binNotes | a food, wine & travel blog
by L.M. Archer, FWS | Bourgogne ML
Red Thread™ | Napa Narrative | Jericho Canyon Vineyard
Stories about wine, the Red Thread™ that binds us all.
Welcome to the third in a three-part binNotes | Red Thread™ wine maker interview series Napa Narrative.
Jericho Canyon Vineyard | Napa CA.
How high would you climb to realize your dream?
If you’re Marla and Dale Bleecher of Jericho Canyon Vineyard in Napa, the journey starts in the 1980’s with a move to an old Civil War vet’s land grant at the base of Mt. St. Helena, replete with 100-year-old farmhouse, forests of oak, and a creek.
At the time, most locals looked askance at the young couple so adamant about terracing their terrain to resemble the Tuscan hills for which they both shared an affinity.
In time, however, the premium uality Bordeaux varietals planted at Jericho Canyon Vineyard won over their neighbors, including Chateau Montelena and Pride Vineyards.
Eventually, award-winning wine maker David Ramey claimed the fruit for himself, first at Rudd Estate, and later at Ramey Wine Cellars.
Since 2006, Jericho Canyon Vineyard crafts epoynmous premium wines from their state-of-the-art boutique winery.
In 2011, son Nicolas, a UC Davis Viticulture and Enology grad, assists wine maker Aaron Potts and international blending consultant Michel Rolland.
Here, the Red Thread ™ tastes through the terroir of Jericho Canyon Vineyard with owners Marla and Dale Bleecher.
Jericho Canyon Vineyard tucks into the northeast corner of Napa Valley on a hilly region of the Mt. St. Helena foothills. Replete with a bevy of mini-microclimates in this little pocket of paradise, diurnal shifts allow for chilly mornings, warm summer days, and cool nights. Coastal fog creeps in through a gap in the Mayacamas Range, adding further to the region’s complexity.
The estate comprises 40 acres, divided into 24 blocks, each with its own personality. Soils include easy-draining volcanic clay and gravel loam. Varietals include Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc, Merlot, Petit Verdot, and Sauvignon Blanc.
Committed to sustainable practice, Jericho Canyon Vineyard employs covers crops to thwart erosion, attract beneficial insects, and prevent the use of pesticides. Bird boxes and insectaries dot the hillsides and forests; a virtual menagerie of local wildlife roam unobstructed throughout.
Just like exceptional Old World vineyards, Jericho Canyon Vineyard’s vertiginous terraces require manual labor to maintain the necessary balance between sunlight, water, and nutrients. These labor-intensive efforts include pruning, suckering, shoot positioning, leaf pulling, crop thinning, and soil amending, efforts which translate into wines of exceptional balance and nuance.
Sustainability doesn’t just apply to the flora and fauna, but to the staff as well. In an industry built on seasonal workers, Marla and Dale ensure that they maintain their vineyard workers and staff year-round.
WINERY & WINEMAKING
The simple, elegant redwood winery constructed in 2006 includes a 6,000 square foot energy-efficient cave drilled into the hillside, plus an airy tasting room and imposing barrel room. Tours available by appointment.
The winery hums during late October and early November harvest; the hillsides allow for longer hangtime, which translates into richer flavor profiles. After picking, sorting, destemming, more sorting, cold soak, and fermentation, the wine barrel ages ~ 20 months in French oak before bottling without filtration for 24 months.
The process yields wines of supple tannins accessible enough to drink immediately, yet structured enough to age for several years.
WINE TASTING NOTES
Jericho Canyon Vineyard 2013 Rosé | Cabernet, Merlot, Cabernet Franc, Petit Verdot.
Robe: Pale rose petal. Saignée method.
Nose: Acacia, salmonberry, wild strawberry.
Mouth: Dry, Provençal-style, deftly-textured.
Jericho Canyon Vineyard 2013 Sauvignon Blanc
Robe: Pale lemon.
Nose: Citrus, white blossom, tropical notes.
Mouth: Hint of sur lie (French oak – minimal battonage) rounds the stainless steel edges. Satisfying crispness combined with lilting elegance.
Jericho Canyon Vineyard 2006 Cabernet Sauvignon
Robe: Deep garnet with porphyry rim.
Nose: Dark, dusky fruits, meandering herbal notes.
Mouth: Velvet mouth, silky finish, complex, well-balanced layers.
Jericho Canyon Vineyard 2010 Cabernet Sauvignon
Robe: Dark garnet.
Nose: Red fruit, capsicum, olive notes.
Mouth: Medium plus tannins, medium plus finish.
Care to share? Feel free to leave your comments below. | All images L.M. Archer ©2015
Marla & Dale Bleecher | Jericho Canyon Vineyard
(Lucca thanks you for free run of the winery :).
Tara Katrina Hole