The Tasting Panel magazine

July 2015

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Page 57 of 136

july 2015  /  the tasting panel  /  57 EVENT RECAP W hile brand reps, websites and labels may tell us a lot about the juice within the bottle, nothing beats hearing about a wine straight from the horse's mouth. For this reason, four winemakers from the Trinchero Family Estates portfolio—Mario Monticelli, Winemaker at Trinchero Napa Valley; Josh Phelps, co-founder of Taken Wine Company; Joe Shirley, Winemaker for Napa Cellars and Folie à Deux; and Chris Leamy, Winemaker of Terra d'Oro—hit the road (or air, in this case) in April to tell their wine and winemaking stories to sommeliers and wine buyers in the Twin Cities and Denver. To guide our participants through the flights and bites, David Mahoney, wine writer and judge, led the discussion at Corner Table in Minneapolis, MN, and David Vogels, the founder of the original Sommelier Journal, moderated the panel at The Fort in Morrison, CO. Corner Table Restaurant is owned and operated by Nick and Chenny Rancone and Chef Thomas Boemer. At the luncheon in Minneapolis, Nick, Chenny and Chef Thomas crafted small bites to pair with each wine. As the talk began over a flight of Terra d'Oro 2014 Chenin Blanc & Viognier and Trinchero Napa Valley 2014 Mary's Sauvignon Blanc, Monticelli, producer of the latter, explained that good farming remains the most important aspect in quality wine. In regards to the hang-time of the Mary's Sauvignon Blanc, he clarifies, "I wanted to produce a Sauvignon Blanc with tropical fruit character and pleasant aromatics. As an early ripening grape, this means longer hang-time. We let the grapes benefit from the deep, well-drained and mineral rich soils found in Calistoga to avoid the green, vegetal flavors that can be common in a Sauvignon Blanc. Our Mary's Vineyard is a warm place, and I am always pleased with the balance found in the glass." Leamy—who admits he never sought out to be a winemaker when he began studying Biological Sciences at the University of California, Davis—added to these sentiments: "As a winegrower, it's important to choose an appellation that is best-suited for the varietal. For example, Amador Zinfandel displays the classic Sierra Foothills Zinfandel characteristics unique to this region. Since we don't get the benefit of coastal influence, we don't grow Pinot Noir. The wines we produce, in addition to Zinfandel, like Barbera and Petite Sirah, love the sun and grow very well in Amador County." The panel's focus turned to Chardonnay as the Complicated 2013 Chardonnay and Napa Cellars 2013 Chardonnay flowed into guests' glasses. "Even though I don't think Chardonnay has run its course in the U.S.," Shirley notes, "I would like to see consumers supporting a wider variety in white wine." Phelps chimed in to explain that garnering this multi-varietal support, especially among Millennials, boils down to approachability, which explains the restraint in his Chardonnay. Moving on to the Pinot Noir portion of the luncheons, the ever-important topic of hang-time resurfaced, while the guests sipped on Folie à Deux 2012 Pinot Noir and Napa Cellars 2013 Pinot Noir. "It's important to wait for optimal ripeness, which imparts great flavor development and complexity," Shirley pointed out. Since Pinot Noir has the advantage of more hang-time, he reminded the room just how beneficial coastal influence is for this variety. Shirley's Folie à Deux 2012 Zinfandel hit our palates next, as he laughed: "Many people think that all grape varieties originated in France, but that's not true! Zinfandel found a home in America and it grows best in warmer climates, so sourcing grapes from sunny areas in California results in complex and concen- TRINCHERO FAMILY ESTATES INVITES SOMMELIERS AND WINE BUYERS INSIDE THE WINEMAKER'S STUDIO by Emily Coleman Steven Brown—the Wine Buyer at Tilia, located in Minneapolis, MN— contemplates the Trinchero Napa Valley 2014 Mary's Sauvignon Blanc. PHOTO: JAIMEE MORSE PHOTO: JAIMEE MORSE Confounding the guests, the wines tasted blind were the Trinchero Napa Valley 2012 Daybreak Merlot and the Terra d'Oro 2012 Deaver Zinfandel.

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