The SOMM Journal

October / November 2015

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Page 14 of 132

14 { THE SOMM JOURNAL } OCTOBER/NOVEMBER 2015 { discoveries } Chuck Carlson Redefines His Style We first met Chuck Carlson on California's Central Coast in the early 2000s, when he was making wine for Curtis Winery, special - izing in Rhône varietals. As a big fan, I followed every vintage at a time when his Viogniers, Roussannes, and Syrahs were something unique in the market. But Carlson left that distinction behind to start his own label, focusing on Pinot Noir from three local AVAs in Santa Barbara County and the Santa Ynez Valley. For right now, he is solely focused on Sta. Rita Hills AVA Pinot, but brings some exciting other varieties into his portfolio. He's determined to revive his skills at producing some of those fantastic Rhônes, and we're anticipat - ing his Syrah-Grenache-Mourvèdre blend sometime next year. Meanwhile, here are some standouts we recently tasted with him: Carlson 2013 John Sebastiano Pinot Noir, Sta. Rita Hills ($40) com- mences with a ripe raspberry/cranberry fruit sweetness that breaks through fine acid. Elegant and feminine, this cross between Burgundian and Sta. Rita Hillian pays tribute to the region's rolling hills and limestone benches. Carlson 2012 Cabernet Franc, Santa Ynez ($30) comes from what is considered one of the best blocks of this variety in the Santa Ynez Valley, off the Curtis estate, set on a hilly mesa. "Cabernet Franc thrives in the moderate, sunny climate of this valley," Carlson points out. He blends in 20% Petit Verdot to add structure. Sweet plums, violets and high-toned raspberry join in with mocha and a smattering of Italian herbs. There's a fleshy character, maybe some olive tapenade—a dry, dense savory quality with chalky tannins that make this red so intriguing and special. —M. M. AGNITIO WINES ARE RECOGNIZED FOR THEIR DESIRABILITY AGNITIO IS LATIN FOR RECOGNITION AND KNOWLEDGE. When the winery sent over a sample several months back, I was so wowed, I called them right away. Where did this knockout wine come from? I had to find out. The wine, a $30 Napa Valley 2013 Sauvignon Blanc, scored a 95 in our sister publication, THE TASTING PANEL, along with a rarely awarded "Seal of Excellence." It possessed a rich, tropical juiciness and a pineapple-chiffon character, among many other attention-getting attributes. When Agnitio winemaker Alexandre Remy later stopped by The SOMM Journal offices, we gathered around in anticipation to taste some new releases from a collection of his Sonoma Coast AVA wines. The French-born Remy holds a Master's degree in food science from the University of Montpellier. His desire to make wine took him to Marlborough, New Zealand, France's Northern Rhône region, Victoria, Australia and California's Napa Valley, where he resides. Agnitio 2013 Walala Pinot Noir, Sonoma Coast ($70) comes from the 17-acre Walala Vineyard, which is managed by Atlas Vineyard Management and, situated in the midst of preserved forestland, experiences the maritime climate of the Sonoma Coast. This wine is so mouth-filling; just swish and retain all the perfume: heather, violets and jasmine. The texture is satin and billowy. Sandalwood, the darkest chocolate, intense plum and blueberry are part of the experience. Agnitio 2013 Durell Vineyard Chardonnay, Sonoma Coast ($60), with its cashew and oatmeal nose, has butter and toast components with enough acidity to keep the juice flowing. Peanut brittle, toasted brioche and an apple pie crust middle add to the charm. This vineyard lies within the western hills of Sonoma Valley on rocky soils on the Durell Vineyard estate. —Meridith May Agnitio winemaker Alexandre Remy. PHOTO COURTESY OF AGNITIO WINES Deserving Acknowledgement Chuck Carlson. PHOTO: BOB DICKEY PHOTO: BOB DICKEY

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