Small lots of specially crafted wines are like works of art. It takes a delicate hands-on approach in order to get the most out of the fruit. The wineries featured in today’s Wine Wednesday column are all fairly small producers overall. However, many large production winery houses also create small lot wines or special reserve wines in smaller batches. Larger brands might decide to plant a small vineyard of a varietal just for this purpose; it also gives the winemaker an opportunity to hand craft, keeping skills sharp and passion fueled.
2008 Guardian Cellars Gun Metal $37
The 2008 vintage is a blend of 50% Cabernet Sauvignon, 43% Merlot and 7% Cabernet franc from the always spectacular Conner Lee Vineyard in the Columbia Valley.
One sniff of Guardian Cellars Gun Metal brings summer berry, rose and orange peel with a hint of sage. Flavors continue to explode into caramel, mocha and cocoa powder on the palate. What is not to love with that flavor profile? This particular vintage spent almost 2 years in 86% new French oak. Just 350 cases produced.
2008 Angel Vine Les Collines Zinfandel $22
Norm McKibben, creator and owner of Pepper Bridge and Amavi Cellars, partner in Seven Hills Vineyards and owner of Les Collines Vineyard in Walla Walla, has always been a visionary. Les Collines is part of that vision and a big story in and of itself. Whatever Norm does, he does it first class.
Les Collines (The Foothills) is one of the higher vineyards in the Walla Walla Valley with an upper elevation of 1,380 feet. Soil Moisture and weather data is recorded around the clock. The vineyard website states “This 240-acre vineyard is one of the valley leaders in minimal input farming with its own composting operation and extensive use of compost tea. It is internationally certified for Sustainable Farming by the IOBC and is certified as a Salmon Safe Vineyard. It has its own state certified nursery for experiments with and propagation of clones.” This is total commitment to quality and research.
Norm’s son Shane McKibben is the Vineyard Manager at Les Collines which currently grows Cabernet Sauvignon, Syrah, Malbec, Petite Verdot, Merlot, Semillon, Tempranillo, Zinfandel, Viognier and Riesling.
Angel Vine is committed to producing premium Washington Zinfandel and Primitivo wines that show character, individuality, and spunk. That’s a big vision and one that will be fascinating to watch develop over the years. They were smart and sought out grapes from this highly touted vineyard source.
The 2008 Les Collines Zinfandel has deep scents of black cherries and sweet spice matched by velvety cherry flavors. It is juicy and jammy with a bit of leather, coffee, and licorice. With fresh red fruit and spice it lives up to the hype of a Zinfandel and also has a clean, full almost feminine finish which make it seem a bit old world.
2008 Twelve Pinot Noir 144 $35
The vineyard is located about 4 miles west of Carlton, Oregon and 7 miles north of McMinnville, Oregon. Twelve has about 11 acres of Pinot Noir and 2 acres of Pinot Blanc on Willakenzie soils, which are characteristic of the region. Vines range in age from 10 to 26 years. Total production is around 1300 cases and this particular wine is definitely a small lot – only 110 cases produced.
Recently scoring a whopping 92 points in the Spectator, this $35 wine is probably nearly sold out, but if you can get a bottle or even a case, go for it. You can enjoy it now, of course, however a few years of age would be interesting. Try one now and one later, and keep notes; that’s a fun way to experiment.