The Tasting Panel magazine

March 2012

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INTRO-VINOUS Getting in the Grove M ike Trujillo was regarded by wine cognoscenti as a cult winemaker even before the term came into common use. In the mid-1980s, the Colorado native was developing vineyards in Carneros. "This was a time when this area was exploding—but without the big names," Trujillo explains. "It was that magic time when such legends as André Tchelistcheff and Tony Soter were mentoring people [like me]." Considering himself a builder (Trujillo's hobby is woodworking and furniture-making), crafting wine became another outlet through which to test his artistic "patience." In those days, Trujillo gathered what advice he could from the wine world's great consul- tants, took classes at U.C. Davis and, feeling his oats─and "without any money"─launched a label called Karl Lawrence. His first release, from the 1991 vintage, was a Cabernet Sauvignon sourced from two vineyards in Rutherford: Gary Morisoli Vineyard in Rutherford, and the Herb Lamb Vineyard at the base of Howell Mountain. "It took off to the moon," Trujillo points out. "It was received as unique, and I took to heart what Tchelistcheff taught me about balance, structure, finesse." But Trujillo needed a place to make his wine and wound up custom-crushing at nearby Sequoia Grove winery in Napa, where he was assistant to its founding winemaker, Jim Allen. "I was the sous chef," says Trujillo, who, at the time was considered a rock star with the Karl Lawrence label. When Allen retired in 2001, Introducing Cambium "This is my dream of bringing a Napa Cab up to par," says Mike Trujillo, as he pours a glass of his latest project-come-to-fruition, Cambium. Based on 70% Cabernet Sauvignon from Rutherford, the wine, a 2007 vintage, utilizes percentages of the other four Bordeaux varieties, with Cab Franc as the next biggest component. With a purple-edged hue to the glass, the wine becomes bigger by the moment—not through alcohol or tannic power, but through ever-developing complexity. The wine's name connects Trujillo to Sequoia Grove: Cambium refers to the cellular layer beneath the bark of a tree—in other words, its lifeline. An underlying sip of the soil melds with black currants and tobacco, with an opaque depth that still allows a true plum and chocolate to emerge through its seamlessness. SRP $100 pre-release; $140 thereafter. 20 / the tasting panel / march 2012 PRESIDENT & DIRECTOR OF WINEMAKING MIKE TRUJILLO TURNS A NEW LEAF AT SEQUOIA GROVE Mike Trujillo. the owners of the winery offered an appealing proposition to Trujillo. With the backing and blessing of the family, Trujillo walked away from the meeting with the title of President and Director of Winemaking— with free rein and time to turn the winery around. "It wasn't broken, but it also wasn't the varsity team," Trujillo adds. "People like André passed down so much knowledge in my early years, and combined with my own past 30 years of trial and error, I believe we have come to a new age for Sequoia Grove," he reports. With the ability to source fruit from the vineyards he trusts and make the best use of the winery's estate fruit, Trujillo has turned over a new leaf for Sequoia Grove. —Meridith May Sequoia Grove is available through Kobrand Corp.

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