t wait to try their complete production.

Paraiso – This winery was pouring Chardonnay, Pinot Noir and Syrah.  Most of their Vineyard Designates wines are produced in small lots totaling less than 300 cases each. I especially liked the Eagles Perch Chardonnay which showed great balance with rich white burgundian flavors.  Their West Terrace Pinot Noir was my favorite of the wine I tasted at this winery.  This had lots of dark fruit and spicy aromas. In the mouth its full bodied, very soft and smooth with great balance.

Pisoni – The family that introduced the “Pisoni Clone” Pinot Noir to the region also makes a few barrels for those on their mailing list.  Tried both the Gary’s Vineyard and Estate Pinot Noir.  Both showed long-term aging potential with a tight core but open fruit flavors.

Robert Talbott – Just my luck – arrived at the table closest to the entrance last!  Went clockwise and they were last on the clockwise tour.  There was very little left to taste – but I did get to try the Talbott Chardonnay – Sleepy Hollow vineyard.  Made in the Bergundian style, it was creamy , rich with mineral notes.
Six Strings – As the name implys, the winemakers are both guitarists who share a passion for making excellent wines in small lots that are inspired by great music.  Their motto: “Less Masking – More Tasting.” Keeping with the non-invasive winemaking techniques, both the Chardonnay and Pinot Noir were nicely balanced – Mozart anyone?

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