Today's Artists Learn from Past Masters
Northern California ~ the New French Wine Country
Discussions with Bill WilliamsonEvery winemaker is to some degree influenced by the international grape varieties and historic wines that have become globally acceptable, That influence largely centers around the French varieties, known for their region or appellation of origin, namely Bordeaux, Burgundy and Rhone. All have their place on the table with different foods and different courses within the meal.
The Garonne River flows through the center of Bordeaux splitting the chateaux wineries as “Left Bank” and “Right Bank”, referring to the side of the river on which the particular chateau is located. Grape varietals of the right bank include Merlot with portions of Cabernet Franc, Malbec and some Petit Verdot while Cabernet Sauvignon is most dominant on the left bank.
Because these locations have different climate and soil characteristics, similar grape varieties can create different flavor profiles. Blending these grape varieties has been used in Bordeaux for hundreds of years to maximize the expression of a wine. It can enhance aromas, color, texture, body and finish, making a more well-rounded, complex and interesting wine.
Seeing Northern California for the first time from our Australian viewpoint we realized that similar subtle differences existed here with Napa Valley being more left bank dominant (Cabernet Sauvignon) and Sonoma being more right bank dominant so we developed vineyards in both appellations to grow the same grape varieties as our French cousins in the perfect locations to produce our California Bordeaux-style wines.
Our blends are designed in the vineyard where each of the five red varieties is grown and made into wine individually. Each component of our Bordeaux wines is selected to fulfill an ideal, rather than created from a random assemblage of grapes. The goal is to highlight each grape's strength while allowing each to complement the blend.
By producing a wine based on an ideal, on an definitive wine making philosophy, the wine can be allowed to show consistency, to show its balanced flavor set, to manage a particular food group and to endure as a wine-lover's chosen favorite.
Burgundian wines are impressive because of the subtle and complex flavors produced from a single grape variety. We have developed beautiful Burgundy style Chardonnay from a cooler location in our Dry Creek Valley vineyards and exceptional Pinot Noir from our vineyards in Russian River Valley both of which locations parallel the Burgundian terroir.
Considered to be medium-bodied, with bright, vibrant flavors of spice Rhône wines also tend to have earthy flavors of dark fruit, herbs and coffee.
Here in Northern California we have found specific vineyards that mirror the terroir of the Rhône and produce a wide, diverse array of exciting early drinking wines meant to be enjoyed upon release.
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