The Tasting Panel magazine

November 2014

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Page 67 of 136

november 2014  /  the tasting panel  /  67 And the Story Continues . . . Pott's relationships with the best growers and winemakers in Napa Valley means that he sometimes finds small single-vineyard lots of remarkable quality and unique character. To spotlight the uniqueness of the very best lots, Joseph Carr will intro- duce a line of sub-AVA wines that will retail for around $40. The first wine will be a red blend from Rutherford. "Terroir is what I love, so I am excited about this more focused approach to site," says Pott. Joseph Carr 2012 Cabernet Sauvignon, Napa County ($19.99) sourcing: Rutherford (25%), Oakville (20%), Stags Leap (20%), Yountville (10%), Napa County (25%) This Joseph Carr Cabernet reflects a traditional, "old-school" approach to winemaking, in which terroir is allowed to express itself with minimal interven- tion. Pott and Carr work with small growers in Rutherford, Oakville and the Stags Leap District to assemble this cuvée, which offers richness, depth and approachability. The "art of the blend" shines in this wine of balance and complexity. Joseph Carr 2012 Merlot, Napa County ($19.99) Bold Bordeaux-style Merlot made from grapes sourced from select vineyards in the prestigious Napa Valley and Carneros AVAs in Napa Country. Pott's experience working in Bordeaux and his and Carr's shared philosophy of producing elegant and complex yet approachable and balanced wines is evident here. Joseph Carr 2013 Chardonnay, Sonoma Coast ($19.99) Limited-production Dijon clone Chardonnay, with fruit sourced from Tom Larson's vineyard on the Sonoma Coast. Fermented in French oak barrels, 10% new, and aged sur lie. Pott chose 100% malolactic fermentation for a wine that is full and luscious yet elegantly balanced, reminiscent of the Burgundian whites that Pott and Carr both love and respect. No Compromise When Joseph Carr approached Aaron about making the Joseph Carr wines, he was a little hesitant at first. "I'm not exactly known for $20 wines," says the forthright winemaker, who also has a keen sense of humor and irony. "But my mother lives in a small town in Oregon, where there's no access to limited-production wines. I wanted her to be able to find a truly great wine for $20." Pott's decision to take on the chal- lenge of making value-driven wines in the land of expensive cult Cabernet took some courage, but he had no fear that his commitment to great winemak- ing would be compromised at Joseph Carr—in fact, quite the opposite. "Good soil and site are my greatest influences as a winemaker," he says. Pott's relationships give him access to choice lots that are normally reserved for wines that are priced well north of $100 a bottle. Few employ the négociant model in Napa because it is difficult. It works well for Joseph Carr because of Pott's access to small lots of amazing wines that did not make the final blend of $100+ wines. Aaron's colleagues trust that he will maintain their anonymity, which is critically important. Skills honed at classified Bordeaux estates and at premier Napa Valley properties—including being able to taste multiple lots and construct a final blend—give Pott the edge in what has turned out to be an ideal relationship. Carr and Pott are in constant contact, and their relationship goes beyond grapes. Among other mutual interests, the two have kicked around Paris checking out Michelin three- star restaurants. But in the end, it's the winemaking that has forged the strongest bond between these close friends and business partners, and that brings them firmly back to Napa. "You can't ignore what's in your backyard," concludes Carr. "Balance is a word we talk about almost every day. Anybody can build a super-extracted Napa Cab— that's not what we do." The Portfolio

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