GATE 2013 Russian River Valley Chardonnay
Sourced from two sites just inland from the last ridge of sandy, ocean windswept hilltops that march towards the coast. Where the rich river run soils meet the leaner soils of the coastal ridges, and the inland summer sun ripens the fruit while the reaches of marine layer fogs cool the fruit at night. Old California clone Chardonnay grown next to heritage plantings of apples, the original crop for this area. High notes of citrus rind, crushed white and yellow spring flowers and fresh grilled stonefruit. A full yet well structured body, laced with fresh vibrant natural acidity. Balanced. Earthen notes in the background of the nose resurface in the finish, which is long, and lingering. Natural acids. Native fermentation. Cellared 11 months sur lie in Francois Frères cooperage, 25% new.
2013 King's Russian River Valley Pinot Noir
The second vintage for us from this vineyard, a small patch of Pinot Noir I found in the midst of a sea of Chardonnay plantings on the lifted ancient sandy plains wanderings of the Russian River. An elegant bottling, that displays the delicate side of the varietal, and as this site is teaching me, that's the highest meaning for this fruit. Redder, and more nuanced in its tones, lovely and pure. Decidedly not tannic, the structure comes from vibrant, sanguine natural acids. We harvest the fruit early to retain those characters. I've learned with this wine to approach the point of balance from the front end, letting it gain depth in barrel as opposed to in the vineyard. Lightly crushed rose petals, bright and lively deep red fleshed fruits, tones redolent of graphite shavings, and a slight dustiness on the nose giving hints of evolving to more forest floor like notes. A poised, high seated, yet well structured wine that settles to rest mid palette. Native yeast fermentation. Whole berry fermentation. Only free run juice used, no pressing. Aged in 20% newer French Oak, sur lie for 16 months.
2012 GATE Napa Valley Sauvignon Blanc
The newest addition to our GATE lineup of wines, an appellation focused series of bottlings. One layer above site, and vintage, are the indicators of the regional characters in any given wine. The wines in the series represent my look into the appellations of the North Coast, those north of the golden gate. They are made in the exact same fashion as our site specific Kesner bottlings. In 2012 I found a site in the Oak Knoll area in the southern Napa Valley that supplies a number of vineyard specific grade bottlings. I've long been drawn to certain tones in Sauvignon Blanc...Wet minerals, grapefruit rind, lychee. You will find all of those in this bottling, but with the addition of just enough body to make it a wine that will actually carry through a meal. We picked early, as we do, and so it has wonderful acids. Barrel fermented in predominantly used barrels, as opposed to stainless, but it's neither heavy nor cloying as a result. The added texture comes from the rather extended barrel aging, with no stirring of the lees, so as not to disturb the delicate esters and aromatics. Native yeast fermentation. Fermented and aged sur lie for 16 months in French Oak, only 25% of it new.
2013 Rockbreak Sonoma Coast Chardonnay-
Easily our best vintage of this bottling to date. Cool Pacific winds and fogs flow over a rich dark loam, peppered by enough river run cobble to breakdown any farming implement that dare try to tame it. The fruit for this wine is from the Idell Vineyard that was planted in part for us in Southern Sonoma County. Wet rocks, white citrus shavings and early spring fruit blooms. Tones of lightly grilled Meyer lemons and fresh creme. A medium-full yet crisp body, the paradox, or better yet the balance, that I always look for in this wine. Green orchard fruit flesh, brightly threaded with harmonious acids, that lend to a racy, lingering finish. Native fermentation in barrel, natural acids, aged in 20% newer French Oak.
2013 Vadim's Watch Sonoma Coast Pinot Noir
From the Terra De Prommisio Vineyard, and the wonderful family that farms it. Named for the Russian grandfather, who traded tank for plow, and now oversees the vines on this small plot in the Petaluma Gap. Stunning perfume of fresh picked dark red and black raspberry, crushed blueberries, bled pomegranate and violets. Light spices with a hint of briar patch and redwood forest floor. Full in the mouth, yet more elegant and more mineral influenced than the 2012, speaking of primary fruit with an impeccable, vibrant acidity. A wonderfully balanced, structured wine with a lasting, delicate finish. Native yeast fermentation. Whole berry fermentation. Only free run juice used, no pressing. Aged in 25% newer French Oak, sur lie for 16 months.
2013 Bacigalupi Vineyard Russian River Chardonnay
Farmed by the Bacigalupi family since 1956 and the source of a major component in the Chardonnay that won the historical 1976 tasting in Paris. A red sand graveled knoll where the western hills of the Russian River valley stretch towards the coast. The 2013 exhibits all of the markers of a perfectly balanced Californian Chardonnay. Soft floral tones and creme soaked pears with a hint of honeysuckle and a light chalky sense of minerality lift from the glass. Green and golden orchard fruits threaded with corn silk resonate through the body of the wine, which is luxuriously mouth filling yet poised, and held tight by the well integrated naturally occurring acids. Native fermentation in barrel. Aged in same barrels, 30% newer French Oak, 16 months sur lie.
2013 Heintz Vineyard Sonoma Coast Chardonnay
From the sand driven soils of western Sonoma County, deposited by the Pacific tens of thousands of years ago. Sourced from the Heintz Vineyard along the ridge of sandy hilltops just eest of Occidental, where the same family has been on the land since 1912. The proximity to the coast and cool nature of the sire made this our last fruit of the year (as it was 2014) because we were waiting for the acids to calm in the cool coastal evenings leading up to the picking. White flowers, flint, notes of golden stonefruit and a defining sense of minerallity, with a hint of whey. Laced with a vibrant acidity and a liquid stone like earthen chord. This wine is taller than it is broad. Well structured, and has an elegant nature to it, but not without concentration. I'm very pleased to be working with this site. Native fermentation in barrel, natural acids, aged in 20% newer French Oak.
2012 Alder Springs Vineyard Chardonnay
Located two hours due north of Sonoma County in the wilds of Mendocino lies Alder Springs Vineyard. Perched on a mountainside, our fruit is grown at 2400 feet in elevation with nary another vineyard in sight for 40 miles. The most "austere" of our Chardonnays and if anything is at the front of the glass it is the subtlety and the refined nature of the fruit in this wine. I added the ""'s because for those of you who know it, the wine despite its proclivity for being elegant in the nose, is no shrinking violet. We pick earlier than most all of our neighbors at Alder and the result is this crisp young bottling, that despite its acids, is not without weight. Greener than it is gold in its character. Nose and mouth driven by hints of green stonefruit flesh, citrus blossom, lemongrass and flint. Native yeast fermentation. Fermented and aged in French Oak, 25% of it new, sur lie for 16 months.
2012 Blustone North Coast Red Wine
A wine of balance and restraint relative to "traditional" Zinfandel. More pliant and open than the 2011 vintage. Comprised of mostly old vine Zinfandel but includes as well the other field mixed blacks often interplanted in these wonderful pre turn of the century sites that dot the north coast. Dense, wild, black and purple fruited tones, dried herbs, white pepper and hints of iron, wild sage and wild fennel. The perfumed nose and well structured finish provide a pleasing tension as they bracket the dark fruit core middle of the wine. A wine made to accompany food (as was the original intent behind these older plantings). Native fermentation in an open topped fermenter, whole berries. No pressing of the fruit, only free run juice used. Natural acids. Native fermentation. Cellared 18 months sur lie in Francois Frères cooperage, 30% new.
2012 Old Vines Grenache North Coast
We've purposefully targeted the more elegant, feminine nature of Grenache. There's something pretty special there when it isn't treated as a big California red wine. Hails from vines over 80 years old. Picked early, with bright natural acids and dusty tannins that soften and integrate via a longer barrel aging program. Will cellar well, and some aging is suggested. High tones of spring red blossoms, wild raspberry brambles and deep plump strawberry. A wonderfully expressive nose, that leads to a well wound red fruited core, resonating with markers of fruit derived acids and light, dusty tannins. Lingering, resonant finish. Natural acids. Native fermentation. Cellared 18 months sur lie in Francois Frères cooperage, 0% new.
GATE 2013 Sonoma Coast Pinot Noir
Two sites lend their coastal characters to this effort. Both buffeted by the seaborne cooling winds and fogs of the Pacific, planted on ancient coastal soils and selected for their regional personalities. Cool climate Pinot Noir that retains all of the beauty of the varietal. A bit more forward, and elegant than the 2012. Perfume of pomegranate, fresh picked red and black raspberries and lightly crushed violets. Background hints of redwood forest floor, and an ever so slight reminiscence of graphite shavings. Well structured, with natural acids that are perfectly integrated and that lend a great backbone to this wine. Elegant, lengthy, silken finish. Natural acids. Native fermentation. Cellared 11 months sur lie in Francois Frères cooperage, 25% new.