Club Crush Pinot Noir and White 4.20
I am really excited about this month's club selections. I know I say this with just about every shipment release, but that doesn't make it any less true. Four out of the fives are wines and wineries we have never carried before, and we love to be able to present you with new producers. We also have a wine in Club Crush White that donates 100% of its proceeds to a foundation promoting sustainable agriculture, which is pretty rad. And since its summertime (and finally feels like it), we're featuring a rosé as one of the three wines in Club Crush White.
RAEN stands for Research in Agriculture and Enology Naturally and is the vision of fourth generation Mondavi brothers, Dante and Carlo. The Mondavi name carries a rich history in the wine industry and fourth generation Mondavi brothers, Dante and Carlo are blazing their own path. They learned the wine business from their grandfather Robert and father Tim through numerous Mondavi wine projects including Robert Mondavi Winery (sold in 2004) and Continuum (founded in 2005).
RAEN is focused on producing world-class Pinot Noir from three “grand cru” coastal vineyards capable of sitting among the world’s finest Pinot Noir sites. RAEN Pinot Noirs are crafted using a minimal, old school winemaking approach to emphasize the incredible quality of the vineyards they farm. Utilizing 100% whole-cluster fermentation with native yeasts (learned from their father Tim) and aged in neutral French oak to maintain a delicate aromatic wine. No conventional farming practices or chemicals are used in their three vineyards. As a result, the wines possess an elegance and purity with a sense of terroir, while maintaining a richly elegant mouthfeel.
The Royal St. Robert Pinot Noir is a special bottling dedicated to their grandfather, Robert, who taught and inspired the brothers. This cuvée is a selection of the finest barrels from 3 single vineyard sites providing an excellent representation of what the cool, rugged hills of the West Sonoma Coast can produce. This vintage drinks like a ballerina; a smooth mouthfeel and delicate flavors that dance across your tongue with precision and grace. Expect notes of wild strawberry and Rainier cherry, slightly earthy undertones, and hints of red flowers and black tea. This is going to be even more delicious with a wild mushroom galette (fancy word for tart).
Technicals: 100% Whole-cluster Pinot Noir. Clones 667, 115, 777,828, Calera, Swan. Aged in neutral French oak. Bottled unfined and unfiltered. ABV 12.5%. 1800 cases produced.
Passion, quality, and authenticity. These are the guiding principles of this small, artisanal winery dedicated to producing Burgundy and Rhone varietals. Paul Lato’s background as a sommelier helped to define his journey that would eventually lead him to his own winery in 2002. As a Sommelier, he was afforded the opportunity to taste the finest wines from around the world and realized what made great wine… authenticity, harmony, and elegance. His ultimate goal is to produce seamless and textural wines that embody these characteristics while also complementing fine cuisine.
In order to meet the standard set for himself, fruit sourcing is restricted to select unique vineyards that are cared for by talented vineyard managers committed to excellence. During the growing season, yields are restricted to achieve maximum concentration of flavor. Harvest is based on physiological ripeness, which changes depending on the vintage characteristics. Because every vintage is indeed different, Paul Lato wines are true artisanal winemaking based on intuition, sensitivity and passion. Keeping production small allows for this “hands on” technique throughout the winemaking process.
The Matinee Pinot Noir is sourced from three iconic vineyards: Solomon Hills, John Sebastiano, and Zotovich. Considering his single vineyard offerings (from these sites as well as a few others) range in price from $70 - $100, this is a phenomenal value. Compared to the RAEN, Matinee will be a richer, darker interpretation of Pinot Noir. Paul Lato brings together classic Santa Maria Valley characteristics of ripe fruit and spice with hallmark Sta. Rita Hills structure and weight. You’ll find notes of raspberry and blueberry, Asian spices, purple flowers, and a plush mouthfeel. Matinee’s balance between richness and ripe fruit makes it a perfect pairing for a pork tenderloin with a simple cherry dressing.
Technicals: 100% Pinot Noir. Clones Swan, 113, 115, 667. Aged 13 months in 40% new French oak. ABV. 14.1% 300 cases produced.
Located at the south end of the Oakville Appellation, Yount Ridge Cellars is in a coveted vineyard neighborhood – next door to Cardinale, across from Far Niente and near the Morlet Family owned and prized Coeur de Vallée Vineyard. The winery’s name is a tribute to George Yount, whose massive land grant included this part of the Napa Valley (including the site of Yount Ridge Cellars). The vineyard is 25 acres and is organically farmed to Cabernet Sauvignon, with Merlot, Petite Verdot and Malbec for blending. The vineyard also includes Sauvignon Blanc and the Musque clone, which is rare in Oakville.
Founding winemaker, Celia Welch (who we highlighted in the current Club Crush Premier shipment as winemaker for Keever Vineyards) is well known throughout the valley for her attention to detail and high quality wines. Named winemaker of the year in 2008, she can be found on any list of Napa Valley’s top winemakers. Her resumé includes some of the most ultra-premium wineries in Napa Valley including Scarecrow, Staglin, Barbour, and Keever just to name a few. She also has her own label, Corra.
Although it escapes me where, I remember reading that of all her projects, Yount Ridge was the one that Celia is currently the most excited about, and with good reason. In a sea of simple, crisp, and easy drinking Sauvignon Blanc, Yount Ridge stands alone. Incredibly complex and intensely aromatic, notice aromas lemongrass, ripe tropical fruit, and white flowers. If you dig deep enough, you’ll even draw out subtle notes of vanilla. Although immensely enjoyable on it’s own, this wine truly deserves a perfectly grilled halibut steak topped with a tropical mango salsa.
Technicals: 100% Sauvignon Blanc. 30% Sauvignon Musque clone. Barrel fermented in neutral French oak and aged 6 months sur-lie. ABV 14.4%. 185 cases produced.
The Monarch Challenge was started with the goal to have their wine region (Sonoma and Napa) set the bar for farming at the highest level and to enlighten, encourage and connect with the farming communities and live in unison with nature. Far too often, farmers are resorting to the use of herbicides, which are (obviously) bad for the environment and ruin soil structure, which is so important in farming. Utilizing other, more environmentally friendly, options to farming creates a much better future for everyone.
The name ‘The Monarch Challenge’ is in reference to one of the more damaging facts regarding the use of herbicides. Since 1974 (when the product Roundup entered the market), the Monarch butterfly population has decreased by 90% and is currently under threat of extinction. The environmental impact goes beyond the Monarch to frogs, bees, other pollinators and even on to our human health. Through the sale of this wine, Mondavi brother’s Carlo and Dante (RAEN Winery) are building a team that works directly with farmers to eliminate chemical farming, especially glyphosate (the active ingredient in RoundUp) from the Napa & Sonoma valleys.
This is not just a donation either. This is a fantastic bottle of wine. A crisp, nervy Provençal-style, Bandol-inspired rosé that you will want to drink all day, every day, especially knowing that 100% of the proceeds, donated by RAEN, support the Monarch Challenge's critically important goals. On top of the good vibes you’ll feel from supporting a worthy cause, also expect fresh strawberry and watermelon and a crisp, refreshing finish. I recommend just sitting back and enjoying this one, thinking about all the good the Monarch Challenge is achieving. But if you just HAVE to have something to eat, might I suggest a grilled watermelon salad?
Technicals: 100% Pinot Noir. All free run juice. Native fermentation in neutral French oak. ABV. 12.9%.
Food and wine has always been a part of Leo Hansen’s life. His father was a chef and Leo’s first career was as a sommelier in some of Europe’s (he was born and raised in Denmark) best restaurants including Kong Hans, Copenhagen’s first one-star Michelin guide restaurant. Leo came to the United States in 1999 and soon thereafter was working as a waiter and sommelier and ultimately a wine buyer at the wine-centric Dry Creek Kitchen and Cyrus restaurants in Healdsburg. He began his own wine project, Leo Steen Wines in 2004.
Leo Steen Wines focuses on making interesting wines with both a sense of place and a purpose. The idea of “purpose” has proven to become the driving force behind Leo Steen Wines. Making wines that work incredibly well with food. Not only making food friendly wines, but doing so while introducing wine enthusiasts to unique and interesting varietals. All wines (he also makes Chardonnay, Syrah, and Cabernet Franc) are made by hand in small lots using traditional winemaking techniques. They are intentionally made at lower alcohols (making them ideal food wines), with little (or no) new oak. While wines offer lovely fruit, Leo strives to express the purity of these flavors as part of a balanced and harmonious whole.
The centerpiece of Leo Steen Wines is bone-dry Chenin Blanc. Somewhat fitting as Steen (which is the family’s middle name) is the South African word for Chenin Blanc. If you have any familiarity with Chenin Blanc, you might notice that there is a relatively broad spectrum of style for the varietal, ranging from semi-sweet and richly textured, to bone dry, lithe, and mineral. The Saini Farms we are featuring this month is the latter. With pure and focused aromas, you’ll easily be able to pick up notes of pear, white flowers, lemon, almond skin, and a slight salinity you might relate to a sea breeze. All these carry on to the palate, accompanied by a creamy texture created by the wine’s sur lie aging. As Leo Steen intended, this wine is extremely versatile and food friendly. It will work with almost any sort of white meat dish but I’m going to do our vegetarian friends a favor and recommend it with a frittata with fresh summer squash.
Technicals: 100% Chenin Blanc. Aged 5 months in 85% neutral French oak and 15% concrete egg. ABV 13%. 672 cases produced.
Well I hope after reading through all, (or some, I know it's a lot) I hope you're as excited to receive these wines as we are to have them available. It's going to be a hot one this weekend, a perfect time to crack into some of these white wines. I think I'll go chill down a bottle of Monarch, after all, it's for a good cause.
Written by Adam Crawshaw & Mike Fuller