If you’ve been sticking with me through my WSET studies, you’ll know that the last two posts were all about soil types and soil health. In keeping with that theme, I want to highlight a new-for-me winery, Notre Vue Estate from Windsor, California whose latest releases dive into the soil types and structures throughout their vineyard.
As I talked about in my Vineyard Soil post, it’s not just soil composition but vine row orientation—i.e. slope and aspect—that dictate what vines will thrive best where in the vineyard. So, let’s take a look at what viticulturist Daniel Charles has to say about the Notre Vue soils and then have a little taste of what those soils have produced…
According to Charles, Notre Vue Estate vineyards are all based off the Dibble Clay Loam series. But due to the topography of the estate, different slopes and drainages have exposed different layers within this series and has distributed different sedimental deposits throughout the vineyard. So basically, the soil type(s) end up being quite complex, indeed, and vary block to block and even row to row, I dare say.
Here is what Charles has to say about the Grenache, Syrah, and Mourvèdre blocks on Notre Vue Estate that comprise the grapes for our first tasting, the Notre Vue Estate 2019 GSM Rosé
Grenache: “Quite possibly the most extreme example of slope on our ranch, the Grenache sits perched on slopes of up to 30 degrees. Fast moving rain water washes almost all soil away, leaving behind only a thin layer of soil for the vines to cling to. Thin soils must be met with diligent monitoring for water stress, but they also allow the vineyard manager to apply the level of water stress desired to make concentrated flavors in the grapes. This example of soils has the highest clay layer as it is closest to the Russian River alluvial deposits, but being as shallow as it is also exposes chunks of bedrock, allowing for drainage pockets that dry out the soil.”
Syrah: “Of all three blocks, this block has the flattest slope, leaving it free from extreme erosion. This has allowed for the build-up of soil, which creates the deepest soil profile of the three. The build-up of minerals is also responsible for the rich red color of the soil, which is caused by an abundance of iron. Although flat, this block is at the highest elevation on the ranch, which means it is the furthest from any alluvial deposits. As a result, we find less clay particles in this block, allowing for the well-drained soils that regulate grape size and concentrate flavor in the wine.”
Mourvèdre: “In stark contrast to the Syrah, the Mourvèdre block is located on the crest of a ridge, allowing water to flow down either side of the block. This flow of water has carried away the light top soil, exposing the deeper clay layers of the Dibble Clay Loam series. Clay is rich in nutrients and has a higher water holding capacity, which is ideal for plant life. This creates competition between the vines and the abundant natural plants that grow throughout the block. Competition forces the vines to dig deeper for water and nutrients, which in turn breaks up the hard clay layers. Once these roots are established, the vine reaches a balanced vigor without an increased”
About the Wine: Notre Vue Estate 2019 GSM Rosé, Chalk Hill AVA, Sonoma County, California
34% Grenache, 33% Syrah, 33% Mourvèdre
Appearance: medium pink-orange
Aroma: medium (+) intensity with notes of strawberries and cream, vanilla, watermelon, rose petals, wet grass, tarragon, red currant, red cherry, rhubarb, dried cranberry, tomato leaf, white pepper
Palate: The palate is dry with high acid, a medium body, a medium level of alcohol, and a medium (+) flavor intensity. Those flavors mimicked much of the aromas sensed on the nose, but elevated those more herbaceous notes, especially the fennel and/or tarragon as well as the white pepper (the flavor of, not the heat of). Additional flavors included dried black cherry as well as a hint of dried red plum, and a touch of bitterness akin to dried apple skins.
The finish was medium (+)
Assessment of quality: The diversity and range of both aromas and flavors led me to believe that this rosé actually has quite a bit of complexity. The intensity at which those aromatic and flavor components came forward truly speaks to the concentration in grape flavors noted by the viticulturist. What’s particularly enjoyable is the fuller mouthfeel to this rosé—it has substance and body, but is extremely well balanced with the high level of acidity and moderate level of alcohol. Though the finish fell just short of long, I emphasize just. There is a sense of lingering and, I’ll add, that even after the wine dissipates from the tongue, it sure is hanging onto your brain. It’s a fun wine, but simultaneously an engaging wine—a wine for food and for thought. Overall, I concluded that the Notre Vue 2019 GSM Rosé is of very good quality, not intended for long-term aging.
More Info: I received the Notre Vue 2019 GSM Rosé as a sample. Cheers to Julie Ann and the Notre Vue team! (Price: $29). For more information about Notre Vue Estate, their wine, and to purchase wine directly, please visit the Notre Vue Estate website.
Below is a map provided by the winery highlighting their vineyard blocks. If you look off to the left hand side, you’ll see “ChM” for Chardonnay Musqué. Not a Chardonnay clone I’ve seen a lot—or at least not indicated on the bottle. The musqué clone is noted for its similarity to the Muscat grape, namely the more perfume-y aromas of florals and grape associated with terpenes. Indeed, at the end of my notes I wrote that, tasted blind, I would not have pegged this for a Chardonnay at all—certainly not one from California.
About the Wine: Notre Vue Estate 2019 Chardonnay Musqué, Russian River Valley AVA, Sonoma County, California
Appearance: VERY pale lemon
Aroma: pronounced intensity displaying scents of lemon, lime, Asian pear, bread/biscuit, blossom, honeysuckle, lychee, gooseberry, melon, grape, and under-ripe pineapple
Palate: The palate is dry with medium (+) acidity, a medium body, and pronounced flavors that parallel the aromatic notes above, elevating the notes of pear, flowers, and grape, and adding to that apple, baking spices, as well as vanilla. The finish is medium (+) in length.
Assessment of quality: This is a beautifully balanced wine that has just a touch of texture and phenolic bitterness from what I can assume is time spent on the lees. This is what gives the wine it’s medium body, firm backbone, along with textural intrigue. The acid—just short of high—does well to elevate the fruit and floral elements. The finish falls just short of long—again I want to emphasize JUST short. But what you are left with, on the palate, is a tingle of acidity on the gums and just a hint of spice-tickle on the tongue. Drink now.
More Info: I received the Notre Vue Estate 2019 Chardonnay Musqué as a sample. Cheers to Julie Ann and the Notre Vue team! (Price: $36). For more information about Notre Vue Estate, their wine, and to purchase wine directly, please visit the Notre Vue Estate website.
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