2016 Sunset Magazine International Wine Competition
Madder Lake Vineyards
The Madder Lake Vineyard is located directly north of Mount St. Helena in the northern reaches of the folded and craggy Mayacamas Range. Littered with truck-sized boulders, stone and cobble of all sizes, this is a seriously steep and rocky vineyard with exceptional drainage and north/northwestern exposures. The proximity of Clear Lake and the orientation of the vineyard allow for plantings of a southern Rhone selection of Grenache Blanc. The fruit is loosely clustered with thick skins that collaborate to create wine with monumental structure and vivid acid. Vintage 2014 will be noted as one of the earliest vintages in over a decade, but it will also go down as one of the best. Challenged by drought, an earthquake, rain, hail and significant heat, you would think there would be a lot of obstacles to navigate, however the timing of the events paired with some planning allowed us to dodge these curve balls and land another fantastic vintage. Tannins are in check and berries are small, which is translating into great balance and concentration in the cellar. Yields and quality are above average across all varieties, and I am anticipating a lot of beautiful 2014 wines to come.
$24.00 a bottle
2014 Dry Creek Valley Grenache Blanc
Mounts Family Vineyard
From the same meticulously farmed vineyard in the Dry Creek Valley as my Grenache Noir, comes this new wine for 2015. The grapes come from a low spot in the vineyard where an old creek use to flow. Leaving the soil stripped and rocky. In fact it's mostly gravel and rocks. Just the way I like it. I think you can sense it in the wine. It has a rocky minerality and smells like wet stone. That is until you catch a whiff of the bright green apple and sweet pear. It's like sitting under a apple tree, eating a pear when it just starts to rain. This lighter style Grenache Blanc has a delicate acidity on the palette that is nothing like so many other California Grenache Blancs I find in the market place. I'm really excited about this wine and I think if you try it. You will be too.
"The 2014 Grenache Blanc Mounts Family Vineyards shows nice floral notes, along with white citrus, lemon honey and quince. This is medium-bodied and refreshing, with no evidence of oak. The wine should be drunk in its exuberant, fresh, lively youth, so consume it over the next several years. "
$24.00 a bottle
I was lucky enough to score a few tons off of this amazing little vineyard that Peter Mathis planted and tends. Seven acres on a rocky hillside above the Sonoma Mission Inn. Peter selected this amazing site with one thing in mind, Grenache, and he planted some of the best clones available. I am honored to produce wines from this gem of a vineyard. And this is a big boy! Big tannins, big nose of pie cherry and lavender. In my opinion, this wine screams Gigondas. If your looking for a rhone wine from Vaucluse made in California, step right up. And this fella is going to age just as well.
"The 2014 Grenache Noir Mathis Vineyard, which apparently is from a Sonoma site, is another successful effort. This has a deep ruby/purple tint, a nice sweet kiss of kirsch liqueur, a medium to full body, beautiful purity and no evidence of oak. I like what this winery is doing across the board, and I think they have plenty of potential to go even further."
$34.00 a bottle
Mounts Family Vineyard
Round two! My second vintage off of this amazing site on the west side of the Dry Creek valley. The Mounts Family vineyard shines again. Candied strawberries, ripe blackberry, anise and leather make this wine smell oh so sweet. Bright acidity and firm tannins make this one of my favorites ever from this site.
"The 2014 Grenache Noir Mounts Family Vineyards has a slightly deeper ruby color, and could easily pass for Pinot Noir, if not for the smell and taste. The wine hits the palate with a nice gush of strawberries and cherries, has surprising body and a rather fiery intensity. No oak is present, which is ideal since Grenache rarely marries well with new oak. The wine is medium to full-bodied and lusty. This should drink well for another 7-8 years."
$34.00 a bottle
My inaugural vintage starts with this Grenache from the Dry Creek Valley vineyard owned and farmed by the Mounts family for the last 70 years. A combination of two French Entav clones: clone 513 and clone 362. Both clones originating from the Languedoc and Southern Rhone regions of France. These clones are ideal for creating a French-Rhone style wine from California fruit.
This wine, typical of Grenache, shows wonderful dark red fruit, black cherry, plum and a slight strawberry followed by a dusty, tobacco and anise scent on the nose. The firm, dry tannins show what a classic Dry Creek Valley Grenache is all about.
I love it. I think you will too.
"The 2013 Grenache That First Step is a nice effort with plenty of kirsch liqueur, sandalwood and a touch of spice. It is pure, shows light tannin, a wonderful broad savory mouthfeel as well as elegance. One of the interesting things about Grenache is that it has a Pinot Noir-like transparency and delicacy, but carries a much bigger punch at least in terms of alcohol. This is a beauty, fully mature and not likely to get better, but delicious and best drunk over the next several years."
Released in November, 2014.
$32.00 a bottle
2016 San Francisco Chronicle Wine Competition
2016 Sunset Magazine's International Wine Competition