Saturday, January 2, 2010

Testarossa Winery - Passion for Pinot


Testarossa Winery is a modern producer of premium wines located in the historic Novitiate Winery in the hills above Los Gatos. Novitiate Winery is the oldest continuously operated winery facility in Santa Clara Valley. The Jesuit brothers of Sacred Heart Novitiate began making wine on October 11, 1888 from grapes grown on the hillsides above the Novitiate. The Jesuits constructed a winery of two-foot thick hand-chiseled sandstone walls which still stand today.

Rob and Diana Jensen started as home winemakers in the early 1990’s producing Chardonnay in their kitchen in Sunnyvale. Soon the wine bug caught on and they were taking enology and viticulture classes at UC Davis and volunteering at Cinnabar Winery in the Santa Cruz Mountains. In 1993 they had the opportunity to lease a vineyard site in the Santa Cruz Mountains and began to learn more about the art of winegrape growing. While they lost most of the first year harvest to birds, they did produce a 1994 Chardonnay from Chalone grapes that won accolades from Wine Spectator and Connoisseurs’ Guide and they were on their way to becoming professional winemakers.

In 1996 they had the opportunity to move into the old Novitiate Winery, a place of wine history in the valley. Testarossa grew rapidly, utilizing grapes from world-class vineyards in Santa Lucia Highlands in Monterey County, and receiving more outstanding reviews from Wine Spectator, Wine Enthusiast, Wine & Spirits and the San Francisco Chronicle. The winemaker at Testarossa is Bill Brosseau.

The 2007 Castello Central Coast Chardonnay is a pale yellow color with aromas of lemon, honey and fig leading on to bold flavors of citrus and tropical fruit backed up be crisp acidity. It has a long delicate finish.

2007 Bien Nacido Vineyard Pinot Noir from Santa Maria Valley has a rich red color with aromas of cherry, blueberry and cranberry plus notes of black pepper and licorice. The same fruit flavors continue on the palate with the spices and tannins adding to a balanced, structured wine that provides a long finish.

The 2007 Niclaire Pinot Noir is names after Rob and Diana’s children Nicholas and Claire. This Pinot Noir is an excellent premium wine using a blend of top quality grapes from some of the best Pinot Noir vineyards in California. This deep red colored wine is bursting with aromas of dark fruit including cherry, cranberry, blueberry and a touch of citrus. These same dark fruits along with spices of black pepper, anise, clove and cinnamon provide you with the balance and lush experience you are looking for in a fine Pinot. This wine will age well for at least 7-9 years.

In addition to these wines, Testarossa also offers a fine Syrah and a second label series of wines with the Novitiate label.

A special treat at Testarossa is their Grand Old Winery Tour that they offer once a month. The next tour is Sunday, January 10. The tours are limited to 20 guests and the expert guide takes you from the historic cave tasting room though the 19th century winery. You will learn more about this world-class winery housed in this historic structure. The tour includes a tasting of premium Testarossa wines. Check out the photo gallery of this article for some pictures of a recent Grand Old Winery Tour.

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