Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Wine Country News from Guadalupe Valley (3/3)

Wine Country News from Guadalupe Valley
by Steve Dryden (end)

Mourvèdre grapes often are very late to ripen, so ripening is helped with stable weather often provided by proximity to a large body of water such as the Mediterranean or the Pacific Ocean. We’re fortunate here in this region because our wine region is situated in a similar manner as the southern Rhône Valley in France, very near to a large body of water. Mourverde berries are medium-sized and blue-black in color, with thick skins. The intense gamey quality of Mourvèdre is often improved by the rich fruit of Grenache and the structure, spice, and power of Syrah. This fact just might be what inspired Christoph Gartner to create his latest amazing blend of Syrah and Mourverde.

Vinisterra’s new 2004 Syrah/Mourvedre is a premium wine that stands out among the best wines from Baja California. The label was conceived by Patricia Macouzet and drawn by Tanya Denise Gulliver to reflect one particular evening in Valle de San Antonio de las Minas. The Sarah (67%) for this blend was harvested on September 2nd at 24.5 brix and is a blend from two distinct regions. The Mourverde (33%) was harvest later in the season on November 6th at 26 brix with and is also a blend of grapes from two distinct regions. All of the grapes used for this wine were grown on the wineries own five year old vineyards in Santo Tomas and San Antonio de las Minas where they have 750 acres of which 35 acres are currently under cultivation. Christoph Gartner, the winemaker. actually manages the vineyards himself. This style of intense and focused grape management is one important factor that allows him to provide such amazing wine. The primary fermentation took place in stainless steel tanks with secondary fermentation in French oak for 18 months, 50 % of which was new oak, with no filtration of the wine.

This rich and complex blend of Syrah and Mourverde is brilliant in jewel-like color with a elegant and delicate body, soft tannins that provide a relaxed long-lingering finish. Fruit forward blackberry and black currant fruit flavors with butterscotch, carmel, cocoa, coffee and leather on the nose, well balanced acid and a slight hint of sweet vanilla wood. After decanting and about forty-five minutes the wine opens up and settles down into rich licorice flavors and strong blackberry and black currant fruit aromas. The Mourverde adds some spicy, savory structure that compliments the richness of the Syrah. The Syrah adds some black pepper, licorice, clove, thyme with a slight hint of truffle. This high quality “classic” blend sells at the winery for $40 per bottle with a 10% case discount.

And, don’t miss out on the 2004 Vinisterra Grenache /Termpranillo blend. Christoph has created another stunning wine. It is deep purple in color with flavors of boysenberry, candied cherries, red berries and hints of chocolate, cocoa, cloves, nutmeg with smooth and soft tannins mid-palate and on the finish. This well balanced wine with refreshing aromas of red fruit, spices, white pepper and mocha is a great addition to the portfolio of Vinisterra wines.

Patricia, Abelardo and myself paired up both wines with gourmet cheese produced here in Guadalupe Valley by Tito Cortez. The wedding party was kind enough to offer some fabulous paella to highlight our evening. As I gazed out the window towards the wedding group I thought about blends of grapes coming together in harmony, each bringing individual qualities that provide character, depth and richness. I realized that an artisan like Christoph Gartner is creating something like a marriage between grape varietals, similar to the blend of individuals, unique people and families coming together in the marriage on the patio at Vinisterra. Creating good wine and good love is similar to orchestrating classical music, you have to bring all the individual players into harmony in order to produce a masterpiece. And, hopefully over time everything just gets better. I hope that happens to “the little old wine writer!

Steve Dryden is a wine, travel and Native Peoples writer living in Guadalupe Valley. He manages a new wine bar, Destino del Vino, at Km 88 on Scenic Highway One, 7 miles south of Baja Mar. He can be reached at or NexTel 152*187162*15.

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