This week we will sample a variety of wine from California, specifically from Cienega Valley (25 inland from Monterrey Bay) and Sonoma County. There will be one white and five reds altogether including a Sauvignon Blanc, Pinot Noir, Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon, Zinfandel and Meritage (Bordeaux-style blend). So, for those of you who are in town this week (“Spring Break”), let’s do some California Dreamin’ and pretend that we are sipping wine on the West Coast!
“means SACRED STONE in Italian and was named in honor of our unique soils rich in limestone and shale. Our Pietra Santa Wines are predominantly single varietal, estate-based and made to showcase the marriage between our exceptional terroir and the individual characteristics of each grape. [We are] a family-run estate producing artisanal wines and olive oils in California’s Central Coast. The site was planted to winegrapes in the 1850s by Frenchman Theophile Vache who chose the location because of the maritime climate and unique soils.
Pietra Santa is 25 miles from Monterrey Bay and benefits from cool coastal breezes that allow for a long growing season. The estate’s location on the San Andreas Fault creates soils rich with granite and limestone that naturally lower yields and add distinctive flavors to the wines.
In 2005, the property was purchased by the Blackburns, a family dedicated to preserving and building upon this magnificent winemaking history. Due to the mountainous terrain, only 120 of the estate’s 450 acres are planted with winegrapes. An additional 25 acres are planted with olive trees. The oldest vines consist of a treasured block of Zinfandel planted in 1905. Completed in 2000, the Mission-Style Winery was designed for fine winemaking combining traditional methods and state-of-the-art technology. The winery also hosts a FRANTOIO (olive oil press room) equipped with a Pieralisi Press imported from Tuscany.”
Proprietors: Cort, Phyllis and John Blackburn
Winemaker: Alessio Carli
Appellation: Cienega Valley
Pietra Santa Zinfandel 2008
Cienega Valley, California. 100% Zinfandel that aged in oak barrels for 36 months. “Made from grapes with an average age over 40 years, including a block on our estate planted in 1905 this truly is an old vine Zinfandel. The flavors are richly extracted with layers of plums and ripe cherries and a lingering finish of black pepper and sage.” 1064 cases produced. Jen’s note- Deep garnet color. Very pretty nose- coconut (suntan lotion) and sweet fruit. Rich and ripe. Good Zin; friendly and bold. Slightly savory finish; long. Tasting $14.99
Pietra Santa Merlot 2008
Cienega Valley, California. Aged 25 months in oak. 100% Merlot. “This Merlot is robust and intensely fruity, yet beautifully balanced. It Merlot is medium to full-bodied with bright flavors of black cherry and plum with undertones of clove, pepper and chocolate. Layers of flavor with hints of vanilla and cinnamon are expressed on the palate and a lengthy, well-structured finish shows a nice persistence of fruit. The Pietra Santa Merlot is supple and elegant in texture, and powerfully expressive with the ability to age well.” Jen’s note- Slightly brownish in color (compared to Zinfandel); cherry juice aromas with some coconut and sweet oak on nose. Textured and ripe; fruit-forward. Juicy and full. Good. Tasting $14.99
Pietra Santa Cabernet Sauvignon 2008
Cienega Valley, California. “Our Cabernet Sauvignon is produced solely from our estate vineyards using blocks with an average age of twenty years. The grapes were harvested the last week of October, and the longer hang-time allowed the fruit to fully develop concentration and complexity that is expressed in the older vines. The wine was aged for 33 months in French Oak barrels. This vintage of Cabernet Sauvignon has flavors of deep cherry, blackberry and currant with notes of chocolate and cedar. The wine is rich and complex with a velvety texture with ideal structure for aging. Cellar for 7+ years.” Jen’s note- Deep garnet, rusty color. Some green pepper notes mingle with deep red and black fruits; deep nose. Flavorful palate, soft but not overly rich. Drier finish. Tasting $14.99
“My passion for wines comes from my experiences growing up, working and traveling in Europe and the United States. Early in life, I started my journey in winemaking by working the harvest of 1979 in Bordeaux. Later in life, I worked at wineries in Washington and Napa, attended UC Davis and Napa College, and then became a vineyard manager focused on sustainable farming and environmental advocacy. Managing dozens of properties for the top wineries in Napa and Sonoma taught me the principles of winegrowing and gave me a vision for the kinds of wines that I make today.” -Tom Meadowcroft – Winemaker
“My newest [line] Thomas Henry Wines are named after my father who was passionate about life and knew great wine didn’t always have to cost a lot of money. We lived and traveled throughout Europe together by car, foot and bicycle, sharing the lessons of life, family and friends. These wines reflect a subtle European style of winemaking, yet with the depth and energy we love in new world wines. Thomas Henry is created for everyday enjoyment and entertaining, and delivers serious value for any wine enthusiast.”
Thomas Henry Sauvignon Blanc 2010
Russian River, Sonoma County, California. “The Sauvignon Blanc was sourced from the Russian River appellation which has gravelly soil that produces some of the county’s most treasured wines. The wine was fermented and aged in stainless steel and kept cool to preserve the aromatics and bright flavors. Aromatics of citrus, grass and fine, crisp tropical notes combine with flavors of grapefruit, green apple, pineapple make way for a tart, crispy finish.” Tasting $10.99
Thomas Henry Pinot Noir 2011
Sonoma County, California. “The fruit for the 2011 Thomas Henry Sonoma County Pinot Noir is sourced from vineyards in the Carneros region of the county, not far from the tasting room. The cool mornings and breezy afternoons allow the wine grapes to ripen slowly to retain their acidity. The wine is aged in 20% new French oak. The wine boasts a nose of rose petals, wild strawberries, dark cherries and black raspberry. With just a touch of spice and earthy notes, the wine is intense and sweetly-fruited. Its bright garnet color displays a velvety texture, elegant berry flavors and a nice oak finish.” 1,248 cases produced. Tasting $13.99
Thomas Henry Meritage 2009
Sonoma County, California. 60% Cabernet Sauvignon and 15% Cabernet Franc both sourced from Windsor Oaks Vineyard in Chalk Hill, Sonoma; 25% Merlot, Alexander Valley, Sonoma. Aged up to 16 months in a blend of Medium Plus Toast French, and eastern European barrels. Approximately 30% new oak barrels. “A classic Old World red wine blend from Sonoma County. Aromas of dark berries with notes of sage and spice, deep tannins and a smooth finish.” 650 cases produced. Tasting $12.99