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.
I’m taking a brief detour from my tour of Panther Creek’s estate Pinot Noir vineyards. (If you haven’t followed along thus far, do take a look at these: Maverick, Kalita, and Lazy River. And don’t forget the oh-so-fun Pinot Noir-Chardonnay white wine blend. [know, right?]) No, today I’m featuring their estate Chardonnay—a Chardonnay actually worth drinking. I have a hard time with Chardonnay: it can be bland and boring, or completely unbalanced with all the winemaking things you can do to it. Ah, but here we have subtle simplicity holding hands with a solid structure. Drink it on its own, drink it with food, but either way drink and enjoy.
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…
This is a continuation of my tour of Panther Creek Cellars’ various vineyard sources. Today, we travel to Kalita Vineyard, located in the Yamhill Carlton AVA of Oregon, and planted entirely to Pinot Noir.
My latest shipment from Panther Creek Cellars came with single-vineyard Pinot Noir from each of the winery’s estate vineyards. Super fun. I had the chance to compare the vineyards last year, so was so pleased to get to experience the 2017 release this year. The new kid on the block: Maverick Vineyard. In fact, this vineyard, located in the Yamhill-Carlton AVA of Oregon was only planted seven years ago, in 2013. For those of you unfamiliar with a vine’s growth cycle, typically the first three years of a vine’s life does not produce any fruit (or at least not enough or enough quality fruit to make wine). So, I imagine, 2017 was really the first harvest that yielded enough fruit to make enough sellable wine. And even then, only 150 cases were produced. So, how did the new kid fare?