The Tasting Panel magazine

October 2015

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Page 26 of 140

26  /  the tasting panel  /  october 2015 OVER THE TABLE Agnitio 2013 Sun Chase Vineyard, Sonoma County A superbly balanced wine aged on its lees and only 30 percent malolactic conversion— bright citrus, toasty notes, lemon curd, laser-focused acidity, generous minerality and a lengthy finish. $50 Agnitio 2013 Durell Vineyard, Sonoma County Partially fermented in a concrete egg, with 20 percent malo, the wine is team- ing with citrus, baking spice and offers a creamy mouthfeel and more lemon curd and complex spice notes. $60 Oro Bello 2013 Chardonnay Round and smooth, lemon and lime, nicely integrated oak character that is not overblown, finishes clean. $20 J ed Steele, Rick Foreman, John Kongsgaard, Bruce Streblow and John Scharfenberger—all big names in American wine—share one thing in common: They each worked at Stony Hill Winery at some point in their careers. Stony Hill was one of the first wineries to offer wines to a mailing list, and their stalwart dedication to producing dry, mineral-driven Chardonnay, coupled with the winery's history, is exciting sommeliers and stirring a renewed interest in consumers. Stony Hill's vineyards lie between 800 and 1,550 feet up Spring Mountain, nestled into fairly steep slopes, situated between two creeks. Peter McCrea's father, Fred, bought the property in 1943, planted vines in 1948 and erected a winery by 1951. A year later, they harvested their first crop of Chardonnay, which McCrea recalls crushing and pressing by hand. "In 1954 my parents offered the wine for sale to friends for $24.95, which got you a case delivered to your doorstep," said McCrea. Mike Chelini started making the wines in 1973 and is still at the helm, while Peter's daughter Sarah has taken on the role of President. True to one style since the beginning, their Chardonnays are dry farmed on clay, sand and hard pan tuffa soils, do not undergo malolactic fermentation and age in large 15- to 20-year–old oak puncheons. The wines are held in bottle two to five years before release to the trade and the public. Mike Chelini barrel tasting Stony Hill's 2014 Cabernet Sauvignon from Napa Valley ($60), a rich, earthy and mineral- driven wine, with hints of chocolate, leather and tobacco spice. Chelini started producing Cabernet in 2011. TASTING NOTES Stony Hill 2012 Chardonnay, Napa Valley, USA $45 Medium- to full–bod- ied with bright lemony citrus notes, green apple skin, ripe pear, clean and fresh with generous minerality on a long finish. Stony Hill 2009 Chardonnay, Napa Valley, USA $45 Beautiful golden hues, a creamier wine, with more baked fruit and spice, lemon-curd, lofty mineral character on the nose and palate, a subtle nutty note on the finish. Alexendre Remy: Food Scientist Turned Winemaker at Atlas Wine Co. A lexandre Remy holds a master's degree in food science from the University of Montpellier, and has worked in cellars in Australia, New Zealand, Chile, Argentina and even made wine for the Caves de Tain cooperative in Hermitage. In January of 2014, Atlas Vineyard Management formed Atlas Wine Co. and hired Remy as winemaker. Currently, the company produces three labels— Agnitio, Oro Bello and Omen—and the wines are made at Turnbull Wine Cellars in Napa Valley. He likens his winemaking technique to that of a molecular-focused chef—suggesting that good wine- making is all about organization. "There isn't a lack of technique out there—that's not what is contributing to the problem of wines that aren't as good as they could be. It's all about organization. Michelin-rated restaurants are all about organization, not craft." Remy, who also consults on winemaking for some big clients like Gallo and Opus One, offered an example. For a project aimed at determining the efficacy of wild yeasts, "We found many that didn't work well and we found four that did work, and now just those four are being cultivated," he explained, adding, "you see? It's about streamlining." Stony Hill Winery Stands the Test of Time story and photos by Jonathan Cristaldi C M Y CM MY CY CMY K

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