I’m continuing an exploration of J. Cage Cellars, a small family-run winery in the heart of Sonoma. For a boutique operation, they have a well-rounded portfolio, work with some prestigious vineyards, and produces wines that could easily compete with “better known” names in the wine world. The Beery’s are, in fact, craftsman—and what better way to show off ones winemaking skills than with the art of the blend…
I’ve only had Ferrari Carano twice in my wine drinking life. No joke. So, even though I love the Chardonnay as a daily drinker, and their GSM proved a beautiful date night addition, I really had no idea how special Ferrari Carano is until a friend insisted we visit while at last year’s Wine Blogger’s Conference. (Cheers Lori!) Well we each did a tasting and the line up was fab. Some of us bought several bottles, some of us just one. And the one bottle we all had in hand when walking out the door? This Ferrari Carano 2012 Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon
Benziger has a long-standing family reputation in Sonoma. The family made the migration to California’s northern wine country when it was still had its “wild west” status and together groomed the land to make some top quality wines. Since 2000, all four of Benziger’s estate vineyards have been officially certified Biodynamic, meaning they’ve eliminated the use of all synthetic materials, encourage biodiversity in the field, and nurture a closed nutrient system. The effects? Well let’s have a taste and see, shall we?
With the exception of sparkling wine producers, wineries that focus on Pinot Noir and Chardonnay rarely play the blending game. But with Fort Ross Vineyard, there’s a not-so-secret third varietal that winemaker Jeff Pisoni gets to play with: Pinotage. While this ‘Symposium’ wine is labeled a Pinot Noir, there’s a little something extra blended in, giving the traditionally light, silky varietal, a hearty backbone and intense texture.
Pinotage was developed in South Africa in 1925 by Abraham Izak Perold who was attempting to combine the best of two varieties: Pinot Noir and what was then referred to as Hermitage (today’s Cinsault). Since that time the clonal creation has become somewhat of South Africa’s “heritage grape,” if you will. It’s with that sentiment that South African natives and owners of Fort Ross Vineyard, Linda and Lester Schwartz sourced Pinotage bud wood from the original founding blocks of their native homeland shortly after establishing their Sonoma Coast vineyard estate. They are, in fact, the first private growers to import such cuttings and, eventually, sell commercially. Their estate Pinotage consists of two Fort Ross proprietary clones, MM1 and MM3, developed at UC Davis from that originally imported budwood.