This week we are pleased to welcome Mark Pape, National Sales Manager of Left Coast Cellars. From Left Coast of the Willamette Valley we will sample four wines; a Pinot Gris, Chardonnay, and two Pinot Noirs. In addition we will try two from Laetitia Vineyard and Winery of the Arroyo Grande Valley in California; a Chardonnay and Pinot Noir. Both wineries are family-owned and operated, small-production, making estate-grown and bottled wines- by far our favorite types to represent!
Left Coast Cellars makes outstanding estate-grown, sustainable and organically-farmed wines at their Willamette Valley winery; the vast majority of the power needed to operate the facility is generated by two massive solar panels- a 21kW ground-mounted solar array and 62kW roof-mounted solar installation (click here to view a picture of the panels).
Founded in 2003, Left Coast Cellars carefully crafts exclusively estate-grown Pinot Noir, Pinot Gris, Chardonnay, Pinot Blanc, Viognier and Syrah. They specialize in single-vineyard wines. For the tasting we will sample a Pinot Gris, Chardonnay and two Pinot Noirs. These wines are small-production, artisinal, hand-crafted products, made from hand-tended and harvested grapes.
“Left Coast Cellars estate – situated on the 45th parallel – consists of 306 acres, 104 of which are devoted to the cultivation of grapes. Steep hills facing west, north and south, creating a natural amphitheater surrounding a large meadow and spring fed lake, central to the gravity-fed irrigation of our vines. Planting on varying soils, elevations and slopes contribute to the complexities and subtleties of our wines. The cool Pacific Ocean breezes driven into the Willamette Valley through the Van Duzer Corridor, ending just west of our vineyards, moderate our sunny summer days. It is this precise combination of geography and geology that gives our wines a distinct sense of place.
The remainder of the property is preserved as one of the last stands of old growth white oak trees in the area and also contains fruit orchards and streams. The bodies of water attract migrating birds and encourage birds of prey, helping to balance animal life in the vineyards.
In addition to our grapes, we are cultivating European truffles on a four acre site of hazelnut trees, shrub roses and holly oaks. We also tend a grove of olive trees and an organic vegetable garden to stock our Tasting Room Cafe.”
Left Coast Cellars ‘The Orchards’ Pinot Gris 2011– Orchard Flats and Heights Vineyards, Willamette Valley, Oregon. 100% Pinot Gris that fermented in stainless steel then aged for 4 months on the lees prior to bottling. “Originally planted in apples by the settlers of Holmes Gap, this area was also the earlier home of pear and cherry orchards. The Orchards block is now dominated by Pinot Gris plantings and one singular majestic oak tree. The grey clay and drought-ridden soil conditions of this block lend a fresh fruitiness and ripeness to our Pinot Gris.” 1780 cases produced. Jen’s note- Subtle nose, savory herbs. Sweet entry with some mineral qualities. Good texture/mouthfeel with a juicy finish. Leesy. $16.99
Left Coast Cellars Truffle Hill Chardonnay 2009– Truffle Hill Vineyard, Willamette Valley, Oregon. “Truffle Hill is one of the most unique places on the Left Coast Cellars estate. Home to 4 acres of European Black Truffle-inoculated hazelnut trees, shrub roses and holly oaks this dual varietal vineyard is planted with 5 acres of the Swiss clone Wädenswil Pinot Noir. An additional 5 acres of Chardonnay is planted in an ancient sea bed near the top of the hill. These wines are two of the most popular that we produce… This delectable blend of half stainless steel and half French oak fermentations reveals notes of honey-dipped almond, balanced by bright apple and pear. A rich and creamy texture leads to a luxurious finish.” 661 cases produced. Jen’s note- Melon and tropical fruit on the nose- sweet fruit aromas. Textured palate with good acid and balance of green apple and pear flavors with subtle barrel notes. Elegant and complex. $18.99
Left Coast Cellars ‘Cali’s Cuvee’ Pinot Noir 2011– Willamette Valley, Oregon. Named after the family’s left-handed daughter, Cali, this cuvee is comprised of 100% Pinot Noir, Dijon, Pommard and Wadenswil clones, 10% of which aged in new French oak and the remainder in 2, 3 and 4 year-old barrels. “A very representative example of vintage 2011 at Left Coast Cellars; blue and black fruit aromatics, with spice and mirrored flavors, nicely textured on a mineral finish.” 6686 cases produced. Jen’s note- Pretty nose of rose petal and spice with some earth/smoke undertones. Sweet entry, but altogether dry with cranberry and tart fruit flavors and notes of spice and smoke that carry into the savory/earthy finish. Good potential to age. $18.99
Left Coast Cellars ‘Latitude 45’ Pinot Noir 2008– Latitude 45 Vineyard, Willamette Valley, Oregon. Aged in French oak. “Latitude 45 is directly intersected by the 45th parallel, like many of the great vineyard properties of France. This 12 acres is planted in Dijon clones 114, 115 and 667, grafted onto 101-14 and SO4 rootstocks… Bright ruby. Pungent aromas of cherry and dark berry skin, with suave floral and spice notes adding complexity. Juicy, sharply focused black raspberry and bitter cherry flavors are firmed by dusty minerals and pick up smokiness with air. Shows good tannic grip on the finish but no hard edges, closing on notes of smoke and spice. This is balanced to age.” 90 points Wine Spectator “Firm in texture, with a mild grip to the tannins that surround the juicy core of orange peel-accented cherry and spice flavors. Finishes with grace. Drink now through 2018.” 504 cases produced. Robert Parker awarded 94 points to the 2008 vintage in the Willamette Valley. Jen’s note- Cloudy brick/garnet in color with brownish edges. Subtle, Burgundian nose of garrigue (underbrush/shrubs), herbs and wood. Sweet entry; nicely integrated fruit with a soft mouthfeel, good complexity, and juicy acid. Lively and approachable. $27.99
“The Laetitia Estate Vineyards were first planted to grapes in 1982 when French viticulturists found ideal growing conditions in the Arroyo Grande Valley for producing wines of similar character to those of their homeland in Epernay, France. Nineteen years later, the property would be acquired by Selim Zilkha, founder of a successful wind power development company and champion of environmental sustainability. Between his qualifications in renewable energy solutions and his passion for the pleasures of the harvest, Selim has developed Laetitia into the home of some of California’s highest quality, sustainably-produced wines.
Wine made from estate-grown fruit is distinctive because it is the product of one artistic vision from vine to glass. At Laetitia, Vice President Vineyard Operations Lino Bozzano begins fulfilling that vision by farming the vines according to the winemakers’ styles, the disposition of the varieties, and their particular growing conditions. “There is tremendous diversity in this small area, from the soils to the meso-climates,” says Lino, a third-generation California farmer and graduate of Cal Poly’s Crop Science program. “It’s the perfect venue for understanding what site means to the wines.”
A deep and abiding respect for Laetitia’s estate-grown fruit is the mark of Eric Hickey’s winemaking. Beginning his hands-on training in the cellar at the tender age of 16, Eric has lived and breathed Laetitia all the way to the top, where he is now the Head Winemaker and the winery’s President. “I keep it simple,” he says, “and I stay eye-to-eye with Lino because the interplay between us is what determines the wines’ quality. Everything done in the cellar starts with what we do out in the vineyard.” While Eric makes a point of experimenting with small lots each vintage, his style is fundamentally built upon finding balance, finesse, and the essence of the fruit he has come to know for so many years.”
From Wikipedia- “The Arroyo Grande Valley AVA is located in San Luis Obispo County, California. It is part of the larger Central Coast AVA. The 16 miles (26 km) long appellation benefits from it east-northeast orientation which allows the breeze from the Pacific Ocean to moderate the climate of the area.”
Laetitia Estate Chardonnay 2011– Arroyo Grande Valley, California. 100% barrel fermented in French oak, 25% new and 75% neutral. “The Estate Chardonnay is a blend of Dijon clones 96 and 97, Wente 17 and Clone 4, lending abundant flavors of lemon, lychee and green apple framed by elegant French oak and bright acidity… The wine opens with stunning notes of lychee and fresh lemongrass and effortlessly transitions into nuances of mango, creamy coconut and sweet sandalwood. Beaming with acidity and vibrant minerality the Estate Chardonnay is a pure expression of the extreme coastal influence and complex soils that are Laetitia.” 9000 cases produced. Jen’s note- Toasty nose, oak and sweet citrus. Soft and full-bodied mouthfeel with a toasty, ripe, long finish. $15.99
Laetitia Estate Pinot Noir 2011– Arroyo Grande Valley, California. Aged for 11 months in French oak barrels, 30% new. “Subtle, dark fruit aromas offer a perfumed nose of wild raspberry and black cherry cobbler that yield to a dark and mysterious palate with bittersweet cocoa, tobacco and Asian spice prominence. Pair with grilled pork tenderloin with cherry salsa or creamy Brie-style cheeses.” 18460 cases produced. Jen’s note- Attractive nose of sweet berry fruits with spice undertones. Strawberry and briary fruit flavors are abundant and offset with firm acidity. Still young but will mature nicely. Juicy coffee/cola flavors linger on the finish. Tasty. $20.99