I always love when I discover new-for-me wineries. But in this case, it’s pretty much a new-for-everybody winery.
You may have heard of Delfino Farms, they’ve been around since the 1960s (under the name Kids Incorporated until 2017). Edio and Joan Delfino founded the business, along with their seven children. Today, second generation Chris Delfino and his four children, Christine, Peter, Benjamin, and Derek own and run the family enterprise.
So, where does wine fit in? According to the Delifino family, founder Edio grew up amongst the vines of St. Helena, studied agriculture in Cal Poly, which is what ultimately brought him to El Dorado County, where the family farm thrives today. Up until recently, it’s been all about apples—fresh apples, apple pie, apple cider. But in 2018, the Delfino’s celebrated their first vintage of wine grape harvest—an occasion that also celebrates the return to the family’s “original” agriculture endeavor. “Dedicated to our hardworking, intelligent, strong, sharp, and driven father and grandfather, Edio Delfino, an inspiration to his entire family.”
Thank you to Christine and the whole Delfino family for sharing this first vintage with me.
Anyone else ever feel like Nebbiolo is the grape that shouldn’t work. It’s so light in color, it’s practically see-through: a faint rouge hue with its rusty orange-y-brown aura that just hints that this wine isn’t what it appears to be: Firm in structure, full-bodied, and undeniably tannic, but balanced by an—at times—racey acidity. The classic aroma descriptor is “tar and violets,” as the wine typically includes scents and flavors of herbs, dried flowers, and the bitterness of a dark coffee. But one only has to taste the differing expressions coming from the Nebbiolo motherlands of Barolo, Barbaresco, as well as Asti and Alba to know that location and climate means everything to this grape.
Here is what California’s El Dorado County has to provide this dark beauty.
If you haven’t read my notes about Crystal Basin Cellars Mourvèdre, definitely take a look. My understanding of California’s Sierra Foothills as a cool-climate wine terroir was proven right by that light, yet rustic single-varietal expression. So I was excited to open the winery’s single-varietal Grenache—a grape that I have a love-hate relationship with. I love it when I can taste the eccentricity of fruit flavors innate in this variety, the racy red spices that can linger in the back palate, and the assertive acidity that binds it all together. I hate when it turns into a over-ripe fruit bomb, worthy of spreading on my toast with peanut butter.
I’ll give you one good guess which side of the Grenache spectrum Crystal Basin Cellars falls into…
Thus far I’ve reviewed every wine The Withers has to offer, but saved Mr. Burgess for last. Why? Syrah heavy, it was probably the most intimidating of the Rhone style red blends the friendly winery produces. And a tasting back in January at trade and media event seemed to prove my perceptions correct. So I was hesitant to finally pop Mr. Burgess open for myself — but when a meal is just aching for the intensity of this style, one must cast fears aside…
The Withers Winery crafts some bodacious (yes, I just used that word) Chardonnays and some elegant Pinot Noirs. But their passion — if not their claim to fame — are Rhone-inspired wines from the self-proclaimed “Rhone Zone” of El Dorado County. They craft some excellent single varietals including the somewhat obscure Counoise, but I just love how they play with the classic GSM (Grenache, Syrah, Mourvedre) blend. In fact, when I received my shipment of The Withers wines, I was delighted to see three different takes — each one highlighting a different grape. So while the previously reviewed Bel Canto was more of a GMS, this 2014 Ruben is more of a MSG (but the good kind) — highlighting my favorite of the three ingredients, Mourvedre.