ValleyFogBlog


Braving the elements for Pinot Days Chicago 2013 by Jennifer

Pinot Days Chicago 2013 sign

It’s been a year and a half since the last Pinot Days Chicago, so we were looking forward to the opportunity to pour Waits-Mast wines for our Chicago fans once again. During a particularly crazy weather week, we headed to the Navy Pier for yesterday’s event. Luckily the rains/snow/flooding of the previous few days had subsided, although we were alarmed to see black smoke emanating from a fire at the O’Hare airport (apparently just an emergency training exercise) as we drove to the tasting. After safely arriving at our destination (a gorgeous room at the Navy Pier with a lake view), we set up our signage, bottles, and literature for the expected crowds of Pinot Noir consumers and industry folks.

Tasting glasses at Pinot Days Chicago 2013

Tasting glasses at Pinot Days Chicago 2013. Photo credit: J. Waits

Although this is the 5th time that we’ve poured our wines at Pinot Days Chicago, it had been a year and a half since the last event in November, 2011. Traveling to Chicago had become a fall tradition for us, so it was strange to not be there last November. Thankfully the event still took place, moving to April this year.

During this year’s Pinot Days Chicago we poured three of our more recent releases, including our recently bottled 2012 Waits-Mast Rosé of Pinot Noir from Mendocino County as well as our 2010 Waits-Mast Pinot Noir from Londer Vineyard and our 2010 Waits-Mast Pinot Noir from Wentzel Vineyard.

Waits-Mast Rosé of Pinot Noir

Brian shows off the new Waits-Mast Rosé of Pinot Noir. Photo: J. Waits

It was exciting to launch our brand new rosé at Pinot Days. Bottled on March 30, this is our very first rosé. Crafted from fruit from some of our favorite vineyards in Anderson Valley and Mendocino, we think it’s pretty delicious and were looking forward to hearing what others thought of this wine. We only made 24 cases of our 100% Pinot Noir rosé, so we only brought a few bottles to the tasting for the rosé’s public debut. Despite the chilly spring weather in Chicago, tasters were quite complimentary about the rosé (although some inevitably declined to taste it, preferring to stick to full-on Pinot Noir). In addition to the rosé, we also poured two other wines from Mendocino County – our 2010 Waits-Mast Pinot Noir from Londer Vineyard and our 2010 Waits-Mast Pinot Noir from Wentzel Vineyard. Here are some tasting notes from some of the attendees who stopped by our table:

2012 Waits-Mast Rosé of Pinot Noir, Mendocino County:

“fine mineral quality” (from a non-rosé fan)

“I wouldn’t send this back”

would be “great with Chilean sea bass – best of both worlds, taste of red, refreshing [quality of a] white”

“nice and refreshing”

“yummy”

“my favorite of the day”

“this is the best thing here”

“gorgeous”

Pouring at Pinot Days Chicago 2013.

Pouring at Pinot Days Chicago 2013. Photo: J. Waits

2010 Waits-Mast Pinot Noir, Londer Vineyard, Anderson Valley:

“love the smell, can’t place it”

“smokiness on the nose”

“earthy smell”

there’s a “very feminine grace to this”

“dances across your tongue”

“violets on the nose”

“fruit forward”

“anise”

“delicious”

“cherry”

“almost like tangerine” (on the tongue as a top note)

“red fruit in nose”

Waits-Mast table at Pinot Days Chicago 2013

Waits-Mast table at Pinot Days Chicago 2013. Photo: J. Waits

2010 Waits-Mast Pinot Noir, Wentzel Vineyard, Anderson Valley:

“smells awesome”

“dryer finish” (than Londer)

“rich, nice structure”

“fruitier smell” (compared with Londer)

“denser, richer”

“good with salmon, it would stand up to the fat”

“black cherry”

“beautiful acidity”

“such a great expression of Pinot”

“my favorite”

“beautiful”

Pinot Days Chicago 2013 end of day

Pinot Days Chicago 2013 at the end of the day. Note the half-eaten sandwich. Photo: J. Waits

All in all, Pinot Days Chicago was great fun for us. We saw many old friends (fans, family, industry folks, and fellow winemakers) and were also happy to introduce our wines to many people who had never tried our wines before. We did miss seeing our #1 fan, Luke – we waited patiently for him to arrive at our table, hoping for some poetic pronouncements about our wine. Alas, we hope to see him next year. But, perhaps one of my favorite moments was when renowned winemaker Brian Loring of Loring Wine Company complimented us on our wines and applauded us for our small production, saying, “dare to be small.”



Holiday Wine Tasting on December 1st by valleyfog

Inside the warm, inviting Presidio Cafe (photo courtesy of Presidio Cafe)

Want to try some limited production, hard-to-find wines and kick off your holiday season in style? On Thursday, December 1st, Waits-Mast Family Cellars will be hosting a Holiday Wine Tasting at the Presidio Cafe in San Francisco. The event will run from 6pm to 9pm and guests will be able to sample our new 2009 vintage Pinot Noirs that we just released in September. In fact, it will be the first event in which you’ll be able to try and buy all five of our new wines.

And in case you had a yen for a Cabernet Sauvignon or Syrah, we are going to be joined by our fellow boutique urban winemakers, Michael James Wines, who will be pouring their offerings of these varietals from Napa Valley.

We’re excited to be hosting a party like this because it will be a smaller, more intimate venue for us to share our wines with fans, friends and family. And the venue is perfect for this time of year, when there is a chill in the air. The Presidio Cafe is warm and inviting, and the food is excellent. The fine folks at the Presidio Cafe will be serving a selection light and heavy hors d’oeuvres that will pair nicely with all of the wines, along with dessert and complimentary non-alcoholic beverages.

And if you try a wine that catches your fancy, you’ll be able to purchase it on the spot. So if you’re looking for that unique gift this holiday season, you’ll be able to say that you personally tasted through a number of wines to choose the right one for your friend or family member. And you’ll be able to say you met the winemakers, too!

We’d love to see you there and help us kick off the holidays, so here are the details:

DATE: December 1, 2011, 6-9pm

LOCATION: Presidio Café, Presidio of San Francisco. Conveniently located just off Jackson & Arguello Streets with plenty of free parking available. For more details on the Café, click here.

COST: $20.00 per person. Event is 21 and over only. Click here to purchase.

Space is limited, so please purchase tickets and RSVP by November 30

If you wish to order online in advance and pick up your order at the event, go to our web store to order and we’ll make sure to have your order on hand.



Fall Release Now Available: 2009 Waits-Mast Pinot Noir by valleyfog

2009 Oppenlander Pinot Noir

At long last the wait is over. It’s always the hardest part of wine making. You get excited about a particular vintage and how the wines will turn out, but the wines need time. Time to evolve, time to settle down, time to open up. And the time is now as we are excited to release our Waits-Mast Family Cellars lineup of 2009 Pinot Noir wines.

2009 was a very favorable growing year, as many wine writers have noted, and there was a lot of great pinot noir available that year. We ended up sourcing fruit from five different vineyards, from as far south as Sta. Rita Hills and as far north as Comptche, CA. Here is the lineup, with links to tasting notes and specs on each one:

2009 La Encantada Pinot Noir

The joy of this lineup is that it is a diverse portfolio of wines, each representing the style and personality of the vineyard and the region. The Sta. Rita Hills pinot screams central coast with its bright acidity, amazing structure and cranberry tartness. The Russian River pinot is fruit-forward with a floral nose and silky finish. And as we get into Anderson Valley with the Hayley and Deer Meadows we pick up the pure cherry fruit and earthy aromas from that cool climate. Wrapping it up in Comptche, the vineyard that is furthest north and closest to the coast, the wine serves up that “oceanic acidity,” a balanced, earthy and strikingly-colored pinot noir.

After reading all that, and if you’ve been following this blog since the 2009 harvest, then you’re probably ready to get some for yourself. Our online store, which we had closed for the summer due to warm weather shipping restrictions and some updating of the store, is now open and the 2009 vintage is now available. Just go to www.waitsmast.com and click on “purchase.”

At the moment, we are only able to ship within the state of California, but we are working on adding some additional states in the coming weeks and months. If you are in one of those other 49 states and wish for us to ship to you, let us know and we’ll do our best to get the proper permits (there are tons of legal restrictions on direct shipping, so no guarantees).

2009 Deer Meadows Pinot Noir

Soon we’ll have some retailers offering our wine through their online site as well, and they often ship to many states in the U.S. Stay tuned to our blog and our website for updates on these retailers. And to read some of the latest reviews, go to our News page on our website for the most recent reviews on Waits-Mast Pinot Noir.

Enjoy the wines and we’ll keep you posted on more updates on this vintage, our 2010s and the 2011 harvest.



Countdown to the 2009 Release: Hayley Vineyard Pinot Noir by valleyfog

On to pinot noir number three out of five pinots we made in 2009. Yes, that’s a lot for a small little winery like ourselves, but we were like a kid in a candy shop with all the available fruit that year. We made three pinots from Mendocino County, including the Hayley Vineyard Pinot Noir.

One of our goals in winemaking is to explore the variations on the pinot noir theme, based on location. With five wines, we want each one to represent a different flavor profile – that is what is so enchanting about pinot noir.

Hayley Vineyard fruit headed for the sorting line

Located halfway between Boonville and Philo in Anderson Valley, Hayley Vineyard is a 34-acre site is planted to Dijon clones 114, 115, 667 and 777 along with small amounts of Pommard and Martini.

Unlike the Deer Meadows Vineyard which is at 1600′ elevation, the Hayley Vineyard is located on the valley floor, where fog situates itself at the end of the day, providing a cooling influence to moderate from the warm days that permeate the valley. This location yields a more fruit-focused profile vs. the earthy and floral tones on the Deer Meadows. Each wine is yummy – just different.

We only made one barrel of pinot noir from the Hayley Vineyard, so it had to be good! Read the tasting notes and you’ll get an idea of why this is a singularly special wine:

The Hayley Vineyard pinot noir is all about that classic Anderson Valley cherry fruit. On the nose, in addition to the cherry, is a hint of malted milk and a sweet toastiness from the oak. At the beginning, you get hints of pastry and cherry pie. On the mid-palate is a soft, silky mouthfeel enrobed in strawberry and rhubarb, ending in a clean finish. A light to medium-bodied pinot noir, the Hayley Vineyard pinot noir is truly enjoyable on its own or with your favorite meal.

Here are the details and specs for this wine:

  • Clones: 114
  • Harvest/Brix: September 29, 2009 at 26 Brix
  • Fruit: 100% whole berry (no stems)
  • Fermentation: RC212 yeast
  • Barrel aging: 17 months in French oak, 25% new (Francois Freres)
  • Alcohol content: 14.6% by volume
  • Bottled: March, 2011
  • Production: 24 cases

That’s our tour of Mendocino County pinot noir…next week, we move a bit further south to the Russian River.



Countdown to the 2009 Release: Oppenlander Pinot Noir by valleyfog

We continue our countdown the release of our selection of five different vineyard-designate pinot noirs from the 2009 vintage. Last week we looked at Deer Meadows Vineyard in Anderson Valley and this week we head out of Anderson Valley and into the hinterlands of Mendocino County.

Oppenlander Vineyard, Mendocino County

Oppenlander Vineyard is well off the beaten path in Mendocino County outside of the town of Comptche. It’s about eight and a half miles from the Pacific Ocean as the crow flies at an elevation of 250 feet. Oppenlander is owned by the Shandel family, 5th generation owners of the property, and was originally homesteaded in the 1860s by their ancestors from Denmark (via the Gold Rush in Australia). You can read more about our visit to Oppenlander Vineyard in our blog post from last year.

The vineyard sees consistently cool temperatures across the growing season and is harvested later than other regions, closer to when they harvest pinot up in Willamette Valley, Oregon. This cooler temperature range and coastal proximity can deliver a certain “oceanic acidity,” lending structure and complexity to the wine. How does that climate and location translate into the actual flavor profile of the wine? Check out our tasting notes for the 2009 Waits-Mast Pinot Noir, Oppenlander Vineyard:

The most striking observation about the 2009 Oppenlander Pinot Noir is its color – a vibrant violet-red color that has been visible from crush all the way through to the bottle. On the nose, dried lavender mixes with mushroom and earth tones for subtle aromatics. On the palate, tart cherry and raspberry are wrapped in a taut package that shows a lot of balance. Definitely one for aging and well-suited for pairing with your favorite pinot-friendly meal.

Here are the details and specs for this wine:

  • Clone: Dijon 114
  • Harvest/Brix: October 2, 2009 at 24 Brix
  • Alcohol content: 14.2% by volume
  • Fruit: 100% whole berry (no stems)
  • Fermentation: native yeast
  • Barrel aging: 17 months in French oak, 25% new (Remond)
  • Bottled: March, 2011
  • Production: 48 cases

Ahhh the wonders of Mendocino County Pinot Noir! But wait, we have  one more from Anderson Valley – next week we’ll look at our 2009 Hayley Vineyard Pinot Noir.



Countdown to the 2009 Release: Deer Meadows Pinot Noir by valleyfog

Pinot Noir grapes at Rich Savoy's Deer Meadows Vineyard above Boonville

It’s been a little quiet over here at ValleyFogBlog, but we’ve been busy behind the scenes at Waits-Mast Family Cellars this summer readying our 2009 vintage Pinot Noir wine for release in September. The busy stuff is the less-than-glamorous side of running a winery. Things like permits, licenses, label approvals and the like. It’s the long checklist of items that we have had to go through to get to releasing and selling the wines.

The good news is we are almost done with all that. A few last steps in the month of August, mostly focusing on revamping our webstore, and then we will be ready to release the wine in early September. So we thought we would take some time to revisit each of the five different pinot noirs we crafted in 2009, profiling a different vineyard each week leading up to the launch.

When you’re in the middle of harvest of any given vintage there is great excitement and anticipation for how the wine will turn out. We recall 2009 being a special year because the growing year was ideal – consistently warm and moderate across the summer – and we expanded our vineyard portfolio to take on some new and different Mendocino County vineyards. Back then we were about to burst – we just couldn’t wait to share these wines. And alas, they are ready.

Taking the 09 Deer Meadows Pinot Noir for a test-drive at Frances restaurant in SF

This week we are going to look at our 2009 Waits-Mast Pinot Noir from the Deer Meadows Vineyard. This wine is probably one of the best single-vineyard wines from a vineyard you’ve never heard of. Deer Meadows Vineyard is located in Anderson Valley and is owned and farmed by Rich Savoy, one of the best-known pinot noir growers in that region. The vineyard you may have heard of is Savoy Vineyard, which is down the road from Deer Meadows was Rich’s original vineyard (and is now owned by Breggo Cellars).

Deer Meadows is located at 1600′ elevation above Boonville, sitting above the fog layer and experiencing slightly cooler temperatures than the valley floor, give its altitude. To read more about our first visit to the vineyard back in September of 2009 and notes on harvest and winemaking, check out our blog post from October, 2009.

But let’s get to the most important part – now that the wine has been aged in French oak and in bottle, how does it taste? Here are our most recent tasting notes from the 2009 Deer Meadows Vineyard Pinot Noir:

The best word to describe this wine is exotic. Wonderful floral and earthy aromatics integrate with a slight caramel edge and Asian spice on the nose. The palate is brisk with bright cherry, orange peel and coriander. Intense red cherry and great acidity punctuate the finish. With such great structure, the wine will unfold after a few hours after being opened; with bottle aging, it will develop even more complexity over time.

Here are the details and specs for this wine:

  • Clones: 115/Wädenswil
  • Harvest/Brix: September 25, 2009 at 23.5 Brix
  • Fruit: 100% whole berry (no stems)
  • Fermentation: RC212 yeast
  • Barrel aging: 17 months in French oak, 25% new (Cadus, tight grain, medium toast)
  • Alcohol content: 14.2% by volume
  • Bottled: March, 2011
  • Production: 49 cases

Sound good? Oh yeah, it is. Wait until you hear about the next 09 pinot…we’ll look at the 2009 Oppenlander Vineyard next week.



Sparkling Wine from Waits-Mast? Yup. by valleyfog
June 2, 2011, 11:59 pm
Filed under: New releases | Tags: , ,

Dig it. Back in 2009, in addition to the five different vineyard-designate pinot noirs we made, we participated in a small project to make sparkling wine from the Split Rock vineyard in the Sonoma Coast AVA. At long last, the 2009 Waits-Mast Blanc de Blancs Sparkling Wine, Split Rock Vineyard (Sonoma Coast) is now available in our webstore for a limited time only.

2009 Waits-Mast Blanc de Blancs

We only made 6 cases, so there will also be limited availability – we have a feeling they could go fast. Alas, we are excited to finally pop this bubbly and try it and to share it with you. It is a rockin’ good wine.

Sourced from the Split Rock Vineyard located in the Sonoma Coast growing region, the grapes selected for this sparkling wine enjoyed rocky soils combined with winds from the Petaluma Gap which consistently produces great fruit. Here are the tasting notes:

The 2009 Blanc de Blancs exhibits an abundance of soft, bright aromatics with fresh-baked brioche, Anjou pear and citrus flowers. The palate is lush with Pink Lady apple, melon and Clover honey. Long and elegant on the back end lifted by lively tones of Meyer lemon and Nashi pear. There is a creaminess on the mid-palate and a crispness on the finish of this sparkler, where the acidity and the apple and pear flavors really come through.

Details:

2009 Blanc de Blancs, Split Rock Vineyard

Blend: 100% Chardonnay

Alcohol: 13.0%

Aging: 20 months on the yeast

Disgorgement: May, 2011

Price: $40/bottle (750ml)

When we’re not drinking pinot noir, we’re drinking sparkling wine (or maybe both in one night!). We are also firm believers that sparkling wine is not just a special occasion wine – it goes well with so many foods and tastes great any time of the year. So, treat yourself for the summer and grab a sparkler.




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