This has been quite the year of challenges, culminating with the fires that touched the lives of so many of our northern California neighbors.....
People often ask what will happen to the vintage, to the future of the region, and their newly canceled plans to visit. I want to assure all of our customers and readers that there will be a 2017 vintage, with a very small percentage of grapes having been affected, that there will be quite a bright future for this vast geographical wine growing region, and that now is actually one of the very best times to visit, so go and see the green splendor, the quiet solitude of the countryside in winter sans the throngs of summer tourists and actually get face-time with the vignerons themselves!
That said, there is no downplaying the destruction that has befallen many of our wine industry colleagues, from the top of the chain all the way down through the layers and fabric of the community that helps make the wine that you love possible. Countless friends, winemakers, and workers have lost their homes, a few wineries were obliterated, and many labor hours unrealized, not to mention the halt of tourist traffic. The wine industry is the heart of the northern California economy, and the very best thing we can do this holiday season is to support our brothers and sisters in need up north by getting their economy going again! I have chosen a few of the best wines from a few of the families that have lost the most. Pick a few up for your Christmas table, for gifts and toast these guys on their stellar efforts while helping them pick up the pieces!
2016 Eric Kent, Sauvignon Blanc, Cuvee Renee, Sonoma County, CA, $19.99
This is a tiny production, passion project of owner and winemaker Kent Humphreys and his sister Renee Humphreys, along with Kent’s partner and artist, Colleen Teitgen. These guys represent the best of what the modern California wine movement has to offer, and we are so happy to have their Sauvignon Blanc on our shelves. This is all bright lemon juice, hints of fresh picked white grapefruit, mouth-watering acidity, and creamy soft white peach on the back palate. Absolutely delicious with anything light, especially poultry dishes with a splash of lemon. The labels Colleen and her artist colleagues create are a thing of beauty and intrigue. Check out their website to see the artists’ gallery! www.erickentwines.com. This family and their children lost their home in the fire and made a harrowing escape on foot down the train tracks in Santa Rosa. Please raise a glass to these guys and help them get back on their feet.
2013 Signorello, ‘Padrone’, Cabernet Sauvignon, Estate Reserve, Napa Valley, CA, $179.99
This is the very top bottling for the Signorello family, and very hard to come by. Luckily I was able to scoop a bit up, and who knows when we’ll see it again as this estate was demolished by the fires. Ray Signorello, Jr. has vowed to rebuild, and we support his family and all those employed by the estate to get them all back on their feet. This wine is hedonistic and regal, full bodied with all of the stuffing one would expect from such a prestigious and meticulously crafted wine: cassis, cedar, blackberry and graphite jump out of the glass, and the palate is both velvety and structured. A stately Cabernet that would make a great gift for the holidays.
2014 White Rock Vineyards, Claret, Estate, Napa Valley, CA, $50.99
This is one of our most iconic, pre-prohibition, family owned estates. The Vandendriessche family has owned and farmed this historic property since 1977, and Christopher and Michael craft the most elegant and stately Cabernet blend here: beautiful and elegant dried black cherry, fall leaves, forest cedar notes, crunchy black berry, and the silkiest mouthfeel combine to completely over-deliver for the price. This is the perfect match for NY strip, white truffle infused mashed potatoes, and winter greens. This family lost their historic home and winery in the recent fires, so it’s an extra bonus here to be able to help contribute to their recovery!
2013 Wing Canyon, Cabernet Sauvignon Reserve, Mount Veeder, Napa Valley, CA, $54.99
This is a tiny production gem of the classic, old school Napa Cabernet style from a tiny mountain plot meticulously farmed organically by hand from husband and wife team Bill Jenkins and Kathy Dennett. Deep red cherry, earthy undercurrents, brambly huckleberry, cedar and fir dance across the palate of this elegant Cabernet. Restrained alcohol and bright acidity remind me of the Cabs from the days before those modern Parker-influenced fruit bombs in the best way. This is the most elegant Cabernet that is perfect for that special dinner of filet mignon and your most cherished loved ones. This will also age quite well. This wonderful couple lost their winery and home up on Mount Veeder and I would love to help them get back on their feet so they can keep producing these gorgeous wines!
2014 Carol Shelton, “Wild Thing” Old Vine Zinfandel, Cox Vineyard, Mendocino County, CA, $18.99
Carol Shelton is one of the best known Zin producers on the North coast, and for good reason! Her Zins are expressive, aromatic and downright delicious. This Zin is named for the wild yeast fermentation which Carol helped discover back in the 80’s as contributing to different flavors coming through. This lovely Zin is from very old vines and is a field blend with a little Carignane, Petite Sirah, and Alicante Bouschet lending support. It exhibits a pretty nose of ripe strawberry, mixed mountain berries, violet and a spicy mineral note. On the palate, this wine is smooth and creamy, with a long finish. It pairs perfectly with Carol’s Zin braised duck with mascarpone polenta or Moroccan pork stew. Carol lost her home in the fires up north, and it would help to show our long-time love for her by purchasing her delicious Zin!