February 18, 2012 § 4 Comments
After a week in Aspen, I am compelled to point out (with awe) that there are folks that know more about our craft as it pertains to varietals, regions and viticulture intricacies than we do as winemakers. I spent several days doing a “ride along” with a sales rep who is going for his Master Sommelier certification. He informed me that there are two Master Somms in Aspen and went on to explain how prestigious of a ranking it is. Going around selling wines to the finest restaurants with a sommelier everybody knows and holds in high regard was also an eye opening experience. I love that these wine pros eat, breathe and dream wine as I do, but their approach, view, focus, angle, etc. is quite different from mine.
As a winemaker, if I were to flex my wine muscles and show off, I guess that would be akin to applauding my 92 point Wine Spectator score for making a monster Chardonnay from a famous vineyard. On the contrary, if these sommeliers want to flex their wine muscles it is more on the lines of “can you believe this beautiful Tokaji that is completely dry with big acid”, or, “this wine from Jura showing unique oxidized character” – from a region I have never even heard of! Point being, like any highly specialized niche pursuit, Master Somms are driven to hunt for a hit of the undiscovered, the future frontier, the “thing” that turns the game upside down.
At the end of the day, my hope is that these wine gurus can still find beauty in commonly recognized varietals like Pinot Noir and Chardonnay and Cabernet sourced from known world-class regions. Or, will these wines stultify them as they continue to chase the obscure, the cult, the secret?
Erik Miller / Winemaker
February 10, 2012 § 1 Comment
The other day I had lunch with the Mauritson Family to discuss our block of Zin at Rockpile. Rockpile is a unique Sonoma Couty AVA situated at a high elevation above the fog. A combination of micro-climate and gravely soil – this chunk of land produces much revered fruit. Part of what I love about my job is meeting with folks like the Mauritsons – multi-generational grape growers. This family has been cultivating grapes in Dry Creek Valley for five generations succeeding at growing ultra-premium fruit. During lunch we talked about prices of grapes, yield per acre and future plans. The “deals” we make in wine country are often born of trust and sealed with a simple handshake – this always amazes people when I tell them about how we “draft” our contracts! Our partner, Randy Peters, grows the majority of the fruit for our wines. The other farmers that we work with assist us in carefully selecting varietals from select vineyards to create some diversity with regards to our portfolio. Over the years, Josh Bartels, our assistant winemaker, and I have enjoyed several wines from the Rockpile appellation. We are ecstatic to have a block from such a prestigious AVA. Many, many thanks to the Mauritsons for this special opportunity! We look forward to working with you in years to come.