January 2012 Wine Club Selections

Terra d’ Oro Winery

The January wine club selections come from a great California winery located in Amador County called Terra d’ Oro. With 400 acres of magnificent acres of estate vines—including several historic, old-vine vineyards—Terra d’Oro Winery now produces uncommonly delicious Zinfandel, Barbera, Sangiovese, Syrah, Pinot Grigio, Moscato, Rosé and Forte (our Super Tuscan blend).

They are blessed with the ability to farm three distinct vineyards:  SHR, Home and the historical Deaver Vineyard.  Each parcel has its own unique characteristics and yields such wonderfully different styles of Zinfandel.  They are also very fortunate that all our vineyards are in close proximity to our winery which helps during the harvest.  The name Terra d’Oro means “Land of Gold”…which pretty much sums it up.

Home Vineyard

Planted in 1977—3.68 Acres—100% Sustainable

Vineyard Notes:  The Vineyard, in its entirety, was grafted over to Zinfandel in 1994 on the susceptible rootstock AxR.  It is the only Zin vineyard owned that is bilateral cordon trained and used for red wine production.  The vineyard is surrounded by mature Valley Oaks with deep roots that monopolize the water supply, thus making it necessary to harvest the outer vines first and continue in a doughnut pattern.

Clonal Information:  The vineyard is planted in what is called the “Heritage” clone, which produces fruit with very unique characteristics.  Unlike traditional Zinfandel, these clusters are very loose with round berries, allowing the grapes to ripen in a much more uniform manner.  The Heritage clone also produces wines with exceptionally soft, lush structure that is more characteristic of a Sonoma Valley Zinfandel than an Amador County wine.

Soil Notes: Receiving a pronounced southwest sun exposure, the soil is unique for Amador County. It is much more alluvial in nature than our other vineyards. It lacks the signature red hue that is traditionally a result of large iron components, typical of Amador soil.

SHR Vineyard

Planted in 1996—-40 Acres—-100% Sustainable

Vineyard Notes:  These 40 acres are planted to 80% Zinfandel, 13% Petite Sirah and 7% Barbera. Paying homage to the ancient practice of field blending, all the grapes are co-fermented. The vineyard was laid out east to west with every seventh row being Petite Sirah, the thirteenth Barbera, fourteenth Petite Sirah and so forth. The tractor rows run north to south so the grapes picked into the gondola are brought to winery “blended.” This ancient technique is very clever, because it allows for interactions between the phenols (extracts from the skins & seeds) which create a complexity to the wine that cannot be recreated if these varietals were harvested separately.

Clonal Information:  The Zinfandel is a Deaver clone, planted on rootstock 110R. The Petite Sirah is from Ridge and the Barbera is commonly referred to as a “California Selection.”

Soil Notes: This vineyard lies next to our Home Vineyard and as a result has a bit of the alluvial soil near its border. The majority of the vineyard is classic Sierra Sandy Loam, a thin soil with lots of red clay and decomposing granite laced in. This extremely thin soil prohibits the vines from producing large crop and it dries out very quickly, causing the vines to ripen faster which leads to intense, rich and aggressive wines.

Deaver Vineyard

Planted in 1881—-Approximately 23 Acres

Vineyard Notes: The Deaver Vineyard has a horseshoe-shaped ridge that runs though the vineyard, with a swale in the middle of that horseshow. That swale produces a crop that is harvested separately due to the soil depth yielding different complexities in the fruit. The wines are al head trained which has been most effective with Zinfandel because it gives the fruit excellent sun exposure.

Clonal Information: This vineyard is one of the original plantings in Amador County and the vines have served as the parent cuttings for a majority of other vineyards in the region. The Deaver acreage is iconic when discussing Amador Zinfandel, as it continues to produce rich fruit with amazing concentration, character and Shenandoah spice.

Soil Notes:  The soil on the ridge of this field is very shallow and rocky, with lots of clay in it and a large iron component, which is a characteristic of many Shenandoah Valley vineyards.

2008 Terra d’ Oro Amador County Zinfandel $ 16.99

At Terra d’Oro, Zinfandel is what we do best. Shallow topsoils, granite hardpan, hot summer days, and cool summer nights make a fabulous home for our favorite varietal. Hand selected every year from our prestigious Amador vineyards, Terra d’Oro Amador County Zinfandel is the flagship of our Zinfandel program. We head train and spur prune the Terra d’Oro vineyards for optimum sunlight and controlled crop.

Winemaking Information

At Terra d’Oro, our Zinfandel vineyards are carefully handpicked and brought to the winery for processing. After being put into a hopper, about fifteen gallons of juice per ton of grapes is removed. The grapes are then destemmed and crushed and the must is sent to tanks where it is left to cold soak for up to three days. This allows a primary extraction where water acts as a solvent and breaks down the cell walls of the grape solids, extracting flavors, color, and aromas. The fermentors are drained and returned three times, resulting in more extraction than merely pumping over the tanks. After gentle tank pressing, the wine was aged in a combination of Hungarian, French and American oak for 16 months.

Tasting Notes

“The 2008 Terra d’Oro Amador County Zinfandel demonstrates the classic Sierra Foothills characteristics that are unique to this region. The nose is rich and super spicy with dark fruit and berries. The palate is smooth and showscases flavors of nicely ripened blackberries and plums. Spice lingers on the finish, making it a great wine to accompany a multitude of dishes. Try pairing with a lamb burger topped with goat cheese. Enjoy!”
— Chris Leamy, Winemaker


Terra d’ Oro Pinot Grigio 2010 $ 13.99

Vineyard & Varietal Information

Pinot Grigio, or Pinot Gris, is a mutation of Pinot Noir and for generations it grew in Burgundian vineyards alongside its red relation. When field blended with Pinot Noir it adds softness and acidity. In the last decade Pinot Grigio has gained international popularity. The varietal can turn out white wine of substantial structure and character with the verve to pair well with nearly any cuisine. Sunny, seaside, beautiful Santa Barbara County is a great match for Pinot Grigio. At our Los Alamos vineyard, located just east of Highway 101 in the middle of Santa Barbara County, the combination of well drained, extremely sandy soils and steep hillside plantings stress the vines just enough to bring intense varietal character to the fruit. This site also has the significant benefit of marine influence, critical for Pinot Grigio. Being a cousin of Pinot Noir, a long cool growing season is essential for the grapes to properly ripen, developing more concentration of flavors, while preserving acid balance.

Winemaking Information

The grapes are gently hand harvested in the first hours of morning to ensure cooler temperatures during their long truck ride to Amador County. Upon arrival at the winery, the fruit is handled with the utmost of care. It is immediately sent to press for gentle processing, minimizing the potential extraction of unwanted astringency and color from the skin and seeds. The clean juice, bursting with Pinot Grigio essence goes immediately to stainless steel fermenters. The fermentation is kept at very low temperatures for over a month, to develop bright, clean fruit character.

Tasting Notes

Terra d’Oro 2010 Pinot Grigio entices with a nose of ripe, bright pear and clover blossom. Rich and dense, the mouth oozes with juicy pear and stone fruit flavors, finishing with an elegant touch of toasted French oak. Try pairing this delightful wine with a mild cheese and fruit plate.

Connoiseur Club Selections

Gundlach Bundschu Sonoma Coast Chardonnay 2009  $ 24.99

The 2009 growing season lent itself well to producing some of our finest wines to date. Springtime was pleasantly warm and mild as flowering progressed, with only calm winds coming through the Petaluma gap. The heat of the spring and early summer was comfortably average as the vines developed a strong canopy. We progressed through summer and early fall with moderate weather that was both a winegrower and winemaker’s dream.

Winemaker Tasting Notes

Bursting with aromas and flavors of fresh meyer lemon, key lime, asian pear and granny smith apples. Round and lush with good weight, yet refreshing acidity and minerality. Long, mouthwatering finish of citrus with a touch of toffee and cream. An ideal pairing for fish prepared with citrus butter, oysters and all shellfish.

Gundlach Bundschu Estate Vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon 2007  $ 32.99

Winemaker Tasting Notes

Intense aromas of black currant and blueberry, laced with vanilla. The lush entry fills the mouth with rich flavors of dark berry, cassis and ultra dark chocolate. Big, smooth tannins give weight and roundness to the mouthfeel. Concentrated berry and anise flavors linger through the exceptionally long finish. Delicious upon release; optimal cellaring time 4 to 15 years from vintage.