California Wine- Various Producers and Regions

This week we will sample a variety of wine from California from producers including Melville Estate, Thomas Henry, Tolosa and Healdsburg Ranches. The wines come from various regions from the southern region of Santa Rita Hills in Santa Barbara County all the way up to Healdsburg in the Russian River Valley.

There will be two whites and four reds altogether including a Sauvignon Blanc, Chardonnay, Pinot Noir, Grenache, Syrah, and Cabernet Sauvignon. Peter Schmidt and the Hotel Capstone will provide delicious finger-foods to sample with the wine selection. We hope to see you this Thursday night!

Melville Winery and Vineyards is located within the Sta. Rita Hills appellation in Lompoc, California, in Western Santa Ynez Valley. Melville Vineyards was founded in 1989 in Sonoma County’s Knights Valley, where Ron Melville grew high quality Chardonnay, Merlot and Cabernet Sauvignon. In 1996, Ron’s desire to grow Pinot Noir and Chardonnay brought Melville Vineyards to Santa Rita Hills, located in the western Santa Ynez Valley of Santa Barbara County, California.

The Santa Rita Hills appellation is where Ron Melville along with his sons Brent and Chad, decided to develop their estate vineyards and winery. This means that all of the fruit for wine production is not only exclusively farmed and sourced from Melville Vineyards, but is also produced exclusively by Melville Winery. The Melville estate achieves quality through the integrity of its farming practice and respect to the microclimate. They also believe that fine wine begins in the terroir of a vineyard.

Robert Parker says of Melville- “Melville is one of the better known properties in Santa Barbara. The estate makes a wide range of wines under the direction of oenologist Greg Brewer, and also sells fruit to a number of other producers”…”Longtime winemaker Greg Brewer has done a great job with these new releases. Although there are a number of highlights here, it is the Pinots that truly shine in 2010.”

Melville Estate Chardonnay 2010– Santa Rita Hills, California. 100% Chardonnay that aged in neutral barrel 5-12 year old French oak. This wine is 100% from the Santa Rita Hills Estate, planted predominantly on the west side of the estate where the soil consists mostly of sand. Because the west side receives the brunt of brutal ocean winds and has only poor soils, they feel that the Chardonnay captures the vibrancy, minerality and concentrated flavor that are the hallmarks of the appellation. Fruit was harvested by hand then gently whole-cluster pressed, cold settled overnight and transferred by gravity to barrel for fermentation in neutral (5 to 12 year old French oak), partial malolactic, and subsequent sur lie aging without stirring of the lees. Winemakers notes- “Bright yellow gold in color, concentrated aromatics of star anise, tarragon, ripe lemon, and flint emerge from the glass. Impressions of raw pine nuts, quinine, tangerine leaf, and citrus oil flood the palate while notes of pie crust, green apple skin, pink grapefruit, and fresh chanterelles float in the background. The mouthfeel is round and complete with a full, lengthy finish.” 4,716 cases produced. Tasting $24.99

Melville Estate Pinot Noir 2010– Santa Rita Hills, California. “100% Melville fruit from our Sta. Rita Hills estate, and is a collection of 16 Pinot Noir clones. Yields were 2.6 lbs/vine (2.4 tons/acre). 40% of the fruit was fermented as whole-clusters with 60% gently de-stemmed in small (1.5 ton) open-top fermenters. Total skin and stem contact averaged 30 days (7 day cold soak, 2 + weeks of fermentation and 1 + week extended maceration.) From the press, the wine was transferred directly into neutral barrel (old French oak), where it remained sur lie without sulfur until April, when it was gently racked for the first time and prepared for bottling in August.” Winemakers notes- “Deep ruby red in color with an opulent and complex nose of black tea, persimmon, Chinese five-spice, and pumpkin pie.  Fresh red and blue fruit components of plum duck sauce, raspberry reduction, and bing cherry weave seamlessly on the palate along with umami-like notes of, dashi, chanterelles, nori, and miso. The mouthfeel is plush and complete yet finishes with elegance and restraint.” 7,715 cases produced. Tasting $29.99

Thomas Henry Wines is named after Tom Meadowcroft’s father who was passionate about life and knew that great wine didn’t have to cost a lot of money. The family lived and traveled throughout Europe together by car, foot and bicycle, sharing the lessons and experiences of life, family, and friends, surrounded by great food and wine. The Thomas Henry Wines reflect a subtle European style of winemaking, yet with the depth and energy that is indicative of New World wines. Thomas Henry Wines were created for the purpose of everyday enjoyment and approachability, and deliver serious value for any wine lover.

Thomas Henry Sauvignon Blanc 2010– Sonoma County, California. “Aromatically complex, with citrus, honeysuckle and apricot flavors, with a crisp finish and a touch of minerality. This unique blend is composed of 3 varietals: Sauvignon blanc, Viognier, and Verdelho. Aromatically complex, with citrus, apricot and honeysuckle. The wine has a crisp finish and a touch of minerality.” Faint yellow in color with fragrant scents of pineapple, grapefruit/citrus and sweet flowers. The palate is light-bodied, gentle and approachable with pink grapefruit notes and bright, easy acidity that’s followed by a juicy finish. An excellent value. Tasting $10.99

Thomas Henry Syrah 2010– California. Winemakers notes- “This wine has aromas of dark berries, sandalwood, plums and notes of spice. The body has dark fruit and smooth tannins.” This Syrah is quite approachable and presents great value. Its nose is sweet and perfumed with scents of blueberry fruit and baking spices. It is juicy and friendly on the palate with lingering ripe fruit flavors that carry into the tasty finish. Tasting $10.99

Tolosa Winery– “Tolosa’s sustainably farmed vineyards are located between Santa Barbara and Paso Robles, in the coastal hills of San Luis Obispo. Their goal is to make balanced wines that are true to varietal character and expressive of the cooling ocean breezes and long growing season that define our estate vineyards. There are actually five separate and unique Tolosa vineyards in the Edna Valley Appellation. The varying micro-climates, soil profiles, hillside slopes and distinctly different sun exposure create diversity throughout the vineyards that excite the winemaking team and produce distinctive and exceptional wines.”

“Tolosa practices scientifically based sustainability practices in their vineyard and winery. To summarize – sustainability is a comprehensive program that encompasses hundreds of the best management practices in the winery, vineyards, employees, and with neighbors.

The 3 E’s of Sustainability:
Environmentally friendly
Equitable, Socially
Economically Feasible”

Tolosa Autumn Blend Grenache 2009– San Luis Obispo County, California. 100% Grenache Noir. “The Autumn Blend is a delicate and easily approachable Grenache primarily from southern San Luis Obispo County. This wine has a beautiful aroma, soft palate, and an opulent finish.” Winemakers notes- “Like the other 2009 estate red wines this Grenache is evolving beautifully in the bottle. It has medium color density with a pure purple hue. It is perfumed in a masculine sort of way with some resinous floral notes and an herbal hint that is sage like. The predominant fruit aroma is of dried cherry with some fresh raspberry as well. The textures in the mouth are soft and balanced. The fruit sweetness is apparent. The oak notes are muted and overall the impression is one of silkiness.” It offers a nice aroma that is rustic and spicy with underlying sweet plummy/berry fruits. The palate is dry, yet very complex with juicy fruit flavors and tangy acidity, followed by a savory, balanced finish. Tasting $18.99

Healdsburg Ranches– “The North Coast of California, that area to the west of the Mayacamas Mountains and north of San Francisco, is a patchwork of microclimates suitable for nearly any agricultural pursuit. Over the years, the land has been inhabited by a variety of ranchers and farmers, raising all sorts of livestock and growing everything from stone fruits and grapes to greens and root vegetables. In the early days of the California wine industry, Healdsburg was the center of the North Coast, a small farm town where the ranchers and farmers would come to get the tools, equipment, and supplies needed to maintain their ranches as well as themselves. It was here that they would also buy the local wines, labeled by variety, reasonably priced, and damn good.”

“The wines of Healdsburg Ranches are produced from great vineyard sources using time-honored techniques (with a little modern technology thrown in), and our hope is that you will taste in them what we do. Wines true to their variety and place of origin, balanced, smooth, easy to drink, and hard to forget. We hope you enjoy them. In fact, we encourage you to tell us about your experiences learning about wine and the wine business, and how our wines fit in. After all, wine is about food, it’s about people…you can’t separate them: they go together.”

Healdsburg Ranches Cabernet Sauvignon 2009– North Coast. 100% Cabernet Sauvignon that aged in French oak. Winemakers notes- “Our Cabernet Sauvignon is full-bodied yet approachable with supple tannins and flavors of warm spice and berries.” This delicious Cabernet provides incredible value while it offers an aromatic nose of ripe cassis, mulberry, and plum fruits within a spiced-oak framework. The palate is soft and approachable with nice texture and balance, especially considering the wine’s meager price. Tasting $11.99

Thomas Henry Sauv Blanc Melville Chard Healdsburg Ranch Cab

Tolosa Rose

I had trouble finding an image of the Tolosa Autumn Blend Grenache, but the label looks similar to one on the Rose pictured to the left.

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