Newsletter March 2012

Spring Release 2012

Dear Friends,

I am excited to announce our 2012 Spring Release Offering featuring five outstanding wines:

2010 Hudson Vineyard – Carneros Chardonnay
2010 Dutton Ranch – Russian River Valley Chardonnay
2010 Zio Tony Ranch – Russian River Valley Chardonnay (by allocation only)
2009 Pisoni Vineyard – Santa Lucia Highlands Pinot Noir (by allocation only)
2010 Jenkins Ranch – Sonoma Coast Pinot Noir

Many of these wines will be familiar to most of you. Though California has no grand cru classification, names like Hudson, Dutton, Zio Tony and Pisoni have rightfully earned a place in the pantheon of North America’s great Chardonnay and Pinot Noir vineyards (just as I believe Jenkins one day will). As a winemaker, these are the vineyards you dream of working with. More than that, they are the kind of sites that define what makes a great vineyard-designate wine. Four of these wines come from the 2010 vintage. Though 2010 was an unusual season, with a very cold spring and summer followed by significant late-season heat, the end result is something special. In broad strokes, our 2010s are intense, concentrated wines, with impressive density and rich, ripe flavors. At the same time, the general coolness of the season has preserved the lovely aromatics of these wines, while underscoring their complexity and pure fruit notes—qualities that really allow the distinctive nature of these vineyards to shine!

This release also marks a turning point for our Zio Tony Ranch – Russian River Valley Chardonnay and Pisoni Vineyard – Santa Lucia Highlands Pinot Noir. These two bottlings have long been the most sought-after and acclaimed wines in our portfolio, and are always the first to sell out. They are also two of our smallest production wines—a fact that was further underscored by the extremely small yields of the 2010 and 2011 vintages. To ensure that our most loyal customers have access to these wines, we will now be releasing both wines via email by allocation only. Any unclaimed wines will be made available to other customers on a first-come, first-served basis. Again, our goal with this new system is to reward our best customers.

With the 2010 vintage, we are also pleased to unveil a new custom-designed bottle. This new, lighter bottle is taller than the older bottle with a longer cork bore, which will provide a better seal for extended aging. The height and diameter of the punt have also been modified, and the new bottle will fit standard-size wine racks (we heard you!). It also features our iconic grape vine logo in the glass, and for the first time it has back label text with vineyard, varietal and AVA information specific to each wine. But enough about the new bottles, let’s talk about what’s inside them…

2010 Hudson Vineyard – Carneros Chardonnay The 2010 growing season offered an unparalleled textural expression of Hudson Vineyard that makes this wine one of the highlights of the vintage. There is a broad, silky density to this Chardonnay that underscores rich, unctuous notes of warm honey, almond, nougat, marzipan, burnt sugar, lemon cream and dried earth. Though the palate is full and broad, it is neither too heavy, nor over ripe, with enough acidity to add structure and dimension, and a long and persistent finish.

2010 Dutton Ranch – Russian River Valley Chardonnay There is beautiful freshness to this wine, with clearly delineated vineyard character. At the same time, the modest crop size in 2010 has contributed to amazing concentration, spotlighting notes of spiced tropical peach, pear, honeydew, clove and narcissus. The mid-palate is vibrant and bright, combining delicate, mouthwatering acidity with rich fruit, all surrounded by subtle, oak-inspired notes of cinnamon, spiced toffee and roasted almonds.

2010 Zio Tony Ranch – Russian River Valley Chardonnay Farmed by the famed Martinelli family, longtime Russian River viticultural legends, this site seems to defy logic, producing a wine that is both ripe and rich, and crisp and structured. Perfumed with layers of intricate aromas along with bold chunks of green apple and perfectly ripe pear, it is a study in contrast—big and bold, yet subtle and complex. It is a rare balancing act to achieve such opposite qualities, but that is the greatness that is 2010 Zio Tony Ranch!

2009 Pisoni Vineyard – Santa Lucia Highlands Pinot Noir As is always the case, we’ve given this wine an extra year in bottle so that it makes an appropriately stunning debut. This is a beautiful expression of Pisoni Vineyard—with remarkable richness and density, supple, fine-grained tannins and an elegant layered quality. The aromas showcase Chambord, strawberries, fresh cream, cinnamon, clove and chocolate, with a hint of smoky oak and enticing elements of perfume and spice. As compelling as it is now, it’s hard to fathom how good it could become.

2010 Jenkins Ranch – Sonoma Coast Pinot Noir Though Jenkins may not be as well known as some of the other wines in this release that may well change in the years ahead. Planted in Goldridge series gravelly loam soils, and with a sheltered location one series of hills back from the Petaluma Gap, Jenkins is a near-perfect Pinot site. It is also farmed by vineyard manager Charlie Chenoweth, who is one of the best. The aromatics for this wine are inviting and complex with layers of spice, fresh cherry, raspberry, dried cranberry and lavender, as well as notes of clove, cocoa, ginger, cedar and damp earth. On the palate, it shows its cool vineyard roots with initial flavors that are energetic and bright. The tannins, which are sweet, coating and supple, lead to a dense powerful mid-palate filled with red-fruited Pinot flavors.

As always, if you would like to place an order, please visit our online store, send an email to or phone us at 877.265.6700 for personalized service.

Very best wishes,
James Hall