Tag Archives: California

Visit to Thomas Fogarty Winery – Pinot Noir, Chardonnay and some Nebbiolo from a beautiful spot in the Santa Cruz Mountains

At Thomas Fogarty Winery I met with the knowledgeable, friendly and very engaged Marshal White who gave me a good tour of both cellar and vineyards. We also had an extensive tasting including both different vintages and a wide range of vineyards.

At Thomas Fogarty Winery they also experiment with the Nebbiolo grape and I had a chance to try some of their vintages from the barrel. Being a fan of the Nebbiolo grape I found this very interesting and I am excited about their work with the grape. Personally I think their philosophy of how to manage the grape, with a hands-off approach and avoidance of oak influence, is good, and my initial impressions were positive.

A few short notes about how Thomas Fogarty Winery produce their wines

  • They use natural yeast for fermentation
  • The Pinot Noirs age 12 months in oak of which approximately 15-20% new oak.
  • The Chardonnays age 12 months in oak and 6 months in stainless steel.
  • They use approximately 35% whole clusters for the Pinot Noirs.
  • Acidity and alcohol are never adapted artificially and they do not use other additives than as little sulfur dioxide as possible
  • They do not have any certification for the work in the vineyards, but they are inspired by organic, sustainable, and biodynamic practices.

Tasting notes for the wines from Thomas Fogarty Winery

2012 Thomas Fogarty Chardonnay Portola Springs Vineyard

Intense tropical fruit where some sharp pineapple notes dominate but also citrus and some slight oak notes. There is a fresh lime acidity with good precision and this gives a mouthwatering finish to the wine.
2013 Thomas Fogarty Chardonnay Albutom Santa Cruz Mountains

The nose is elegant but rather restrained with fresh stone fruit and some lime. On the palate there are similar fruit notes but also a vibrant lime acidity. This is a very precise and well balanced wine that has a long life ahead.

2013 Thomas Fogarty Chardonnay Langley Hill Vineyard

Ripe pineapple and other tropical fruit notes but also some smoke and floral notes. The acidity is rather soft and with lemon notes. This is a generous and rather broad wine.
2013 Thomas Fogarty Pinot Noir Santa Cruz Mountains

High pitched and intense fruit notes with some floral notes as well. Has an acidic attack on the palate but of good quality and it complements the fruit that is rather dense on the palate. Nice personality on this entry level Pinot Noir.

2013 Thomas Fogarty Pinot Noir La Vida Bella Vineyard

From a vineyard near the coast, with sandy soil.

An abundance of strawberries, raspberries and marzipan on this fresh and rather forward wine. The tannins are very silky and the acidity careful. Straight forward and rather fruity Pinot Noir with a slim profile.

2013 Thomas Fogarty Pinot Noir Mindego Ridge

Planted 2009 with Dijon clone.

Rather dark fruit on this dense Pinot Noir with cherries and some blackberries but also some earthy notes and spices. High acidity and with a tannic bite. This wine has a Gevrey Chambertin touch to it. Will be interesting to see how this vineyard will develop.

2012 Thomas Fogarty Pinot Noir Will’s Cabin Vineyard

This is a rather slim and tight wine with young berry notes of mainly raspberries and strawberries. The acidity is rather high and the fine grained tannins have a sharp bite. Will be interesting how this wine evolves, but it will need some time to integrate. Right now it is slightly harsh.

2014 Thomas Fogarty Pinot Noir Will’s Cabin Vineyard

On both nose and palate the raspberries are in the front seat but there are also darker notes from blackberries, licorice and herbs. On the palate the acidity is soft and with a tingling sensation and the fruit gets a sweet touch. Very pleasant and easy to like Pinot Noir.

2013 Thomas Fogarty Pinot Noir Kent Berry Vineyard

Own rooted Mount Eden clone, planted 1990.

Quite careful nose but still with some dense cherries, blackberries and hints of marzipan. Nice acidity with a cool expression and fine grained tannins with some bite. On the palate the fruit is slightly tart. This wine is rather closed right now but has great potential.

2012 Thomas Fogarty Pinot Noir Rapley Trail Vineyard

This is an open and forward wine with cherries, dark berries and some herbal and spicy notes. The palate shows some fine grained tannic structure and a soft but precise acidity. Generous and easy to enjoy Pinot Noir.

Summary of impressions from the visit to Thomas Fogarty Winery

My impressions of the wines from Thomas Fogarty Winery are very positive. These are well balanced wines with nice transparency, beautiful multi layered fruit notes and good structure. Some of the wines show slight oak notes but these are not particularly dominant. This is a winery that focus much on their great vineyards and they have a rather hands-off approach in the cellar. For me the quality of their Chardonnays was a positive surprise.

The Chardonnays from Thomas Fogarty Winery are rather different depending on which vineyard they are from, but some common denominators are the tropical fruit and the citric acidity. My favorite was the 2013 Albutom Chardonnay that had a rather restrained profile but and amazingly precise and energetic acidity.

For the Pinot Noirs I had a chance to try wines from 2012 to 2014 and from several vineyards, and again the terroir and vintage shine through in the personalities of the different wines. Some general characteristics are a rather dense fruit notes that can range from slightly sweet strawberries to some intense blackberries. The acidity is of good quality and several wines has a clear tannic bite. My favourite was the 2013 Kent Berry Vineyard Pinot Noir.

 

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Visit to Calera – A true legend and part of Pinot Noir history in California

Introduction to Calera

In april I visited the Calera winery. During the visit I also had an opportunity to meet with Josh Jensen who is very friendly but also has strong and firm opinions. We had an interesting discussion about his search for the perfect region for Pinot Noir in California. He tells me that after discussions with friends in Burgundy they agreed that limestone was essential for producing top level Pinot Noir.

Eventually he found some land with a huge limestone deposit, close to Mt. Harlan in the San Benito district and in 1974 he purchased the land. The elevation is 2200 feet, making it one of the highest elevation vineyards in California. When he found the land he immediately knew this was the right place and there was not really any runners-up or other areas he considered before acquiring the property. Still it was a gamble to buy land where no one had planted vines before. The first three vineyards were planted in 1975 and then in 1982 he acquired further land close by which was planted the following years.

Tasting notes for the wines from Calera

2014 Calera Chardonnay Central Coast

Zesty expression with an abundance of citrus but also pineapple notes. There are some notes of flint and oak on the nose but it does not get dominant. Nice, juicy and well made Chardonnay.

2014 Calera Viognier Mt Harlan

For their Viognier they use the older barrels to ensure no oak notes reach the wine.

Layers of fruit notes from lychee, orange, lime and apricot on both nose and palate in this opulent but still balanced wine. For a Viognier the acidity is fresh and mouthwatering and stays in the finish of the wine, where there also is a slight bitterness.

2016 Calera Pinot Noir Vin Gris

An abundance of red fruit where raspberries dominate the palate but where we also get some grapefruit and lime. On the palate there is an explosion of fresh berries and a fresh lemon acidity.

2014 Calera Pinot Noir

This is a nice “basic Pinot Noir” with both red and black fruit and some herbal notes both on nose and palate. The acidity is rather careful but still enough to give some energy to the wine.

2013 Calera Pinot Noir Selleck

Beautiful nose with ripe raspberries, blueberries and some ethereal notes. A dense but not powerful expression on the fruit. The acidity is mouthwatering and the tannins are rather chewy for a Pinot Noir, especially in the finish. This is a masculine Pinot Noir with some attitude and complexity.

2014 Calera Pinot Noir Reed Vineyard

Even though the fruit is rather dense this is a fresh and energetic Pinot Noir. The palate is intense with blackberries, blueberries and some hints of raspberries and some notes of minerals. This is a rather fruit-forward wine with a pure expression.

2014 Calera Pinot Noir Jensen Vineyard

Very intense nose with mainly red fruit and with a dominance of raspberries, but underneath there are some soft dark fruit notes. There is a tannic bite in the finish and a hint of alcohol notes come through. Still this wine gets a precise and energetic expression because of the fresh acidity. A great Pinot Noir that will have a long life ahead.

Summary of impressions from Calera

Calera is truly a legendary winery in California and they have some amazing vineyards, resulting in an impressive line-up of single vineyard wines, especially for Pinot Noir.

Their Pinot Noirs have a rather masculine expression with layers of mainly dark fruit but also a fresh, cool acidity. These are wines truly showing a sense of place in their transparency to the terroir. The fruit notes were denser and darker than I expected but always with a good balance.

The white and the rosé all show an energetic acidity and some young fresh fruit notes. I also like the fresh citric acidity.

My favorites were the 2014 Pinot Noir Jensen Vineyard and the 2013 Pinot Noir Selleck.

 

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Tasting of Domaine de la Côte, with winemaker Sashi Moorman

In March I attended a wine tasting with Sashi Moorman at Arlequin Wine Merchant in San Francisco. Sashi had brought wine from three different labels where he is the wine maker. These are Sandhi, Domaine de la Côte and Evening Land Vineyards. The first two are based in Lompoc in Santa Barbara and the last is in Oregon.

In this post I just present notes for the Domaine de la Côte wines and I will later publish one from Sandhi and one from Evening Land where I also have visited.

Summary of impressions from Domaine de la Côte

The Pinot Noirs from Domaine de la Côte has intense, pure and rather dense fruit notes, but also a slight herbal and spicy expression. The texture is silky and smooth and they have nice acidity with some tension. These are very elegant and precise wines that can be enjoyed in their youth but also should have a long life ahead.

My favorite was the Bloom’s Field 2014.

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Tasting notes for Domaine de la Côte

2014 Domaine de la Côte Pinot Noir Estate Sta. Rita Hills

An abundance of strawberries but also some nice raspberry notes, combined with fresh menthol. Nice silky texture and a precise acidity on the palate. This is a precise and elegant Pinot Noir in a rather straight forward style.

2014 Domaine de la Côte Pinot Noir Bloom’s Field

100% whole clusters.

Pure fruit notes from raspberries and strawberries combined with some cherries on the nose. On the palate we also get orange peel and some fresh spices combined with a juicy lime acidity. I also find some earthy notes and smoke, especially in the finish. This Pinot Noir has both some energy and depth in a good balance.

2013 Domaine de la Côte Pinot Noir Bloom’s Field

Intense wine with an abundance of herbal notes, smoke, mushroom and dark fruit from boysenberries, cherries and blueberries. On the palate there are clear notes of eucalyptus and some oranges. The acidity is rather soft but still with some tension. This is a dense, complex and slightly heavy Pinot Noir.

2013 Domaine de la Côte Pinot Noir Memorious

50% whole cluster.

Nice red fruit from strawberries and raspberries combined with some darker cherries. On the palate there is a fresh lime acidity and some fine grained tannins but also some notes of pepper and herbs. Well balanced Pinot Noir that is already approachable.

Visit to Anthill Farms – A young producer that already have a dedicated fan base

Introduction to Anthill Farms

In March I visited Anthill farms during one of my day trips to Sonoma. Before this visits I had only tried two of their wines, both Pinot Noirs. The reason Anthill Farms ended up on my list of producers to visit is that they seem to have a very dedicated group of followers. Several persons have recommended their wines passionately and one person even gave me a bottle to taste.

This is a young producer, founded in 2004, which is part of the New California movement making wines that are less ripe and with a transparency towards vineyards and vintages. They use very little new oak, harvest relatively early and intervene as little as possible in the cellar.

Tasting notes for the wines from Anthill Farms

2015 Anthill Farms Pinot Noir Sonoma Coast

40 percent whole clusters, no new oak and they have gone through a cold soak.

Fresh and juicy Pinot Noir with an abundance of bright red fruit where raspberries dominate. The acidity adds a coolness to a palate that is slim and precise. Some herbal notes appear both on nose and palate.

2015 Anthill Farms Pinot Noir Harmony Lane Vineyard

This wine has two different styles; a rather fruit forward nose with quite ripe strawberries and raspberries, and a palate with a citric acidity that is slightly harsh at the moment. This results in a wine that is both generous and energetic, but at the moment it is not in perfect balance. There are also some bayleaf notes on both nose and palate.

2015 Anthill Farms Pinot Noir Campbell Ranch Vineyard

Young red fruit, mainly from raspberries, combined with some eucalyptus notes results in a fresh expression. On the palate the wine gets some attitude with a tannic bite and some energetic acidity. I recognize this style from my tasting at Kutch wines. I think this wine will develop very good and if you are not sensitive to tannins and a sharp acidity it is a good food wine already today.

2015 Anthill Farms Pinot Noir Peters Vineyard

From 30 year old vines.

Dense and layered fruit notes with blackberries, blueberries and an abundance of strawberries opens up this wine. On the palate a nice and precise acidity balances the fruit notes and we get a sandy tannic structure. The finish is mouthwatering and this wine is very approachable already now but should also have a long life ahead. Great wine.

2015 Anthill Farms Pinot Noir Tina Marie Vineyard

Green valley. Fertile soil and high humidity.

Expressive nose with intense berry notes, mainly from dark berries, but some red also appear after a while. The acidity has some lemon notes and gets slightly harsh and they dominate the wine in the finish. This wine is not in perfect balance yet, but hopefully this will improve with some time.

2015 Anthill Farms Chardonnay Peugh Vineyard

This is an intense Chardonnay with an abundance of green apples, some stone fruit and fresh lime fruit. On the palate the lime fruit takes a more dominant position, especially in the fresh finish.

Summary of impressions from Anthill Farms

I am very impressed with the high and even quality level at Anhill farms. These are wines that are made to last and they will develop with time, still they are approachable and pleasant to drink already today.

The Pinot Noirs have pure and intense fruit notes that shows a rather dense profile on the nose, but then on the palate the acidity gives a more slim expression that stays is a fresh finish. The wines are more dense than I expected considering that this is a producer going for early harvest and lower alcohol levels. None of the wines have showed any signs of being under ripe. I look forward to tasting some of their wines with some more age.

I only tried one Chardonnay and it was fresh and energetic and reminded me of Chardonnay from Chablis.

My favorite wines in the tasting were the Pinot Noirs from Peters Vineyard and Campbell Ranch Vineyard

 

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Visit to Sanford Winery – with a treasure of vineyards

During my stay in Santa Barbara I visited the tasting room of Sandford Winery in the city center. This was not planned ahead so I did not book a meeting with anyone working with their vineyards of in their cellar. Still the tasting gave a good presentation of their wines and I was able to get answers to my questions about the wines.

Some short facts about how Sanford Winery produce their wines

Chardonnays:

  • They go through 100%  malolactic fermentation
  • Approximately 14-15 months in oak, of which 40-50% are new

Pinot Noirs:

  • Fermented in stainless steels
  • 100% whole clusters
  • 12 to 15 months in oak and approximately 40% new

Tasting notes for the wines from Sanford Winery

2013 Sanford Chardonnay La Rinconada Vineyard

14,5% alcohol and aged in 40% new oak.

Nice nose with apples and pears combined with pineapple, spices and hints of vanilla. Smooth on the palate with a careful but citric acidity, containing lemon and lime. The acidity gets more intense in the finish. This is a nice Chardonnay with some energy from the acidity and denseness in the fruit, but it lacks some elegance and precision for a top score.

2013 Sanford Chardonnay La Entrada

14,5% alcohol and aged in 40% new oak.

Green pear, apricot, spices and alcohol notes on the nose. Some juicy lemon acidity takes a dominant role on the palate. This is a juicy and rather fresh Chardonnay that unfortunately lacks some precision and focus, especially on the acidity.

2013 Sanford Viognier Sanford & Benedict Vineyard

Very fresh expression, especially for a Viognier. Some stone fruit, green apples and fresh white flowers. Soft and elegant on both nose and palate. Great balance on this rather slim Viognier.

2014 Sanford Pinot Noir La Rinconada Vineyard

Rather warm on the nose, with mainly red fruit from lingonberries and raspberries but also some dark blackberry notes appear. Dense and dark on the palate, especially compared with other Rinconadas I have tried. There are also some pepper notes. Acidity is good and with some lime notes.

2014 Sanford Pinot Noir Sanford & Benedict Vineyard

13 months in French Oak (40% new)

This wine has layers of fruit notes from boysenberries, strawberries and blueberries, but also some herbal notes adding a freshness. The palate is well balanced with a lime acidity and a velvety tannic structure. In the finish some spice notes also appear. This is a rather complex wine with good balance between the dense fruit and the acidity and structure.

Summary of impressions from visit to Sanford Winery

Sanford Winery own the famous Sanford & Benedict Vineyard and the La Rinconada Vineyard, ensuring them access to amazing fruit. They therefore have a very interesting line up of exciting wines. In general they are rather ripe and dense and show some oak notes.

The Pinot Noirs are rather dark and dense in their character with some notes of alcohol and pepper. The level of acidity is not super high but for the wines I tasted it was enough to create an ok balance.

The different white wines I tasted were quite different in style and my favorite was the Viognier that was surprisingly lively and energetic. The Chardonnays had potential, but I lacked some balance.

My favorites were the Sanford & Benedict Viognier and Pinot Noir, with the Chardonnay from La Rinconada not trailing far behind.

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Visit to LUTUM wines – Single vineyard Chardonnay and Pinot Noir with strong character and sense of place

LUTUM wines is a cooperation between entrepreneur Bill Price and winemaker Gavin Chanin. They produce single vineyard Chardonnay and Pinot Noir from quality vineyards in California and the ambition is to convey the terroir of the vineyards.

I tasted these wines together with a tasting of the Chanin wines, where Gavin also is the winemaker. You can read about the Chanin wines here.

A few short notes about how LUTUM produce their wines

  • They use only native yeast
  • In the cellar, gravity is used as much as possible in the process
  • The wines are 100% destemmed
  • They use a cold soak for 4-5 days
  • No other additives other than a small amount of SO2
  • No filtration
  • Aging in French oak, of which approximately 25% are new.
  • Grapes used: Pinot Noir and Chardonnay

Tasting notes for the wines from LUTUM

2014 Lutum Pinot Noir Gap’s Crown Vineyard

Generous nose with notes of blackberries, blueberries and raspberries and a juicy palate where the dark fruit dominates. The tannic structure is sand and after a while some licorice and eucalyptus appear. Nice cool acidity to balance the darker notes in the wine.

2013 Lutum Pinot Noir Bien Nacido

Their Bien Nacido is from the older blocks in this huge vineyard that includes both sand and clay, and the latter dominated where this fruit is from.

Rather dark fruit notes from blackberries and blueberries but also some fresh raspberries. Similar on the palate where we also get a nice and precise acidity, some earthy notes and hints of oak and in the finish the alcohol comes through slightly. I would wait a while before opening this wine but the potential is good.

2014 Lutum Chardonnay Durell Vineyard

An abundance of green apples and lime on both nose and palate. The acidity is juicy and the fruit is slightly more ripe on the palate where there also are some slight oak notes. This is a rather classical Chardonnay but with a fresh juicy expression.

Summary of impressions from the visit to LUTUM

The Pinot Noirs from LUTUM wines show dark fruit notes, spices and sometimes licorice and hints of oak. This could result in a rather heavy profile on the wines but they are nicely balanced by a racy and precise acidity. My impression is that these wines will need some time to integrate and smoothen the edges, but the potential is great. The Pinot Noirs are also very different depending on vineyard, especially since grapes are sourced from both Sonoma Coast and Santa Barbara county.

This is an interesting producer with quality wines with both strong character and ageability.

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Visit to Tyler wines – Wines from Burgundian varieties with attitude and energy

Tyler Winery was not a producer I knew about when I went to Santa Barbara, but their name kept being mentioned when I spoke to different people in the business, especially when I described my preferences.

Tyler Winery sources all their grapes today, but they recently purchased some land and have planted 26 acres, so they will make estate bottling in the future. When sourcing fruit they look for close cooperation with the growers and they specifically search for vineyards with old vines.

Today they produce approximately 5000 cases in 12 different bottlings.

In the tasting I tried three Chardonnays and four Pinot Noirs, all but one was from the 2015 vintage.

Some short facts about Tyler Winery

Chardonnays

  • All Chardonnays go through malolactic fermentation.
  • Natural fermentation
  • Fermented in barrels
  • Minimal stirring of the lees.
  • Aging: Approximately 20 percent new oak for 10-12 months.

Pinot Noirs

  • Open top fermenters
  • Natural fermentation
  • 15-20 percent stems.
  • No cold soak or extended masceration.
  • Aging: 15-20 percent new oak. 10-12 months.

Tasting notes for the wines from Tyler Winery

 

2015 Tyler Chardonnay Dierberg Vineyard

Pineapple, flint and yellow apples on both nose and palate. The palate is rather tight with young fruit and a racy citric acidity, mainly from lemon. This wine is slightly dominated by lemon notes on the palate today but with time this should calm down.

2015 Tyler Chardonnay Zotovich Family Vineyard

Fresh wine with a nice minerality and some young stone fruit, apricot and a hint of yeast notes. The palate is slim and has a razor sharp lime acidity and again some green apples. This wine has an energetic expression and an amazing precision. Makes me think of Chablis.

2015 Tyler Chardonnay La Rinconada

Rather shy nose but still with some layers in the fruit notes with soft tropical fruit and lime. Will probably open up more with some time. The acidity is citric and juicy in the expression and on the palate we also get som peach and minerals. This is a pretty and elegant Chardonnay.

2015 Tyler Pinot Noir Block Five Dierberg Vineyard

Rather dense and dark fruit notes with blackberries and blueberries, but also an abundance of herbal notes. Slight sweetness on the palate combined with some dark minerals, cherries and spices. This is a dense and dark pinot noir but still with a coolness and rather herbal expression.

2015 Tyler Pinot Noir Bentrock

This wine has a dense and chewy profile but without sweetness and jammy notes. There are also some earthy notes and mushrooms combined with some dark minerals and herbs. The tannic structure has firmness and the acidity is cool and well needed to make sure the wine stays energetic. This is a very dense and complex Pinot Noir, especially considering that this is a producer that avoids overripe fruit.

2015 Tyler Pinot Noir La Encantada

Fresh fruit from both red and dark fruit where the red fruit is young and fresh. I get raspberries and strawberries combined with some cherries but also some sweet notes from marzipan. The acidity is slightly citric and there are some velvety tannins. For a dense wine it has a rather fresh expression and some herbal notes appear in the finish.

2014 Tyler Pinot Noir Old Vine Bien Nacido Vineyard

This wine has a very Burgundian profile with restrained but fresh fruit, mainly from raspberries, but also some earthy notes. The texture is extremely silky with a precise but careful acidity that adds a coolness to the wine, especially in the finish. This is a very well balanced wine that should develop beautifully with age.

Summary of impressions from Tyler Winery

My impression of Tyler Winery is that they produce great Chardonnay and Pinot Noir, but that these wines need some time in the bottle to calm down. Today the 2015s have some rough edges, but they show good potential, so some patience will pay off. It should also be mentioned that I tried these wines when they were babies.

The 2015 Pinot Noirs from Tyler have dark and dense fruit notes, but not jammy or sweet, and some of them have a touch of earthiness. The fruit gets balanced by a fresh acidity, making sure the wines are never overpowered. With this denseness combined with a rather low alcohol level I would have guessed they had extra time for extraction before or after the fermentation, but this is not the case. I like the complexity of the wines and they will be interesting to follow when they age.

The Chardonnays have a very acidic profile with an abundance of citrus, making them juicy and mouthwatering. The fruit notes are rather careful and there are some mineral notes in some of the wines.

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Visit to Chanin Wine – Silky and elegant Pinot Noir and Chardonnay from Santa Barbara

During our short stay in Santa Barbara county, Chanin Wine was one of the producers I really wanted to taste, since I have been impressed with their wines before. During the visit we also tried their “sister winery”, LUTUM, but I will make a separate post about those wines.

Chanin Wine source all their grapes and they are working with vineyards that are farmed organic or sustainably and have older vines. The winemaker Gavin Chanin is definitely a rising star in the region and he focuses on making elegant wines with good balance.

A few short notes about how Chanin Wine produce their wines

  • The only use native yeast
  • Use gravity as much as possible in the process
  • Their Pinot Noirs include approximately 20% new stems
  • They use a cold soak for 4-5 days
  • No other additives other than a small amount of SO2
  • No filtration
  • Aging in French oak, of which 15% are new.

Tasting notes for the wines from Chanin Wine

2014 Chanin Pinot Noir Los Alamos Vineyard

Los Alamos is their warmest vineyard with a dominance of sand. Planted in 1969.

Fresh red fruit with a dominance of strawberries initially but then some darker fruit appear on the palate together with some notes of smoke and spices. There is a citric acidity and the texture is smooth. This generous Pinot Noir has a juicy expression with strawberry dominance.

2013 Chanin Pinot Noir Bien Nacido Vineyard

Their Bien Nacido is from the older blocks in this huge vineyard that includes both sand and clay, and the latter dominated where this fruit is from.

Nice red fruit from raspberries and wild strawberries and with a slightly sweet touch. Some spices and smoke appear on the palate together with a soft but precise acidity and a very silky tannic structure. In the finish the fruit gets darker and more dense. This is a well balanced and elegant Pinot Noir that is easy to enjoy.

2014 Chanin Pinot Noir Sanford & Benedict Vineyard

Pure red fruit of raspberries and wild strawberries but also some floral notes. On the palate we get asian spices and minerals together with the young red fruit. Acidity is very precise and cool which gives the wine a fresh finish. This is a beautiful wine that drinks well already but should develop great with age.

2014 Chanin Pinot Noir La Rinconada Vineyard

Very close to Sanford & Benedict but cooler and more exposed to wind.

Light red fruit and some lime notes on this pretty and elegant nose. On the palate some asian spices appear together with a precise acidity and very silky tannins. This is such an enjoyable wine with the silky texture and the pure fruit. Hard to stop drinking.

2014 Chanin Chardonnay Los Alamos Vineyard

This wine opens up with ripe pear notes and tropical fruit and on the palate a rather racy lime acidity results in a mouthwatering expression. This is a ripe Chardonnay with a rather high alcohol level, but still there is some energy in the acidity which makes it a very nice wine.

Summary of impressions from the visit to  Chanin Wine

The Pinot Noirs from Chanin are very elegant and have a silky and smooth mouthfeel but also a precise and fresh acidity. The fruit is mainly young, red, slightly sweet and accompanied by asian spices. The density of the wines are rather different depending on vineyard and vintage, as expected, with the La Rinconada being very light and the Sanford & Benedict having a rather dense profile, even though these vineyards are neighbors. Their Los Alamos Chardonnay manages to combine a generous and round expression with a rather racy citric acidity.

Chanin is definitely one of the top producers in Santa Barbara county, especially if you are looking for wines with precision and elegance.

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Visit to Clos Du Val – Where France meet Napa

Introduction to Clos Du Val

Clos du Val was founded in 1972 by John Goelet and winemaker Bernard Portet and is still under the same ownership. The ambition has from the beginning been to make wines with a French influence. The winery also became world renowned when they took part in the 1976 Paris tasting with their Cabernet Sauvignon and achieved eighth place.

Tasting notes for the wines from Clos Du Val

2014 Clos du Val Estate Chardonnay Block 5A Carneros

Extremely aromatic and floral nose combined with some green apples, oak and ginger. On the palate the fruit is more tropical and there is a lemon acidity. More floral and aromatic than any other Chardonnay I have tried.

2014 Clos du Val Pinot Noir Estate Pinot Noir Block 73

An abundance of cherries but also some smoke and graphite. On the palate we also get raspberries together with a good and juicy acidity. In the finish, the oak notes take a more dominant position. A generous and dense Pinot Noir.

2013 Clos du Val Merlot Estate Merlot Block 6

An abundance of blackberries both on the nose and palate but also with a rather energetic and mouthwatering acidity and a surprisingly strong tannic bite on the palate. Very full bodied on the nose but slimmer on the palate.

2012 Clos du Val Cabernet Sauvignon Reserve

The wine shows rather fresh dark berry notes where blackberries dominate but there is also some sweet marzipan notes and green pepper. The acidity is vibrant and adds some tension to the wine.

2013 Clos du Val Cabernet Sauvignon Stags Leap District

Dense dark berry notes with a soft expression. I find blueberries, currant and blackberries, and on the palate we also get some sandy tannins and a nice acidity that balances the fruit notes well. After a while some more herbal notes appear and there is also some well integrated oak notes.

Summary of impressions from the visit to Clos Du Val

The wines from Clos du Val are rather fruit forward but they also have a fresh and precise acidity to balance the wines. The fruit is mainly dark in the red wines and there are some oak notes but it never gets overwhelming. The Cabernet Sauvignon from Stags Leap District with its complexity was a clear step up from the other wines.

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Visit to Inglenook – Part of Napa Valley history

Introduction to Inglenook

Inglenook was founded by the Finnish sea captain Gustave Niebaum and has had an impressive history since the first harvest in 1882. The estate plays a central role in Napa’s history and has had different owners during its lifetime. Today, the estate is owned by the Coppola family and in 2011 they also bought back the historic name of Inglenook.

In 2011 Philippe Bascaules, with a background from Chateaux Margaux in France, was appointed General Manager. Unfortunately, for Inglenook, Philippe will now return to Chateaux Margaux, but he will stay on as a consultant for Inglenook.

For a longer historic overview I recommend the Inglenook website.

A few short notes about how Inglenook produce their wines

  • Since 2003 the whole estate is certified organic.
    Everything is done by hand and they are approximately 30 fixed employees in the vineyard and winery.
  • They do green harvest to control yield.
  • Irrigation is kept to a minimum.
  • Most of the fruit for the red wines are de-stemmed.

Since Philippe Bascaules joined he has implemented some changes. Below are a few examples:

  • More focus on freshness and lower alcohol, rather than big powerful wines.
  • Harvest personell is today getting paid per hour and today a first selection of grapes is made in the field.
  • Smaller bins are used at harvest, to reduce the amount of grapes that risk getting crushed.
  • Yields have been raised to control ripeness

Tasting notes for the wines from Inglenook

2014 Inglenook Blancaneaux

Rhone-style blend of estate-grown Roussanne, Marsanne and Viognier. Has not gone through malolactic fermentation.

Fresh nose with yellow pears, green apples, stone fruit and some minerals. Citric acidity with lemon and grapefruit, but still the wine keeps a soft expression.

2014 Inglenook Zinfandel Edizione Pennino

Dense dark fruit with boysenberries and blueberries. On the palate we also get some strawberries and vanilla oak notes. Good acidity and fine grained tannins. This is a rather concentrated and dense Zinfandel.

2013 Inglenook Cabernet Sauvignon Rutherford

18 months in 90% French oak, 10% American oak. 50% new oak.

Dark fruit with mainly black currant and blackberries but also graphite and some oak notes. The acidity is rather soft but fresh and enough to balance the wine ok. There is a sandy tannic structure and herbal notes on the palate. This is a rather dense and heavy Cabernet Sauvignon but it is still not overpowered.

2013 Inglenook Rubicon

This iconic wine has been produced since 1978. All lots are vinified separately and then a blend is made. Aged in French oak where 75% is new.

Classical Cabernet Sauvignon nose with graphite, cedar and currant but also some blueberries and blackberries. Fresh palate with a cool acidity and a fine grained tannic structure. There is an oak influence but not dominant. This is a well balanced wine with a fresh juicy character in the mouth.

Summary of impressions from the visit to Inglenook

The wines from Inglenook all radiate quality and refinement. It should be said that these wines are still rather concentrated, but I was positively surprised about the new Rubicon that had a slightly slimmer profile than for example the Cabernet Sauvignon and the Zinfandel. It will be very interesting to follow the development of the Inglenook wines in the future. It is probably not surprising that Rubicon was my favorite but I also think the Blancaneaux was a positive surprise.

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