The Hedonistic Taster | ‚ĄĖ 21 | Gary Farrell Winery – Russian River Valley

The Hedonistic Taster¬†| ¬†‚ĄĖ¬†21¬†| Gary Farrell Winery – Russian River Valley ¬†

by L.M. Archer, FWS | Bourgogne ML

Tastevin

‚ÄúWine should not be regarded simply as a beverage, but as an art of living, a pleasure.‚ÄĚ ‚Äď Henri Jayer

Welcome to The Hedonistic Taster,¬†a¬†binNotes | redThread‚ĄĘ¬†trade¬†sampling¬†of¬†gorgeous, small-lot artisan pours in an intimate¬†tasting format.

The title derives from the term ‚Äėhedonistic tasting,‚Äô coined by legendary¬†Burgundian vigneron¬†Henri Jayer.

Santé!

Today’s Tasting:

Gary Farrell Winery | Russian River Valley 

Like any work of art, every great wine has a soul – the part of the painting, the story, the pour that haunts you, that rivets you, that sparks your ‘mortal coil.’

Tasting the wines of Gary Farrell Winery by winemaker Theresa Heredia rivets my soul.

First, a little bit about my tasting protocols. With few exceptions, the wines I taste derive from small-lot, artisan winemakers.

I file all industry collateral (product information shipped with the samples) for review after I make my own notes.

I do this because I do not want my tasting experience ‘influenced’ by tasting notes prepared by the winemaker. I find wine tasting, like fingerprints, as individual as the person tasting. What I smell, taste, feel differs from that of the person drafting the ‘company’ notes.

Only after I prepare my notes and transfer them to the post do I review the winery notes. I review them for the same reason I always like to study the exam answers after sitting for a designation. I want to know if I succeeded in ‘syncing’ with the winemaker’s story, if I honored the wine’s specific terroir, if I captured what I call the wine’s ‘soul.’ In this rare instance, my own notes nearly mirrored those of the winemaker.

As a student of Burgundy, I find Theresa Heredia’s wines for Gary Farrell Winery on par with some of the finest domaines in the Cote d’Or. Her wines reflect a timeless finesse and mystery endemic to a great Burgundy, wines that reveal some, but not all of their secrets – leaving us to plumb the depth for answers, only to find more questions.

A note about the wines:

Gary Farrell Winery takes full advantage of Russian River Valley’s rich array of microclimates and vineyards in producing these approachable, age-worthy wines. These wines all showcase the 2014 Russian River vintage, note-worthy on many levels, including one of the region’s mildest, and earliest, harvests on record, as well as an ongoing drought that produced smaller berries of condensed intensity, and wines of lower alcohol yet greater structure.

Learn more about Gary Farrell Vineyards and Winery here.

 

 

Wine: Gary Farrell Russian River Selection Chardonnay РRussian River Valley

Vintage: 2014

Alcohol:  13.8 %

Suggested Retail: $35

Specs

TASTING NOTES:

Robe:  Clear pale lemon robe.

Nose:  Medium intense aromas of citrus, golden apple, almond flower.

Palate: Lemon curd, hazelnut, pear bouche; medium-light body, clean acids, soft finish.

Suggested Pairings: ¬†The perfect hostess gift for the most discriminating of palates, able to ‘pair nicely’ with any summer gathering, especially those pool or dockside.

Wine: Gary Farrell Olivet Lane Vineyard Chardonnay РRussian River Valley

Vintage: 2014

Alcohol:  13.3%

Suggested Retail:  $45

Specs

TASTING NOTES:

Robe:  Clear, medium-gold robe.

Nose:  Medium-intense aromas of butterscotch, pear, white flower.

Palate:¬†Meyer lemon, stone fruit, dill w/ golden apple backnote on the bouche; medium-light body, creamy mouthfeel, bright, clean finish. Multi-faceted, M√Ęcon-like stunner.

Suggested Pairings: Because of its multi-faceted flavor profiles, it can span the spectrum in pairing possibilities. I chose to serve as an apéritif with a fruit and cheese plate featuring stronger cheeses like Irish Cheddar and Roquefort, some organic apple slices, and roasted local almonds.

Wine: Gary Farrell Russian River Selection Pinot Noir РRussian River Valley

Vintage: 2014

Alcohol:  14.1%

Suggested Retail:  $45

Specs

TASTING NOTES:

Robe:  Clear, medium-hued garnet robe.

Nose:  Medium-intense aromas of red fruit, spice and floral on the nose.

Palate: Cherry cola, red plum, Braeburn apple on the bouche; medium body, acids, tannins, finish.

Suggested Pairings:  Personal fave: deckside with grilled salmon and summer vegetables.

Wine: Gary Farrell Hallberg Vineyard Pinot Noir РRussian River Valley

Vintage: 2014

Alcohol:  14.1%

Suggested Retail:  $55

Specs

TASTING NOTES:

Robe:  Clear, deep garnet robe.

Nose:  Medium-intense aromas of red currant, cranberry, rose.

Palate: Red fruit, potpourri, black tea bouche; medium body, acids, lustrous tannins, silky finish.

Suggested Pairings: ¬†This brooding wine compliments more complex fare like roasted game or¬†bŇďuf bourguignon.

Wine: Gary Farrell Rochioli Vineyard Pinot Noir РRussian River Valley

Vintage: 2014

Alcohol:  14%

Suggested Retail:  $75

Specs: Available Exclusively to Wine Club Members by Phone Allocation.

TASTING NOTES:

Robe:  Clear ruby robe.

Nose:  Lilting aromas of red fruit, black tea, florals.

Palate: Cranberry, pomegranate, raspberry, rose petal bouche; graceful body, elegant structure, noble tannins. Utterly beguiling, Burgundian Premier Cru quality quaffer. Worth collecting.

Suggested Pairings:¬†As with any fine Burgundian wine, Theresa Heredia’s Gary Farrell 2014 Rochioli Vineyard Pinot Noir pairs best with contemplation among one’s nearest and dearest.

 

Learn more about Gary Farrell Winery here.

I want to hear from you! Leave your thoughts on these wines – and any other wine questions – below in the comments section. Cheers!

 

Copyrighted 2017 L.M. Archer | binNotes | redThread‚ĄĘ. All Rights Reserved

The Hedonistic Taster | Schug Winery 2013 Lake County Riesling Late Harvest

The Hedonistic Taster | Schug Winery 2013 Lake County Riesling Late Harvest

The Hedonistic Taster¬†| ¬†‚ĄĖ¬†11

Schug Winery

by L.M. Archer, FWS | Bourgogne ML

Tastevin

‚ÄúWine should not be regarded simply as a beverage, but as an art of living, a pleasure.‚ÄĚ ‚Äď Henri Jayer

Welcome to The Hedonistic Taster,¬†a¬†binNotes | redThread‚ĄĘ¬†trade¬†sampling¬†of¬†artisan wines.

The title derives from the term ‚Äėhedonistic tasting,‚Äô coined by legendary¬†Burgundian vigneron¬†Henri Jayer.

The Hedonistic Taster allows me the opportunity to introduce you to some gorgeous pours through this intimate tasting format.

Santé!

Today’s Tasting:

Schug Winery | 2013 Lake County Riesling Late Harvest

Schug 2013 Riesling Late Harvest

Enjoy¬†my exclusive interview with Schug Winery’s Axel Schug and wine maker Michael Cox¬†here.

Wine: Schug Winery Lake County Riesling Late Harvest

Vintage: 2013

Alcohol: 9.5%

Suggested Retail: $30

Specs

Appellation: Lake County (Clear Water Ranch).

Harvest Date: November 13, 2013

Sugar at Harvest: 30.5 degrees Brix average.

Fermentation: Cold fermented in stainless steel tanks.

Aging/Cooperage: Two (2) months in neutral French oak puncheon.

Residual Sugar: 13.4%

Production: 185 cases.

Release Date: June 1, 2015

TASTING NOTES:

Robe: Golden honey-amber robe.

Nose:  Stone fruit, a drew-drop of honeysuckle, Bosc pear backnote.

Palate: ¬†Not your grandma’s dessert wine. A glorious, uncloying nectar of the gods. Medium bodied; roils effortlessly¬†across the tongue sans treacle.

Suggested Pairings:  A stunning accompaniment to subtle end-of-meal affairs, especially those featuring honey, almond, peach or nectarine, or consider alongside a beautiful Roquefort, fig compote, and some molasses and spelt grain crackers.

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Enjoy¬†my exclusive interview with Schug Winery’s Axel Schug and wine maker Michael Cox¬†here.

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Copyrighted 2016 binNotes | redThread‚ĄĘ. ¬†All Rights Reserved.

The Hedonistic Taster| Schug Winery 2012 Brut Carneros Rouge de Noirs Pinot Noir Sparkling Wine

The Hedonistic Taster¬†| ‚ĄĖ 11 | ¬†Schug Winery

by L.M. Archer, FWS | Bourgogne ML

Tastevin

‚ÄúWine should not be regarded simply as a beverage, but as an art of living, a pleasure.‚ÄĚ ‚Äď Henri Jayer

Welcome to The Hedonistic Taster,¬†a¬†binNotes | redThread‚ĄĘ¬†trade¬†sampling¬†of¬†artisan wines.

The title derives from the term ‚Äėhedonistic tasting,‚Äô coined by legendary¬†Burgundian vigneron¬†Henri Jayer.

The Hedonistic Taster allows me the opportunity to introduce you to some gorgeous pours through this intimate tasting format.

Santé!

Today’s Tasting:

Schug Winery | 2012 Brut Carneros Rouge de Noirs 

Pinot Noir Sparkling Wine 

Schug Rouge de Noirs Brut

My recent interview at Schug Winery included a sumptuous, California-cuisine style wine-pairing luncheon featuring  fresh estate-grown fruits and vegetables served up with superb local shrimp for the first course,  grilled salmon for the second, and toothsome desserts for the finish, all painstakingly prepared by chef de cuisine Kristine Schug.

One wine Axel Schug served alone, sans food.

This wine.

A wine that demands attention.

One of those wines you don’t want to share with others, but must.

Enjoy¬†my exclusive interview with Schug Winery’s Axel Schug and wine maker Michael Cox¬† here.

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Wine: Schug Winery Brut Carneros Rouge de Noirs РPinot Noir Sparkling Wine.

Vintage: 2012

Alcohol: 12%

Suggested Retail: $35

Specs:
Cuvée: 100% Carneros Pinot Noir, Ricci Vineyard K3 Block

Harvest Date: August 31, 2012

Sugar at Harvest: 18.3 degrees Brix.

Fermentation: Three (3) days cold soak skin contact, then full saignée of tank with no pressing. Free-run juice then cold-fermented in stainless-steel tank, with second fermentation in bottle, methode traditionelle.

Tirage and Disgorging: 24 months en tirage (on the yeast); disgorged in June 2015.

Dosage: .03/g/100ml.  sugar dosage; total residual sugar = 0.38 g/100ml.

Production: 431 cases.

Release Date: February 1, 2016.

TASTING NOTES:

Robe: Translucent cranberry/strawberry robe.

Nose/Texture:  Highly refined bead.

Palate:¬†Elegant mousse.¬†The driest sparkling wine I’ve tried to date. Not at all off-putting. A hint of rhubarb on the finish; red fruit on the mouth.

Suggested Pairings: A wine for those who want to move outside their comfort zones, and find a happy place waiting on the other side.

Yes, you may serve as an aperitif. Or with the cheese course. Or as a conversation starter with friends deckside while waiting for the grill to do its thing.

I personally paired this at the conclusion of an alfresco meal, served with an organic watermelon and blueberry salad with fresh mint. Divine.

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Copyrighted 2016 binNotes | redThread‚ĄĘ. ¬†All Rights Reserved.

The Hedonistic Taster | ‚ĄĖ 9 | Small Vines Wines

The Hedonistic Taster | ‚ĄĖ 9 | Small Vines Wines

Tastevin

The Hedonistic Taster¬†| ¬†‚ĄĖ¬†9

Small Vines Wines

by L.M. Archer, FWS | Bourgogne ML

‚ÄúWine should not be regarded simply as a beverage, but as an art of living, a pleasure.‚ÄĚ ‚Äď Henri Jayer

Welcome to The Hedonistic Taster,¬†a¬†binNotes | redThread‚ĄĘ¬†trade¬†sampling¬†of¬†artisan wines.

The title derives from the term ‚Äėhedonistic tasting,‚Äô coined by legendary¬†Burgundian vigneron¬†Henri Jayer.

The Hedonistic Taster allows me the opportunity to introduce you to some gorgeous pours through this intimate tasting format.

Santé!

Today’s Tasting:

Small Vines Wines| Sonoma

Paul and Kathryn Sloan craft exquisite, small lot, Grand-Cru inspired artisan wines sourced from their sustainably-farmed estate vineyard in Sepastopol, as well as from a few select Sonoma Coast producers.

The label on their bottles – a rendering of their vine’s¬†roots and shoots, which mirror one another in height and depth – symbolize¬†Small Vines Wines devotion¬†to balance, both in the vineyard, and in the cellar.

NOTE: You can view my exclusive interview with Paul Sloan of Small Vines Wine here.

Santé!

SV Rosé 2015

Wine: Small Vines Wines Rosé of Pinot Noir

Vintage: 2015

Alcohol: 12.5%

Suggested Retail: SOLD OUT

Specs 

TASTING NOTES:

Robe: Delicate vin gris hue.

Nose: Mimosa, blood orange, frisson de rose.

Palate: Sloan adds a little bit of Chardonnay to his Pinot Noir for texture, similar to a typical Champagne blend. This medium-bodied rosé pours out complex, multi-layered, and delightfully dry.

Suggested Pairings: Unicorn wine. Best sipped at sunset in your Secret Garden with your Prince or Princess Charming of choice while watching a rainbow slip into a pot of gold. It’s that rare.

SVSCCH14

Wine: Small Vines Wines Sonoma Coast Chardonnay

Vintage: 2014

Alcohol: 13.6%

Suggested Retail: $55

Specs 

TASTING NOTES:

Robe: Pale straw robe.

Nose: Inviting aromas of toast, butterscotch, and lemon zest.

Palate: Marzipan, brioche and lemon curd on the mouth. Minimal battonage and some time in stainless steel prior to bottling allows for a well-integrated, light bodied wine with under-stated acids.

Suggested Pairings: This subtle wine suits a simple summer meal of grilled, garden-fresh veggies, crusty loaf of just-baked bread, creamy unsalted butter, and free-range roast chicken.

SVECPN14

Wine: Small Vines Wines Estate Cuvée  Pinot Noir

Vintage: 2014

Alcohol: 13.5%

Suggested Retail: $65

Specs 

TASTING NOTES:

Robe: Medium-opaque, deep garnet hue.

Nose: Black and raspberry, red apple and brandy nose.

Palate:  Medium-light body, bright acids, silky tannins that ensure aging potential.

Suggested Pairings: A wine best shared al fresco with friends over a fire pit on the deck or patio.

SV TBH CH (220x186)

Wine: Small Vines Wines TBH Vineyard Sonoma Coast Chardonnay

Vintage: 2014

Alcohol: 13.7%

Suggested Retail: $72

Specs:
Vineyards: 100% The Barlow Homestead: Planted 2009, cool-windy ridge top with heavy coastal influences, Sebastopol.
Farming: Organically farmed by Small Vines Viticulture, Inc.
Spacing:¬†4×3 (3630 vines per acre.)
Soils: Dark gray Goldridge fine sandy loam.
Yields: ~1.5 lbs. per vine, naturally, lightly thinned for uniformity.
Clones: Hyde Wente and Kistler Mt Eden Wente Selections.
Hand Harvest Dates: The Barlow Homestead 8/27, 8/29 and 09/2/2014.
Pressing Method: 100% whole cluster, very slow and gentle press cycle.
Brix at Pressing: Barlow: 21.8-23.6.
Fermentation: Barrel fermented with native yeast and native ML, minimal battonage.
Barrel Program: 10 months on fine lees; 7% New French Oak: Atelier. 93% Neutral French Oak: Francois Freres, Ermitage, Remond, Demptos.
Bottling: Bottled unfined, unfiltered August 6, 2015.
Chemistry: pH: 3.13, TA: 0.77 g/100ml, RS: 1.4 g/L, Alc: 13.7%.

TASTING NOTES:

Robe: Pristine golden robe.

Nose: Aromas of sandalwood, grapefruit, orange blossom, wet rocks,

Palate: Elegant lemon-lime mouth with discrete creme br√Ľl√©e back note.

Suggested Pairings: A stealthy stunner worth savoring with guests over a casual-yet-elegant meal such as braised bronzino, swordfish, or salmon.

Small Vines Wines TBH (The Barlow Homestead) premium Pinot Noir is hand-crafted in Sonoma.

Wine: Small Vines Wines TBH (The Barlow Homestead) Vineyard Sonoma Coast Pinot Noir

Vintage: 2014

Alcohol: 13.2%

Suggested Retail: $82

Specs:
Vineyards: 100% The Barlow Homestead: Planted 2009, cool-windy ridge top with heavy coastal influences, Sebastopol.
Farming: Organically farmed by Small Vines Viticulture, Inc.
Spacing:¬†4×3 (3630 vines per acre.)
Soils: Dark gray Goldridge fine sandy loam.
Yields: ~1.5 lbs. per vine, naturally, lightly thinned for uniformity.
Clones: Calera, Pommard, Swan, 943.
Hand Harvest Dates: TBH: 8/26, 8/30, 8/31/2014.
Brix at Cold Soak:  22.3- 24.4 Brix.
Fermentation: Native yeast fermentation; 3-5 day cold soak; On the skins for 14-18 days including pre and post-fermentation maceration; Native ML; 35% whole cluster.
Barrel. Program:  15 months on fine lees; 23% New French oak: Atelier, Siruge. 77% Neutral: Remond, Ermitage,Siruge. 100% free run.
Bottling: Bottled unfined, unfiltered January 11, 2016.
Chemistry: pH: 3.52, TA: 0.57 g/100ml, RS: 0.4 g/L, Alc: 13.2%.
Release Date: August 2016.

TASTING NOTES:

Robe: Fuscia-infused deep opaque blackberry robe.

Nose: Cranberry, currant, raspberry, potpourri, sous bois on the nose.

Palate:  Cherry cola, mushroom, green tea, dried rose petal on the palate. Unblemished acidity; well-structured tannins ensure a graceful aging.

Suggested Pairings:  A pour to ponder.

Small Vines Wines produces premium MK (Mike Keller) Vineyard Pinot Noir in Sonoma.

Wine: Small Vines MK (Matt Keller) Vineyard Sonoma Coast Pinot Noir

Vintage: 2014

Alcohol: 13.5%

Suggested Retail: $82

Specs:
Vineyards: 100% MK Vineyard: Planted by Small Vines in 1999, east facing ridge above Occidental, 800 ft. elevation, 10.5 miles from the coast.
Farming: Organically farmed by Small Vines Viticulture, Inc., using biodynamic practices.
Spacing: 4×4 (2722 vines per acre.)
Soils:  Extremely sandy dark gray loam.
Yields: ~2.5 lbs. per vine, naturally, lightly thinned for uniformity.
Clones: Dijon 114, 115, 667, 777.
Hand Harvest Dates: 8/29, 8/30/2014.
Brix at Cold Soak: 22.7-23.1 Brix.
Fermentation: Native yeast fermentation; 5 day cold soak; on the skins for 14-18 days including pre and post-fermentation maceration; Native ML, 50% whole cluster.
Barrel. Program: 15 months on fine lees; 43% New French oak: Siruge, Atelier. 57% Neutral: Ermitage, Francois Freres. 100% free run.
Bottling: Bottled unfined, unfiltered January 11, 2016.
Chemistry: pH: 3.69, TA: .54 g/100ml, RS: 0.4g/L Alc: 13.5%
Release Date: August 2016.

TASTING NOTES:

Robe: Opaque ruby robe.

Nose: Rhubarb, leather, red fruit.

Palate: Medium-light body. Balanced acids and tannins; this wine will turn velvety over time.

Suggested Pairings: Grilling wine Рbring out the high-end, better-cuts BBQ.

Small Vines WInes Baranoff Vineyard produces ultra-premium Pinot Noir in Sonoma's Russian River Valley.

Wine: Small Vines Wines Baranoff Vineyard Russian River Valley Pinot Noir

Vintage: 2014

Alcohol: 13.2%

Suggested Retail: $82

Specs:
Vineyards: 100% Baranoff Family Vineyard: Planted in 2001, top of ridge above the Laguna de Santa Rosa, Sebastopol.
Farming: Sustainably farmed by Small Vines Viticulture, Inc., with organic weed control.
Spacing:4×4 and 4x meter (2722‚Äď 3350 vines per acre.)
Soils:Red sandy clay loam.
Yields: ~1.8 lbs. per vine, naturally, lightly thinned for uniformity.
Clones: Calera, 777, Swan, 459.
Hand Harvest Dates: 8/27, 8/30, 9/2/2014.
Brix at Cold Soak: 221.-23.5 Brix.
Fermentation: Native yeast fermentation; 5 day cold soak; on the skins for 17 days including pre and post-fermentation maceration; Native ML, 75% whole cluster.
Barrel Program: 5 months on fine lees; 43% New French oak: Siruge, Atelier. 37% Neutral: Ermitage. 100% free run.
Bottling: Bottled unfined, unfiltered January 11, 2016.
Chemistry: pH: 3.74, TA: 0.56 g/100ml, RS: 0.3 g/L Alc: 13.2%.
Release Date: August 2016.

TASTING NOTES:

Robe: Deep garnet robe.

Nose: Dark cherry cola, balsa nose.

Palate: Cedar, red cherry, red raspberry, black pepper bouche. Frontal attack gives way to a velvety finish reminiscent of a Pommard Premier Cru.

Suggested Pairings: Beef Bourguignon, certainement.

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Copyrighted 2016 binNotes | redThread‚ĄĘ. ¬†All Rights Reserved.

redThread‚ĄĘ Exclusive | A Conversation with Paul Sloan of Small Vines Wines

redThread‚ĄĘ Exclusive | A Conversation with Paul Sloan of Small Vines Wines

Welcome to binNotes | redThread‚ĄĘ

Inspired stories about artisan wine and taste makers.

by L.M. Archer FWS, Bourgogne ML

Today’s Exclusive Interview:

Small Vines Wines | Sonoma

“The best fertilizer is the footsteps of the farmer.” -Old French Proverb

Paul Sloan knew two things growing up on a ranch in Sonoma, California: he wanted to work for himself, and he didn’t want to work¬†in an office. He wanted to work outside.

At age 21, a chance encounter with a glass of 1978 Domaine Romanée Conti La Romanée ignited a passion in Sloan, an all-consuming passion to understand all he could about wine making, and someday create his own Grand Cru-inspired wines.

It’s safe to say Paul Sloan of Small Vines Wines¬†is well on his way to achieving¬†his goals. Today, Rajat Parr of Domaine de la C√īte and Sandhi¬† and co-founder of In Pursuit of Balance,¬†deems Sloan “a pioneer in the vineyard, ” while wine writer Michael Cervin includes Paul Sloan on his list of Top 100¬†Most Influential U.S. Winemakers.

Recently, I met up with Paul and Kathryn Sloan at their estate vineyard in Sebastopol for an informal conversation about building vineyards, growing wine, and the the importance of small vines.

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What inspired you to get into wine making?

I was in school, working as a wine steward at John Ash & Co. One¬†night, a customer ordered a bottle of¬†1978¬†Domaine Roman√©e Conti La Roman√©e, and asked me if I’d ever tasted a wine like it before. All I could think of was that I had just spent my last $10 on gas to get to work – I doubted I’d ever be buying a $3500 bottle of wine, let alone tasting it. When I politely answered ‘No, I haven’t, sir,” he poured me a glass, and told me to savor it – to drink it slowly, and pay attention to how it changed¬†throughout the night. I did –¬†¬†I still had half a glass left at the end of my shift. I couldn’t believe a wine could have such an intellectual impact upon me.

I started reading every book about wine and wine making I could get my hands on, and enrolled in the viticulture program at Santa Rosa Junior College. For the first time in my life, I was earning 4.0 grades in chemistry, botany, etc. Before that, I was always a C student – not because I was stupid, but because I was bored. Eventually, I got my degree in Viticulture and Enology from Cal Poly, and went to work for Warren Dutton before starting Small Vines.

It’s been an amazing journey – eighteen years growing vines, and twenty-three years since leaving John Ash.

Talk about Warren Dutton‘s impact as a mentor in your life.

I met Warren when I was studying Viticulture & Enology at Cal Poly. He hired me to work for him planting vineyards.

I think Warren saw a lot of himself in me. He was already a¬†pioneer in Sonoma wine growing – he and Steve Kistler helped introduced¬†Chardonnay to the region in the late 1970’s. I would tell Warren about my plans to¬†create a¬†vineyard based upon Burgundy’s Grands¬†Crus¬†standards, but applied to California soils and weather.

One day Warren¬†told me:¬†“Paul, you need to do one of two things: Either move to Burgundy, learn French, and study wine making in Dijon, or stay here, plant vineyards, and bring the Old World to California.”

My wife Katherine and I stayed in California, and Warren guided me in a career planting vineyards for other people, until I could afford to buy my own vineyard.

How do you go about ‘building’ a vineyard?

My uncle was an architect. From him, I learned that architecture is all about looking at your environment. It’s also about understanding ’cause and effect.’ Every decision made has an impact upon the end result. This applies to vineyards as well. Every vineyard made – you’re making an 80-100 year decision –¬†that’s what they did in Burgundy.

I have planted over 40 sites, and walked away from over 100 more. I’ve walked away because the site did not match the intended use. They should have been growing tomatoes, not vineyards. The soils were too vigorous for vines. ¬†Building vineyards is about figuring out each site, then matching the farming or vines to the site.

You made a leap of faith to buy your own vineyard, Small Vines in Sebastopol in 2007. What about the site caught your attention?

Katherine and I looked at 273 properties before purchasing Small Vines. It has everything we’d been looking for ¬†– the right climate, ¬†a cooling afternoon breeze, and low vigor soils – mostly sandy clay loam and soft sand.

Once we bought the site, we started implementing viticultural standards similar to those of Burgundy’s¬†Grand Crus, standards put in place to maintain quality. But California isn’t Burgundy, so we have had the freedom to adjust.

We don’t try to be too dogmatic in our approach, because every harvest is different.¬†We just try to¬†make the best decisions with everything in mind, looking at a higher level of thought into what we do.

What adjustments have you made to your own vineyard at Small Vines, and why?

I’m trying to follow Burgundy’s Grand Cru standards, but adjusting them to accommodate for California’s sun and soils.¬†We use tighter spacing, which results in smaller vines, which produce lower yields with tinier berries and clusters. These smaller berries contain thicker skins, resulting in leaner wines with more structured¬†tannins and¬†great aging potential.

Burgundy is built for¬†horses [plows], plus they use 18″ wires [for radiant heat.] Both [Burgundy and California] have the same harvest times around late September, but California’s growing season starts in February or March; Burgundy’s starts in April.

In California, most vineyards use 5’x8′ or¬†6′ x 9′ spacing with 36″ VSP (vertical shoot positioning) wire heights allows for the tractors to get through, and to produce a good quantity of vines, which translates into good economics, or ‘production agriculture.’

At Small Vines, the vines run¬†north-south, with ¬†3’x4′ spacing and 24″ vertical-shoot-positioning (VSP) wires. We use¬†irrigation only at the outset; by the time the plants reach age seven, we’ve found that the roots have dug deep enough for dry farming.

Last year I made 32 passes in my vineyard. That means touching every vine, sometimes with tweezers. In contrast, other vineyards in the area may have made only 6-8 passes. My method is 3.5 times more expensive than typical ‘production agriculture.’ But it also eliminates the need for fruit drop three weeks before harvest. This is the distinction I’m trying to make between farming vs. ‚Äėgrowing wine.‚Äô

If you do what you need to do in the vineyard, ideally you have little to do in the cellar.

Talk about your approach in the cellar – how does it match your approach in the vineyard?

Every year different, which is what‚Äôs exciting – it’s not a cookie cutter craft – we’re creating a piece art from what Mother Nature provides each vintage.

Terroir is the fingerprint/calling card/identification of a site. Pinot Noir is the most nuanced varietal.

My goal is to preserve that site expression. All my decisions are made to preserve, not manipulate.

For example, using oak as ‚Äėspice‚Äô to enhance a wine, rather than as a flavor ‘change agent’ that smothers it.

In California, a typical mindset [sometimes] is to ¬†‚Äėerase vineyard flaws‚Äô in the cellar – like letting the fruit hang too long to ripe, then adding back water and acid. ¬†This process stomps out the ‚Äėfruit forward’ taste, but only allows for 3-5 years aging.¬†I don’t want to add anything to the wines.

In Burgundy, they want to make wines that to draw you in, that can age,¬†that pair with food. They don’t¬†want wines that stand out – they want wines that make you think. It’s more about a cerebral experience, an artful expression of place preserved over a period of years.

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Thank you:

Kathryn & Paul Sloan

Copyrighted 2016 binNotes | redThread‚ĄĘ. All Rights Reserved.

France Today | A Tale of Two Sister Cities

France Today | A Tale of Two Sister Cities

Welcome to binNotes | redThread‚ĄĘ

Inspired stories about artisan wine and taste makers.

by L.M. Archer, FWS | Bourgogne ML

Dear Readers:

I wanted to share my recent article in France Today:

france-today logo

A Tale of Two Sister Cities: Sonoma and Chambolle-Musigny Toast to Citizen Diplomacy

Santé!

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Copyrighted 2016 binNotes | redThread‚ĄĘ. All Rights Reserved.

The Hedonistic Taster | ‚ĄĖ 7 | Angels & Cowboys

The Hedonistic Taster | ‚ĄĖ 7 | Angels & Cowboys

The Hedonistic Taster¬†| ¬†‚ĄĖ 7

Angels & Cowboys 

by L.M. Archer, FWS | Bourgogne ML

‚ÄúWine should not be regarded simply as a beverage, but as an art of living, a pleasure.‚ÄĚ ‚Äď Henri Jayer

Welcome to The Hedonistic Taster,¬†a¬†binNotes | redThread‚ĄĘ¬†trade¬†sampling¬†of¬†artisan wines.

The title derives from the term ‚Äėhedonistic tasting,‚Äô coined by legendary¬†Burgundian vigneron¬†Henri Jayer.

The Hedonistic Taster allows me the opportunity to introduce you to some gorgeous pours through this intimate tasting format.

Santé!

Today’s Tasting:

Angels & Cowboys | Sonoma

Looking for wines a little naughty,¬†but nice? Angels & Cowboys produces¬†proprietary blends sourced from some of¬†Sonoma’s most stunning vineyards.

The brainchild of seasoned Sonoma winemaker Dennis Hill and business partner Yoav Gilat, also co-founders of Cannonball Wine Company, Angels and Cowboys wines evince an authenticity that elicits an emotional response in wine enthusiasts seeking the sublime.

Learn more about Angels & Cowboys from my exclusive interview with Dennis Hill here. Cheers!

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Wine:  Angels & Cowboys Sonoma County Rosé

Varietal(s): Blend of Grenache Rouge, Merlot, Petit Verdot and Grenache Blanc.

Vintage: 2015

Alcohol: 12.8 %

Suggested Retail: $14.99

Specs 

TASTING NOTES:

Robe: Eye candy for any occasion. Classic Oeil de Perdrix (Eye of the Partridge) pale grayish-pink hue with a tinge of peche (peach.)

Nose: Delightfully diabolical notes of pink grapefruit, rhubarb and celery.

Palate: Light, bright quencher with hints of grapefruit and Pink Lady apple.

Suggested Pairings: Dress this little number up or down Рfrom a full-on sit down formal affair (including Thanksgiving, for you uber-planners) of roast game, to July 4th backyard BBQ, plus everything in between, including Thai take-out!

 

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Copyrighted 2016 binNotes | redThread‚ĄĘ. ¬†All Rights Reserved.