The Tasting Panel magazine

September 2015

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The shallow, clay soils at Bouchaine hold a variety of sedimentary rocks. Counterclockwise from the top: chert; serpentine; two more pieces of chert or microcrystalline quartz; basalt; acidic volcanic rhyolite or andesite; and concretionary chert, possibly limestone; the rectangular yellow rock in the middle is an acidic or intermediate volcanic rock like rhylolite or andesite. They are angular-to-round, so the transport distance from the source was short to medium, maybe a few miles. Soil identification courtesy of Dr. Paul Skinner, Terraspase. O ne of the best times of year to interview California wine- makers is during the weeks between set and veraison. Even if they've been traipsing around the country or the world presiding over obligatory wine dinners, they seem reflective about the cyclical rhythm of farming. Such was the case during a morning spent with Napa native Chris Kajani surveying the estate vineyards and discussing her intentions for her first dirt-to-bottle vintage at Bouchaine. Standing at the highest point on the estate, looking south over San Pablo Bay, the conversation naturally turns to work in the vineyard, which is being transitioned to cane pruning. A glance down at the base of a nearby Pinot Noir vine revealed something that surprised us both: a collection of sedimentary rocks that included serpentine (our state rock), basalt, rhyolite and chert. Shallow clay soil types predominate in the Carneros, with Forward and Bressa planted to Pinot Noir and Chardonnay preferring Haire and Diablo at lower elevations. Bouchaine is no exception: Pinot Noir is planted to high ground and Chardonnay in swales and closer to the Bay. Kajani, who spent eight years at Saintsbury and worked her first harvest with "Pinot Geek" Ed Kurtzman, succeeded winemaker Michael Richmond as Winemaker and General Manager when he retired earlier this year. Just two weeks in to her new role at the time, she was fully immersed in Bouchaine's history. The winery was renovated in 1996 in an almost timeless style, using re-milled redwood from the original tanks; replanting began there in 2002. "Being the longest continually-operating winery in Los Carneros, we have a commitment to preserving this amazing winegrowing site for generations to come," she said, while reflecting on the vintage that's now under way. Female winemakers in Carneros are on a roll. Kristy Melton has departed from Clos du Val, where she gained global noto- riety and made several award-winning wines to start her own consultancy— Melton Wines. San Fran Insider caught up with Kristy at the 30th anniversary of the Carneros Wine Alliance held last month at the di Rosa Preserve. Melton, who currently works with Varozza Vineyards in St. Helena and has projects at Taylor Family Vineyards in Stags Leap, will be taking on new clients at the luxe end of the scale. "I'd like to start working with Carneros Pinot again," she said but, in the meantime, Melton has wine in the bottle and her own label in the works. 22  /  the tasting panel  /  september 2015 SAN FRAN INSIDER HARVEST IN CARNEROS SEES TWO WOMEN WINEMAKERS KEEPING BUSY by Deborah Parker Wong It's Time to Rock and Roll PHOTO: DEBORAH PARKER WONG 2015 will be the first dirt-to- bottle vintage for Bouchaine Winemaker and General Manager Chris Kajani. Kristy Melton, who gained notoriety as winemaker at Clos Du Val, has started her own consultancy, Melton Wines. PHOTO: BOB MCCLENAHAN PHOTO COURTESY OF MELTON WINES

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