This Week’s Wine Tasting


Robin K and Teira


Robin K, second-label of William Knuttel– “Knuttel’s philosophy has long been to make an enormous range of wines in various styles in any given vintage, for the simple reason that a winemaker only gets to make a limited number of vintages over his lifetime. This wealth of experience has led directly to his adherence to traditional winemaking practices, which lead to balanced, elegant wines that pair well with foods and have excellent aging potential—the hallmarks of classic wine.

His winemaking journey began at Saintsbury, where he was winemaker from 1983 to 1996, establishing that brand as an international leader in high-end Pinot Noir and Chardonnay in the Burgundian style. During that tenure, Knuttel founded and was owner/winemaker of Tria, producing fine Pinot Noir, Syrah and Zinfandel.

William Knuttel was Vice President & Winemaker at Chalk Hill Winery from 1996 to 2003, specializing in ultra-premium Chardonnay, Cabernet Sauvignon, Sauvignon Blanc and Pinot Gris, and most recently he was Executive Winemaker for Dry Creek Vineyard, where he completely re-honed the styles and quality of that winery’s extensive portfolio from 2003 to 2011. Knuttel was also ZAP’s winemaker in 2005, producing their Heritage Zinfandel, and President of the California Cabernet Society 1999-2003.”


Robin K Chardonnay Russian River Valley 2012
Sonoma County, California. “This bright, expressive wine is well-articulated with flavors of lemon custard, tropical fruits, and orange blossom. A viscous, firmly-structured palate adds notes of nutmeg, ripe lemons and spicy oak, all merging in an elegant finish.

The Robin K 2012 Russian River Valley Chardonnay is honed in classic Burgundian fashion. Crops in 2012 were bounteous, well utilizing the moderately warm growing season, but our blocks at Windsor Oaks Vineyard in the Chalk Hill region had been thinned on multiple occasions, and we harvested a crop only about 10% larger than normal. This fruit was blended with a small amount of Boeck Vineyard Chardonnay in Riebli Valley, an even cooler region than Chalk Hill.

Hand-harvested clusters were pressed whole, to insure maximum flavor and minimal working of the skins. After pressing, the juice was settled for forty-eight hours before racking off the lees and inoculating with an Epernay strain for fermentation in 100% French oak, coopered predominantly by Francois Freres. Malolactic fermentation proceeded spontaneously, and we allowed some lots to finish completely, while others were arrested to ensure retention of fresh fruit characters. The lees were stirred every two weeks during malolactic, then monthly during barrel aging. The various lots were master blended in May of 2013, and there was no fining of the final blend prior to filtration. The wine was aged entirely in French oak for eight months, with 30% of the oak being new barrels.”


Robin K Pinot Noir 2012
Sonoma Coast, California. “A well-delineated nose has fragrant scents of black cherry and dark fruits, and hints of violets, plum and vanilla spice. The wine’s structure is built around a lively mouthfeel and an elegant mid palate, and ripe, focused tannins balance fine acidity in a bold and concentrated finish. The wine is delicate enough to pair with seafood and lighter dishes, but hearty enough for roasted meats and more substantial fare.

The 2012 Robin K. Sonoma Coast Pinot Noir is built on a base of fruit from the Rued Vineyard in the heart of the Russian River Valley appellation, augmented with smaller blocks from Sonoma Coast.  The 2012 vintage was quite temperate throughout the growing season, and conditions were dry through late October and Pinot Noir achieved full ripeness and concentration. The Rued Vineyard, in particular, showed dark black cherry color immediately upon crushing, and after fermentation the aromas and flavors of the new wine verified its intensity.

This 100% pure Pinot Noir was produced entirely with traditional Burgundian processing techniques. Hand-harvested clusters were gently de-stemmed, leaving whole berries intact. The fruit was cold soaked for 5 days, and fermentations utilized Burgundian yeast strains at low inoculation rates to extend the fermentations as long as possible. Extraction was gently carried out with pumpovers to maximize fruitiness.  After two weeks total on the skins, the new wines were drained, pressed, and racked to French oak. Spontaneous malolactic fermentations finished by early spring, and the wine aged for 15 months in 35% new oak. No fining was utilized.”


Robin K Cabernet Sauvignon Dry Creek Valley 2011
Sonoma County, California. “Vibrant aromas of blackberry, black cherry, cigar box, caramel and creamy vanilla bean lead into the intense flavors, supple tannins, and lengthy finish.

Hillside vineyards are the backbone of this 2011 Robin K. Dry Creek Valley Cabernet Sauvignon, especially fruit from the D. Rafanelli Vineyard at the extreme north end of Dry Creek Valley, and the Vogensen and Piccetti Vineyards in the northwestern hills of the Dry Creek Valley appellation.

As usual with our Robin K. blends, small amounts of the other major Bordeaux varietals were blended to make the wine a seamless whole, from entry through to the finish. Traditional techniques were employed, including hand picking and sorting, gentle crushing to maximize whole berries in the fermenter, and extraction with both irrigated pumpovers and punchdowns at least three times daily. Extended maceration, with the grapes remaining in contact with the skins for up to six weeks, augmented the wine’s structure and depth. The master blend was racked quarterly during aging in French oak, nearly 30% of it new, for twenty-three months.”



Teira Winery– “Teira Wines is a collaboration between Dan & Alexis Donahoe and winemaker William Knuttel. Named after Dan & Alexis’ daughters, Thea & Keira, TEIRA is a loose play on the term “Terrior” and “Tierra”–signifying our commitment to sustainable farming practices and resultant high quality wines. Our mission statement: “Passion, Quality, Value” is meant to communicate our dedication to producing fine wines that always impress, and are priced to drink on an everyday basis.

Dan & Alexis farm 100 acres in the Dry Creek Valley of Sonoma County. Alexis’ father, Frank Woods, founded Clos du Bois winery in 1974 and these vineyards formed the core of many of their wines. Today, Dan & Alexis work with vineyard manager Duff Bevill to produce fruit of the highest quality. Bevill Vineyard Management also farms fruit for other acclaimed producers, such as Merry Edwards and Dry Creek Vineyard.

Bill Knuttel has been crafting fine wines in both Napa and Sonoma for three decades. As founding winemaker of Saintsbury Winery, Bill built Saintsbury’s reputation for Burgundian varietals from Carneros. Subsequently, Bill crafted the highly sought-after wines at Chalk Hill Winery & Vineyards and afterwards for Dry Creek Vineyard as Executive Winemaker. Today, Bill produces his own wines (William Knuttel, Robin K, Ottimino) and many others for clients at his winery in Sonoma.

TEIRA’s “Woods Vineyard” estate vineyard is located at 400 West Dry Creek Road in Healdsburg and comprised of 20 acres of Sauvignon Blanc, 4 acres of Zinfandel and 32 acres of Merlot. Located on rich, clay loam soil right on the Dry Creek watershed, the vineyard was planted between 1992 and 2006.”


Teira Sauvignon Blanc Woods Vineyard 2013
Dry Creek Valley, California. “Our 2013 Estate Sauvignon Blanc strikes the elusive balance between new world and old world style on the nose and palate. Classic Sancerre-like aromas of minerals, lemon zest, and citrus grace the nose. Light and crisp on the attack, the mid-palate shows strong and viscous tropical fruit notes of kiwi, grapefruit and tangerine. Balance, elegance and intensity of flavor are the key descriptors of this wine, which finishes with a bright acidity that begs another sip.”


Teira Merlot 2012
Sonoma County, California. 80% Alexander Valley, 20% Dry Creek Valley. 100% French Oak, 25% new. Our 2012 Merlot is a classically rich, ripe and structured Sonoma County Merlot with a nod towards “Right Bank” Bordeaux. Aromas of blackberry, ripe plum, vanilla, cedar and cigar box tease the nose. The palate follows with mouth filling blackberry and plum flavors, and hints of vanilla and oak spice. Soft, smooth tannins integrate with the extended structure to make this a balanced, elegant Merlot from attack through to the lingering finish.”


Teira Zinfandel 2011
Sonoma County, California. 72% Dry Creek Valley, 22% Russian River Valley, 6% Alexander Valley. 94% Zinfandel, 6% Petite Sirah. 100% French Oak, 25% new. “Our 2011 Zinfandel is a perfect balance of the fruit-forward flavors California Zinfandel is well-known for, while also boasting European restraint. Aromas of ripe raspberry and bramble mingle with earthy notes and hints of toasty French oak. The wine’s crystalline entry adds flavors of black plum and cherry, leading to an expansive mid-palate and a long, firm finish where the fruit and oak come together in one harmonious whole, with well-resolved tannins and a great sense of structure.”


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