The Tasting Panel magazine

November 2017

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58  /  the tasting panel  /  november 2017 WINEMAKER SPOTLIGHT C hris Kajani obviously loves the bucolic life; her idea of traffic is getting stuck behind a tractor. Kajani's former winemaking stints include some big names—Saintsbury, and before that, Pahlmeyer—but since April 2015 she's been making good juice from Pinot Noir and Chardonnay grapes for Carneros-based Bouchaine Vineyards. "Sure, I've been doing the same thing every year," Kajani confesses about the cycles of winemaking. "But how I do it keeps changing, thanks to Mother Nature." Her signature style in her 14-plus years of making Chardonnay is defined by her understanding of nature's challenges, as well as an effort to get to know her community. "Sharing information with other winemakers and knowing the growers and their vineyards is key," she reports. "I believe in learning lessons from the old guard." As the winery's General Manager, Kajani's role changes many times over the course of a day. "The beauty of running a winery is that you do have a say where the wine is placed, on- and off-premise," she confides. "I do enjoy overseeing sales around the country and what makes sense when it comes to interacting—and sometimes educating—our distributor network. Bouchaine is a 15,000-case, sustainable, boutique winery made by people, not accountants." We recently dined with Kajani and tasted some new releases. See our notes in the attached sidebar. A former lab technician at Genentech, Chris Kajani helped shepherd drugs into clinical trials. In the early 2000s, she took a different path: winemak- ing. Since April 2015, she has upped the style and flavor character of Pinot Noir and Chardonnay at Bouchaine, the oldest continuously-operated winery in Napa's Carneros region. Is a Game Changer for Bouchaine Vineyards by Meridith May Winemaker Chris Kajani PHOTO: BOB MCCLENAHAN Bouchaine 2014 Estate Chardonnay, Carneros ($30) is sourced from 35-year-old vines. Clean, fresh aromas of chamomile, melon, honeysuckle, and lemon verbena slide into a silky mouthfeel with peach tones. 92 Bouchaine 2014 Estate Pinot Meunier ($45) comes from vines planted in a "low spot" in the late 1990s. "This has a shape-shifter quality," Kajani notes. Our notes include flavors of sage in brown butter and blueberry pie, seasoned with balsamic. Very savory and unique. 93 Chris Kajani's New Clonal Series: Bouchaine 2014 Estate Swan Pinot Noir, Carneros ($45) is a vivid creature with a nose of sweet mocha cherry and sweet basil. The blue-fruited liquid glides along the tongue; tilled soil and snap pea are grace- ful and light. 94 Bouchaine 2015 Estate Pommard Clone Pinot Noir ($50) is in its first release (it debuted this past March). It's a brooding big brother to the Swan clone, with thicker skins and a "bluer" profile. Sweet tobacco, sandalwood, and blueberry tart are heady on the nose. The palate is lush and supple; it's also quite concentrated, with notes of anise and choco- late accompanying the darker blue fruit. 94 Bouchaine 2015 Estate Dijon Clone Pinot Noir ($50) is just releasing this month. It offers a classic cherry nose and a touch of rhubarb tartness. The palate morphs into exotic floral tones—a garden of jasmine and spiced tea rose. 95

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