Malibu Revisited, Chianti Find & the Mother of all CA Wineries

Political statements are considered bad wine blogging. So are curse words however tBoW had a potty mouth in a recent post. Now read this. Healthcare reform is good for the nation. Justice Roberts stood up for the Constitution. Upholding the Affordable Care Act makes wine taste better!

OK. We are stepping down off the pulpit now. We tasted some very good wines recently. We revisited two Malibu winemakers which gave us a chance to see how the wines we liked have developed. We also got a great tip from Chianti “in country” about a Sangio blend that we were actually able to find locally. Here are the stories of irrepressibly striving vintners whether you are producing 200 cases or 3 million.

2009 Fonterutoli Chianti Classico $20: While visiting the 15th century Mazzei Family Fonterutoli winery tBoW team tasters BnB tasted through the lineup of recent releases. Fonterutoli has the typical lineup of entry level to Riservas, i.e., Castelli di Fonterutoli and Sepia. Our informant favored the 2009 Fonterutoli entry level bottle, finding it to be very tasty and excellent value. The host let him know there was no Riserva in 2009 so the Sangiovese that would have gone into the $60 bottle went into this one. And it tastes that way. Dark red almost magenta color, middle weight feel, rich and full Sangio nose of cinnamon/cardamon spice in the exotic direction. Straightforward Sangio flavors. Putting it through the aerator took too much out. Splitting the difference [ed. he means half aerated and half out of the bottle] made the perfect blend. Translation? This wine will improve over a few years at least. Most importantly, the wine is balanced. At this price it is a very good deal. 13.5%

While many vintners in the ‘Bu like to tout their “gold medals” Colcanyon Estate Wines is the only local vintner to date to actually win a double gold at the state’s most prestigious county fair. When we were presented with the chance to revisit the Colcanyon and Hoyt estates we took it.

2008 Colcanyon Estate Cabernet Sauvignon $39: This wine is big and rich. It oozes density, dark fruit berries; a heavyweight wine which is what the Freemans aim to make. With all that thick fruit it is neither overwhelming or overpowering. This wine competes with high end Napa wines. If we drank more Cabs we would not hesitate to put it in a blind tasting with similarly structured Napa products like Keenan or Regusci. It may not be as sophisticated at this youthful stage but it sure holds the promise. The price makes it an attractive buy for the cellar. 14.7%

2009 Colcanyon Estate Meritage
$39: We previewed this in the earlier post when we practically forced John Freeman to pop the cork. The wine has softened a tad and is quite handsome. I have heard that ain’t so bad. The Bordeaux blend of 100% estate grapes – Cab, Cab Franc and Merlot – is nicely balanced. Rich flavors. Showing quite well. 14%

We are tempted to say Carol Hoyt has come a long way…but she really did not have that far to go. When we first tasted through her wines in 2010 she knew what she wanted. Her Hoyt Family Vineyards is no longer restricted to 2 acres a mile up Kanan Road from PCH. She has planted 6 acres in Paso Robles to Rhone varietals. And she has grafted all her red vines to Chardonnay in her Malibu vineyard. Carol Hoyt has had the same vision since we first covered her in March 2010 – make a classic buttery California Chardonnay that she can sell at a price point to secure a loyal customer base.

2009 Hoyt Family Vineyards Chardonnay $28: She hit her mark with this vintage. C-L-A-S-S-I-C California buttery oak flavored wine. With all the steel fermentation going on some might say that our appraisal is the kiss of death…except…this wine is delicious. The difference is this wine is balanced and nuanced…for the style. It is her drink-it-all-day Chardonnay. 14.1%

2010 Hoyt Family Vineyards Decoupage
$21: She blends Paso Viognier and Pinot Gris with her Chardonnay. Refreshing summer white wine. Nice price. 14.3%

are we in Thebes?

The Scheid winemaking facility in Greenfield off the 101 at the southern end of Monterey County is monstrously huge. Think three stories under one roof over four acres. Modern day pyramids. Coppola makes their entire Diamond Label line there in 14 44,000 gallon tanks outside; another dozen 44,000 gallon tanks are inside for their other customers. The enormity of this seven year old winemaking center cannot be imagined. Their client list – the folks contracting with them to grow, vinify, label and bottle – numbers more than 40 [ed. here is an article on the production business]. The Scheid family has been operating this mammoth enterprise since the late 1970s. A decade later they decided to make wine under their own label Scheid Vineyards. The quaint 400 sq ft redwood tasting room is comically tiny next to the concrete and steel Goliath behind the cypress bushes. But this humble room is where you can sample the very tasty wines under the Scheid label. They produce quite a few varietals, all from their 3,000 acres of vineyard. If there is one thing missing at Scheid it is a vineyard under their control immediately to the north in the Santa Lucia Highlands. Scheid’s vine acreage is in the less fashionable southern Monterey County just shy of the prestigious Santa Lucia Highlands. Don’t get too concerned. This family team has more business graduate degrees than some junior Ivies. An acquisition in Santa Lucia can only be a matter of time.

2008 Scheid Doctors Vineyard Pinot Noir Reserve $60: Here is the lone wine not from their own vineyards. The Doctors Vineyard is one of the sites that presently brings renown to Santa Lucia fruit. This is a light beety red color. Nose and flavors are smoky, feral, cow patty. I know that sounds unappealing. Think of the classic Burgundian “forest floor” in the New World where the buffalo roam. On the Pinot Noir-Syrah spectrum – has density, cherry and meaty flavors. Kudos on the kind and admirable alcohol level. 13.1%

We still have more Scheid wines, especially their Pinot Noirs, to cover…along with the Santa Lucia Highlands and the Gavilan Mountains. Whew.

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