The Tasting Panel magazine

December 2012

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The wall full of awards surely has much to do with talented winemakers and high-quality fruit, but it���s also a result of a deliberately collaborative winemaking process that aims to create excellent wines with broad appeal. ���There are basically two ways you can make wine,��� says Reata���s winemaker, Nori Nakamura, who was previously assistant winemaker at Artesa Winery in Napa���s Carneros region. ���One way is, the winemaker goes into a room with 50 wines, closes the door, and spends the day alone tasting and making blends. After 10 hours, you come up with your own blend. ���The other way is more collaborative. It���s my way and it is Reata���s way. It includes your peers; they get to be part of the winemaking, more attached to it. Everybody has a different palate, so it���s beneicial overall Reata Winemaker Nori Nakamura. to do group tastings. We taste, I listen to what they say and then I go away and work to evolve the wine to a higher level. Then we do it again and again. And always the wine keeps evolving until it can���t evolve any higher.��� Gordon, too, emphasizes the importance of collaborative winemaking. ���As opposed to creating something that will please a star winemaker���s palate,��� he says, ���we want to create wines with broad appeal, that over-deliver in terms of taste, balance and elegance, but that are drinkable on a day-to-day basis.��� Gordon and his Reata co-founder, Alyssa O���Hare, also plan to deliver big in other ways at the winery. The land itself has a romantic history���it was originally part of the 84,000-acre Rancho Suscol owned by Sonoma���s founder, General Mariano Vallejo. Reata���which means lariat in Spanish���acquired 400 acres in 2009 when the former owners lost the state of the art winery and leaving behind nearly 100 acres planted with Chardonnay, Pinot Noir, Syrah, Viognier and other cool-climate varieties. Some might see Reata���s location, on the southernmost end of Napa Valley��� far from the ���cult or legendary��� wineries���as a drawback. But Gordon views the location as a winning strategy. ���We���re hoping to lead the pack in terms of opening up the southern part of the Valley,��� he says. The man knows what he���s talking about: A founder of Madison Capital Management, Gordon is a specialist in real estate investment. ���I believe that the southern end is the natural path of development for the industry,��� he adds. ���The tremendous renaissance of the city of Napa, along with the trafic limitations further up the Valley, are pushing winemaking southward.��� Reata is the new gateway to Napa Valley���a place where visitors can spend part of the day having great wine and food, listening to music, dipping their feet in a wading pool and ���being transported from the mundanity of everyday life.��� It could well happen. Reata is the closest winery to Sacramento (less than an hour from downtown), and it���s the irst winery that many visitors traveling north from the San Francisco Bay Area encounter. tasting notes Reata 2010 Sonoma Coast Pinot Noir ($30) Exuberant cherry, touch of spice, hint of oak, wisp of smoke on the inish. Terriic balance. Reata 2010 Napa Valley Chardonnay ($20) Tantalizingly soft pineapple, kiss of caramel, moderate acidity and a slow and luxurious inish. Whiplash 2009 Redemption ($11) A big stylish wine, riotous with blackberry, cherry, strawberry and the darkest chocolate. Wonderful softtannin inish. Whiplash 2012 Chardonnay ($11) Citrus, peach, apple aromas. Crisp, bright, acidic, slightly oaky; long inish. Delish! december 2012 / the tasting panel / 109

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