July 2012 The Oconee Wine Club
Organic and Sustainable is the theme for this months wine club selections!
This month I chose two wines from New Zealand that are perfectly suited for the extremely hot weather. The red for this month is the Yealands Pinot Noir 2010. Set between the steep foothills of the Marlborough’s Seaward Kaikoura Ranges and the windswept tides of Cook Strait, you will discover Yealands Estate Winery. Led by legendary entrepreneur Peter Yealands, step by innovative step, he is creating the first fully sustainable winery in New Zealand. The following are some of the ways Yealands in becoming a fully sustainable winery.
Use of sheep to graze between rows of vines to reduce the need for spraying and tractor-mowing • Wetland ponds capture rainfall for gradual release into soil • Sustainable Winegrowing Certification (SWINZ)
• Solar-reflective, high insulation cladding • Recovery and recycling of heat energy from refrigeration • Temperature monitoring throughout building • All winery tanks individually temperature-controlled • Motion sensors to control lighting • Solar panels and wind turbines • Rainwater harvesting from roof • On-site wastewater treatment and reuse • Composting of grape marc, leaves and stalks for vine mulch • Use of recycled glass and cardboard in packaging
Yealands 2010 Pinot Noir $ 17.99
In the harsh growing conditions of the Awatere Valley, Marlborough these low yielding vines produce wines with an intense varietal character. Subjected to low rainfall, high sunshine, cool nights and strong winds, we’ve nurtured the fruit from our Seaview vineyard with low impact methods, right through production in our leading edge carboNZeroCertTM certified winery. This wine reflects their aim of becoming the most sustainable wine grower in the world, creating premium wines of intensity and purity, in complete harmony with the environment.
The Yealands Estate Pinot Noir 2010 shows lifted aromas of violets, red berries and spice. The palate is refined with plum notes and complemented by silky tannins and a long savoury finish.
The Infamous Goose Sauvignon Blanc 2011 $ 13.99
The source of Infamous Goose grapes is Marlborough’s Wairau River Valley, where stony, sandy loam topsoil covers deep layers of free-draining shingle. This low-fertility soil reduces vigor, yielding lush, aromatic, ripe fruit. The fruit is picked at optimal ripeness and destemmed and the free-run juice is cool-fermented in stainless steel tanks. Four months of aging on the lees, also in stainless steel tanks, provides body and complexity before blending, fining, filtering and bottling.
In general, a large harvest brought high-quality, well-balanced fruit. White wines have good natural acidity, especially for a warm year, where both flowering and the harvest occurred a bit earlier than usual. The characteristics of the 2011 vintage across New Zealand included warmth and ripeness, and along with these, good depth and balance.
The wine has fresh aromas of lime, nectarine and gooseberry. On the palate, white peach and citrus flavors with a hint of rosemary lead to a light body and fresh acidity before a crisp, clean finish. This wine pairs with white fish, shellfish, salads and white meats.
The Connoisseur’s Club
This month’s selections comes from Morgan Winery located in Salinas California. In 1996, Dan and Donna Lee invested in their vision, purchasing and planting a 65 acre property in the northern end of the newly named, still not well known Santa Lucia Highlands AVA. Of all of the places they could have selected to establish a new “Premier Cru” estate, this site was to prove most perfect. Named the Double L (Double Luck, in honor of twin daughters), today this vineyard is one of the most famed winegrowing properties in California. A living laboratory, the organically certified Double L Vineyard boasts 20 different clones on 8 different rootstocks.
The close proximity of Monterey Bay’s cold, deep waters influences everything we do. Ocean fog provides a nighttime blanket for the vineyards. In the afternoons, rising hot air in the warmer, southern end of the valley draws in cool breezes off the Bay. The strong winds keep temperatures down and thicken grape skins, fostering intense flavor with balancing acidity. Slow, gentle ripening lasts four to five weeks longer than most regions in California; lack of damaging harvest rains extends the crush safely into the fall. The result is fully developed varietal character in every grape. The Double L Vineyard slopes from 150 to 550 feet in elevation. Average summertime temperatures are in the mid-70’s, with lows in the mid-50’s.
Organic and Sustainable Winegrowing
When Dan and Donna purchased the Double L Property, the soil was weak; it lacked nutrients and organic matter. Dan wanted to set himself apart from other winegrowers, so he chose to build-up the future vineyard soil organically. In 2001, Double L became the first and only Certified Organic property in the Santa Lucia Highlands. Monterey County Certified Organic, accredited by the USDA, certifies the Double L Vineyard as an organically farmed property.
The Santa Lucia Highlands is an ideal location for organic winegrowing. The strong winds and temperate climate are natural deterrents to many vineyard pests. The most prevalent threat is mildew, and there are a number of organic options which keep it in check. Effective organic options are used to keep the vineyard soil alive and healthy. Four times each year, compost tea is applied through the drip lines in the vineyard which provide micronutrients and microbes for the soil. Each fall, after harvest, a cover crop is planted. The mix of vetch, barley and peas works all winter adding nutrients, such as nitrogen, to the soil while protecting against run-off and maximizing water saturation. In the spring the cover crop is incorporated into the soil, adding essential organic material.
The Double L is also “Certified Sustainable” by the Central Coast Vineyard Team. “Sustainability” is a “big-picture” philosophy and practice, taking into account every aspect of a vineyard’s operations: social responsibility, clean water, energy conservation, and maintenance of existing habitats are just a few of its components. The Double L is the only vineyard in the Highlands to achieve both Sustainable and Organic certifications
The grapes are hand picked and sorted in the vineyard. Whole cluster pressing preserves the fruit flavors and natural acidity. We barrel ferment the wine in 27% new French oak along with a combination of one & two year old and neutral barrels. Partial malo-lactic fermentation ensures the wine will have a creamy richness balanced by bright fruit acidity.
This focused, elegant Chardonnay’s aromas feature tangerine, nectarine & almond. On the palate, the rich flavors are complemented by a light touch of toasty oak and refreshing citrus with bright acidity. Incredibly food-friendly, the 2010 Highland Chardonnay is a perfect match with cream-sauced pastas, roast chicken and pork, and seafood.
Morgan Twelve Clones Pinot Noir 2010 $ 29.99
The “Twelve Clones” Pinot Noir is drawn from the finest vineyards of the Santa Lucia Highlands appellation, including Morgan’s own organically farmed “Double L” estate – which, in the 2010 vintage, accounted for 56% of the final blend. The “Twelve Clones” designation denotes the original diverse Pinot plantings at the Double L, which is now comprised of fourteen clones. The vines here capture the warm morning sunshine from their elevated east facing terraces overlooking the Salinas River Valley. Strong afternoon winds and evening fog from nearby Monterey Bay create a cool Region I type climate. The resulting long growing season allows for gentle ripening, creating intense flavors with balanced acidity.
This special wine demonstrates the power and finesse of Pinot Noir from the Santa Lucia Highlands. It displays aromas of plum, dark chocolate and cola. Flavors of blackberry and cherry are complemented by notes of leather and black tea. Perfectly poised fruit/acid balance make this incredibly food-versatile. It is a wonderful accompaniment to roast chicken and grilled salmon, as well as almost any duck, beef or lamb. preparation.