The Tasting Panel magazine

April 2014

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Page 87 of 132

april 2014  /  the tasting panel  /  87 The CAB Collective was founded by ADELAIDA Cellars, Chateau Margene, DAOU Vineyards & Winery, Eberle Winery, J. Lohr Vineyards & Wine, JUSTIN Vineyards & Winery and Vina Robles. The Board of Directors includes permanent members DAOU, J. Lohr and JUSTIN while two seats are elected each year, currently being held by Chateau Margene and Jada Vineyard & Winery. In February, I spent two days visiting winemakers from J. Lohr, ADELAIDA Cellars, Jada and Chateau Margene as a precursor to the first-ever "CAB Camp" in Paso Robles (April 22–24), to be hosted by The SOMM Journal. (For information on this and other SOMM Journal "Camps," contact Linda Parker Sanpei at Day one unfolded with a luncheon at Thomas Hill Organics in downtown Paso Robles. PRCC board member Mike Mooney of Chateau Margene led a tasting of 27 CABs from top local growers—all members of the collective. We tasted mostly 2010 and 2011 vintages (the coldest in a decade for Paso) with a smattering of 2009s. The 2010s exhibited finely structured wines with ample ripe, dark berry fruit, while the 2011's were elegant and more austere in their fruit profiles. Mooney shared a 2005 Chateau Margene and addressed Paso's reputation for producing a lot of fruit, reminding us that fruit from the area is purchased all over California to supplement other programs. As for himself and many of his colleagues, "We've really changed our viticulture," he explained. "We've changed clones, rootstocks, spac- ing, farming, watering, regimes in the winery, refined our technical knowledge—all things that improve quality." The fact is, Paso is a place of greatly varying soil types from sedimentary, calcareous shale, clay loam, volcanic soil and sandy loam. With so many varying elevations, there are little swells and variables in soil and temperature from site to site. Paso is also a warm region, and grapes ripen to levels that produce wines of high alcohol. Critics complain that winemakers should pick earlier. But most winemakers I spoke with, including Jeremy Weintraub of ADELAIDA, scoff at the idea. "You can't really pick earlier," said Weintraub; "you make changes in farming," echoing Mooney's sentiments exactly. Visit to learn more about the CABs of Distinction events and to obtain complimentary tickets for qualified trade and media. At Chateau Margene with Mike Mooney Mike Mooney, owner and winemaker of Chateau Margene—named after his wife who also makes wine—is a proud seventh-generation Californian who unabashedly loves rich, opulent, big wines. When it comes to managing their property, the Mooneys no longer hire consultants. Trial and error and an insatiable curiosity to improve have led Mooney to invest in expensive labor-intensive practices, such as dropping a lot of fruit and hand harvesting by night. "Whether we grow it, use a little less water, grow smaller berries at lower tonnage, pick really ripe, hand process, pick and sort, employ secondary sorting, gravity flow, no pumping," he explained, "all these things add two percent, three percent better practices. It all starts to add up, and that's before we even get to the barrel program. So when people say, 'Ya know, we buy the same fruit as Chateau Margene,' I say, 'Ya know, they're right!'" . . . adding with a smirk, "The difference is, I'm buying on my per-acre contract where I dictate pruning, watering, fertilization, leaf canopy man- agement, pulling wires, pulling leaves, catch wires and such." Mooney sees the Paso Robles CAB Collective as mutually beneficial for small, medium and large producers. "I sit side-by-side on the board with Karolina Dekermenjian of JUSTIN, Cynthia Lohr of J. Lohr, Daniel Daou of DAOU and David Galzignato of Jada, and that incorporates everyone's input—from very small to very large producers. It's really fun for all of us to have our say and talk about how things are accomplished on each of our levels," says Mooney. "We're like the step-children of our brethren to the north, who didn't get any respect until the Paris tasting of 1976. We have a distinct style and fruit profile and the climate in Paso is conducive to 11 proposed sub-AVAs that the TTB is reviewing for approval. So, what do we have to say? Come see what we are doing!" Mike Mooney and Tess. Chateau Margene 2010 Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon. Rich raspberry and blackberry notes; complex minerality, firm structure and a lengthy elegant finish. TP0414_072-101.indd 87 3/21/14 2:53 PM

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