Pinot Noir and Chardonnay XI: Sojourn Cellars, 2012

Sojourn Cellars was launched in 2001 with 100 cases of cabernet sauvignon. The winery, based in the town of Sonoma, was founded by Craig and Ellen Haserot with winemaker Erich Bradley. The (not uncommon) idea was to produce limited quantities of pure and intense chardonnay, cabernet sauvignon and pinot noir wines from excellent vineyards. Judging from my experience with a selection of chardonnays and pinot noirs from 2010 — link to my reviews here — and these examples from 2012, the team succeeds in their aim. As you will see, the chardonnay from the Durell Vineyard in the Sonoma Coast AVA was a bit flamboyant for my palate, but I find the pinot noirs to be perfect models of the grape’s delicate yet tensile marriage of power and elegance. All the wines are fermented by native yeasts; the pinots see 50 percent new French oak barrels. Though the length of time in oak was not specified in the technical information I received with these samples, the influence of the span spent in the new and used barrels resulted in wines of lovely suppleness and nuance.
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The Sojourn Cellars Durell Vineyard Chardonnay 2012, Sonoma Coast, is a “3 Bs” chardonnay: Not Bach, Beethoven and Brahms, but bold, bright and brassy. The color is luminous medium gold; forthright aromas of lightly roasted and caramelized pineapple and grapefruit are permeated by notes of cloves and ginger and hints of mango and orange rind; a quadrille of ripe and macerated stone-fruit parades across the palate, and I wish it revealed a bit more of a limestone and flint element and brisk acidity to balance the richness. Still, it’s not blatantly tropical, it’s not dessert-like, it’s not stridently spicy, though it’s a little over the top for my taste. The wine was barrel-fermented in 40 percent new French oak and underwent malolactic fermentation while aging. 14.3 percent alcohol. Production was 275 cases. Very Good+. About $54.
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The color of the Sojourn Cellars Wohler Vineyard Pinot Noir 2012, Russian River Valley, is an entrancing medium ruby-mulberry hue, while the hypnotic bouquet wreathes notes of cranberry and sassafras, black and red cherries, lavender and crushed violets with undertones of oolong tea and orange rind and hints of loam and mushrooms. These intoxicating elements segue seamlessly onto the palate, where they drape and flow like a dense satiny fabric of luxurious cost, though there’s nothing heavy or obvious here; this is a pinot noir that whatever its heft retains an essential grasp on the ineffable. The aromas deepen as an hour or so passes, and the wine grows increasingly floral and spicy; it’s quite dry, however, with a long finish that’s surprisingly mineral-flecked and tannic. Exquisite proportions, 14....

Tasting Tuscany’s Vino Nobile di Montepulciano

This week, members of the Consorzio del Vino Nobile di Montepulciano came to Washington D.C. as part of a marketing campaign. I was fortunate to able to attend a seminar that provided an overview of the region's wines. The Consorzio is celebrating it's 50th anniversary with their primary goal being to preserve the region's agriculture heritage.  The city and region of Montepulciano is located in the larger Valdichiana region within SE Tuscany and borders Umbria to the east. Montepulciano's soil is primarily clay and silt with elevations ranging from 800-2,000 feet. And Montepulciano is considered a Continental climate with long hot and dry summers.

In 1980, Vino Nobile di Montepulciano was granted DOCG status with the following rules enforced. The grape vines must be planted within approved viticulture areas close to the town with maximum yields set to 8 tons per hectare. At least 70% of the wine must be Sangiovese, locally called "Prugnolo Gentile"; this specific clone has a thinner skin than its Brunello cousin. The remaining 30% can be a combination of other red grapes approved in the Tuscany region, although up to 5% can be white grapes. There are three types of wines that can be produced in Montepulciano. (1) Rosso di Montepulciano is wine that has been aged in oak for a maximum of one year. These wines are fruit forward and intended to be consumed immediately. (2) Vino Nobile di Montepulciano is wine that has been aged for a maximum of two years, although there are several  permissible combinations of oak maturation and bottle aging. In general, these wines are held back at least one year in the bottle until release. (3) Vino Nobile Reserva is wine aged at least three years, with at least 2.5 years in oak and are usually only produced in very favorable years.

Moving to the seminar, there were a few common themes that arose....

2012 Raveneau Chablis

Raveneau is the top Chablis producer, everyone knows it, the prices are sky high, yet worth it in my opinion, as the quality experience is virtually guaranteed, both young and especially with age. 2012 vintage in Chablis was particularly strong, and Raveneau's 2012's that I tasted were fabulous. Riesling-like minerality, honeyed, spicy butteriness that lingered on the lips for hours, viscous oily textures and exotic seawater / seaweed salinity were the hallmarks of this lineup, with the bonus 1999 Montee de Tonnerre showing amazing seamless silkiness and marvelous complexity. Yet with all those admirable attributes, these are not wines of weight and obviousness, but rather of elegance, complexity, texture, precision and enormous class. My oh my, I was smitten, they were the best 2012 white burgundies (if you can call Chablis that) I have had! In 2012, there were other excellent Chablis producers that cost a fraction of Raveneau - the likes of Dauvissat, William Fevre, Christian Moreau, etc... Personally, I hold Dauvissat in almost as high esteem, yet Raveneau is still the king!

Tasting Notes



2012 Raveneau Chablis "Vaillons" 1er Cru - satiny seawater, creamy pillowy oiliness, intensely spicy and very long finish lasting more than a minute. This is great!

2012 Raveneau Chablis "Butteaux" 1er Cru - slightly riper than the "Vaillons", more orchard fruit, still nice honeyed salinity and oiliness. I preferred the Vaillons by a tiny margin.

2012 Raveneau Chablis "Montee de Tonnerre" 1er Cru - beautiful creamy scent, spice, oil, spicy florals, intense finish, silkier and softer than the "Valmur" and "Butteaux", slightly more elegant if perhaps less powerful than the previous two.

2012 Raveneau Chablis "Valmur" Grand Cru - more power and punch here, more flavor, oily buttery finish, Riesling-like minerals, actually reminds me of an Italian wine too, in terms of focus and minerality, but with cream/butter/oil adding an enormously pleasurable dimension of class, very obvious crushed stones covered with honeyed butter, very long finish that reverberates on my taste glands. Wow!



1999 Raveneau Chablis "Montee de Tonnerre" 1er Cru - note of petrol and butter on the nose. Palate: silky smooth, buttery, slightly roasted nuts, wow!, really complex and delicious, great balance, rich! In a perfect place to drink now. Wish I had this in my cellar! Marvelous!...

Friday Feature Photo: The Controversial Grape of Spain

Bobal Grape - Valencia Photographer: Ryan Opaz Capture Date: April 21, 2011 Location: Utiel-Requena, Spain AboutWith a climate ideally suited for growing Bobal and a score of growers and winemakers passionate about preserving their heritage and rewriting the modern wine story of their region, the DO Utiel-Requena has sparked the interest of the true wine aficionados worldwide. Those who celebrate diversity and authenticity be prepared! In the world of Spanish wines, there’s always something new to discover. Desktop Wallpaper: To download this image, simply right-click on the image and select “save link as” or “save target as”, then select the preferred location on your computer to save the photo. Purchase: Please contact the photographer directly if you’re keen to purchase their photo.

If you want to have your photo featured here please contact us!! 

Pheasant’s tears Chinuri 2011


Separate and unexpected. This is the first Georgian wine and the first Chinuri I can recall drinking. Chinuri, a white grape, is indigenous to Georgia and in this case it is vinified in wax lined clay vessels (Qvervi) buried in the ground. The skins are left in the vessels which explains the texture, scent and colour. This is a very tannic white wine - bone dry and astringent, not unlike a mouthful of grape skins. . .  It's green in accent too. Musk and florals, a suggestion of green bean and green mango. . . Phenolic and parching, there's no residual sweetness and the acidity seems blunted, the notable thing being the tea leaf, bore water finish.

Image. A girl in the glass with auburn hair.

The Winemaker with "the Touch" – the Son of Northern Rhone Royalty: Stunning St. Joseph Under $25

Incredible St. Joseph You Can Drink Every Day (Thank You Strong Dollar) Plus a Wonderful White

I have plenty of winemakers who do not come from winemaking families.  But let me tell you - it sure helps to be the son of a legend (Guillaume Sorell's father is Marc Sorell of the famous Hermitage estate who has incredible slices on that legendary hill, with his Le Greal being the most famous).  Imagine every day of your life learning the lessons of what to do with problems in different types of harvests.  Tasting wines from these harvests and seeing how they age.  It helps.  A lot.  
 
Simply put, Guillaume Sorrel has the Touch.  What is the Touch?  It's knowing almost by instinct every little nuance of making wine and how to do it perfectly.  I'll let others argue about how much is nature versus nurture but Guillaume has the touch - you can taste it in every wine; the balance, the texture, the way it expresses its terroir. Domaine les Alexandrins is one of the most exciting young estates in the Northern Rhone.  Get on board - the dollar will not be this strong forever and these wines are gaining in popularity.
 
The first wine is the 2012 Domaine les Alexandrins St Joseph "Aren de Coeur" for as little as $24.99 on a 4-pack.The wine is fantastic. Big and rich with suave tannins and wonderful purity. Excellent black fruits and a real serious sense of place. I just tasted it again and it's gotten even better. The quality of the tannins is just incredible and there is a real sense of breed and finesse....

Siduri Wines: Rewarding the Search for Flavor

siduri_bottle_big.jpg About a month ago, after twenty years in business, and arguably at the peak of their business, Adam and Diana Lee sold Siduri Wines, and their sister project Novy Family Winery to Jackson Family Wines for an undisclosed sum. Siduri began in 1994 when Lee and his wife, betting on the security of Adam landing a job at Lambert Bridge winery, used some of their savings to buy some fruit from people who responded to their ad in Wine Country Classifieds looking to buy some Pinot Noir. Within four years, they had moved into an industrial park on the outskirts of Santa Rosa and were receiving praise for their Pinot Noirs made from sites in both California and Oregon. In many ways, their "estate-less" winery in an old garage served as a model for the wave of hundreds of such operations that sprang to life in California over the next fifteen years. But the Lees never thought of themselves as pioneers of anything. They just wanted to make some wine. "We never studied a business plan, and never had one," chuckled Lee during our last encounter. When I sat down with Adam in San Francisco at the end of this past summer, I don't know if discussions had begun with the Jackson Family yet, but here's what he said when I asked him where he thought he was at, and where he might be going.
"In recent years we've had more fruit than we knew what to do with. We've gotten in a situation where now it's the tail wagging the dog. We end up with a lot of wine each year, and we're having to lees_casual.jpgspend a lot more time selling. It's exhausting, but of course we're far from the only winery in that boat.
We still love the differences in place to place. If the market demand were endless, we'd love to try all sorts of things, like experimenting with certain clones in certain places....
siduri_barrels.jpg
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Siduri Wines: Rewarding the Search for Flavor

siduri_bottle_big.jpg About a month ago, after twenty years in business, and arguably at the peak of their business, Adam and Diana Lee sold Siduri Wines, and their sister project Novy Family Winery to Jackson Family Wines for an undisclosed sum. Siduri began in 1994 when Lee and his wife, betting on the security of Adam landing a job at Lambert Bridge winery, used some of their savings to buy some fruit from people who responded to their ad in Wine Country Classifieds looking to buy some Pinot Noir. Within four years, they had moved into an industrial park on the outskirts of Santa Rosa and were receiving praise for their Pinot Noirs made from sites in both California and Oregon. In many ways, their "estate-less" winery in an old garage served as a model for the wave of hundreds of such operations that sprang to life in California over the next fifteen years. But the Lees never thought of themselves as pioneers of anything. They just wanted to make some wine. "We never studied a business plan, and never had one," chuckled Lee during our last encounter. When I sat down with Adam in San Francisco at the end of this past summer, I don't know if discussions had begun with the Jackson Family yet, but here's what he said when I asked him where he thought he was at, and where he might be going.
"In recent years we've had more fruit than we knew what to do with. We've gotten in a situation where now it's the tail wagging the dog. We end up with a lot of wine each year, and we're having to lees_casual.jpgspend a lot more time selling. It's exhausting, but of course we're far from the only winery in that boat.
We still love the differences in place to place. If the market demand were endless, we'd love to try all sorts of things, like experimenting with certain clones in certain places....
siduri_barrels.jpg
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Webinar | ShipCompliant Cider Edition Demo

Presented by Mackenzie Latham on March 5, 2015 As a cider producer, you, no doubt, have to navigate the cumbersome work of state product registrations, license management, and distributor reporting. There’s a lot of work to do to get your products to market. ShipCompliant makes it easier. ShipCompliant currently works with over 3,000 beer, wine, and spirits suppliers to improve their processes and eliminate some of the bottlenecks that many in this industry struggle with. Account Manager, Mackenzie Latham recently presented a demo that discussed how you can use technology to simplify your compliance processes. Watch the recording above or contact us for more information.
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