THIS WEEK’S WINE TASTING
American Wines: Fritz Winery, Newton Winery, Chateau St. Michelle
Fritz Estate Winery– “Fritz Underground Winery is unlike any other. A visionary wonder built ahead of its time by namesake Mr. Jay Arthur Fritz in the late 1970’s, this monumental Gaudi style masterpiece represents a viticultural passion for sustainability, quality, and tradition. Today, Jay’s son Clayton runs the winery with the same dedication and enthusiasm to these core values.
Built into the side of a picturesque hill atop the northernmost region of the famed Dry Creek Valley, the Fritz Winery operates with a modern sensibility for efficiency and awareness by utilizing the unique attributes of its subterranean design. Naturally cool temperatures, ideal for wine making and cellaring, are maintained without any use of expensive or carbon-heavy devices common to most modern wine production. What’s more, as a three-tiered structure, we’re able to further cut down on energy usage by capitalizing on the always plentiful presence of gravity. By harnessing gravity to move our juice from the crush pad down to the tanks and barrels, we’re not only saving energy by forgoing pumps, we’re also saving our precious juice from the detrimental effects of excessive pulsation and buffeting.
Jay Fritz’s vision for a winery grounded in responsible stewardship is what has allowed the quality of the natural bounty of our 120+ Estate to thrive over the past thirty years. With a natural spring to supply simple irrigation, redwood groves to provide unique micro-climates, and a soil ideal for prized planting year after year, the Fritz terroir provides for a caliber of wine unrivaled.”
Fritz Estate Sauvignon Blanc 2013– Dry Creek Valley, California. “Our 2013 Estate Sauvignon Blanc is the color of sun bleached straw. This vibrant Sauvignon Blanc bursts with aromas of white peach and orange blossom with some underlying mineral notes. Structured around bright refreshing acidity, flavors of white peach, guava and green apple fill the mouth, finishing with a subtle mineral note. With a light and refreshing finish this is the perfect summer white.” $16.99
Fritz Estate Zinfandel 2012– Dry Creek Valley, California. 9 months new American oak barrels. “Our 2012 Estate Zinfandel is produced from 8 acres of vines grown on our Estate Vineyards nestled in the hills of Dry Creek Valley. In this garnet hued wine, look for aromas of black currant, red cherry, and raspberry. It is a well structured Zinfandel with bright acidity and balanced juicy tannins. Flavors of red cherry, black current, raspberry, and cocoa carry through to its delightful finish.” $18.99
Newton Vineyard– “The single square mile of hillside pioneered by the Newtons in 1977 is an impressive site, with expansive vistas of Napa Valley and beyond. The terraced mountain estate has 120 acres planted at elevations ranging from 500 to 1,600 feet above sea level. Each of the 112 distinctive vineyard blocks is planted to a specific varietal — Merlot, Cabernet Franc, Cabernet Sauvignon or Petit Verdot. These parcels reflect distinct soil types, sun exposures and individual microclimates. The blocks are fermented separately to contribute complexity to the final blended wine. As with the red varietals, the diverse Chardonnay blocks are hand-picked and vinified separately, providing the winemaker with a rich palette from which to choose when blending Newton Vineyard wines. The blocks are set among the native vegetation to preserve the ecosystem of the hillside.
The dominant feature of this remarkable site appears at the vineyard’s highest point where a single pine tree crowns the ridge line. This lone pine, over 100 feet tall and visible from many points in Napa Valley, is called Pino Solo. Pino Solo appears as the icon on the label of Newton Vineyard wines, a mark designating singular wines created from a singular passion. The condition of the soil on Spring Mountain forces the vines to struggle, keeping yields naturally low and flavors abundant.”
“The fruit used to make our Red Label wines is sourced from select vineyards throughout Napa Valley, from Los Carneros to Chiles Valley. Every year, we select grapes with a specific characteristic that will allow us to achieve the desired flavor profile of the final blend and create continuity vintage to vintage. We begin our winemaking work in our vineyards, cultivating the vines using sustainable farming techniques and following nature’s lead as the growing season unfolds. As harvest begins, our winemaker walks the vineyard rows to track the ripening of the fruit to ensure its picked when it reaches optimal ripeness. In the cellar, quality and purity are never compromised at the hands of convenience.”
Newton Vineyard Red Label Chardonnay 2012– Napa County, California. “The 2012 vintage was warm and even. In many ways it was ideal without any threat of frost in the beginning or rain at the end. As a result, the grapes matured at an even pace, developing intense fruit flavors while maintaining a pleasant acidity. The warm vintage resulted in a riper style—more expressive with a fuller, creamier mouthfeel. Ripe melon, tropical fruit, mango and baked apples all mingle amid the round, luscious texture.” $22.99
Newton Vineyard Red Label Claret 2011– Napa County, California. (Bordeaux-style blend) 20 months in French oak, 50% new. “Juniper berry, dark plum, tobacco, vanilla and cocoa aromas all compete to express the intensity of this wine. Masculine and generous, its rich palate is a mélange of dark plum, blackberry and cocoa flavors that linger on the pleasant finish. Bordeaux fans will appreciate the casual sophistication and elegant structure of Red Label Claret. Newton Red Label Claret exhibits its own individual character through the meticulous marrying of carefully selected vineyard blocks of Bordeaux varietals.” $22.99
Chateau St. Michelle Winery– “In 1967 under legendary winemaker Andre Tchelistcheff, a new line of premium vinifera wines was introduced called Ste. Michelle Vintners. The first vines were planted at Cold Creek Vineyard in Eastern Washington in 1972. Four years later, Ste. Michelle Vintners built a French style winery Chateau in Woodinville, and changed its name to Chateau Ste. Michelle. The Canoe Ridge Estate Vineyard was planted in 1991. Since then, we have combined Old World winemaking traditions with New World innovation. In fact, Chateau Ste. Michelle is one of the few premium wineries in the world with two state-of-the-art wineries, one for red and one for white. The whites are made at the Chateau in Woodinville, WA, while the reds are made at our Canoe Ridge Estate winery in Eastern Washington.
Our winemaking philosophy is to highlight the style, quality and expression of our Washington state vineyards. We strive to respect the varietal characters and individuality of each location, yet still craft each wine to give you a pleasurable, food friendly experience.”
Chateau St. Michelle Indian Wells Merlot 2012– Columbia Valley, Washington. “85% Merlot, 15% Syrah. This Merlot is sourced predominately from vineyards throughout the Wahluke Slope in Washington state, including our Indian Wells Vineyard. Aged in American and French oak for 16 months. Frequent aerative racking took place during barrel aging to soften tannins and enhance mouthfeel. The Indian Wells Merlot offers ripe berry fruit aromas and jammy flavors typical of Wahluke Slope reds. This is a full bodied style of warm climate Merlot with a round, supple finish. We added Wahluke Slope Syrah to enhance the mouthfeel and rich fruit character.” $17.99
Chateau St. Michelle Indian Wells Cabernet Sauvignon 2012– Columbia Valley, Washington. “A blend of 90% Cabernet Sauvignon, 10% Syrah. One third of the fruit came from vineyards in the Wahluke Slope in eastern Washington, including our Indian Wells Vineyard. Fruit from our estate vineyards also contributed to the blend, including our Cold Creek Vineyard (26%) and Canoe Ridge Estate (7%). Aged for 16 months in 51% new American and French oak barrels. The Indian Wells Cabernet is our warm climate ripe, jammy “New World” style of Cabernet Sauvignon. The wine typifies the Wahluke Slope region with dark fruit aromas and flavors. Syrah added an enhanced richness and concentration to the wine.” $17.99