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Wine of the Day

2007 Ampelos Delta Grenache

In celebration of international Grenache day, today’s wine of the day is the 2007 Ampelos Delta. It’s a very attractive, 100% Alban-clone Grenache made by proprietors Peter and Rebecca Work with assistance from their son Don Work, winemaker at Sea Smoke. Though a 2007, the wine is a current release as Ampelos goes for extended barrel and bottle aging with their reds. Ampelos wines are not in general distribution, but are available at the Lompoc tasting room and via their website.

Ampelos is a small, family-owned and operated winery. All of the grapes come from their Ampelos vineyard, located southeast of the intersection of Highway 246 and Mail Rd. in Santa Barbara County’s Sta. Rita Hills AVA. The vineyard lies on a slope facing the Pacific Ocean, roughly 20 miles away. Morning fog and cool ocean breezes, sweeping through two latitudinal valley that converge near Ampelos, keep the vines cool. The vineyards were SIP-certified (sustainable) in 2008 and certified organic and biodynamic in 2009. One-third of the vineyard is planted to Rhone varieties. The balance is devoted to six different clones of Pinot Noir.

As Grenache has gained popularity as a varietal wine in California, I’ve seen three general styles emerge. One is light in color and weight. These wines are delicate and pretty with flavors of fresh strawberry, red cherry and little to no oak influence. At the opposite spectrum are dark, robust Grenache with deeper, blacker flavors, full-body and substantial barrel-derived flavors. Much of this difference comes from the growing area, cool and slow-ripening vs. very warm, as in parts of Paso Robles.

The Ampelos Delta Grenache represents the third style, a happy medium. The growing site is cool (Zone 1), but its western facing provides plenty of sunlight. Full phenolic ripeness can be achieved without high sugar levels. There is richness of fruit, but nuance to the wine overall. I found ripe red cherries, grenadine and sweet spice, but also a frond of fennel. The color is ruby and light enough that you can easily see the stem of the glass when looking down through the wine. In the mouth, the body is a lithe medium-plus. Fresh, juicy fruit and lightly drying tannins balance the alcohol. The finish is well-rounded and pleasingly long. Drink now through 2015. Highly Recommended.

grenache_delta_front2007 Ampelos Grenache “Delta”
Rating: Highly Recommended
Drink: Now - 2015
Release Date: February, 2011
Closure: Cork
Production: 70 cases
Retail Price: $35.00

Winemakers: Peter and Rebecca Work
Origin: Ampelos vineyard, Sta. Rita Hills AVA
Vinification: ~4 day cold soak, 1.5 ton open-top fermenters, 80% free run, 20% manual basket press
Aging: 33 months in oak barrels, 33% new French, 17% new Hungarian
Alcohol: 14.8%

Service Recommendations
Decanting: Not required
Temperature: 58º - 64º F
Food Pairings: Seared duck breast (medium-rare) or panzanella salad with roast chicken

The wine above was tasted with the proprietor.

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This article is original to NorCalWine.com. Copyright 2012 NorCal Wine. All rights reserved.

2008 Inman Family Thorn Ridge Ranch Pinot Noir

Kathleen Inman is a natural winemaker who eschews biodynamic viticulture because it makes use of products which she says necessitate harm to animals, such as the burying of cow horns. However, Inman does heed the lunar calendar and favors organic farming which, she pursues at the Inman Family estate vineyard, Olivet Grange. As a winemaker, Inman strives to use only native yeasts and never adds acid, water, enzymes or tannins.

This particular wine comes not from Inman’s estate vineyard, but from Ted Klopp’s Thorn Ridge Ranch in the Sebastopol Hills. In an area affected by a 2006 redrawing of AVAs, Thorn Ridge used to be classified solely as Sonoma Coast but is now within the Russian River Valley AVA too. It’s an east-facing vineyard with clay-rich Goldridge loam that retains moisture and allows for farming with little to no irrigation even on the steep hillside. The highly-sought after fruit has also been used by Freeman, Talisman and Pali, among others.

The 2008 Inman Family Thorn Ridge Ranch Pinot Noir’s light ruby-colored appearance belies the wine’s deliciously dark and masculine flavors. The aromas and bold flavors are an appetizing mix of black cherry, dry leaves, allspice and rich, and black tea leaves. The palate has medium weight with moderate, integrated tannins and persistent, juicy acidity. Drink now through 2017. Highly Recommended.

2008 Inman Family Thorn Ridge Ranch Pinot Noir
IFW_THN_NVRating: Highly Recommended
Drink: Now through 2017
Bottling Date: August 2009
Closure: Stelvin
Retail Price: $56.00

Winemaker: Kathleen Inman
Origin: Thorn Ridge Ranch, Russian River Valley AVA, Sonoma County
Blend: 100% Pinot Noir - Swan, Pommard & 777 clones
Fermentation: Native yeast
Aging: 11 months, French oak, 40% new
Alcohol: 14.5%

Service Recommendations
Decanting: Not recommended
Temperature: 58º - 62º F
Food Pairings: Crostini of very thin rye topped with warm, paper-thin pastrami

 

The wine above was sampled in a focused tasting at #PinotSmackdown.

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This article is original to NorCalWine.com. Copyright 2012 NorCal Wine. All rights reserved.

2010 DeLoach Estate Pinot Noir

Like many Burgundian winegrowers, Jean-Charles Boisset believes strongly in sustainability and biodynamic viticulture. All of the vineyards owned by Boisset Family Estates in the United States, France and Canada are either certified-organic or on the way to being so. The Grand Cru and Premier Cru vineyards of Domaine de la Vougeraie are certified-biodynamic. As of February 2010, so is the 17-acre DeLoach estate vineyard which Boisset acquired in 2004.

2010 was a difficult year for grape-growers in most of California’s AVAs. The Russian River Valley was no different with chaotic weather patterns, described by Brian Maloney, director of winemaking for Boisset’s Sonoma wineries, as “very cool, then hot, then cool, then hot.” Inconveniently timed rain made matters worse. It was the kind of year that can test the resolve of natural and/or low-intervention growers.

DeLoach stayed the course with excellent results. Was it the extra attention they pay to their vines, the natural equilibrium of the biodynamic ecosystem or simply a lucky site? It’s impossible to know. I suspect all three were at work, along with very careful picking and sorting. In any case, nothing in this pretty wine suggests anything other than perfect berries.

The 2010 DeLoach Estate Pinot Noir is a feminine wine, yet packed with enticing flavors that evolve almost continually in the glass. It’s medium ruby in the glass with elegant red fruit, sandalwood, smoke, sweet spice and tangerine. In the mouth it’s medium-bodied with very fine tannins and noticeable acidity. The flavors of red cherry, brown spice, cola and brulée linger for a medium-plus finish. Drink now through 2018. Highly Recommended+.

2010 DeLoach Estate Pinot Noir
2010_deloach_estatepinot-webRating: Highly Recommended+
Drink: now - 2018
Closure: Cork
Production: 375 cases
Retail Price: $50.00

Winemaker: Brian Maloney
Origin: DeLoach estate vineyard, Russian River Valley AVA, Demeter-certified biodynamic
Blend: 100% Pinot Noir, 60% clone 828, 40% Calera
Fermentation: Native yeast, separate fermentations for each clone
Aging: 100% French oak aged, 33% new, 14 months
Alcohol: 14.5%

Service Recommendations
Decanting: Not recommended
Temperature: 58º - 62º F
Food Pairings: Pork fried rice

 

The wine above was tasted at the winery.

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This article is original to NorCalWine.com. Copyright 2012 NorCal Wine. All rights reserved.

2009 V. Sattui Zinfandel Gilsson Vineyard Russian River Valley

V. Sattui makes this wine from Russian River Valley vines that are nearing 50 years of age. They’re on St. George rootstock, which keeps the phylloxera away, and located in the eastern portion of the AVA. Low-nutrient, clay loam combined with the vines’ age minimizes vigor, emphasizing character.

The wine is very fragrant, melding warm spices, brown sugar and oak with ripe black cherries and blackberry. In the mouth there are medium+ body and tannins that start out silky and gradually transition to a lightly chalky feel. The flavors are rich and long-lasting with blackberry, spice and oak plus some warmth from the alcohol. The 2009 V. Sattui Gilsson Vineyard Zinfandel is an engaging, easy-to-like Zinfandel that will go well with a slab or ribs or a meat lover’s pizza. Drink now through 2016. Recommended+

wine-gilsson-vineyard-zin12009 V. Sattui Zinfandel Gilsson Vineyard Russian River Valley
Rating: Recommended+
Drink: now - 2016
Release Date: Spring 2011
Closure: Cork
Retail Price: $37.00, available winery-direct only

Winemaker: Brooks Painter
Origin: Gilsson Vineyard, Russian River Valley AVA, Sonoma County
Fermentation:
Aging:
Alcohol: 15.0%

Service Recommendations
Decanting: Not required
Temperature: 58º - 64º F
Food Pairings: Braised short ribs, fall-off-the-bone pork ribs or fennel sausage pizza

The wine above was received from the winery for review.

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This article is original to NorCalWine.com. Copyright 2012 NorCal Wine. Photo courtesy of V. Sattui. All rights reserved.

2009 Trinchero Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon Chicken Ranch Vineyard, Rutherford

Trinchero Family Estates is the second largest family-owned wine producer in the United States (behind Gallo). There are many brands under the TFE umbrella. Trinchero Napa Valley is unique among them in focus, aspiration and price point. It’s wines are all Bordeaux varietals and blends from estate vineyards in Napa Valley. Most of them are single vineyard, varietal wines. All are intended to be of high quality and terroir-expressive. Prices for the red wines range from $40 to $100.

Mario Monticelli has been the Trinchero Napa Valley winemaker since its founding in 2007. Prior to that he held the same position at Quixote and before that was assistant winemaker at Melka Wines where he worked on wines for Quintessa, Vineyard 29, Lail and others. At Trinchero Napa Valley he has full control over the winemaking from vineyard to bottle.

The Chicken Ranch Vineyard is on Zinfandel Lane, a less than a mile east of Raymond Vineyards by my estimation. Decades ago, it was an egg farm. Now it's a vineyard with deep, clay-rich red soil. It is planted to Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot, for which the soil is particularly well-suited. Trinchero farms Chicken Ranch Vineyard biodynamically — buried cowhorns and all — but it isn't Demeter-certified.

I’ve tasted more than 75 Rutherford Cabernet Sauvignon wines from the 2009 vintage within the past two months. The 2009 Trinchero Napa Valley Chicken Ranch Vineyard Cabernet is very consistent with the better wines from its locale (northern Rutherford, valley floor). There is balance among flavors (fruit, herbal and spice) as opposed to being strongly fruit driven. The fruit is ripe, but not jammy. Tannins are light-grained and will reward some bottle age, but don’t demand it.

Trinchero_Napa_Valley_2009_Chicken_Ranch_Cabernet_Sauvignon_LO_Res_Bottle_Image

In the glass, the 2009 Trinchero Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon Chicken Ranch Vineyard is medium+ ruby and elegantly aromatic with black cherry, spicy tobacco leaf and earth. In the mouth, there are medium+ body and tannins which are nearly matched by acidity. The attractive flavors of cherry, dry herb and tobacco spice are consistent with the nose and medium+ in length. Monticelli doesn’t concern himself much with alcohol percentages, instead focusing on overall balance and ensuring that the wine doesn’t taste alcoholic. Mission accomplished here and at just 13.5%. Drink now through 2018. Highly Recommended.

2009 Trinchero Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon Chicken Ranch Vineyard, Rutherford
Rating: Highly Recommended
Drink: now through 2018
Release Date: June 2012
Closure: Cork
Production: 2,985 cases
Retail Price: $50.00

Winemaker: Mario Monticelli
Origin: Chicken Ranch Vineyard, Rutherford AVA, Napa Valley
Blend: 100% Cabernet Sauvignon Aging: 22 months in French oak, 65% new
Alcohol: 13.5%

Service Recommendations
Decanting: Not required
Temperature: 58º - 64º F
Food Pairings: 

The wine above was tasted at the winery.

Follow NorCalWine on Twitter for breaking wine news, information on events and more. Become a fan and join the NorCal Wine community on Facebook

This article is original to NorCalWine.com. Copyright 2012 NorCal Wine. All rights reserved.