Quest: Pinot Meunier

April 22, 2012

La Rochelle has released two vintages of Pinot Meunier from the Four Sisters Vineyard in the Sonoma Coast appellation, and each has been very well received. In 2011 a communication gap, the size of the Grand Canyon, prevented us from getting fruit from this site…both in 2011 and forever after.

We have been searching for a site since then and may have found one in Saralee’s Vineyard in the Russian River Valley.

Pinot Meunier is a genetic mutation of Pinot Noir, named for the fine white hairs that look like flour growing on the underside of the vine’s leaf (Meunier means Miller in French). The wine is Pinot Noir’s rustic country cousin…Mary Ann to Pinot Noir’s Ginger. It is overladen with wonderful plummy fruit, great aromatics, and is a wonderful accompaniment to all kinds of food.

There were just over 300 tons of Meunier produced in California in 2011…the vast majority used for Sparkling wine. Meunier is one of the classic Champagne varieties. That leaves a very small number of tons that are used to make red, still wine from. Hence the difficulty in finding available fruit.

Saralee’s Vineyard is a gorgeous site right on River Road in the heart of the Russian River Valley appellation. In fact, if you look at a map of the appellation, it is nearly dead center. The 260-acre vineyard was planted in 1989 to over 60 different varieties. Now, the count is down to 17 different grapes, Pinot Meunier comprising just over 3 acres.

There a number of issues to overcome, but our love for the grape is intense so we will keep working on it. Hopefully in the next 18 months we will be talking about how well the wine from the site is coming along.

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The Week that Was…

March 16, 2012

This past week saw a great deal of activity around the Winery. We launched a new version of the Lineage website and a brand new site that overarches all of our brands: Steven Kent Portfolio. Please tell us what you think!

We saw bud break in our Home Ranch Sangiovese and Ghielmetti Estate Petite Sirah and Grenache.

Bud break - Grenache - 2012 - Ghielmetti Estate Vineyard

We recently released one of my personal favorites: La Rochelle 2011 Pinot Noir Rosé. Made from 100% Pinot Noir from the Santa Lucia Highlands, this bone-dry wine is the perfect accompaniment to great conversation, charcuterie, picnics, etc.

Our Sales Manager, Gregory Peebles, Director of Retail

Greg praying to World's best Negroni

Sales, Tracey Hoff, and I had the pleasure of meeting for a post-mortem drink at Manresa Restaurant in Los Gatos. A 2-star Michelin restaurant owned by David Kinch…this place is one of my inspirations. I want to be as great as they are! If you truly love food, this is a must-eat stop (they are using our La Rochelle Pinot Meunier to pair with Chef’s Abalone dish on the tasting menu).

Several new restaurants are now offering our wines including the Epic Roast House in San Francisco, the San Clemente Wine Co., in San Clemente, and the Prince of Wine in Alpine. We are honored to be part of their wine programs.

2010 Cabernet Franc tasting

On the winemaking front, I am “hard” at work making the 2010 Lineage. This past week, I have been tasting through every barrel of Cabernet Franc and Merlot I made this vintage. The goal – in this part of the process – is to choose THE best barrel(s) of each variety for inclusion. The wonderful complications arise when mock blends indicate that the “best” barrel didn’t work as well as the second or third-best. This process is can take a long time. When you are trying to make one of the world’s iconic wines, though, it takes as long as it takes. Click here for a short video on Cabernet Franc.