I knew this wine was going to be high class the moment I read the vineyard name. As J.Cage Cellars proprietor Roger Beery says, van der Kamp Vineyards is a coveted piece of land amongst winemakers. Sitting at 1,400 feet of elevation along the north-facing, eastern slope of the Sonoma Mountains, the Pinot Noir that grows here enjoys ample sunshine, but cool temperatures. That, along with the loam and volcanic soils, give the grapes a unique vivaciousness, the wines intense in aromas and flavors. The van der Kamps farm their vines biodynamically. And if you’re of two minds about what that means in regards to tasting, I can say from experience that when biodynamics are in place, wines speak of place.
I am a skeptical Sauvignon Blanc drinker. When done well (to my palate), the varietal offers flavors of fruits and florals, herbs, and minerality. The mouthfeel should be crisp and refreshing, yes, but also provide a bit of texture, body, and weight. Some of this is dependent on the clone use; a lot of it is based on the terroir; but ultimately the finesse, the seamless flow from the tip of the tongue through to the back of the palate, up into the nasal and down toward the core — that is crafted by the winemaker.
Since this is my first post about J. Cage Cellars, a winery I hadn’t heard about until proprietor Roger Beery contacted me, I’d like to include a little bit of background about who they are and what they’re about…
The story behind Mi Sueño Winery is truly one of the American dream realized. Owner and winemaker Rolando Herrera, Mexican immigrant, worked his way up the wine industry food chain. He started as a simple dishwasher for the famed Auberge du Soleil restaurant in Napa Valley back in 1982. Fifteen years later in 1997, after working various positions at several big-name wineries, Rolando, along with his wife Lorena, founded Mi Sueno Winery — it was the same years as their marriage. Indeed the two really did embark on a new life together that year. And so it is that they say their story is one of “love, passion, and deep understanding” — for each other, for their region, for the grapes they harvest, and the wines they make.
Hello Arroyo Seco, I love your Pinot Noirs. Sunken beneath the Santa Lucia Highlands, you love the ocean air as much as I do, hugging it, holding it, as it feeds your grapes. You get just enough sun to let those berries bud, but use the foothill range to shield them from harsh winds. And in the right winemakers hands, you give us Pinot Noir wine so uniquely your own.
I’m going to be honest, I have no idea where this wine came from. Ok, I mean, I know who sent it to me, but it’s one of those scenarios of winemaker and grapegrower getting together for a little side project, not telling anyone, and then wam! wine! And I have the utmost respect for that. Winemakers, like many of us, have creative juices flowing in them all the time. Sometimes, what they’re “day job” requires of them may not exactly scratch that itch. So it’s fun when he or she can take a step back and say, “Here, this is just for me. But I made enough for you too. If you want some.” (Read the full story.)
Prescription is just that. It’s filled with whit and whimsey; fun and flavor. It’s a wine you can pull out in a pinch and just drink. And that’s kind of what I just did…