Jill and I have just returned from our Rhone Wine Cruise. Our 8-days on AMAWaterways were more than successful and our treatment by the crew could not have been better. The people who were with us on the cruise were about as nice as they could be. We all enjoyed the experience and made lasting memories. That’s what it’s all about. Many of our wines were served on the cruise and their acceptance was beyond expectations. There is no question that we can compete against anybody. We were in the land of Syrah and Viognier and we stood with the best. When I now think of the Rhone, I really think of Viognier and Syrah. I was most impressed with Hermitage and Condrieu.
A warm spring has really pushed our grapevines and we’re already seeing bloom. With the good winter rains, vines really look healthy, vigorous, and have great color. Our recent heat spell has pushed us even further, although the latest forecast is for a cooling trend and potential showers. It’s all part of farming!
Sauvignon Blanc: We have been trying really hard for several years to improve our Sauvignon Blanc. This wine is the result of a lot of work in both the winery and the vineyard, in the sense of trying to make things better. I recently poured this dry wine next to about 20 other Sauvignon Blancs from around the world and it showed really well. We picked the grapes a little more mature, alcohol is 14.4% and it shows some tropical fruit, a very good nose, and just tastes really good. 60% of the Sauvignon Blanc grapes came from Valley View and 30% came from Los Alamos. It also contains 10% Viognier from Los Alamos. The grapes really complemented each other. Enjoy as a cocktail and with salads and chicken.
Syrah: I shared this wine recently on trips out of town and here in Santa Barbara, and it showed extremely well next to competing Syrahs. This one comes from our Valley View Vineyard and was co-fermented with 4% Viognier and aged for 18 months in oak barrels. Grapes were quite ripe which brought the alcohol up to 15.2%. Big but refined, and the Viognier lends it a little fruit. Serve with lamb - lamb chops, rack of lamb, leg of lamb!
Cabernet Sauvignon, Valley View: This style of Cabernet was my original thought when we discovered that Valley View was a great place for Cabernet and Bordeaux varieties. The goal was to make a Cab with all five Bordeaux varieties. This one is 75% Cabernet with similar amounts of Malbec, Petit Verdot, Merlot, and Cabernet Franc. A substantial portion of the Cabernet was Clone 337, considered one of the most exciting clones available today. I recently grafted 6,000 existing vines on the Valley View Vineyard to Clone 337 and Clone 6 Cabernet. For this wine, we made the blend and went back to barrel for an additional five months. Grapes were quite mature resulting in an alcohol of 14.7%. Not overly extracted, this one has good color and to me has a hint of smoke, a characteristic of the extra aging in newer oak. I like this style. It’s not over done.
I’m already working on my yard for the Wine Club Summer BBQ. The guest list is filling fast. Hope to see you there! I promise you a couple of barrel samples from the 2016 vintage.