Posts About Napa Valley Wines

Nigel Kinsman, Winemaker Krupp Brothers (Photo by Seymour & McIntosh)

November 24, 2009

Krupp Brothers’ Winemaker Rises to New Heights

2009 marks Nigel Kinsman’s 15th vintage as a winemaker. For a 34 year-old who received his enology degree just six years ago, Kinsman’s logged more hours – with some of the most famous winemakers and wineries – than at first seems possible. He learned technical expertise alongside Peter Leske and got to the heart of organic and biodynamic farming at Cullen Winery.

Upon graduating, Kinsman hopped a plane to Chianti to work the 2003 harvest as a “poor struggling student winemaker.” Four planes and a train ride later, he was welcomed into Tolaini’s Tuscan cellars as the full-time winemaker. Because he didn’t speak a word of Italian, he learned to lead by example. And when Michel Rolland showed up as consulting winemaker, he learned the art of blending alongside the man he considers to possess one of the wine world’s most formidable palates.

No, Kinsman’s trajectory has been anything but traditional. It has, however, been 100% intentional, and it all began on the day he was almost fired from South Australia’s premier wine shop, Baily and Baily. At the time, Kinsman was studying classical music at the University of Adelaide, majoring in solo performance on the double bass.

The gig at Baily and Baily was meant to keep his wallet lightly padded, and he had little expectations of doing more than hauling cases of beer and stocking shelves, two things at which the six-foot two-inch Kinsman excelled. When the store manager told him they were going to have to let him go only six months into the position, the only question Nigel could ask was “How do I change your mind?”

The manager sent him home with three wines, three glasses and told him to turn in a report next shift. For twelve weeks, they repeated the exercise. “Suddenly I was fascinated with these unique regions, with new winemakers, with everything that went into the glass.” Nigel had fallen in love with wine, but he wasn’t initially convinced he could make a career out of it.
When he approached the head of the enology department about two years into his classical music degree, they weren’t convinced either. He had neither the sciences nor the science entry score to get into the department, which at the time was as competitive as the physiotherapy program.

Again, he asked, “What do I have to do to change your mind?” A faculty manager finally conceded that if he entered a straight science field and blitzed the class, he might have a chance. Nigel took a year off from his other classes, enrolled in Chemistry I and scored a 97 in the first year. The department allowed the transfer…”but it took a lot of pushing and shoving.”

When he wasn’t studying, Nigel spent his time at the wine shop honing his sensory skills and tasting every new wine he could get his hands on. “I will always maintain that people in wine retail get to taste a lot more wine than those who make it,” he says, and at his peak at Baily and Baily, Nigel was tasting some 300 wines a week.

After he transitioned into the enology program, Nigel left the wine shop and approached Nepenthe Winery winemaker Peter Leske. He told Leske he didn’t want to start his degree without any experience in the field. Leske brought him on for the 1997 harvest, and Nigel spent the hours of 6 pm to 4 am doing pump-overs and cleaning tanks and his daylight hours in the classroom. Hooked on the buzz of the physical labor, he stayed on at Nepenthe for five more harvests, all while studying. When he finished near top of his class every year, Kinsman credited the work with helping him see and engage in the entire winemaking process.

Continue reading "Krupp Brothers’ Winemaker Rises to New Heights"

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Krupp Brothers Winemaker, Nigel Kinsman supervises the final picking at Stagecoach Vineyards the last week of October.

November 2, 2009

Krupp Choreographs Thousand-Acre Wine Grape Harvest, 95 Stagecoach Vineyard Designate Wines Will Benefit

It takes a small village to harvest Stagecoach Vineyard

“If you have ever seen that scene in ‘Apocalypse Now’ where they are trying to establish a beach head camp so that they can surf, that is what harvest is like at Stagecoach Vineyard,” consulting winemaker Aaron Pott says of picking fruit at Krupp Brothers’ legendary Atlas Peak and Pritchard Hill vineyard.

“The vineyard becomes a good size town replete with 50 or so 1970s era vans and an old Ken Kesey-esque school bus - all in various stages of decay – roaming the vineyard roads.”

While Pott jokes that Dr. Jan Krupp, former internist and founder of Stagecoach and Krupp Brothers, should just build a small village at Stagecoach with a company store, it is true that at harvest, the Krupp Brothers team is master of its own 1,000-plus acre domain. Jan moves across the vineyard radio in hand, shouting instructions to vineyard managers Esteban Llamas and viticulturist Jason Cole. The vineyard has its own trucking fleet to haul picks directly to their crush facility, and in any given season, Stagecoach has 120 full-time employees, with an additional 160 contracted on an as needed basis.

HarvestMontage.jpg

From a hawk’s eye view (of which there are several rare breeds on the mountain vineyard), harvest might appear to be chaos. After all, harvest workers are pulling in fruit for not one but 60 different wine producers in the valley. To put it another way, in 2008 there were over 95 wines with a Stagecoach Vineyard designate.

Krupp Brothers Winemaker Nigel Kinsman, however, says harvest may move at a frenzied pace but every step is controlled and choreographed. Up until the point where they deliver fruit to the wineries, Stagecoach Vineyard is self-sufficient. They may pick for more than 60 clients in a six week time period, but they handle all the picking. They schedule clients on a first come, first served basis. Sure, Paul Hobbs checks in frequently, but according to Nigel, even he confidently relinquishes control to the Stagecoach team.

Nigel believes that’s in large part due to Dr. Jan Krupp, the vineyard’s most passionate advocate. “Jan knows every clone and where every clone is planted. How many vineyard owners do you know who could literally know every inch of their 700-acre vineyard?” Nigel says.

Vineyard Manager, Esteban Llamas, worked alongside Jan to plant every single row. Viticulturist, Jason Cole, possesses incredible farming acumen and with both of their expertise come picking time, the vineyard is in prime form. For the past two months, Jason and Nigel have been setting the stage with aggressive crop thinning. Because last year’s crop load was so light, Nigel was ready for the vines’ 2009 balancing act. “We were expecting the vines to respond by producing more fruit, so our guys have worked hard all year to maintain the appropriate levels.”

They’ve also taken pains to thin fruit and position the shoots to ensure clusters are evenly spaced and receiving equal shares of light. Nigel says you have to be an active advocate to grow such premium fruit. By the time harvest rolls around, Nigel is intimate with every single block going into Krupp Brothers’ wines; he sources fruit from every part of the vineyard, he knows every soil subset, and once crush is upon them, Nigel walks the vineyard every single day.

blending.jpg

As for the pick dates? Nigel says they’re not here to be raisin farmers. He looks at resolution and tannin profile in order to judge harvest times. Once he sees ripe tannins with moderate sugar levels, the Krupps’ own grapes get top picking priority. Nigel doesn’t see this as a conflict; he feels the crews give the entire vineyard impeccable attention. Every client gets top quality fruit, but this is first come, first served after all. And Jan Krupp was here first.

Enjoy a few photos from this years harvest:
Krupp Brothers winemaking 2009
Krupp Brothers winemaker Nigel Kinsman and consulting winemaker Aaron Pott test out the fermenting wine.
October 2009- Photos by Ashley Teplin
http://is.gd/4IElW

Stagecoach Vineyard Harvest 2009
Krupp Brothers winemaker Nigel Kinsman in the vineyards for the last pick of harvest.
October 2009- Photos by Ashley Teplin
http://is.gd/4IELG

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No tasting room, just the wildly beautiful rusticity of this place is here to welcome you for your visit with concierge Amber Lanier and owner Dr. Jan Krupp at Stagecoach Vineyards.

October 1, 2009

Krupp Brothers & Stagecoach Vineyard
Cut Legendary Path Across the Napa Valley

When Jan and Bart Krupp began the search for a name for their Stagecoach Vineyard label of wine, they sought a moniker that reflected the wild yet elegant structure profile of the Rhone-varietal wines coming from Stagecoach Vineyard’s 560 planted acres on Atlas Peak. That Black Bart also captured the unique history of their frontier mountain vineyard, only served to add another poetic layer to a vineyard and winery property already rich with Napa Valley lore.

The infamous Black Bart of the late 1800s robbed dozens of Wells Fargo stagecoaches crossing over mountain roads, including the stagecoach passes that once stretched across the Krupp Brothers’ present-day Stagecoach Vineyard. Born Charles Boles, the San Francisco businessman became known as a gentleman bandit, a sophisticated gray-haired outlaw with impeccable posture, fine manners, tailored dress and a partiality for leaving poetry at the scene of his crimes.

While the Black Bart label brandishes this inimitable spirit of the sophisticated rogue, Jan and Bart Krupp determined early on that the Black Bart portfolio of wines would cut its own legendary path across the California frontier and the globe. And since the day Jan Krupp purchased his first 41 acres up in the mountain desert known as Atlas Peak, the brothers have overcome some rather fantastic obstacles to become the protagonists in their own almost epic story. The Stagecoach Vineyard and Krupp Brothers tale – of carving a road into a mountain desert, of hiring a water witch to find the water geologists could not, of removing 1 billion tons of SUV-sized boulders before planting could begin – has become as compelling as the wines’ namesake, as visitors to the Krupp brothers’ beautiful 700-plus acre vineyard properties can attest.

From the beginning, Jan Krupp saw beyond the looming hardships to the potential beneath the rock and chaparral. And he saw the stunning beauty of the mountain, of the fragrant purple blossoms of rare native plants, and the views of the Napa Valley floor below and the San Francisco Bay beyond. Rising 900 feet above sea level and climbing to nearly 1,700, Jan quickly realized these eastern hills were ideally suited for rarely planted Rhone grapes like syrah, viognier and marsanne.

In fact, the diverse meso-climates and soil conditions found at Stagecoach Vineyard are distinctively suited for over 13 different grape varieties. Currently, the Black Bart portfolio consists of the Black Bart Syrah, which is co-fermented with a touch of Viognier to add floral aromas and silky texture; Black Bart Marsanne; and Black Bart’s Bride, a blend of marsanne, viognier and chardonnay named after the bandit’s mysterious amour. In select years, winemaker Nigel Kinsman also makes a Black Bart Syrah Rose and Syrah Port.

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Stagecoach Vineyard, a desert mountain vineyard with potential buried beneath boulders and chaparral.

September 9, 2009

From Desert Mountainscape to Iconic Vineyard

Krupp Brothers Transform a Desert Mountainscape into a Napa Valley Vineyard Icon

When Dr. Jan Krupp purchased a 41-acre property high in the eastern hills of Napa Valley, he had no idea how many odds were stacked against him. A Bay Area internist with a green thumb and a hunger for the joy he once felt working his uncle’s Virginia farm, Krupp ignored the warning signs “presenting” on his barren acreage and paid attention instead to the property’s unplumbed potential.

Stagecoachtourboulders.jpg It was 1991, six years before the breakout vintage of Napa Valley Cabernet on Atlas Peak and Pritchard Hill’s eastern mountain slopes – the year that launched Maya and David Arthur into the cult wine world.  Jan had a desert mountain landscape on Atlas Peak and Pritchard Hill with no power, no known water sources and no legal right of access, yet all he could see was the potential buried beneath boulders and chaparral.  It was more than just a feeling; Krupp had been immersed in garage winemaking long enough to know the shallow red volcanic soils of these south-facing slopes rising into and over the fogline were ideal for growing intense berries rich with mineral and mountain flavors.

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From Desert Mountainscape to Iconic Vineyard

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May 22, 2009

Wine God at Stagecoach Tasting

How I Tasted 95 "2008" Wines From Stagecoach Vineyard and Lived To Tell The Tale
by Roy Piper, eRobertparker.com

I remember back before I moved to Napa, on one of my excursions here, I found my way up to Stagecoach Vineyard above Oakville East. I had read all about the development of the property in the excellent book “The Winemaker’s Dance” and wanted to see the place for myself. I remember thinking when I got there that there is no way one would ever really get a handle on the massive estate and that it would be near impossible to figure out if there was any thread of “somewhere-ness” or terroir that one could sense on such an unwieldy property.

Little did I know that owner Jan Krupp has been holding annual winemaker tastings for eight years, where most of the winemakers who source fruit every year get together at Coles Chop House in Napa to pour their wines and compare notes. I was fortunate to be invited to this years gathering, held over two consecutive Thursdays. The first was all non-Cabernet varietals and the second Thursday was an all-Cab affair.

In total, I tried 95 wines from the 2008 vintage from probably close to 20 producers, each with their own winemaking style, goals and methods. After each flight of 5-8 wines, each winemaker would comment on what they thought, how they made the wine, thoughts about their block and then field questions. It was a fascinating experience, both hedonistically and intellectually.

THE VINEYARD
The property itself is East and slightly South of Prichard Hill and Oakville East. It shares similar soils overall with those regions but is slightly cooler. This is a generalization though, as in listening to the various winemakers present, soil and orientation can vary one block to the next and have enormous impact. A few spots can get really hot and others are more like Atlas Peak in their coolness. This kind of mystery is one any Pinot lover or vineyard geek would enjoy, as figuring out the best little pockets to plant and how vineyards blocks can vary one step fall to the next is part of the fun. There are over 500 acres planted on the 1200-acre property and they are not done! Using Google Earth I calculated the planted area to be two miles in length by .85 miles in width. This is almost the distance from Mustards in Yountville to Mondavi winery in length and from Mondavi to the Mayacamas Mountains in width. All this between 900-1700 foot altitudes on extremely rocky soil. A sight to behold. Although Cabernet is the mainstay, the vineyard also has all the other Bordeaux varietals as well as Viognier, Marsanne, Syrah, Petite and Zin.

THE WINES
There is no way I could reprint all 95 tasting notes, but here are my favorites, categorized by producer. Each producer gets their own block or blocks and makes their own call on picking time.

Continue reading "Wine God at Stagecoach Tasting"

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September 22, 2008

Serial Entrepreneur Launches Napa Wine

AOL-TIME WARNER FORMER CEO, BARRY SCHULER,
ADDS NAPA WINE TO ENTREPRENEURIAL PANOPLY

Barry Schuler has worn his reputation for pioneering new territory from his alma mater, Rutgers, to Silicon Valley. So, last week when he proudly announced the inaugural release of his 2005 Meteor Vineyard Estate and Special Family Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon, no one was surprised to learn that his 22-acre vineyard was located in the lesser known southeastern hills of Napa County.

Planted in 1998, Meteor's highly sought after fruit has sold to a handful of high-profile properties including: Arietta, Etude, Lail, Favia and Vineyard 29. Rocky soils, Meteor's undulating topography and the cooling influences of nearby San Pablo Bay give Meteor fruit slow, even ripening in the most challenging of years.

Meteor's first offering is being sold principally through the mailing list with a small allocation reserved for restaurants frequented by the globe-trotting Barry and Tracy Strong Schuler. To purchase 2005 Meteor Vineyard Estate Cabernet Sauvignon or the 2005 Meteor Vineyard Special Family Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon, call 707-258-2900 or email info@meteorvineyard.com.

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We think our wine is all about terroir, manifesting the tremendous complexity of this appellation. Internationally acclaimed photographer Lewis deSoto shares these images of our Stags Leap Ranch from his appellation series to be unveiled sometime next year.

September 9, 2008

Indian Summer BBQ

September announced itself with 100-degree temperatures here in Napa Valley's Stags Leap district. We'll finish off the month with plenty of Indian Summer barbecues tossing quail, garden vegetables and, our personal favorite, lamb, on the grill.

Lamb and Petite Syrah contitute one of those peerless food and wine pairings. We hope you'll stock up on Quixote Petite Syrah and the best lamb you can find to fortify both cellar and larder for these last days of outdoor entertaining before welcoming the crisp days of autumn.

Here's are a few links to create your own Indian Summer BBQ:

Sonoma Direct - Grass-fed, family farmed and sustainably raised lamb.

Quixote Petite Syrah - Organically-farmed Stags’ Leap Ranch estate petite syrah.

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From top left to bottom right: Bryant Terry, award-winning eco chef, food justice activist, and author hosts the 'Seeds' group; Barry Schuler, serial entrepreneur and Meteor Vineyards owner; Taste3 host Margrit Mondavi with Gordon Heuther on her insider tour; Chef Chris Cosentino prepares beef heart carpaccio for the audience to taste. (Photos by Elise Bauer and Ashley Teplin)

July 24, 2008

Report from Taste3

Last week Robert Mondavi Winery hosted the third annual TED-inspired TASTE3 at COPIA in Napa’s Oxbow District.  For us, this super-charged brain spa is an annual ritual around which we will juggle work, vacations and pretty much anything else.  In other words, it’s a must. In fact, we suggest you register now for next year’s TASTE3 , scheduled to run for three days beginning May 31, 2009.

To give you a taste of what to expect, here are a few things I learned at TASTE3 2008:


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Vintners John Conover of Cade and Plumpjack and Carl Doumani of Quixote joined in a little friendly wine combat this week pitting Cabernet Sauvignon against Petite Syrah as the top pairing for grilled lamb.  KCBS Radio’s Narsai David armed himself and donned full Western regalia for the wine country picnic including a badge that mysteriously read, “Merlot.” (Photos by Drew Altizer)

June 18, 2008

Cab vs. Petite: A Different Sort of Rivalry

By Hank Shaw

A sunny day, good wine, good food and lots of good conversation. I’ve been here before. For the better part of two decades my life has revolved around the world of politics, and the setting at the Plumpjack winery Monday looked like any number of high-dollar political fundraisers I’d attended over the years. But looks can be deceiving.

For starters, the mere presence of the grilled leg of lamb and rapini greens served at lunch set this event apart: Both were better prepared than what you’d get at a typical buck-raking event. And the rapini greens? They would never be served at a Republican event (too foreign), and rapini’s bitter tang typically banishes them from Democratic menus as well. On the tables of politics, nothing should be too challenging: Political food is cheap, merely fuel for the conversation.

Good wine, however, does grace the tables of the political elite; just ask former Assembly Speaker Fabian Nunez, who got himself in trouble recently for buying too much expensive French wine. He’d have done better to spend his money on the Plumpjack cabernet sauvignon or the Quixote petite syrah, both superb wines served with the lamb.

Monday’s luncheon pitted the Quixote petite syrah against a pair of cabernets: the Plumpjack and its sister winery, CADE. Which paired better with the lamb? There were even cards for the guests to cast their vote. (No hanging chads here, though) I knew I’ve been in politics too long when I started thinking that with two evenly matched cabernets duking it out on one side, and a lone petite syrah on the other, there was a whiff of this year’s presidential race in the day’s contest. Is Obama a cab?

Continue reading "Cab vs. Petite: A Different Sort of Rivalry"

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Chris Colin's food styling expertise at hand with the infamous barbecued sock.(Photo by Chris Colin)

April 1, 2008

Sweat Sock: The Other White Meat

Is food styling all about food or styling?  I mean, is it possible to make anything look appetizing by employing a few of the stylist's secrets? Endlessly curious free-lance journalist Chris Colin examined the possibilities in his article, “Sweat Sock: The Other White Meat," for the third issue of Meatpaper Magazine. .

Sunday, March 30, I joined Chris, Meatpaper editors Amy Standen and Sasha Wizansky and several hundred of the magazine’s enthusiasts at San Francisco's Serpentine restaurant to celebrate the publication’s third issue.

Perbacco restaurant, Fra' Mani Handcrafted Salumi , wine educator and author Courtney Cochran, were on hand to pour wine and talk about the splendid pairings of syrah and petite syrah with meat. Meyer Family Cellars, Pretense, and Verge were a few of the wines being poured at Serpentine.

Click here for an exclusive glimpse into issue three of Meatpaper with Chris's commentary on the art of food styling.

Click on the below links for images from the Meatpaper release event:
Meatpaper Flickr Link
Bici Girl Meatpaper Flickr Link
Studio-707 Meatpaper Flickr Link


-Ashley Teplin

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Historic stone walls frame Meteor Vineyard in Napa's Tulocay region. (Photo by John McJunkin)

February 18, 2008

Acclaimed Internet Pioneer Barry Schuler
Launches New Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvginon

February 2008, NAPA, CA.—Former America Online Chairman and CEO Barry Schuler announced this week that he will release a new Napa Valley cabernet sauvignon under the label Meteor Vineyard this Spring.  Trade and press will taste 2006 Meteor Vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon from barrel for the first time this week at Premier Napa Valley.  The winemakers for Meteor Vineyard are Dawnine Sample Dyer and her husband Bill Dyer, who are 50 percent partners in this venture.

Schuler likens his first-ever Napa Valley wine country experience decades ago to a lightening bolt shooting through his body.  He says he knew then that one day he would grow grapes here.  In 1998, after pioneering a succession of new technologies in the Internet world, Schuler and his family established the 22-acre Meteor Vineyard property in the southeastern hills of the Napa Valley where the Tulocay AVA is currently pending.  The property is named for Medior Inc, the multimedia development company founded by Schuler and eventually acquired by AOL.

Schuler is best known for leading the AOL team that simplified the online service provider’s user interface, making it possible for millions of consumers to gain easy access to the internet.  In recent years, while developing his new Napa vineyard, Schuler started Raydiance Inc. to develop commercial applications for ultra-short pulse lasers to be used for tumor ablation and tattoo removal, among other things. In collaboration with Adam Rifkin and Brad Wyman, he also co-produced and helped finance, “Look,” a film shot entirely from the point of view of surveillance cameras.

Michael Wolf was retained by the Schulers to develop their vineyard property, which benefits from San Francisco Bay breezes and is characterized by a mix of well-draining river rock and mineral-rich volcanic ash suited to Bordeaux varietals, including cabernet sauvignon.

Meteor Vineyard is a compilation of three clones of cabernet sauvignon grafted onto different rootstocks.  Just 25 percent of the vineyard’s fruit is used to craft the Meteor Vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon.  The balance of the property’s grapes are sold to a handful of high-profile properties including: Arietta, Etude, Lail, Favia and Vineyard 29. 

The 2005 Meteor Cabernet Sauvignon will be sold primarily to those on the Meteor Vineyard mailing list, with a small allocation going to distribution channels later in the year. ####


 

Click here for the Meteor Vineyard fact sheet.

Click here for the Meteor Vineyard technical sheets.


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Kosher cookbook author Judy Zeidler and restaurateur husband Marvin prepared a feast of short ribs for L'Chaim auction high bidders Monty and Sara Preiser Sunday at Quixote Winery.

February 13, 2008

Famed Kosher Cookbook Author Judy Zeidler Prepares a Feast for L'Chaim, Celebration of Life

Quixote Winery hosted a Celebration of Life lunch this past weekend with winery owners Carl Doumani and Pam Hunter joining Kosher cookbook author Judy Zeidler and her restaurateur husband Marvin in the kitchen.  The lunch was an auction lot purchased by Monty and Sara Preiser of Florida and the Napa Valley at the 2007 L’Chaim benefit. 

L’Chaim Napa Valley was created to ensure the continuation of L’Chaim Napa Valley’s Annual Jewish Vintners’ Celebration.  This 3-day charitable event, now in it’s third year, showcases the contributions of Jewish Vintners in the Napa Valley, realizes support for charitable organizations in the Napa Valley, and brings members of the Jewish community from all over the world together in a broad-based philanthropic effort.  This year the Jewish Vintners Celebration will be held the weekend of June 20-22, 2008.

Zeidler is the author of The Gourmet Jewish Cookbook, The 30-minute Kosher Cook, Judy Zeidler’s International Deli Cookbook, Master Chefs Cook Kosher and host of the Jewish Life television show, Judy’s Kitchen.  This year she expects to release a new work based on 30 years of culinary research in Italy.  Sunday’s lunch combined recipes she has collected and refined over many years in her popular Brentwood cooking school.

She began with her famously moist gourgeres and an onion-anchovy pizza while guests sipped Doumani’s 2004 Panza Grenache-Mourvedre. Husband Marvin stepped up for the first course of a puree of pea and bean soup topped with a parmesan zabaglione.  Judy accompanied this course with homemade oven-baked potato chips she learned to make from Nadia Santini at Dal Pescatore in Italy.  Next came a risotto drizzled with Quixote’s petite syrah and the big event of the day, Judy’s justifiably famous short rib and vegetable casserole perfectly paired with the 2001 Quixote Petite Syrah.

Sighs were heard all around when dessert appeared, a walnut torte en croute that is sinfully rich. Doumani accompanied this with his 2001 Quixote Cabernet Sauvignon at the urging of the Zeidlers.  

Guests for the day included David and Emily Miner of Miner Vineyards and James Hall and Ann Moses of Patz and Hall.  The volunteer crew was comprised of Christy and Peter Palmisano and Jerry and Amy Giaquinta.

To view the photos from the event please go to our flickr page : http://www.flickr.com/photos/studio-707

Click here for Judy's recipes from the luncheon.


Click here to view The Presier Key.

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Images courtesy of Meyer Family Cellars.

January 29, 2008

Your Port In A Storm for Valentine's Day

Napa Valley confectioner Penelope Orsini makes chocolate truffles in exotic flavors from yuzu to coconut.  For Valentine’s Day, she teams up with Yorkville Highlands winemaker Karen Meyer to create gift packs of port-infused chocolate truffles and Meyer Family Cellars Port. 

To order visit: Meyer Family Cellars online store.

Both working moms met their husbands in the line of duty.  Australia-born Karen Meyer met husband Matt while interning at an Oregon winery.  Penelope met chef husband Dominic in the restaurant world.  Today, Karen and Penelope have their young offspring nearby as they work.  Karen says daughter Sidney supervised her first crush last year and Penelope is pretty sure son Giovanni has strong opinions about chocolate.

Find out more about Meyer Family Cellars at www.meyerfamilycellars.com, and Penelope's chocolate truffles at www.penelopejane.com.

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Photo by John McJunkin

December 3, 2007

Fireside croutons with Meyer Family Port

Aren’t holidays the reason we’re looking for to share time with friends and family?

Wonderful though dinner parties may be, sometimes a glass of port and warm nosh enjoyed fireside is a sublime way to savor the season.

We’ve harvested the fruits of three family farmsteads for a fireside party along with an original recipe to unite them. Meyer Family Cellars’ California port is the legacy of Silver Oak Cellars’ late founder Justin Meyer for his family. Son, Matt, with his Australian wife Karen are the winemakers at the Yorkville Highlands winery and literally live over the winery with their daughter Sidney.

Point Reyes Original Blue Cheese is made at the fourth-generation Giacomini dairy just north of San Francisco. Like the Meyer Family, the Giacominis have lived the story Americans love best, beginning with the sparest of resources—10 cows and a few chickens. By 1998 four Giacomini daughters, Karen, Diana, Lynn and Jill, had moved away for college, careers, to marry and to have children of their own. A shared commitment to farm fresh food brought them home to create and breathe life into a vision that would give the family dairy new life and fulfill their father’s dream. It is Original Blue, California’s only classic-style blue cheese.

Finally, Chandler walnuts were developed by the University of California, Davis. This variety is more inclined to retain integrity in shelling making it a pretty appetizer or dessert ingredient. Chandlers are low in acid, giving them an appealing buttery flavor. John and Linda Patrick grow Red Barn Chandler Walnuts on their 128-acre ranch.

So that’s our holiday party in a box. Pop the cork on a bottle of Meyer Family Port, cook up a batch of croutons and build yourself a roaring fire.

Happy Holidays.

To create your fireside holiday party you will need:
Meyer Family Port, Point Reyes Original Blue Cheese, and Red Barn Chandler Walnuts

To make your own fireside croutons:

Fireside Croutons

30 servings

6.5 ounces Point Reyes Original Blue Cheese
¾ cup cream
1 ½ cups halved Red Barn Chandler Walnuts
1 cup Meyer Family Port
1 tablespoon olive oil
½ cup walnut oil
¼ cup shallots, minced
1 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1 tablespoon honey
1 baguette
1 bunch sage
Sea salt and pepper to taste

  • Preheat oven to 350°F.  Place walnuts on a baking sheet and toast until golden brown, approximately 12 minutes.
  • When the walnuts are fully toasted, cool and rough chop.
  • In a sauté pan over medium heat, add 1 tablespoon of olive oil and ½ tablespoon of walnut oil. Add shallots and sauté.
  • Add the chopped walnuts, cayenne pepper, honey, and Meyer Family Port to the sauté pan with the cooked shallots. Reduce about half, until it is syrup like consistency.
  • Emulsify the blue cheese and cream in a food processor, season with salt and pepper.
  • Cut the baguette along the bias and season in a bowl with the rest of the walnut oil, salt and pepper.
  • Toast baguette slices in a 350°F oven until golden brown, remove and cool.
  • Add a tablespoon of the blue cheese mixture on top of each baguette slice.
  • Top with a good teaspoon of the Meyer Family Port, shallot, and walnut confit.
  • Garnish with chiffonade of sage.

Recipe by Ashley Teplin, Studio-707

 

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Photo by Elise Bauer, Simply Recipes

November 28, 2007

Holidays and Magnums

Another year has passed, another harvest. One more vintage is in the barrel. So, now we celebrate. It’s the holiday season again and at Quixote that means it’s time to offer you something special to complete the seasonal picture – our large format bottles.

The truth is we bottle very little of our wine in large formats. That’s why you don’t see the big bottles listed on our website order page or offered at winery visits. But when the holiday season arrives, when the air is crisp and the vines are golden, we are inspired to open our library and share the wealth.

What does this mean to you?

It means you have one final shot at special wines like the 2001 Quixote Petite Syrah, a dynamic vintage only now beginning to reveal its true character, even though it is still a young 6 years old. We have five cases, or 30 of the 2001 magnums available for purchase.

We have some 2002s and some 2003s, both the Panza blended versions and the Quixote 100-percent varietal versions. And for those of you who only discovered us since our grand opening in February we have a couple cases of magnums from our initial two vintages, the 1999 petite syrah and the 2000 petite syrah and cabernet sauvignon.

They are available now first come, first served.

We also have a limited supply of our popular Grenache-Mourvedre blend in the 750 ml format, an excellent pairing partner with that requisite turkey.

Although these wines are all still young, they should behave well in the company of that cassoulet or those braised ribs. Think about it.

Click here to purchase Quixote magnums.

Happy holidays.

Posted by Pamela at 9:42 AM | Comments (0) | Share on Facebook | Cabernet Sauvignon, Hundertwasser, Napa Valley Wines, Organic, Petite Sirah, Quixote, Stags Leap Wine


 

November 13, 2007

Quixotic We Are. Twisted We're Not.

By Lew Price, Quixote Winery

We specialize in petite syrah in the heart of cabernet country and yes, we bottle our entire production under twist-off caps.

Now, it turns out our belief that the screw-cap is the best closure for our fine wine is not at all twisted. We have company, a growing legion who have discovered as we did that a twist-off closure is the finest seal for quality wines.

Maison Jean-Claude Boisset, one of Burgundy’s largest wine merchants, bottled half its 2005 Chambertin with twist-off caps. That’s a $200 grand cru now cork free. Boisset decided to make the move after comparing 30-year-old wines sealed with corks against the same wines sealed under twist-off caps and deciding the capped wines offered more consistent quality and better fruit and freshness retention. “The future of great wines is with screw caps,’’ Boisset winemaker Gregory Patriat told Wine Spectator.

And that’s not all. Wine Spectator columnist, Matt Kramer, wrote in the magazine’s Oct. 31 issue of the results of a study conducted at a Bordeaux university that again confirmed that wines bottled under a twist-off cap generally emerge fresher and fruitier with more precise flavor definition. The study also suggested that the argument that screw-caps retard the aging process may lack merit, proving that there is oxygen ingress with the metal cap. “Screw caps sealed in more oxygen during bottling than did other closures because oxygen remained underneath the screw cap when it was attached to the bottle,” Kramer wrote. “Researchers found that when in place, screw caps allowed the ingress of consistent low amounts of oxygen.’’

More support followed Nov.6 when Wine Spectator’s Jim Laube, in an online blog, revealed that tasters at the magazine tasted 3,600 wines in 2007 and found 325 bottles flawed by bad corks, a failure rate of about 9 percent.

“I know cork producers insist they are cleaning up their acts,”Laube wrote. “But our results, all from blind tastings, suggest the problem is as serious as ever and maybe worse. At 9 percent, you’re close to having one bad bottle per 12-bottle case spoiled and that’s absurd. If you add in the 193 wines we tasted out of twist-offs, it raises the percentage of bad bottles even higher, to 9.5 percent.

“I blame wine producers as much as cork makers for this problem, since they are the ones that choose what to seal their wines and the failure rate of corks is pathetic. We keep hearing the same old refrain about corks that progress is being made. But if a 9-percent failure rate is considered progress, I wonder what percentage cork makers would consider a disaster?”

The bottom line, the evidence says, is that wines under screw cap age exceptionally.

But those are researchers speaking. Don’t take their word for it. Form your own opinion. Compare our 2002 Quixote Petite Syrah, of which there remain only a few dozen cases, against the newly released 2004 and see for yourself.

To order both wines. click here: www.quixotewinery.com or call us at 707-944-2659.

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Photo by, John McJunkin

November 7, 2007

Artists, Architects & Innovators Visit Quixote

Winemaking art collectors Norman and Norah Stone lit up the international art scene when they unveiled Stonescape on Calistoga’s Diamond Mountain in the Napa Valley.

With art-loving guests jetting in for the crisp harvest weekend, Meadowood’s wine director Gilles de Chambure led a day-long side tour to Quixote Winery and Harlan Estates.

Soaking up Friedensreich Hundertwasser’s colorful architecture at Quixote pictured here (left to right) are:
Gilles de Chambure, MS, Meadowood’s Director of Wine Education; Howard Karawan, COO of Fontainebleau Resorts, and Jo Karawan, of Fort Lauderdale; architect Abigail Turin and Jonathan Gans, of San Francisco; host Pamela Hunter; art collector Peter Norton, founder of Peter Norton Publishing and the Peter Norton Family Foundation, and Gwen Norton, of New York City; fashion writer Jennifer Magdalene Raiser; Helen Hilton Raiser of SFMOMA; sculptor Michele Oka Doner and art advisor Ethan Wagner of New York City.

Stonescape Cabernet Sauvignon is made for the Stones at Quixote Winery.

Posted by Pamela at 4:18 PM | Comments (0) | Share on Facebook | Napa Valley Wines, Organic, Petite Sirah, Quixote, Stags Leap Wine


 
image courtsey Quintessa

October 24, 2007

A veteran wine maker who bears watching

By Holly Hubbard Preston
Friday, October 19, 2007

OAKVILLE, California: 'The life of a vintner is probably the most personally life-consuming of all businesses that I know of," said Agustin Huneeus, settling into an upholstered armchair in the high-ceilinged living room of his Napa Valley home. "Your person has to be out there."

That may go a long way to explaining why after nearly five decades, Huneeus, 73, is still in the game. The Chilean native has turned around troubled wineries in Chile (Concha y Toro) and California (Franciscan Vineyards, now owned by Constellation Brands) and restructured the multibillion-dollar wine division of Seagram.

Today, he and his wife of 44 years, Valeria, a viticulturist with a doctoral degree in biochemistry, own Huneeus Vintners, which owns the well-regarded Veramonte vineyards in Chile and Quintessa Estate in the Napa Valley.

The couple and their son, Agustin Francisco, actively manage both wineries, dividing their time between Chile and Napa. Veramonte, a winery created in 1990 with its flagship label Primus, pushed Chile's Casablanca Valley into the limelight, while Quintessa, a blend of Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot, has secured a place among the Napa Valley's top estate wines.

Those who know wine, and Huneeus's career, say that his moves bear watching. Huneeus is a "quiet kind of planner," said Karen MacNeil, author of "Wine Bible" and an authority on all things grape. "He combines phenomenal business acumen with an almost intuitive sense of where the wine industry is headed."

"Agustin Huneeus is one of the most successful entrepreneurs in the wine business," said Chris Fehrnstrom, president of Icon Estates in Napa, formerly known as Franciscan Estates until it was purchased by Icon's parent, Constellation. His "intuition and intellectual curiosity results in his ability to 'see' opportunities where others don't."

The son of a Chilean fishing industry magnate, Huneeus entered the wine business in 1960 at the age of 23 by purchasing a majority stake in Concha y Toro, which was founded by one of his ancestors in 1883. The move was intended as a short-term investment: Huneeus, as acting managing director, planned to liquidate the winery and hold onto its land. But the more he studied the winery, the more excited he became by its export prospects throughout the Americas.

Over the next 11 years, Huneeus transformed the winery from a jug wine producer into an export label, complete with foil-sealed corks and European-style glass bottles.

When Huneeus gave up the winery in 1971, it was not for profit but politics: Salvador Allende, a Socialist, had been elected president of Chile. Huneeus handed the winery over to the state and left for a job in Argentina working for Seagram, taking his young family with him.

"At that time, we thought maybe socialism was a way to give these people a better life," he said.

Seagram quickly tapped Huneeus to lead its global wine division, a sprawling fiefdom of 16 wineries spread across eight counties. After creating the first consolidated balance sheet for the division, he discovered it was losing money.

"It was a time when the corporate strategy among beverage companies was to buy whatever it could," he said. "The digestion part was not being done adequately."

Huneeus stayed at Seagram for six years, during which time the wine division became profitable.

Perhaps because of his dual background in private wineries and big beverage companies, Huneeus is circumspect on the subject of corporate ownership of wineries, a hot topic in world wine making centers.

"The instincts of the corporation run counter to wine industry," Huneeus said. "The corporation wants to have brands and market share and control of the distribution channel, and the wine industry does not inherently operate that way."

He believes that modern beverage corporations understand the importance of personal history and local flavor in wine making, which is why, he said, they are now making greater efforts to give autonomy to their individual wine holdings.

As for his own business, Huneeus wants his son to take over and grow it as he sees fit. His own preference, though, is clear.

"The corporate way," he said, "is not how I want to go."


Editor’s Note: For additional information contact Pam Hunter- 707-258-1699 x 15 or admin@studio-707.com
[Posted: 10/22/2007]

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October 3, 2007

How many people does it take to crush a grape?


Not every cluster of grapes is as perfect as the ones you buy at the market.

A dozen people stand on Quintessa’s crush pad at dawn during harvest to usher every single grape through the winery roof, into the gravity-fed tanks below.
Grape-filled bins arrive from the surrounding estate vineyards and Hugo, the crush foreman and Quintessa's longest employee with 17 years, drives the fork lift and dumps the quarter-ton bins onto the first sorting table.


Just after they're picked from Quintessa vineyards, the grapes make their way to the cluster sorting table, any imperfect clusters are removed.

Every bin of grapes harvested at Quintessa goes through a rigourous sorting process.After the grapes clusters are sorted, they go through the destemmer to remove the stems.

Eleven others stand around the two conveyor tables which move slowly as they hand sort individual clusters and grape berries not once, but twice, removing unripened or overripened grapes and any stems that remain on the belt.
After all that love, those grapes get a light squeeze as they pass through the roller crusher through the winery roof and into the oak or steel fermentation tanks below.


Next, the grapes are ushered to the shaker table, a vibrating table that lets tiny unripened or
shriveled berries drop away. Hand sorting continues to remove any remaining shot or dehydrated
berries and stem bits.


Finally, after no fewer than a dozen hands have touched them, the grapes fo through th roof, fed by
gravity, to the fermentation tanks inside the winery.


Where is the best place to get up-close and personal with the Napa Valley grape harvest? It’s at Quintessa, where every morning and some early afternoon tours see the action on every by-appointment only tour.  
 

File written by Adobe Photoshop® 5.0
The Winery at Quintessa      

In 2002, Valeria and Agustin Huneeus' dream of the Quintessential Wine Estate, one vineyard that produces one singular estate wine, was realized with the opening of the winery at Quintessa. Walker Warner Architects of San Francisco designed the winery to reflect Agustin and Valeria Huneeus' desire for an inconspicuous structure that would blend into the contours of the property. The graceful crescent-shaped design was carefully considered for its environmental sensitivity and fits snugly into an eastern-facing hillside, disrupting little in the way of the aesthetics or natural beauty of the property. A facade of indigenous stone and natural landscaping of native plants and oak trees creates a subtle presence amidst the diverse terrain.

Winemaking Facilities 

Quintessa is truly a "winemaker's winery." The design facilitates a gravity-flow process and a state-of-the-art winery specifically tailored with fermenters and tanks sized to match the diverse blocks in the Quintessa vineyard. Additionally, the winery at Quintessa is outfitted with the latest in winemaking technology. French oak and stainless steel fermenters stand tall along the winery's front wall, providing the winemaking team with a choice of characteristics adding complexity and subtlety to the blend. Two Vaslin-Bucher JLB automated basket presses, designed to retain the benefits of gentle basket pressing while incorporating new efficiency and precision, are situated at the center of the tank room to receive the grape must following fermentation and maceration. At the heart of the winery and overlooking the tanks and presses below, sits the glass-enclosed blending room and adjoining modern lab where the winemaking progress is painstakingly monitored daily.

Behind the press hall lies the main entrance to Quintessa's caves, 1,200 linear feet (17,000 square feet) of caves and tunnels carved into the volcanic ash hillside directly behind the winery. Here the wine is left to age in French oak barrels in ideal cellaring conditions for 16-20 months before bottling. Quintessa's caves can be entered through one of four porticos from the winery and have a capacity to store up to 3000 barrels.

Address: 1601 Silverado Trail, Rutherford, CA 94574
  P.O. Box 505, Rutherford, CA 94573
   
Telephone: 707-967-1601
   
Tasting appointment: Visitors are welcome by appointment only. Tasting fee is $35 a person. Tours are offered at 10:30 a.m., 12:30 p.m., and 2:30 p.m.
 
Website: www.quintessa.com
 
Architecture: Walker and Warner Architects
 
Proprietors: Agustin and Valeria Huneeus
 
Acreage: 280 acres of which 170 acres are planted
 
Consulting Winemaker: Aaron Pott
 
Director of Vineyards and Winemaking: Charles Thomas
 
Viticulturist Michael Sipiora
 
Varietals planted: Classic Bordeaux grape varieties in 26 vineyard blocks as follows: Cabernet Sauvignon (129 acres), Merlot (26 acres), Cabernet Franc (7 acres), Petit Verdot (4 acres), and Carmenere (4 acres)
 
Sales Inquiry: Jim Sweeney, Managing Director
 
Marketing Inquiry: Gwen McGill, Director of Marketing and Public Relations
 
Hospitality Inquiry: Lora McCarthy, Director of Hospitality
   


Editor’s Note: For additional information contact Pam Hunter- 707-258-1699 x 15 or admin@studio-707.com
[Posted:10/3/2007]

Posted by Pamela at 2:48 PM | Comments (1) | Share on Facebook | Biodynamic Farming, Napa Valley Wines, Quintessa, Rutherford


 

September 25, 2007

Justin Meyer's Love of Port Lives On

Today’s worldwide craze for Napa Valley cabernet sauvignon owes a lot to vintner Justin Meyer. The former Christian Brothers winemaker co-founded Silver Oak Cellars in 1972, crafting nothing but cabs – and the wine-drinking world beat a path to his door, making Silver Oak the valley’s first cult winery.


Meyer Family Vineyards in Yorkville Highlands attracts wine buyers who enjoy a picnic, especially for the fall harvest and spring wild flower show.  Picnic tables are provided, provisions are available nearby and the Meyers generously provide a bocce ball court for the sporting among their following.
Photos by Faith Echtermeyer

The same love for life that led Meyer out of religious orders and into the wider world of wine made him a popular Napa resident who earned new friends wherever he traveled.

“We can’t go anywhere without people telling me stories about my father,” said Meyer’s son Matt.  “So many people have such nice things to say about him, wherever I go.”

Along with the cabs that put Oakville on the map, Meyer had another passion, one with roots reaching back to his days as a Christian Brother at the order’s St. Helena winery: making port.

Birth of a brand
Meyer was well-known to love a glass of port with a good cigar; but nobody – least of all his own family – expected him to announce, one day in 1987, that he’d bought a batch of barreled tawny port from his old order. The Meyer Family brand made its debut when Meyer began selling his port at Silver Oak a few years later.

Unlike vintage ports, Meyer Family is made in the solera style more commonly associated with sherry: New zinfandel from old vines is blended in each year for the five to six years it spends in barrels.



Meyer Family Cellars port and syrah.
Photos by John McJunkin

Once the port is bottled, another three years will pass before it is released for sale. The result of this patient aging is a silky and fragrant port with warm-spice aromas and a long, concentrated finish.

Family continues the tradition
Justin Meyer died in 2002, a few years after establishing the Meyer Family Cellars winery in the Yorkville Highlands district of Mendocino County’s rural Anderson Valley. His son Matt and daughter-in-law Karen Meyer now live and raise their young daughter Sidney above the winery, where the couple works together on nearly every aspect of the business.



Karen and Sidney Meyer on left. Matt and Sidney at her first filtering on right.
Photos by Faith Echtermeye
r

The Meyers now make a cool-climate syrah, an Oakville cab and, of course, the port that started it all. Each year they bottle just 20 percent of the port, aged to Justin Meyer’s specifications to produce a smooth, rich elixir that pairs companionably with everything from cheese and nuts to the good cigars he loved.

Meyer Family Cellars is open to the public for tasting, picnics and bocce at 19750 Highway 128 in Yorkville Highlands; call 707-895-2341 for current hours. ###

Map to the winery

Images of the Meyer Family Cellars


Editor’s Note: For additional information contact Pam Hunter- 707-258-1699 x 15 or admin@studio-707.com
[Posted:9/25/2007]

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September 13, 2007

Harvest check list for Quintessa

Sauvignon Blanc harvested, fermenting nicely
Silverdale South Merlot night harvest in progress
September 22 Equinox fast approaching

Was this Michael Sipiora's check list upon waking in the pre-dawn today?  

It might have been.  Last week’s high temperatures have everyone on the move here in the wine country.   As a biodynamic and organic farmer at Napa Valley's Quintessa Estate, he has a few additional considerations in mind.


The vines ready for harvest at Quintessa on August 31, 2007.

Sipiora is viticulturist for Quintessa Vineyards in Rutherford (Napa Valley), a piece of vineyard land that is in itself somewhat remarkable.  In 1989 co-proprietor Valeria Huneeus identified these 280 acres as the last great undeveloped property in the Napa Valley. On land never before farmed, she saw a great wine estate with rolling hills, myriad microclimates and a vast diversity of complex soil types. Now, 18 years later, Quintessa is home to a respected wine estate.  Valeria has been its vineyard master (or mistress?), laying out and planting the vineyard blocks and determining with certitude that Quintessa would be chemical free.



From L to R, these wooden boxes provide shelter for the bees at Quintessa. Stinging Nettle and Chamomile grow in their biodynamic gardens and are made into tea.

Today Michael Sipiora is the devoted steward of this property.  He lives in a world of Stinging Nettle tea, algae extracts, kelp meal,  and humic acids.  He thinks about vemicompost from the Sonoma Valley Worm Farm to add organic matter and micro-organisms to the soil. And yucca, aloe, algae and quartz to protect his vines from extreme heat, among other things.

EARLY JULY
Thinned as much as 3 tons per acre before the ripening process really kicked in.

Applied biodynamic 501 preparation on fruit days, a solution with quarts that is applied to foliage to stimulate the ripening process.  This application was made when the moon was in Leo.  Leo is associated with fruiting.  According to biodynamic theory, the processes in the plant are heightened during this period.
   
AUGUST
Applied stinging nettle tea with algae extracts, kelm meal and humic acids to combat leafhoppers in some blocks.

Used this same tea in the drip irrigation system to rejuvenate the soils, add nutrients, plant hormones and help the elements in the soil to bind.  This proved particularly beneficial on the rocky hillsides where organic matter is at a minimum.

SEPTEMBER-OCTOBER
Harvest.

SEPTEMBER 22
Summer Equinox.  With the help of the cows who reside permanently in the Quintessa vineyard, Michael will prepare horn manure and bury it in a small ceremony.



Tess, one of the Quintessa's two cows, provides manure for the compost pile and brings serenity to the property.

REPLANTING
After 17 years of grape farming, Quintessa has embarked on a re-planting schedule for some of its 26 different vineyard blocks. At the north end of the property, Michael is preparing the Limelight block for replanting.   His objective is to change the rootstock, clone, row orientation and spacing. Last year mustard, rapes, and many kinds of grasses and cover crops were planted.  In the spring the soil was tilled.  Biodynamic compost, rock phosphate and lime were added to introduce magnesium and raise the ph.  Now the land lies fallow for a year (no fumigation!) to reduce nematode populations. In Quintessa's continuing search for quality, Silverdale North will be ripped out at the end of harvest and added to the replant schedule.

File written by Adobe Photoshop® 5.0
The Winery at Quintessa      

In 2002, Valeria and Agustin Huneeus' dream of the Quintessential Wine Estate, one vineyard that produces one singular estate wine, was realized with the opening of the winery at Quintessa. Walker Warner Architects of San Francisco designed the winery to reflect Agustin and Valeria Huneeus' desire for an inconspicuous structure that would blend into the contours of the property. The graceful crescent-shaped design was carefully considered for its environmental sensitivity and fits snugly into an eastern-facing hillside, disrupting little in the way of the aesthetics or natural beauty of the property. A facade of indigenous stone and natural landscaping of native plants and oak trees creates a subtle presence amidst the diverse terrain.

Winemaking Facilities 

Quintessa is truly a "winemaker's winery." The design facilitates a gravity-flow process and a state-of-the-art winery specifically tailored with fermenters and tanks sized to match the diverse blocks in the Quintessa vineyard. Additionally, the winery at Quintessa is outfitted with the latest in winemaking technology. French oak and stainless steel fermenters stand tall along the winery's front wall, providing the winemaking team with a choice of characteristics adding complexity and subtlety to the blend. Two Vaslin-Bucher JLB automated basket presses, designed to retain the benefits of gentle basket pressing while incorporating new efficiency and precision, are situated at the center of the tank room to receive the grape must following fermentation and maceration. At the heart of the winery and overlooking the tanks and presses below, sits the glass-enclosed blending room and adjoining modern lab where the winemaking progress is painstakingly monitored daily.

Behind the press hall lies the main entrance to Quintessa's caves, 1,200 linear feet (17,000 square feet) of caves and tunnels carved into the volcanic ash hillside directly behind the winery. Here the wine is left to age in French oak barrels in ideal cellaring conditions for 16-20 months before bottling. Quintessa's caves can be entered through one of four porticos from the winery and have a capacity to store up to 3000 barrels.

Address: 1601 Silverado Trail, Rutherford, CA 94574
  P.O. Box 505, Rutherford, CA 94573
   
Telephone: 707-967-1601
   
Tasting appointment: Visitors are welcome by appointment only. Tasting fee is $35 a person. Tours are offered at 10:30 a.m., 12:30 p.m., and 2:30 p.m.
 
Website: www.quintessa.com
 
Architecture: Walker and Warner Architects
 
Proprietors: Agustin and Valeria Huneeus
 
Acreage: 280 acres of which 170 acres are planted
 
Consulting Winemaker: Aaron Pott
 
Director of Vineyards and Winemaking: Charles Thomas
 
Viticulturist Michael Sipiora
 
Varietals planted: Classic Bordeaux grape varieties in 26 vineyard blocks as follows: Cabernet Sauvignon (129 acres), Merlot (26 acres), Cabernet Franc (7 acres), Petit Verdot (4 acres), and Carmenere (4 acres)
 
Sales Inquiry: Jim Sweeney, Managing Director
 
Marketing Inquiry: Gwen McGill, Director of Marketing and Public Relations
 
Hospitality Inquiry: Lora McCarthy, Director of Hospitality
   


Editor’s Note: For additional information contact Pam Hunter- 707-258-1699 x 15 or admin@studio-707.com
[Posted:9/13/2007]

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June 22, 2007

Meadowood in Napa Valley

 

 

Meadowood in Napa Valley

'Featuring Quixote Petite Syrah'

Meadowood’s Director of Wine Education Gilles de Chambure MS sends us this short segment from WinePeeks TV.

I hope you enjoy it.  Gilles is a valued wine country resource for groups hoping to gather to enhance their wine knowledge.

Pam Hunter

Editor’s Note: For additional information contact Pam Hunter- 707-258-1699 x 15 or Pamela@studio-707.com
[Posted:6/22/2007]

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May 21, 2007

Price is right for Quixote Winery


Revel Rouser:Lew Price
© Peter Menzel www.menzelphoto.com

May 21, 2007, Stags’ Leap District, Napa Valley, Ca.—In February when Quixote Winery opened for visits by appointment, Lew Price signed on as general manager and “revel rouser”.  The winery is housed in a whimsical building designed by the iconoclastic Viennese artist-environmentalist Friedensreich Hundertwasser and became an instant magnet for art and architecture enthusiasts.

Price’s winery tour proves nearly as colorful as the tiled structure itself.  He leads off with an insider’s look at the story behind the only building designed by Hundertwasser in the United States then aims the spotlight on the winery’s first love, the cultish Petite Syrah.  This is the varietal that earned accolades for the Stags’ Leap Ranch vineyard as early as 1972 when vintner Carl Doumani released one of his first renditions at Stags’ Leap Winery.

Today, Quixote Winery guests gather around a dining room table for a leisurely tasting of Petite Syrah and Cabernet Sauvignon, a few well-chosen cheeses and crusty bread.

During the past three months Price has hosted luminaries like racecar driving star Danica Patrick, Warner Brothers president Garth Ancier, and rap artist mogul Brian Turner along with Hundertwasser followers and wine collectors.

Price resides in St. Helena with his wife Lora, human resources director for Duckhorn Winery, and stepdaughter Ciandra.  He has worked on the hospitality staffs of Whitehall Lane Winery and Joseph Phelps Winery.

After five years as an editor in the New York Times Regional Newspaper Group with stops in North and South Carolina, Price spent six years covering the Los Angeles Dodgers for the Riverside Press Enterprise in Southern California.

He left the Press-Enterprise in 1996 to serve as publications director for the Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association in Colorado Springs, returning to the P-E as its golf writer in ’98.  Price, 46, was twice honored by the Southern California PGA as golf writer of the year and had the privilege of chronicling the maturation on Tiger Woods from his first appearance in a PGA Tour event at age 16 to his historic run through golf’s majors in 2000.

Editor’s Note: Images may be downloaded from: www.studio-707.com.  For additional information contact Pam Hunter- 707-258-1699 x 15 or Pamela@studio-707.com

[Posted: 5/21/2007]

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April 23, 2007

Alder Yarrow on Quixote Winery and Petite Sirah

www.vinography.com

It seems to me that as people get older, especially those who we might consider accomplished and successful, they might feel a bit more license to lighten up or to stir the pot, having already proven themselves a bit to the world. I certainly plan on being a bit more frivolous, eccentric, and quirky if I can afford to in my old age.

Napa is filled with a generation of winemakers that could easily rest on their laurels. Over the past thirty years, this group of men and women have created an industry, and most have made their own fortunes. Rather than fade into the shadows of the next generation, many of these winemakers are striking out in new directions, prompting me to coin a new bumper sticker: "Old winemakers never die. They just keep fermenting."

By all accounts, Carl Doumani has nothing to prove. The founder and original owner of Stags' Leap Winery nearly 35 years ago, Doumani has not just been around the block, he was there before the streets were paved. In those days Napa valley was such a small community that when Robert Mondavi wanted to buy some of Carl's grapes, he just showed up one day and knocked on the door. Doumani didn't know who he was, but agreed.

Even before selling Stags' Leap to Beringer in 1997 for a hefty sum, Doumani had begun planning his own personal winery with a bit of a twinkle in his eye. He had no desire to create another Stags' Leap, and instead envisioned a winery that would exemplify his interest in architecture, art, and natural form. Six years later he had a winery that looked nothing like he ever imagined, and everything he could have dreamed.

It all began with a disappointing architect. I can imagine Doumani's big, stone-mason-like hands gesturing as he tried to convey a concept to the architect he had hired to do some sketches of his new winery. Doumani is an articulate guy, but architecture is famously difficult to capture in words. For whatever reason the architect wasn't getting the picture. In one of his last disappointing interviews with the never-to-be architect, he happened to notice a calendar on the wall featuring images of sculpture unlike any he had ever seen, sculpture that perfectly captured the spirit that he wanted from his building.

The calendar celebrated the work of the Austrian artist Friedensreich Hundertwasser, a man that Doumani would spend years trying to find out how to get in touch with, and still many more months trying to convince that designing a winery for him was a good way to spend his time. What Doumani didn't know was that once Hundertwasser agreed, it would still be many more years before the winery was complete. Without relaying the whole saga, suffice it to say that Hundertwasser was a great, but easily distractible mind.

The finished product, however, is unlike any building Napa has ever seen. Architecturally its closest relatives (and indeed, direct stylistic influences on Hundertwasser) are the fantastical works of Antoni Gaudi, the virtues and fantasies of which which any Barcelona tourist can extol. Trees and grasses grow out of the roof, no two windows are the same size or shape, not a single right angle exists anywhere in the building, and Carl Doumani is one happy camper.

When Doumani hired Hundertwasser, he expected to get an architect. What he got instead was more of a winery with a patron saint -- someone whose philosophies are expressed not just in the physical structure of the building, but in the wineries whole orientation to the world. Partially because of Hundertwasser, Quixote Winery is growing its grapes organically, and the environmental footprint of the winery, from water usage to heating costs is intentionally low. And perhaps most importantly (though the winery owes this as much to Doumani as it does to Hundertwasser), the winery is simply fun.

Quixote winery is a welcome reprieve from the seriousness with which most Napa enterprises approach the world. From the wacky labels, to the walkway up front that is intentionally off-kilter, to the wildly colorful and massively expensive Italian ceramic tiles (that Hundertwasser miraculously received intact after a long ocean voyage and promptly smashed with a hammer to show that perfection was not his goal), Quixote manages to be the proper Napa incarnation of its literary namesake.

If there is one aspect of the winery that is not off tilting at windmills, it is certainly the winemaking, that progresses with deliberation and care under the watchful hands and eyes of Mario Monticelli, a UC Davis educated winemaker who consults on several small labels in the valley in addition to his full time gig at Quixote.

The winery produces around 3000 cases (and will eventually top out at around 5000) of Cabernet and Petite Sirah in 4 bottlings, two of each varietal. The lower priced wines are named Panza, after Sancho Panza, Don Quixote's ineffable sidekick, and the top wines bear the name Quixote.

With the gravitas of a grizzled veteran, Doumani will tell you that in this age of consolidation, the real future of Napa lies in small wineries -- wineries who are not afraid to do things a little differently. Gazing out from his office windows at what seems to be a perfect little ecosystem of oak trees and vines in the shadow of a golden dome of some post-cubist, semi-surreal architectural fantasy, that's pretty easy to believe.

Tasting Notes: Opaque purple in the glass with the density of ink, this wine has a tantalizing nose of smoke and black licorice aromas. In the mouth it possesses fantastic texture, slipping down the tongue with flavors of cassis, blueberry and damp earth. These flavors are supported with a skeletal structure of light, grippy tannins that propel the wine to a very nice finish.

Food Pairing: There's something about this wine that just cries out for Morcilla, traditional Spanish blood sausage, grilled with onions.

Overall Score: 9
How Much?: $55

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April 13, 2007

A Quixotic Discovery

Napa Sonoma Magazine

Spring-Summer 2007

Click to Print Article

Editor’s Note: For additional information contact Pam Hunter- 707-258-1699 x 15 or Pamela@studio-707.com

[Posted: 4/12/2007]

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March 2, 2007

Taste3 Conference Releases Video Content


Robert Mondavi Winery's inaugural Taste3 conference July 13-16, 2006 at Copia in Napa Valley was filled with thought provoking, enlightening and humorous presentations from a diverse, interdisciplinary group of speakers. We'll be releasing a selection of talks from each conference starting with these three talks from the 2006 conference.

Greg Jones, associate professor of geography at Southern Oregon University on global warming's impact on wine growing regions worldwide. (watch video)

Dan Barber, Chef/Owner, Blue Hill & Blue Hill at Stone Barns and Creative Director, Stone Barns Center for Food and Agriculture, on carrots and castration. (watch video)

Bryant Simon, Professor of History and Director of the American Studies Program at Temple University with his study of how the desires of daily life are revealed from the comfy coaches and in the drive-thru of Starbucks. (watch video)

Subscribe to receive e-mail alerts when new Taste3 video content is released along with updates on next year?s speakers and conference events.

Registration for the 2007 Taste3 conference, May 6-8 is open. Register here. www.taste3.com

Editor’s Note: For additional information contact Pam Hunter- 707-258-1699 x 15 or Pamela@studio-707.com

[Posted: 3/2/2007]

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February 11, 2007

Where the Winery Itself is a Little Tipsy

Where the Winery Itself Is a Little Tipsy

By CHRIS COLIN




HISTORICALLY American fans of the wildly eccentric artist and designer Friedensreich Hundertwasser have had to board a plane to get their fix. But for those who do make it to his colorful, biomorphic public housing masterpiece in his native Vienna, or to his sparkling, off-kilter incineration plant in Osaka, Japan, his revolutionary aesthetic tends not to disappoint. Trees are considered tenants and grow out of their own windows. Flat floors are forbidden; an uneven walking surface is “a melody to the feet.” Residents can lean out of their windows and paint anything within arm’s reach. The roof? A minor wilderness.


Starting this weekend Americans can get a taste of that aesthetic when the Quixote Winery in Napa Valley, the only Hundertwasser building
in the country, finally opens to the public. Another place to swirl a glass in Northern California would scarcely be news, but this is not just another place. Tucked up in the golden hills, away from the stately villas and incongruously ornate mansions, sits what might seem the creation of a beautifully demented child.


“People either love it or they think it’s the nuttiest thing they’ve
ever seen,” says Carl Doumani, owner of the Quixote and the man responsible for bringing Hundertwasser’s vision to California. “But I watch them coming up the path, and I can see them smiling. And that’s the whole idea.”


Or at least much of the idea. The whimsy of a Hundertwasser building belies a strident philosophy of ecology and personal freedom. Born in Vienna in 1928, Hundertwasser began exploring these themes as a painter in the late 1940s. It wasn’t until the 80s that, as an influential artist and thinker, he began bringing his revolutionary notions to life in architectural form. He lived his later years in New Zealand, where he died in 2000 at 71. He was buried under a tulip tree. Just a handful of buildings had been built.


If “the straight line is godless,” as Hundertwasser famously said, the Quixote is a megachurch. Floors curve and roll. Trees rise from the 30 inches of soil covering the roof. No two windows are alike. Found material and assorted organic forms cover the surfaces. Outside, starlings nest atop the majestic dome over Mr. Doumani’s office. (Where they proceed to sully the German gold leaf, he likes to point out, “Birds have absolutely no respect for Hundertwasser.”)


With the Quixote as with Hundertwasser’s entire oeuvre, the aim is to show us that our structures, and by extension our lives, needn’t fit so tidily on the grid nor exist so far afield from nature. When Mr. Doumani, founder of the Stags’ Leap Winery, began considering designs for a second, smaller operation in 1988, he didn’t have this concept in mind. Then, while sitting in the office of a San Francisco architect one day, he spotted a calendar of Hundertwasser’s prints.
“You know,” he recalls saying, “this is more what I’m looking for.”


Mr. Doumani tracked Hundertwasser down that summer and arranged to meet him in Vienna. What he found was an activist as much as an artist, his causes ranging from public transportation to public toilets in New Zealand, license-plate beautification to peace in the Middle East.


He was, as the artist’s manager, Joram Harel, put it, “a completely free person.” He had given himself a new name. He was born Friedrich Stowasser — Friedensreich translates as “liberty kingdom,” Hundertwasser as “hundred waters” — and later tacked on Regentag, or “rainy day,” for good measure. He had delivered lectures in the nude. He had spent several years on a 60-year-old wooden freighter he had purchased in Sicily. He lived on mush made from 100-pound sacks of wheat.


Mr. Doumani, himself one of Napa’s freer souls, took to him instantly.


The two began discussing what the winery might look like, and the job was under way. Since Hundertwasser lacked formal training, an architect in Vienna helped coordinate plans with another in Napa. (Hundertwasser’s initial suggestion of burying the whole thing underground did not go far. “This is California,” Mr. Doumani told him. “We have sunshine, we like to be outside.”)
In the years to follow Hundertwasser and Mr. Doumani each crossed the ocean to see the other four or five times, in addition to sending numerous notes and revisions by mail. The job, executed somewhat sporadically, took almost a decade, and in 1999 Quixote produced its first vintage.

Mr. Doumani says he has since long since lost track of what the entire project cost. “Certainly twice as much as a regular winery,” he’s willing to guess. Nothing was simple.



He recalls trying to find a craftsman who could produce Hundertwasser’s trademark tile columns, which in shape and color resemble giant necklace beads. Nobody in the United States could meet the specifications because the lead paint that gave his colors their earthiness was prohibited. Mr. Doumani’s search took him to Germany, where he at last found someone to do the job. The designs were sent off, the elaborate columns were built and shipped, and, miraculously, the fragile creations arrived intact. Mr. Doumani installed them and proudly showed them off at Hundertwasser’s next visit.
Hundertwasser promptly picked up a hammer, stepped up to the nearest column and shattered it. Doumani’s jaw hung at roughly knee level.


“If they don’t see we use broken materials, they’ll never know,” Hundertwasser said. The hammer would later go to work on a few of the floor tiles too.



While Hundertwasser’s creations grew out of precise theories — that
mechanization was killing modern homes, for instance — he specialized in buildings that didn’t require a degree in architecture to appreciate. It generally helped not to have one.


“Architects hated his buildings,” said Nicholas de Monchaux, assistant professor of architecture at the University of California, Berkeley, whose work focuses on the intersection of ecology and design. “They were preoccupied with function and urban redevelopment” in the 1980s, he added. “Furry, dirty buildings don’t fit into that.”


Reinforcing that disdain was the impression that Hundertwasser was a kitsch populist (he took issue with those who belittled the so-called low desires of the people), a flouter of popular Modernist ideals (he likened conformity within the movement to slavery) and an unschooled interloper.


“The critics said, ‘This is not architecture, this is a three-dimensional
manifesto,’ ” Mr. Harel said. “Well, Hundertwasser agreed. He just wanted to show that the soul perishes in all these traditional buildings, and it’s especially dangerous because you don’t feel it happening. He felt the hidden longing of people to live differently.”


His efforts to make these points occasionally misfired. In 1982 Hundertwasser found himself speaking in the San Francisco offices of Skidmore, Owings & Merrill, one of America’s largest architecture firms. Illustrating a point about how tenants should be free to leave their own mark on their dwellings,he grabbed a knife and began carving a design on the nearest wall. His point was not appreciated, and he later received a sizable bill for the damaged plaster.
(Mr. Doumani insists architects even threw food at him during one of his lectures, but Mr. Harel disputes that: “Who brings food to a lecture?”)


Meanwhile the public — in Europe, anyway — couldn’t get enough. But Hundertwasser shunned the praise, insisting he was a dilettante and not an architect. “I’m not good,” Mr. Harel recalls him saying. “It’s just that the others are so bad.”


He was rebuked mercilessly for suggesting that architects should put their egos aside and work instead to coax out their clients’ personal visions. He was equally emphatic about drawing out the creativity of the laborers on his projects, Mr. Doumani said.
He continued: “The genius of the guy is, he brings the craftsmen into the process. He always asks, ‘What would you do here?’ And they’d be proud of their choices. On weekends the carpenters, tile guys and plasterers working on the job — they’d be here with their wives or girlfriends, showing them what they’re working on.”


The Quixote, which recently received a land-use permit allowing visitors, isn’t likely to see the million or so visitors that the Hundertwasserhaus, his Vienna public housing project, receives each year. The winery is considerably smaller and lacks the social resonance. More environmentally sophisticated architecture can certainly be found. Still, after viewing
any of his creations, one tends to wonder why more buildings don’t look like this.


“Builders will tell you it costs too much, but they’re just looking at its up-front costs,” said Harry Rand, senior curator of cultural history at the Smithsonian Institution and author of “Hundertwasser,” a biography and consideration of the artist’s work. “A Hundertwasser-type building is built with an indefinite lifetime.”


Mr. Rand also asserts that the contentment of such a building’s residents translates to other economic benefits. Tenants of the Vienna housing project get sick less often, and their children perform better in school, he says.


Mr. de Monchaux, the Berkeley professor, contends that contemporary architecture has taken steps toward Hundertwasser-like irreverence. With the digital manufacturing of architectural components and computer-controlled steel-bending machines, wacky shapes are suddenly possible, he said.


Still, he concedes this isn’t quite what Hundertwasser was agitating for. His enthusiasm for rounded and irregular forms grew out of a desireto connect with nature and to tease out the natural creativity of builders and dwellers.
Teasing it out of a computer might well have him rolling over under his tulip tree.

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January 6, 2007

THE CHRONICLE'S WINE SELECTIONS: STARS OF 2006

Petite Sirah
THREE STARS

2002 Quixote Panza Stags' Leap Ranch Napa Valley ($40)

Visit Quixote Winery!

[Taken from Chronicle article on 12/15/2006. View complete article!]

Editor's Note: For additional information contact Pam Hunter- 707-258-1699 x 15 or Pamela@studio-707.com

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March 3, 2006

Napa Valley's grande dame Schramsberg's Jamie Davies

In 1805, Francois Clicquot died of a fever, leaving his 27-year-old wife, Barbe Nicole Ponsardin, to run his family's Champagne business.

The widow (veuve in French) knew little about wine production, yet seized the moment, inventing the riddling table that is still used today, and building a company so successful that one of France's finest Champagnes, Veuve Clicquot Ponsardin's La Grande Dame, is named for her.

Two hundred years after the widow joined the male-dominated French winemaking world, America's own sparkling "grande dame," Jamie Davies, celebrates her 40th winemaking anniversary.

In 1965, Davies and her husband, Jack, purchased a ramshackle Victorian house, a winery and vineyards established in 1862 by German immigrant Jacob Schram in Calistoga, turning it into Schramsberg Vineyards, producer of arguably the finest sparkling wines in the United States.

"The property just popped out to us, and we said, 'This rundown old lady needs lots of attention,' " says Davies, 71, a petite, soft-spoken woman whose stature belies her internal strength and sharp mind. "We didn't have a wine style then, but we knew we didn't want to be, 'Me, too' winemakers. Some of our neighbors were not improving quality, and they felt their wines were good enough as is. We decided to do something that no one else was doing."

That something was sparkling wine, made with the same labor-intensive methods used in Champagne, called methode champenoise, where still wine made from Chardonnay, Pinot Noir and sometimes Pinot Meunier grapes undergoes a secondary fermentation in the bottle, creating the bubbles. The bottles are stored for several years, allowing the post-fermentation yeast cells to remain in contact with the wine, giving it a biscuity character and complexity.

Continue reading "Napa Valley's grande dame Schramsberg's Jamie Davies"

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January 5, 2006

Panza and Quixote Reviews - Fredric Koeppel

Quixote Winery
Panza Cabernet Sauvignon 2001
100 % cabernet sauvignon
Stags' Leap Ranch, Napa Valley, California
About $40
Very good+

Carl Doumani, one of Napa Valley's great characters, sold his Stags' Leap Winery to Beringer Blass in 1997. (This is now Beringer Wines Estates, owned by the mega-huge Foster's Group.) From the seed of the 30 acres of vines he retained, Doumani and his family launched Quixote, a fitting name for a producer who has always been an individual, not to say quixotic. Quixote makes only petite sirah (labeled petite syrah) and cabernet sauvignon wines at two levels, Panza and Quixote; all the wines are bottled with screw-caps for easy opening. These wines from 2001 are current releases.

Panza is a fitting companion for Don Quixote. The whole vocabulary of dimension suits this wine: Depth, breadth, width, length. Cassis, leather and violets, bittersweet chocolate surge from the glass in an intense and concentrated package of daunting size that leads to a deep, firm, austere finish. From mid-palate back it registers as reluctant, if not truculent; perhaps it will gain more personality with some age, say from 2007 to 2010.


Quixote Winery
Quixote Cabernet Sauvignon 2001
100% cabernet sauvignon
Stags' Leap Ranch, Napa Valley, California
About $60
Excellent

Here's a monument to the old-fashioned Napa Valley cabernet. Quixote's 2001, from a terrific year for cabernet in California, smells, tastes and feels fathomless; each element, whether oak, fruit, acid, tannin, completely permeates the others so you perceive them simultaneously. Size, structure, foundation, all the architectural factors, dominate at first, slowly unveiling, like a nightlight in a dark room, a very intense core of crushed violets and lavender, licorice and minerals that yields in turn to ripe and fleshy cassis, black raspberry and cherry flavors. Give this from 2007 to 2012. A Great Achievement.

Posted by Pamela at 10:09 PM | Comments (0) | Share on Facebook | Biodynamic Farming, Cabernet Sauvignon, Napa Valley Wines, Organic, Quixote, Stags Leap Wine


 

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