I came across Vino Noceto a few years ago, writing a travel article for the SF Chronicle. What I loved was the modern atmosphere of the tasting room that sits amongst the beautiful vineyard setting. This is in sharp contrast to what I loved about their wines. Light, delicate, youthful expressions of classically Italian grapes, it made me nostalgic for the days I spent in Italy. Even their more rustic blends are nuanced with site-specific characteristics and show very little winemaking interventions. But so much so for their single vineyard, single-varietal offerings, like this Sangiovese.
After reviewing the McKahn Family Cellars 2017 Rosé of Grenache, the Livermore-based family winery was kind enough to send me a few samples to review. I was so excited to see this Grenache-based red blend in my package. Having experienced what winemaker Charles McKahn can do in regards to “rosé-ing” the grape, I was definitely eager to experience what a red wine version would be like. And I’ll say straight-away, this bottle far exceeded my expectations in regards to expression of the fruit and just pure winemaking talent.
McKahn Family Cellars is yet another winery I’ve heard all about and even follow on social media, but never had the opportunity to taste. Now, I’m not a huge rosé person. Indeed, I’m quite picky about the pink things I drink. But when I saw that this rosé was made from 100% Grenache — well this honorary Rhone Ranger just couldn’t pass it up…(more…)
Awhile back I had the opportunity to visit Amador County, located along the foothills of the Sierra Nevada, and explore what this humble wine country had to offer. When I was given the assignment, my editor said to me “What do you think about Amador County?” My response: “I don’t know what that is.” Thank God I was sent on that assignment because what I discovered was a little nook in California where ancient varietals, old-fashioned winemaking, and family-owned farming live on. The humble attitude, along with the respect for tradition, is what makes the place, the people, and, yes, the wines stand out.
The Cooper family has been farming in Amador County since 1919, when “Grandpa Cooper” left his San Francisco medical practice to tend a walnut orchard. Not until current owner Dick Cooper graduated from UC Davis in the 1970s did the Coopers consider grafting grapevines. But they wanted to think outside the Zinfandel box. Friend Darrell Corti, of Sacramento’s famed Corti Brothers grocery store, gave the Coopers a tip. “Mr. Corti pulled his pocketbook out, retrieved a $1 bill and wrote ‘Barbera’ and ‘Nebbiolo’ on it,” remembers Dick Cooper. With no Nebbiolo to be found, the Coopers turned to neighbor Cary Gott of Montevina Winery, who was willing to sell a bit of Barbera rootstock.
Today, Barbera is Cooper Vineyards’s’ flagship wine, the one that customers flock to the tasting room to buy in bulk.