The Tasting Panel magazine

December 2014

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Page 34 of 136

34  /  the tasting panel  /  december 2014 TINSELTOWN TASTINGS W ith winemaker Chris Phelps (no relation to Joseph Phelps), pedigree is what you get: From 1984 to 1985, Phelps lived and trained at Château Pétrus. Christian Moueix invited Phelps to be the founding winemaker at Dominus Estate, where he worked for 12 years. Caymus followed, where he made red wines for eight years, until landing at Swanson Vineyards in 2003. The Ad Vivum project originated out of absolute passion and sheer fascination for a very small block of Cabernet Sauvignon (Clone 191) planted in Sleeping Lady Vineyard in Yountville, Napa Valley. "The fruit and the wine from this small, eight-row micro- block were so captivating, I had no choice but to start my own business, beginning with the 2007 vintage," says Phelps. "The allure of the wine that comes from those eight rows is represented by a very unique aromatic profile that my chief mentor, Jean-Claude Berrouet [44 years at Château Pétrus, where he still consults] called super-ripe black raspberry." Ad Vivum is not an extract-bomb; it is not a monolithic, rock-hard, astringent, over-oaked wine—it is the epitome of finesse and balance. Roughly 3,000 bottles are produced annually and some are offered at on-premise accounts such as Napa's The French Laundry, Bottega, Cook, Press, Bistro Jeanty and Fleming's Steakhouse in Walnut Creek, CA. In 2015, Phelps will transition from full-time production winemaker to autonomous freelance winemaker and producer. A new red blend under the Chris Phelps Wines umbrella is planned, and projects are under study in Willamette Valley and Eastern Washington, as well as a small project with his son, Josh Phelps of Taken Wine Co. Where Wine and Life Meet WINEMAKER CHRIS PHELPS'S AD VIVUM by Jonathan Cristaldi If you didn't catch the soap opera reference i n the name Ferguson Crest, Pat Ferguson and Joey Tensley are the ones laughing last (hint: Falcon Crest was a show about a wine dynasty that aired on CBS in the 1980s). Ferguson is a retired high school teacher balancing his time between Santa Ynez Valley and fishing trips to Mexico. He also happens to be the father of Stacy Duhamel aka "Fergie" of the Black Eyed Peas. After years of cultivating vegetable crops, Pat decided to try his hand at viticulture. He met lauded winemaker Joey Tensley (a veteran of Fess Parker Winery, Beckmen Vineyards and currently Tensley Wines) and the first vineyard was planted at "the highest point in Solvang, CA, called Chalk Hill," explains Ferguson. "The first vintage was 2009, and Fergie said, 'I was ready for really bad wine,'" says Ferguson. "Turns out it was pretty good." Today, Fergie is gets involved with creative decisions and grape discussions. As for winemaking, Tensely takes a "hands-off" approach: no new oak, no racking, no sulfur until bottling and no filtration. The vines however, get treated to bouts of rock-and-roll. Ferguson Crest is primarily DTC, but there is some allocation for restaurants. —J. C. Ad Vivum owner/winemaker Chris Phelps. PHOTO: DANIEL HALE Ferguson Crest 2013 Viognier, Santa Ynez Valley ($27.50) Weighty, round and fresh, with lofty white and orange floral notes, tropical fruit character and a pleas- ant lingering finish. 100% Viognier from Camp Four Vineyard; 210 cases. Ferguson Crest 2012 Syrah, Santa Ynez Valley ($35) Medium bodied, luscious red fruit and spice, complex earthy notes, long and seamless. 100% Syrah; 39 cases. Ferguson Crest 2012 "Fergalicious," Santa Ynez Valley ($40) Medium-bodied, dark cherry, peppery spice and fresh cut herbs; fresh and racy acidity. A blend of Syrah, Merlot, Grenache and Cabernet Sauvignon; 700 cases. Joey Tensley, "Fergie" and dad, Pat Ferguson. Rock That Body FERGUSON CREST WINERY: A FAMILY PROJECT PHOTO COURTESY OF FERGUSON CREST

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