Chris Demuth has winemaking in his blood. First learning about winemaking from his grandmother, he finally had the opportunity to pursue this love of wine further when he and his wife Lyn purchased 225 acre former sheep ranch in the south facing slopes above Boonville in Anderson Valley. He loves Burgundian wines and knew that the cool nights and warm days in the valley would be perfect for these grapes.
He is a chemist by training, retired from Bechtel, the long time premium engineering company. This same scientific approach is used in the production of Demuth Winery Chardonnay and Pinot Noir wines. They first planted Old Wente Chardonnay clone grapes on a few acres in 1985. While originally selling grapes to other winemakers, Chris was soon making wine in his garage in Santa Rosa and planting more acres of Chardonnay plus Pinot Noir.
|Chris and Lyn Demuth|
The vineyards are sustainable farmed, with minimal pesticide use. Walking through the vineyards you will find many butterflies and frogs. Often the tiny frogs are so abundant it is had to walk without finding almost stepping on one.
Chris and his son Eric made the first commercial vintages in 2002 in their new red brick winery. In 2004 Eric left to pursue his own winemaker dreams leaving Chris and Lyn to produce the 2004-2007 vintages. This is truly a “mom and pop” operation with Chris and Lyn personally marketing and selling their wines to restaurants and wine shops around the bay area. Their wines are now found in quality restaurants around the area.
Chris and Lyn are a joy to converse with concerning their wines and life in general. If you ever have the opportunity to meet with them at a tasting, be sure to attend. Recently at UNWINED Wine Shop and Wine Bar in San Jose, Chris and Lyn provided a great tasting of the 2004, 2005 and 2006 Chardonnay and Pinot Noir.
The Chardonnay flight was wonderful, demonstrating the natural progression of the vintages. The 2004 Chardonnay is a clean aromatic wine with a smooth full-bodied mouthfeel complete with aromas and flavors of sour apple, honey, nuts and lemon peel with a note of minerality. It has a smooth distinct acidity that leads on to a long finish.
The 2005 Chardonnay provides similar fruit flavors as the 2004, but a little rounder in style and a mid-palate that is bursting with the pear and pineapple flavors. The minerality of the wine is a bit stronger than the 2004 vintage but, as with the 2004, the long balanced finish was a delight.
The 2006 Chardonnay definitely has a younger style but continues with the Demuth tradition of producing wines that have the California New World fruitiness but with a quality, balance and minerality you often find in Old World Burgundies. This wine had more pear and melon aromas and flavors with butterscotch overtones. It also had a nice creamy mouthfeel and long finish.
The Pinot Noir flight found three Pinots that each had their own distinctiveness rather than a simple progression from year to year. The 2004 Pinot Noir has a soft nose, but on the palate the fruits did shine with strawberry, raspberry and black cherry and a soft toastiness but with the minerality and spiciness that is typical of Demuth’s wines.
The 2005 Pinot Noir gives a nice aroma with bold fruits and only a slight hint of toast. The bold fruits were blended well with vanilla and a mixture of spice. However, this interesting wine really came to life after you let it sit for about 20 minutes, when the aroma changes from simply nice to a wonderful bold intensity. The same bright fruitiness continues in the mouth with a nice lingering finish.
The 2006 Pinot Noir has a bright Burgundy color with a nice balance of acid, tannins and fruit. This is a wine to savor as you delve into the dark cherry, raspberry, currants, and floral notes.
The price for each of the Chardonnays is $32 and for the Pinot Noir it is $40.