The Tasting Panel magazine

February 2014

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february 2014 / the tasting panel / 73 This year Dutton Ranch celebrates its 50th year in business, and some of the land used today is the same land from 50 years ago. "We have a tremendous amount of generational knowledge passed on from my father to my brother and me," says Steve Dutton. Family runs deep at Dutton Ranch. "We treat all of our employees as family. Many of our staff have worked with us for three, even four decades, and now we have a second generation of employees working for us." The Calling released four wines in 2012: a 2010 Chardonnay from Dutton Ranch in the Russian River Valley, a 2010 Chardonnay from Jewell Vineyard (a Dutton Ranch single-vineyard desig- nate), a 2009 Cabernet Sauvignon from Rio Lago Vineyard in the heart of the Alexander Valley and a 2009 Bordeaux style blend from the Alexander Valley called "Our Tribute," a tribute to both both men's dads and their inluence in their lives. In just a year and a half, The Calling sold through two vintages. Current offerings from The Calling include a Gold label series, which consists of a 2012 Dutton Ranch Pinot Noir ($37), a 2012 Dutton Ranch Russian River Chardonnay ($32) and a 2011 Alexander Valley Rio Lago Vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon ($37). The Platinum series includes a 2010 "Our Tribute" ($62), a 2012 Russian River Fox Den Vineyard Pinot Noir ($62) and a 2011 Chardonnay from Jewell Vineyard ($47). Last year The Calling sold through 13,000 cases and Deutsch expects to sell between 18,000 and 20,000 cases in 2014, with production of the more affordable Gold Label wines increasing more than the Platinum wines, which average around 500 cases annually. We tasted the 2012 Dutton Ranch Russian River Gold Label Chardonnay ($32) in our Tasting Panel ofices. On the nose the wine delivered decadent aromatics: lemon rind, pineapple, baking spice and enveloped the palate with beautifully balanced mineral, citrus and left a lingering divine note of honey and toast. The 2011 Alexander Valley Rio Lago Vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon ($37) offers a pure expres- sion of Alexander Valley's cooler climate–style Cabs, redolent of clove, licorice, sweet blackberry and tobacco spice well integrated with toasted oak and peppery dark berry notes, leading to a drawn out and pleasant inish. A Personal Alliance A portion of The Calling's proits are donated to the Nantz National Alzheimer Center in Houston, where the sports commentator is on a mis- sion to ind a cure for the disease that consumed his father's life for 13 years and led to his eventual passing. "I feel incredibly fortunate to be able to marry these two passions—wine and raising awareness for Alzheimer's—to help ind a cure," says Nantz. Together, Jim and Peter formed the Deutsch Nantz Alliance (DNA), cement- ing a strong bond that demonstrates how solid foundations with genuine intentions can unite to beneit the consumer. "We both agreed that egos had to be checked immediately," recalls Deutsch, "and he's been a great partner. I joke with him that he spends most of his time in the broadcast booth with partners like Phil Simms and Nick Faldo. Now he's back in a different booth as we broadcast together our vision for The Calling. We make a great team, always focused on getting it right. It's about making good decisions, and not about who gets to make the call." Totally Sold A Total Wine & More store in Dallas offers an impressive display of The Calling thanks to store manager Randy Halford. Melissa Devore is Vice President of Domestic Wine Buying for Total Wine & More, which boasts 100 retail outlets nationwide. With Cabernet Sauvignon wines dominating sales in her stores, The Calling's Alexander Valley Rio Lago Cab is a big player. "The Calling has a great story and our sales people naturally sell wines that can engage the customer," says Devore, adding that she's been witness to many celebrity-made wines, but the difference is that "The Calling offers superb quality, and I don't think this holds true with a lot of celebrity wines." In light of recent economic growth, Devore is also seeing trends in younger wine drinkers willing to experiment. "They're taking bigger risks at these price points and in that space you have to have a great package and presentation so the customers feel they are getting their money's worth." PHOTO: JASON KINDIG

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