Wine reviews, pairings, events, and getaways
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…
When you think Monterey, what varietals do you think of? I’m going to guess the brain heads straight to Pinot Noir and Chardonnay. Indeed, the overall cool climate of the larger Monterey AVA is known for its maritime influence, as it’s nestled between the Pacific Ocean and the Monterey Bay — ideal conditions for the picky Pinot Noir and for crafting Chardonnay with crisp acidity. But when Monterey was first embarked upon as a winemaking region, the first vineyards planted were to, none other than the king of grapes, Cabernet Sauvignon.
Of course what we know now about soil composition and climate has greatly changed. Our enhanced understanding has allowed grape growers to plant grapes where they’ll thrive best. The Hames Valley, where Ranch 32 grows their Cabernet is one of the warmer portions of Monterey. Located at the foot of the Santa Lucia Highlands, the valley is sheltered from the afternoon winds and cooling temperatures that otherwise stream through the regions. And it is because of this warmth, along with the shaly loam soils, that Cabernet reigns supreme in the Hames Valley.