This Week’s Wine Tasting
American Wine: California and Washington State
Matanzas Creek “has been dedicated to a genuine expression of Sonoma County Sauvignon Blanc since 1977. As is true of all the world’s noble grape varieties, our Sauvignon expertise is a direct result of extensive observation and work in the vineyard and cellar.
Naturally defined by the three mountain peaks that envelop it, Bennett Valley existed for many years in quiet obscurity – bountifully sustaining an agricultural community that had all but forgotten the valley’s pre-prohibition viticultural roots. It wasn’t until 1977 with the founding of Matanzas Creek Winery that the area’s winemaking potential was once again unearthed. But Matanzas Creek didn’t just breathe new life into the area, it helped revolutionize the entire industry and, in the process, put Bennett Valley back on the map. And now, over thirty years after the release of its first vintage, Matanzas Creek stands at the forefront of California viticulture. Each day yields new and exciting discoveries, and the winery’s future is as bright as its universally celebrated past.”
Matanzas Creek Sauvignon Blanc 2012
Sonoma County, California. Vineyards: Helena Bench, Coyote Hills, and Haarstad. A blend of 94% Sauvignon Blanc and 6% Sémillon. “Primarily fermented in stainless steel tanks at low temperature with the balance in neutral oak barrels. Carefully selected Sauvignon Blanc yeast transformed aromatic precursors into intense aromas such as grapefruit and fresh passion fruit. Expressive fruit-driven aromas of grapefruit, nectarine and honeydew melon flood the nose while lemon thyme and oyster shells contribute further depth, both in the nose and on the palate. Both bright and textured, the Sonoma County Sauvignon perfectly expresses the diverse range of vineyards we blended together to make this wine.” $15.99
Cambria “is a family-owned, estate winery located in the heart of the famed Santa Maria bench in Santa Barbara County. Bolstered by several decades of diligent winemaking and vineyard experience, Cambria’s wines faithfully express the unique stamp of one of the nest cool-climate crus in California. Since 2009, all the grapes from our Estate Vineyard have been certified sustainable under the California Sustainable Winegrowing Alliance’s Certified California Sustainable Winegrower (CCSW) program. We have also been SIP (Sustainable in Practice) Certied since 2011.”
“Named after owner Barbara Banke’s eldest daughter, Katherine’s is a blend of different blocks comprised of both old vine Chardonnay and contemporary clone plantings. Each of the 15 blocks of Chardonnay, planted in sand and granite soils, are farmed on an individual basis. The expression from each block is wholly unique. The resulting wine shows a Chardonnay with a spectrum of fruit flavors ranging from mango to Meyer lemon and a rich texture framed by refreshing natural acidity.”
Cambria Chardonnay Katherine’s Vineyard 2012
Santa Maria Valley, California. Aged 5 months in 83% French oak, 15% new. “The 2012 Katherine’s Vineyard Chardonnay has subtle tropical and citrus aromas with pineapple, stonefruit and apple flavors. Oak and vanilla balance out the flavors on the palate. Nicely balanced with weight on the mid-palate leading into a crisp, fresh finish. Try our Katherine’s Vineyard Chardonnay with crab and lobster, shrimp, fried calamari, and grilled salmon. It also pairs well with Cow’s milk cheeses such as mild cheddar, Comte, Gruyere, Brie and Camembert or triple crème.” Estate grown and bottled. Certified Sustainable. $14.99
Byron– “Not long ago the Santa Maria Bench was grasslands – a pristine stretch of emerald green in the winter and alchemy gold in the summer. That all changed in 1964 when Uriel Nielson planted Santa Barbara County’s first commercial vineyard. The Byron Estate is located on the site of Mr. Nielson’s original plantings. For the past two decades we have experimented to find the best clones, rootstock, trellising and farming protocols for our cool climate and benchland soils.
We produce small quantities of Chardonnay and Pinot Noir from our estate and other exceptional vineyards throughout the Santa Maria Valley. The Santa Maria Valley– of Santa Barbara County– is one of California’s coolest AVAs, with one of the longest growing seasons in the world. The region is defined by its well-drained, lean soils and the unique east/west transverse mountain ranges that act as a funnel for fog and cold winds off the Pacific Ocean. The Santa Maria Valley is considered one of America’s premiere appellations for Burgundian varieties.”
Byron Pinot Noir 2012
Santa Barbara County, California. “The wine was transferred to small French oak barrels, where it aged for 10 months in our temperature and humidity-controlled barrel rooms. 100% of the grapes for this Pinot Noir were harvested from our historic, estate-owned Nielson Vineyard. The vineyard’s sandy loam soils are ideal for minimizing plant vigor, which creates low yields, small berries, and intense flavor in the fruit. This Pinot Noir comes from both older Pinot Noir vines planted on their own rootstock and new vines planted in high density spacing to the latest clones and rootstocks. Santa Maria Valley Pinot Noir is noted for its firm structure, vivid color and concentration. It displays aromas of dark berry and cherry accented by hints of floral and mineral. The flavor profile has a core of dark berry and dark cherry with hints of earth and brown spices, backed by a smooth, silky and long finish. The wine is styled to highlight the vivid aromas and flavors of our cool-climate fruit, enhanced by careful winemaking.” $16.99
Franciscan– “Over three decades ago, Justin Meyer took over the winemaking at Franciscan Estate with a highly meticulous approach. Dividing our Oakville Estate into sections, he fermented and aged each vineyard block separately to bring out the best expression of each lot, then blended the best lots together to create wines of distinction. Thus began our tradition of small-lot winemaking, which I am proud to continue today. Each vintage, we make over 200 separate lots of Bordeaux varietals, honing the blend during 18 months of barrel aging. Only the finest lots are included in each glass of Franciscan Estate Cabernet Sauvignon, to show the best of the vineyards and the vintage.”
Franciscan Estate Cabernet Sauvignon 2012
Napa Valley, California. A blend of 86% Cabernet Sauvignon, 10% Merlot, 2% Petite Verdot, 1% Syrah, and 1% Cabernet Franc. “Aged for 20 months in small oak barrels; 25% new oak. Appearance: Deep garnet. Aromas: Complex and vibrant aromas of red plum, cherry, and forest berries mingle with deeper notes of violet, earthy tobacco, and leather, accented by hints of vanilla. Dried herbs like marjoram and oregano add complexity. Flavors: A smooth and silky texture on the palate frames generous flavors of ripe plum and dark cherry, with notes of vanilla and black pepper. Smooth tannins and well-integrated structure tie together and linger in the long finish.” $20.99
Hogue Cellars, “founded in 1982 by Mike and Gary Hogue, is located in Eastern Washington’s Columbia Valley, the premiere grape growing region of the state. The climate and soils of the Columbia Valley produce grapes with intense fruit flavors and high natural acidity. The wines have a liveliness and ripe, zesty fruit flavors that make them ideal complements to a wide range of food.
Hogue Cellars announced the results of groundbreaking research conducted between 2005 and 2010 that confirmed Saranex-lined screw caps as the ideal closure for preserving and aging Hogue Cellars wines.”
Hogue Cellars Cabernet Sauvignon Reserve 2010
Columbia Valley, Washington. A blend of 98% Cabernet Sauvignon, 1% Malbec and 1% Merlot. “The grapes were harvested during the day to build heat from the sun for warm, effective macerations. After primary fermentation, the wine was racked to French and American oak barrels for aging. All the wine underwent malolactic fermentation in barrel. After 18 to 22 months of aging, the wine was bottled in October 2012. Our Reserve wines are sourced from the best vineyard lots for aging in our finest oak barrels. The 2009 vintage is an elegantly structured Cabernet Sauvignon with layers of dark, rich fruit, most notably blackberry, blueberry, and cherry, and a dusting of cocoa. The well-integrated oak adds a touch of vanilla and nutmeg. Supple and rich, this is the wine to pour with beef dishes—prime rib or grilled New York strip steak with Cabernet sauce.” $22.99
Hogue Cellars Riesling 2013
Columbia Valley, Washington. A blend of 93% Riesling and 7% Gewürztraminer. “Riesling is at its best in Eastern Washington when picked fully mature and fermented cold to preserve its fresh fruit character. Our Riesling is night-harvested, when the fruit is cool, whole-cluster pressed, and then fermented in stainless steel. The grapes were selected from several vineyards in the Yakima Valley and Snipes Mountain, where low vigor and well-drained soils produce smaller berries with concentrated flavors. During the grape growing season, Eastern Washington boasts warm summer days followed by cool nights, ensuring that grapes ripen fully while retaining ample natural acidity. Even ripening gives Washington Riesling its trademark apricot and tangerine flavors. Our Riesling has fragrant aromas of apricot, peach, melon, lemon-lime, and a drizzle of honey. The flavors are a delicate blend of apricot and tangerine, with a pleasing mineral edge and crisp, refreshing acidity. Slightly sweet, this is the wine to serve with fresh spring rolls, spicy ahi curries or grilled halibut.” $8.99