Last year, I was able to tasted the 2015 vintage of this very wine. This year, I’ve been able to reconnect with Emeritus, attending their bi-monthly webinar series, specifically catered to wine professionals. President Mari Jones, along with vineyard manager Kirk Lokka and winemaker David Lattin deep dive into how and why soil, climate, and clones, along with viticultural management practices, all effect the resulting wine.
So while I obviously enjoyed the Pinot Hill Pinot Noir last year, and even had a personal kind of geek-out on their vineyard location, this year I have a whole new level of appreciation. Education, man. It does something to you…
I also want to note that I enjoyed this wine as part of my date-night-in anniversary dinner. We paired the wine with a dish we simply call “Forbes.” The close-up picture of this dish is below the wine review. PM me if you want to know what it is 😉
Who likes a cool-climate Syrah? *Raises hand.* Syrah is one of the varieties that my partner in wine crime and I don’t agree on—meaning, he always wants it and I’m way picky about it. It was when I was working on an article for Edible Silicon Valley, discovering the Rhône wines of the South Bay (read: Where We Rhône: Wine Trends In Silicon Valley) that I discovered the broad range of styles that can come from the Syrah grape. And it was during an interview with renowned winemaker Ross Cobb that it dawned on me that I truly gravitate toward the subtle, but undoubtedly structured, Syrahs grown in cooler climates. “We’ve always known that this area (Sonoma Coast) is an outstanding place for Pinot Noir and Chardonnay,” Cobb said. “But I’ve always thought that it’s also an outstanding cool Northern Rhône climate here.” He’s right. (Read more: Technical Review: Anaba Wines).
Well, today I bring to you that experience—that experience of subtlety, finesse, structure, and a small snippet of the Northern Rhône with a taste of Radio-Coteau’s 2014 Las Colinas Sonoma Coast Syrah.
When it comes to modern California Chardonnay, it seems more grapegrowers are focused in on purposeful planting, winemakers taking a more “hands-off” approach in the winery. Thus the nuances of the actual fruit are able to come forward, unmasked by excessive ML or NFO aging. Tasting the J. Cage Cellars 2016 Schmidt Home Vineyard is one such Chardonnay that piqued my interest into the current California expressions of the grape. So when owner Roger Beery asked if I’d like to taste his most recent release, my answer was an enthusiastic “yes please!”
Andrew Tow, owner of The Withers winery, has a passion for the Rhone wines. In fact, much of his portfolio is dedicated to Rhones — single-varietals and both classic and innovative blends. And for those grapes he turns to what has become known as California’s “Rhone Zone,” El Dorado County. Here the rusticity of the Sierra Foothills absolutely influence the grapes grown and, thus, the wines produce. When it comes to California’s “classics,” however — namely Chardonnay and Pinot Noir — Tow knows there’s no better place to source than the Sonoma Coast. But his preference for big bold flavors shows no bounds. And so it is that he and winemaker David Low crafted this Big Boy Chardonnay.
Lester and Linda Schwartz discovered their love of wine in their native homeland of Cape Town, South Africa. A lawyer and an artist, respectively, the couple found themselves living in California, and it wasn’t long before Lester got the itch to build himself a countryside home reminiscent of his roots. So they purchased a plot of naked land along the craggy cliffs of the Pacific Ocean in what would eventually become the Fort Ross-Seaview AVA. The couple custom-built their own home, featuring traditional South African architecture; just a few years later they planted their first grapevine rootstocks and saw near immediate success. Alongside legendary winemaker Jeff Pisoni, today Lester and Linda craft beautiful Pinot Noir, Chardonnay, and — as a nod to their heritage — Pinotage. (Fun fact: Lester and Linda were the first private grape growers to import Pinotage vine cuttings.)