Appellation: High Valley
Blend: 44% Grenache 36% Syrah 20% Mourvedre
Barrel aging: Total of 16 months in 25% new Eastern European and French oak barrels
Production: 560 cases
My goal was to create a distinctive—yet accessible—GSM (Grenache, Syrah, Mourvedre) blend. I’ve always had a special preference for the great wines of Southern France and with this inaugural release, I’m offering my California version of this style.
Vineyard: The grapes are grown on Montelago Vineyard planted between 2000 and 2400 feet elevation above the largest lake in California—Clearlake. South facing exposure.
Soil: Brick red volcanic cinders and pumice-like gravel and stones. In general, low fertility with high level of calcium and potassium.
The Vintage: 2006 had lower yields than the record breaking, abundant 2005. The low crop levels usually produce wines of increased flavor intensity and overall concentration. High Valley does not get the morning fog as the coastal valleys do, but is classified between Region 3 and Region 2 (very similar to Sonoma and Napa) for its summation of temperatures during the growing season. Abundant sunshine and wind create conditions very similar to the Mediterranean climate.
Winemaking: Grenache was the first to ripen on September 30, followed by the Syrah and lastly the Mourvedre at the end of October. All lots were picked very early in the morning at temperatures near 40°F in small containers to prevent the grapes from bruising and oxidation. The fruit was gently destemmed and sorted by hand for whole berry fermentation. The wine was fermented in small tanks and gently punched down by hand. Then the tanks were directly pressed without the use of pumps for gentle extraction and only the free run juice was collected. Following malolactic fermentation, the wines were aged separately for 12 months and for an additional 4 months after blending.
Winemaker’s description: The wine is seductively inviting with a nose of jammy strawberries, plums, hint of apricots, dry rose petals and exotic spices. The mouthfeel is viscous and juicy but not heavy, finishing long and balanced with soft tannins and low acidity.