The Tasting Panel magazine

May 2013

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Page 145 of 148

SMALL PRODUCERS ROB MURRAY VINEYARDS HAWK & HORSE VINEYARDS Mitch Hawkins says "he couldn't have dreamt up a better place" for his wines than the Red Hills AVA in Lake County. "The volcanic soil here at a 2,200-foot elevation dictates an unforgiving nature for our low-yield, tiny, thick-skinned clusters of Cabernet Sauvignon." Just released is the Hawk & Horse Vineyards 2009 Lake County Cabernet Sauvignon ($65), a big, rich 14.5% abv creature that will take time to fully develop—but that didn't stop us from loving this stallion of a red. Consulting winemaker is California legend Dick Peterson, whose progeny, Heidi Peterson Barrett, is also a most respected winemaker. Partners Rob Murray and Andrew Nelson of Rob Murray Vineyards We were so impressed by this Arroyo Grande–based winery, we had to write up a couple of top picks. The Rob Murray Vineyards 2011 Force of Nature Pinot Gris ($20) is grown among indigenous grasses in Murmur Vineyard, located on the border of the most southwestern portion of the Santa Maria Valley AVA, 12 miles from the Paciic Ocean. Fermented in 100% stainless steel, this honey tea–nectared, loralscented, grassy gem speaks with an Alsace accent. Rob Murray Vineyards 2010 Stasis Chardonnay ($35), in its inaugural vintage, is an impressive creamy big-mouth white with notes of cashew and hazelnut nougat that lean up against clean, subtle citrus notes and tart pineapple. Barrel aged for ten months in French oak, it also hails from the Murmur Vineyard. IDLE HOUR WINERY From Madera County in California's Central Valley, Idle Hour Winery is located at the Queen's Inn by the River, a quaint eight-room hotel and winebar on the Fresno River owned by partners Anna Marie dos Remedios (the winemaker) and Deb Payne. Idle Hour Winery is the irst winery for this small town just outside the south entrance to Yosemite National Park. Idle Hour 2009 Tempranillo ($24) possesses blue violets and plum notes, with big tobacco, olive, soy and minerality that reminds us of Ribera del Duero. STAR LANE VINEYARD On the eastern end of the Santa Ynez Valley, Happy Canyon is the warm spot where Bordeaux varieties are thriving—and not just the reds. Star Lane Vineyards winemaker Andy Alba is in his irst vintage with the stainless steel–fermented Star Lane Vineyard 2011 Sauvignon Blanc ($22). With lees stirring bi-weekly, guava, kiwi, lime blossom and brine are stand-out notes—you can't help fantasizing about pairing this with oysters! MARK YOUR CALENDARS Family Winemakers of California is coming to San Francisco for the trade on Sunday, August 18. More than 250 wines will be poured at Fort Mason Center. Information and trade registration will be at next month. may 2013 / the tasting panel / 145

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