ValleyFogBlog


Waits-Mast Wine Tasting Events: Spring/Summer 2012 by valleyfog

I was riding my bike to work the other day and smelled the aroma of fresh-cut grass. That smells like Spring to me. Growing up in Indiana, that smell becomes familiar usually in May or June. It’s still February, but Spring feels like it is around the corner, especially with a mild winter we have are having here in the San Francisco Bay Area.

We hope the mildness continues in your neck of the woods — apparently Chicago has no snow on the ground, which is quite odd for February — and throughout the summer and fall. To keep us all occupied until then, Waits-Mast has a number of tasting events across the Spring and Summer. Here’s the list of what we have lined up currently and when we have more, we’ll update this post:

Tasting Events:

March 25, 2012: 12 – 4pm, Reserve Room SF. Reserve Room SF is a tasting event at the Golden Gate Club in the Presidio where you can taste and purchase wines that are hard to find or try anywhere else. Waits-Mast will be pouring our Pinot Noir at the event alongside famed Napa winemaker Heidi Barrett and a number of small and cult wine producers from Northern California. Try our Pinots and then sample the Cabernets and Bourdeaux blends of La Sirena (Barrett’s label), Fantesca, Troll Bridge Cellars and about 30+ other boutique wineries. We have arranged for a considerable discount on tickets for Waits-Mast fans. Go to this link to take advantage of this discount code: http://reserveroomsf.eventbrite.com/?discount=waitsmast

Location: Golden Gate Club, Presidio of San Francisco

Tickets on sale now at: http://reserveroomsf.eventbrite.com/?discount=waitsmast

Glasses at the ready in Anderson Valley

May 18 – 20, 2012: Anderson Valley Pinot Noir Festival. Waits-Mast returns to Anderson Valley for the fourth time to pour at the Pinot Noir Festival (read our recap from last year) and will be participating in more events this year. We are tentatively set to co-host a winemaker dinner on Saturday night the 19th – more to come in a future post. When it comes to Pinot Noir, our heart is in Anderson Valley and we’re excited to pour our 2009 vintage wines from this appellation and at least one 2010 vintage Pinot Noir that should be released by May. Tickets go on sale March 15 and we recommend that you purchase early as tickets for dinners and other events across the weekend sell out quickly!

Location: Anderson Valley (Boonville, Philo), Mendocino County, CA

Tickets: on sale 3/15/12 at http://www.avwines.com/wsdevent/eventview/action/view/frmArticleID/216/

June 11, 2012: Taste of Mendocino. The second year of this tasting, Taste of Mendocino is hosted by the Mendocino Winegrape and Wine Commission (MWWC) and Visit Mendocino County and is focused on promoting America’s Greenest Wine Region to Bay Area trade and media and supporting and promoting the natural and agricultural heritage of the entire county of Mendocino. In addition to a long list of Mendocino-based and focused wineries, other exhibitors will include food, travel, lodging, and other local artisans and businesses.

Location: Terra SF Gallery, 511 Harrison Street, San Francisco

Website: http://tasteofmendo.com/

June 16, 2012: Pinot Days San Francisco. Gird your liver because at Pinot Days,  you will have the opportunity to sample Pinot Noir from over 200 producers including Waits-Mast Family Cellars. Get there early if you want to hit every winery on your wish list as smaller or more exclusive producers like ourselves tend to pour out our wines pretty quickly. Tickets are not on sale yet, but stay posted as time gets closer.

Location: Fort Mason Center, San Francisco, CA

Website: http://www.pinotdays.com/

There may be additional tasting events throughout the Spring and Summer, so keep an eye on our blog as well as our Facebook and Twitter pages for up to date info. We look forward to seeing you at one of these events!

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Sampling English Wine at London’s Wine Pantry by Jennifer

ImageLast month during a family vacation, we spent a few days in London and as we tend to do when we’re traveling, we made a point to seek out some interesting wine. Oftentimes that includes searching for local wines – even in the most unlikely places, like across the pond in Ireland. No matter where you are, there seem to be more vineyards and wineries popping up. England is no stranger to wine, as over 400 vineyards exist in the country and its wine industry is quite respected.

After perusing a random travel brochure from the hotel, we found a mention of the Wine Pantry, a shop/tasting room that focuses exclusively on English wines. Located in Borough Market, a foodie-filled zone packed with produce shops, artisan bakers, and chocolate purveyors, the Wine Pantry occupies a tiny sliver of a space on Stoney Street. Its shelves are piled high with English wine and visitors are invited to taste samples in the shop. Some customers spill out onto the the few seats available on the adjacent sidewalk. According to its website, it’s “the only exclusively English wine shop” and it is devoted to spreading the gospel of English wine.

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We visited on a January evening and were invited to sample a selection of wines that were being offered from their wine dispensing machine. They started us off by opening up an English sparkling wine, which we savored while chatting a bit with our hosts, two young and accommodating English oenophiles. So accommodating that they entertained our 6-year old while being peppered with questions from us and other wine geeks.

The sparkling wines were very approachable with apple and pear flavors. Sparkling wines are definitely a forté for the English winemakers. After the sparklers, we tried two different rosés, one very pale salmon in color, and the other a very light strawberry color. Both were great representations of the different styles you can conjure from rosé wines. We tried two or three bacchus-based wines side by side to see the differences and did the same sort of comparison with English pinot noir (including a Three Choirs Pinot Noir). One Pinot (we forget the name) was a little lighter in style with some nice strawberry flavors while the Three Choirs had a little more depth to it and was showing some more oak.

Wine Pantry UK

Wineglass chandelier at the Wine Pantry UK

All of the wines were a delicious introduction to English wine and we had a hard time deciding on the perfect bottle to take home. We ended up with a bottle of 2006 Breaky Bottom Cuvée Reservée Brut made from seyval blanc. It was highly recommended by Julia, one of the hosts, and we knew that when we bust this one out at a dinner party that just by name it would instantly be recognized as an English wine.

After quenching our thirst – on a fairly chilly evening – we were ready to have a warm meal. Julia recommended a nice local restaurant nearby, Elliot’s Cafe in the Borough Market. Once we stepped in we felt instantly at home – this could have been a small farm-to-fork restaurant in San Francisco, just with different local ingredients. The food and the people were equally welcoming. We ended up chatting with a family sitting next to us, the father being the designer of the restaurant. We even got a quick tour of the kitchen downstairs, where there were a couple of pig’s heads sitting in brine. We wish we had found this neighborhood earlier in our trip. Alas, it was our last night, so we ended the trip on a high note!

Our trip to Borough Market got us out of the tourist zones of London and provided a great opportunity to try a range of wines from the growing English wine scene and get a feel for the neighborhood restaurant action. Perhaps on our next visit we’ll get the chance to travel outside of London in order to visit one of the hundreds of vineyards in the U.K. Until then, we have our bottle of Breaky Bottom.



Barrel tasting 2010 vintage Pinot Noir by valleyfog
pinot noir barrel tasting

Barrel-tasting the 2010 vintage

The time is nigh – we’re getting ready to bottle our 2010 vintage at long last. As you might remember, 2010 was a very cool vintage, with late spring rains and a cool summer. There were a couple of heat waves in August and then in September and October, which caused a bit of a scramble to pick the fruit before sugars spiked. After closely tracking Brix and pH, visiting the vineyards and poking, pulling and tasting the berries, in the end it came down to a nod and a smile between us and each grower – “let’s pick!”

16 months later, after the wines have gone through fermentation, racking from new to neutral barrels and resting comfortably in the winery, they are ready. Before bottling, we do a final barrel tasting to see how the wines taste and if any final blending is necessary to round out any rough edges.

The challenge when you make small lot, single-vineyard Pinot Noir – lots of either two or four barrels like we do – you don’t have that much to blend in or out. You’re really banking on the vineyard to provide interesting, unique and desirable characteristics – it was even more of a gamble when only made one barrel of a particular vineyard. As we tasted through each of the barrels across the four different vineyards and three different appellations of Pinot Noir, each tasted different, displaying variations on the Pinot Noir theme, and really didn’t require any blending.

In fact, we’re going to leave them as is. That’s our goal in the first place with making single-vineyard Pinot Noir – to retain the site-specific characteristics of each wine, rather than try to blend together the perfect Pinot Noir. We are extremely pleased with all of our 2010s and feel like they are ready for bottling, and soon after going through bottle shock, ready for our fans to enjoy. Here are the tasting notes for the different wines:

2010 Wentzel Vineyard, Anderson Valley: We’re excited for the return of Wentzel, our 2007 effort being the only other vintage we had made from this organically-farmed Anderson Valley vineyard up in the hills above Goldeneye. And a winning effort at that – it was featured in the San Francisco Chronicle’s Top Wines of 2009. We worked with Roland Wentzel to acquire some fruit from a small hillside parcel called “the clos”, which has a mix of Dijon clones 114, 115, 667, 777. From our tasting today, we picked up on aromas of toast, sweet cherry and raspberry with a bright cherry and juicy palate, lively acidity making it dance along to the finish. There is a purity to this wine and is very much reflective of that red-fruit driven Anderson Valley Pinot Noir that we love. Read more about our harvest and crush of this wine here.

2010 barrel tasting notes

Random scribblings on the 2010s

2010 Oppenlander Vineyard, Mendocino County: this is our second vintage from Oppenlander, a small vineyard situated northwest of Anderson Valley, closer to the coast. It has much cooler daytime temperatures and is harvested later than most Anderson Valley wines. This one also has great acidity to it – that oceanic acidity we’ve picked up on before with Oppenlander – and also feels slightly denser than the Wentzel. The wine is a beautiful violet and crimson color and is showing some nice earth and spice notes on the nose, with a sweet cherry palate that has some tannins and chewiness to it. The Oppenlander and the Wentzel will do well with age and we’ll likely release them later in the fall. Read more about Oppenlander and the 2010 harvest here.

2010 Archer Family Vineyard, Russian River Valley: formerly owned by the late Gary Archer, this vineyard is close to Amber Ridge, another Russian River vineyard with which we’ve had great success. We worked with the Dijon 828 clone from this vineyard; 828 tends to have a more dense color pigmentation and lower pH (= higher acids). This wine is ready to come out of its shell – nice herbal and red-fruit notes on the nose, clean cherry and strawberry on the mid-palate and a juicy finish. Expect to see this released in the Spring/Summer timeframe.

2010 Londer Vineyard, Anderson Valley: we made four barrels total from Londer, with a mix of 115 and Swan clones. As we tasted through each glass representing each clone and new(since racked to neutral) and neutral oak barrels, each was displaying an interesting component, from earthiness to tea leaves to chalkiness to bright and pretty flower petals. In the fifth glass, we combined all four barrels and this wine really comes together beautifully. Each of those elements, and others, mix together well to create a Pinot Noir with bright red fruit and a depth of character. Read more about the 2010 harvest and crush of our Londer Vineyard Pinot Noir here.

Jennifer Waits barrel tasting

Jennifer searches for the right adjective

Wow. As we’ve said before, the waiting is the hardest part. You can do your best to respect the fruit in the winemaking process, let the wine take its course and hope everything turns out right. Especially after a stressful vintage due to the cool weather, these wines strike a wonderful balance and have turned out really well.

The 2010 Pinot Noir will continue to evolve, of course, and on release of each vineyard-designate wine, we’ll go into more detail and description in our tasting notes. Until then, we’re thoroughly enjoying our 2009 vintage, as our many of our customers, restaurants, retailers and the press. Head to our web store to see what strikes your fancy and order some Pinot Noir today. After reading all these tasting notes, you must be thirsty!