The SOMM Journal

February / March 2017

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Page 42 of 116

42 { THE SOMM JOURNAL } FEBRUARY/MARCH 2017 { carte blanche } WITH THE INFLUX OF WINES BEING MADE by what seems like every Tom, Dick and Sally, the tendency would be to classify Master Sommelier Christopher Miller as another "somm who makes wine." But the reality is that Miller has been making wine for ten years. Not just buying bulk wine and slapping on a nifty label, or simply lending his palate and blending insight to a wine under the eyes of another winemaker, but actually sourcing fruit, making decisions about picking, vinification, pressing and aging, buying barrels, driving a forklift . . . "and cleaning—lots and lots of scrubbing tanks and destemmers," adds Miller with a smile. His training and tenure as a working winemaker began alongside fellow MS Greg Harrington in Walla Walla, where the first manifestations of his Meliora project took form, and then moving south to share production space with Greg Brewer and Steve Clifton for Meliora's Sta. Rita Hills years, all while running the Grand Award of Excellence program at Spago Beverly Hills (until 2014) and studying for his Master Sommelier exam. "I remember days when I would wake up at 4 a.m. to drive up to the winery [for Meliora], receive fruit, process, start the cold soak and then drive back down to L.A. in time for service," recounts Miller. Now he splits his time between Monterey, where the winemaking facility for Seabold is located, and Los Angeles, where he is EVP and Operations Director at a tech firm. Says Miller, "Twenty-plus-hour working days aren't all that difficult when you love what you do." Born out of the friendship between Miller and Todd Seabold (who runs a successful mort - gage firm in Los Angeles), the Seabold wines follow a non-single-vineyard approach. Miller explains, "We started having the 'If you could make wine anywhere, where would it be?' conversation. Todd was shocked that I chose Monterey. Santa Lucia Highlands has deservedly been getting attention over the last decade, but Monterey hasn't resonated as much with consumers. Some of the vineyards here are the coldest in the U.S. We want grapes with incredible natural acidity that still get to a pleasurable ripeness." This allows Miller and Seabold to produce wines that don't require any "tinkering" (i.e., watering back and/or acid additions, which are common industry practices in California's warmer climes). "The wines that can be produced here are very cohesive—they make sense unto them - selves," continues Miller. "The only thing I want 'sticking out' is deliciousness. We just want to make wines that respect their region, their identity, that speak to their birthplace and are immensely pleasurable to drink. We seek to produce wine that's like a best friend—some - times the conversation can be light and pleasurable and you don't need to think in their company. And sometimes you can sit down and talk about the meaning of life for hours on end. Just like your closest friends, we think it should be both." For more information, go to Mastering Monterey Master Sommelier Christopher Miller's Tasting Notes on His Seabold Wines Seabold Cellars 2015 Chardonnay, Monterey Subtle citrus and white fig tones quickly expand to roasted apricots and sunflower oil; aeration brings out ripe yel- low apples and Kent mangos. The palate is rich yet bright, flavors of prickly pear purée intermingling with dried pineapple and just a touch of hazelnut. A crème fraîche creamy/ tangy interplay carries an extremely long finish, defined by a perceptible, refreshing acidity balancing the plush texture. pH: 3.32 Alcohol: 14.0% TA: 6.75 g/L Production: 168 cases Seabold Cellars 2014 Pinot Noir, Monterey The nose leads with fresh- pressed blueberries and nori, aeration bringing heliotrope and Chinese five-spice to the fore. The palate opens to ripe black raspberries, orris root and sel gris, with a straight-from-the-oven black cherry short- bread finish. pH: 3.44 Alcohol: 14.0% TA: 6.55 g/L Production: 393 cases CHRISTOPHER MILLER, MS, AND TODD SEABOLD REPRESENT NON- INTERVENTIONALIST WINEMAKING THROUGH SEABOLD CELLARS by Karen Moneymaker PHOTO COURTESY OF SEABOLD CELLARS Master Sommelier Christopher Miller (right) teams up with longtime friend Todd Seabold to craft Seabold Cellars wines.

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