Thursday, April 7, 2011

Waterstone, 2006 Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon

Waterstone Winery in Napa Valley is a collaboration between veteran winemaker Philip Zorn and wine executive Brent Shortridge.  Philip was raised in Germany, attending their top enology school.  He returned to the U.S. in 1984 to work as the winemaker for St. Helena, Gauer Estate, Paraiso Springs and Tria wineries.  His experience gave him knowledge of grape growing and winemaking in California, including Napa Valley.  Brent has many years of experience in the industry starting as a wine chemist and working up to being the marketing director for Napa Valley Vintners with experience at Zinfandel Advocates and Producers (ZAP) and the Wine Institute.  Their combined knowledge and skills have giving Waterstone an edge in sourcing the finest grapes to make Napa Valley wines.

The 2006 Waterstone Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon delivers what is expected in a Napa Valley Cab of this vintage.  It has 79% Cabernet Sauvignon, plus 17% Merlot and 4% Cabernet Franc.  The grapes are from well-established hillside vineyards that are known for delivering intense fruits.  The grapes are sourced from Oakville and Rutherford in the heart of the valley.  The grapes are handpicked and after stainless steel fermentation, they aged in small French oak barrels (80% new) for 22 months where the wine completed malolactic fermentation.

The wine has an intense nose with aromas of toast, cedar, currant and black cherry.  On the palate these same flavors come together with some ripe plum and fine spices.  The medium plus finish gives you a great wine to savor with or without food.  The suggested price is $26 and this wine will pair nicely with a fine beef dinner or BBQ.

For more information:

Clarksburg Spring Fling introduces this hidden wine region to wine lovers

The Clarksburg Wine Growers invited wine lovers to the Spring Fling Picnic in Clarksburg on April 2-3 to sample wines in this often overlooked wine region.  Visitors loved sampling wines from 12 Clarksburg wineries at the Old Sugar Mill in Clarksburg.  So where is Clarksburg?  This unique wine region is only 15 miles from downtown Sacramento in the heart of the Sacramento River Delta. 

From the Bay Area Clarksburg is easy to reach and is a lovely Sunday drive.  This writer stopped by at Babs Delta Diner for a delicious country breakfast overlooking the Suisun City marina as we entered the Delta region.  Driving east towards the river you will be passing miles of countryside, spotting farm homes and pastures with sheep and goats.  At Rio Vista, the Gateway to the Delta, be sure to turn left at River Road, just before the drawbridge over the Sacramento River.  Heading north, passing rows of local fishermen looking for the night’s dinner, you will soon arrive at your first ferry across the river, the Real McCoy II.  This free ferry will take you across Cache Slough to Ryer Island.  The Real McCoy can hold six cars and only takes a few minutes to cross but it is a great opportunity to admire this great region of California.  Taking the levee road around Ryer Island you will see that the land to your left, full of vineyards and orchards, is lower than the slough to your right.  Arriving at the Steamboat Slough ferry it is another short ride to Grand Island. Continue north along South River Road towards Clarksburg. 
North of Clarksburg follow the signs to the Old Sugar Mill.  It is normally the home to six local wineries but for the Spring Fling they were joined with six other Clarksburg wineries on the grass.  The Old Sugar Mill was constructed in 1934 and continued producing sugar in Clarksburg until it closed in 1993.  By 2000 plans were on the way to renovate the building to create a wine tasting and crush facility.  It is a great facility bringing together the past and present in agriculture in the delta region.  Permanent wineries in the Old Sugar Mill include Carvalho Family Winery, The Solomon Wine Company, The Three Wine Company, Heringer Estates, Todd Taylor Wines and Clarksburg Wine Company.
Spring Fling also gave visitors the opportunity to taste wines from wineries throughout Clarksburg wine region.  A few of these wineries have tasting rooms but many do not.  The additional wineries for Spring Fling included Bogle Vineyards, Dancing Coyote, The Crusher, Miner’s Leap, Six Hands, Scribner Bend, Tierra Del Rio and Wilson Vineyards.  The event felt more like a family country picnic than a typical over packed wine event.  Bands were playing on Saturday and Sunday and local caterers were providing food for the event.  The visiting wineries were set up under tents outdoors enjoying the perfect weather.  Visitors had plenty of wines to sample during the day and then could relax on the grass listening to the bands, enjoying pizza or a sandwich. 

The Clarksburg appellation covers almost 57,000 acres over an area 16 miles long and 8 miles wide with approximately 10,000 acres of vineyards.  It is a great wine region characterized by warm summer days that allow the grapes to grow and produce deep flavors and ripe sugars and cool delta nights giving the grapes a chance to rest from a hard day work as they prepare for the next day.  Over 25 grape varietals grow here but they are primarily famous for Chenin Blanc, Chardonnay, Sauvignon Blanc, Viognier and Pinot Gris for the whites and Merlot, Petite Sirah, Syrah, Cabernet Sauvignon, and Zinfandel for the reds.  It is easily accessed from both the Bay Area and Sacramento, the tasting rooms are country friendly and not nearly as crowded as many other areas.

Over the next few weeks you will enjoy articles about many of the participating wineries here in the California Wine Examiner so subscribe to be sure you don’t miss any. 

For more information about Clarksburg wineries:

Pelerin Wines - new releases from the pilgrim in Santa Lucia Highlands

Monterey County winemaker Chris Weidemann’s pilgrimage from wine shop on the east coast to cellar rat at Freemark Abbey to UC Davis has eventually brought him to his own winery, Pelerin Wines in Monterey County.  He continues to follow his dream to craft artisan wines that utilize fruit from the best vineyards in the area, utilizing traditional winemaking practices and producing wines that are rich in flavor and indicative of their origin. Pelerin (French for Pilgrim) wines convey his passion for the grape and his creativity. 
At a recent event in San Jose, he showed off some of his latest releases.

Pelerin 2009 “Les Tournesols” white blend is produced with 68% Roussanne and 32% Viognier from the Paraiso Vineyards in Santa Lucia Highlands. The wine has fine acid with aromas and flavors of melon, pear, peach and lemon with a touch of licorice.  The malolactic treatment has given it a sophisticated roundness that helps tune down the acidity that strikes you in the front end to deliver a very pleasant, yet complex, long finish.  Les Tournesols is French for sunflower and this wine takes you to a sunny afternoon in the fields.  The price is $27 per bottle. 

The2008 Santa Lucia Highlands Pinot Noir is sourced from four of the top Pinot vineyards in Santa Lucia Highlands, including 40% from Paraiso Vineyards, 40% from Tondre Grapefield and 15% from KW (formerly Fairview Road) Ranch, and 5% from Roselli.  The wine delivers all that the great Pinot grapes of this appellation can deliver.  You will love the full range of cherry, raspberry and rhubarb flavors mixing with notes of spice, cinnamon, licorice and vanilla.  This wine has great structure and a long steady finish.  The price is $33 per bottle.

The 2007 “Les Violettes” Santa Lucia Highlands Syrah is 100% Syrah with 91% from Paraiso Vineyard and 9% from Mesa del Sol vineyard in nearby Arroyo Seco. Chris treated this cool climate Syrah gently and the result is an excellent wine that delivers from the first aroma though the taste and on to the finish.  The fruit flavors and aromas of raspberry, blackberry, cranberry blend well with the white pepper, bacon, and olive to produce an enticing complexity of textures and flavors.  This continues on to the long finish.  A major flavor in taste profiles is umami or savory.  This is the wine that will show you what umami really tastes like, as you smack your lips after tasting.  The price is $36 per bottle.

Pelerin’s most famous wine is the RTW and the 2008 “RTW” (Red Table Wine) Red Blend, continues this tradition.  This year RTW consists of 40% Zinfandel, 35% Syrah and 25% Sangiovese, all from the Arroyo Seco Mesa del Sol vineyard. Anne Hougham’s Mesa del Sol vineyard is a haven for heat-loving varietals. The sandy, gravelly soil above the Arroyo Seco gorge with the dramatic differences between night and day temperatures stresses the fruit and delivers the bright fruity flavors.  This is a great wine with food or without.  The jammy berries and plums wrap you in the aromas and flavors along with a touch of caramel, spice and chocolate.  You will find this a great ‘everyday’ wine and flexible to pair with a variety of dishes.  The price is $18.

For more information:  Pelerin Wines website