The Tasting Panel magazine

January 2016

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Page 97 of 148

january-february 2016  /  the tasting panel  /  97 The SECOND Wave PHOTO: STEPHANIE SECREST John Kinney, founder and Director of Winemaking at Occasio Winery, came to California in the early '70s to do graduate work and got a job with Alice Waters, owner of celebrated Berkeley restaurant Chez Panisse. When news of the 1976 Paris Tasting broke, he promised himself he'd retire in the wine industry but he didn't want to farm, because his family had gone broke in that industry. "Livermore Valley intrigued me," he said. "From the 1870s, when we were nothing but wheat fields, we went to being one of the premier wine regions in the world, which continued through Prohibition. I've often wondered if we would even like the wines that were made in the 1800s. I wanted to explore everything. And I have this idea that we're missing something special about Livermore Valley, and whatever it is, that's what we're trying to seek. And we shouldn't try to chase Napa or Paso or Bordeaux, but should toot our own horns—as Livermore Valley." —J. C. Occasio 2012 Heritage Cabernet Franc, Livermore Valley Coming from the fruit of a hot and bountiful vintage, this is a robust, hedonistic Cab Franc—oozing with ripe black plum, boysenberry and a hint of black pepper. Yet despite its muscularity, Occasio still retains nuances of the floral femininity —B. W. In 2009, Collin Cranor and his dad Jeff pur- chased grapes up on Crane Ridge to make their first wine. They founded Nottingham Cellars and focused on making Bordeaux varietals. Collin attributes much of what he's learned to Julio Covarrubias, a longtime vineyard manager at Wente. When the Cranors met with Julio to buy Cabernet, Julio got them interested in some Petite Sirah he had on site—"That ended up our top performing wine of 2009." Soon after, they began purchasing a few tons of Grenache, Syrah and Mourvèdre and decided to split their production into two brands: Nottingham would remain focused on Bordeaux varieties while a new brand, Vasco Urbano Wine Copmany, would focus on Rhône varietal wines. They are an urban winery purchasing fruit by the ton to produce 12 "young, funky fresh and wild Rhône wines," as described by Cranor, and 12 Bordeaux-style wines. —J. C. Vasco Urbano Wine Company 2013 "The Sheriff" GSM Blend, Livermore Valley The 2013 gushes with red fruit: wild strawberries, raspberry compote and red plum. It also exhibits an undercurrent of gravelly earth, giving the wine a pleasantly rustic edge. –B.W. Bob Bossi and Dan Rosenberg, long-time friends, were lounging around Dan's swim- ming pool in 2007 when they decided that the lawn behind them should serve some purpose. That purpose resulted in the plant- ing of a vineyard. By Bossi's own admission, "An accountant and an insurance guy putting in 75 vines and a trellis system," was something "you should've seen," he told the crowd at the St. Regis. "We learned to make wine by helping others in the area while our vines were growing." —J. C. Dante Robere Vineyards 2013 Estate Syrah, Livermore Valley Deep ruby red color with aromas of ripe dark fruit, smoke, leather and spice, bold and jammy on the palate, sweet black and dark red fruit and nuanced spices. Steve Burman is one of 3 Steves, partners in 3 Steves Winery. "There's no hierarchy," explained Burman. " Steve Cutter has a day job, but Steve Zaganti and I do this full- time. "Why Livermore?" he rhetorically asked the audience. "We've talked about terroir and the grapes and the winemak- ing community—and the fact is, we wouldn't be here if it wasn't for our colleagues." Bruman talks of many lunches with the very people on the panel where he said he "really learned about pH and acid from these lunches—they were great opportunities for constructive or point-blank critiquing." —J. C. 3 Steves Winery 2013 Merlot, Livermore Valley Generous mouthfeel, plenty of acid, dark cherries, licorice and sweet-fruit spices along with hints of well-integrated vanilla, oak and coco. John Kinney, founder and Director of Winemaking at Occasio Winery. Collin Cranor, Winemaker at Vasco Urbano Wine Company. Bob Bossi, co-founder of Dante Robere Vineyards. Steve Burman is one of three Steves (with Steve Sutter and Steve Zaganti), the partners in 3 Steves Winery. PHOTO: STEPHANIE SECREST PHOTO: STEPHANIE SECREST PHOTO: STEPHANIE SECREST PHOTO: STEPHANIE SECREST PHOTO: STEPHANIE SECREST

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