As I prepare for my next winemaking trip to Napa Valley in several weeks, I thought I would share some thoughts on the process, winemakers and my wines.
I started planning this wine venture in 2009 and officially formed Tiedemann Wines in 2010. It took from March until mid-November of 2010 to secure all the various governmental approvals and permits. After receiving our last required permit in November we were able to go to market. We sold about 20 cases of wine in December 2010…not much but the adventure was underway.
Since that time the business model has ebbed and flowed as I have struggled to learn the ins and outs of winemaking, inventory control, distribution rules and cash management. I quickly discovered that I didn’t know as much about wine and the wine business as I thought I did. I have discovered that gaining profitability in the wine business is similar to being a Cubs fan in that “there is always next year.”
The first wines I made in Napa Valley were a Cabernet Sauvignon and a Sauvignon Blanc with winemaker Brian Nuss. Today we make a Sauvignon Blanc, Chardonnay, Pinot Noir, Cabernet Sauvignon and a Bordeaux-style Red wine, and work with several winemakers. We have plans to look into releasing a second Bordeaux-style, Merlot-based Red Wine. I’ll be blending this new wine with winemaker Bruce Devlin while in Napa Valley. The new wine will be bottled under our Glenwood Cellars label. We are naming this wine “Adler’s Blend” after my grandson Adler Carris.
Also on this upcoming trip I will be blending our latest effort of Sauvignon Blanc, Chardonnay and Pinot Noir with winemaker Kent Humphrey. Kent is co-owner of Eric Kent Wine Cellars of Santa Rosa, Calif., in the Sonoma Coast AVA. I was introduced to Kent by Bruce Devlin.
I have really come to appreciate Kent Humphrey’s abilities as a winemaker. Kent has an interesting background. After graduating from the University of California, Berkeley, with a B.A. in literature, Kent pursued a career in advertising. He was one of the co-founders of the San Francisco advertising firm of M. Gould & Co. All this time Kent’s passion for wine was growing. After 10 years he left advertising to pursue a career in winemaking. In 2002 he founded Eric Kent Wine Cellars.
Since that time he has refined his wine making skills and now produces some stellar high-end wines…particularly Pinot Noir, Chardonnay and Syrah. From a humble beginning in 2003 when his inaugural vintage was a 375-case bottling, today he has reached a level of 6,000 to 7,000 cases annually.
I have learned a lot while working with Kent and I am sure there is much more to learn. I find this very exciting. I guess I could say that about all our winemakers. I truly do have a lot to learn yet.
One of the first wines Kent and I made together is our 2013 Glenwood Cellars Sauvignon Blanc. The Sauvignon Blanc is a green grape that originated in the southwest of France in the Bordeaux region.
Our Sauvignon Blanc is a blend of wines from two different vineyards. One from the middle of the Russian River Valley and the other is from the eastern side of Sonoma Mountain.
If you remember the chart on the age of wines from last week’s blog (read it again here), it falls under the Young and Fresh category. It is near colorless…having a tint of light straw to its color.
Here are Kent’s tasting notes on the wine:
“Crystal clear, light straw in color, the expressive and complex nose leads with aromas of fresh cut pear, lemon-lime, chamomile, honeysuckle, and touches of marzipan and sandalwood. The flavors pick up on the lemon-lime, adding pink grapefruit, kiwi, honeydew melon and white peach into the mix, all completed by crisp and refreshing acidity and a tantalizingly long finish. It is the perfect match for seafood, poultry, salads, a cheese and fruit plate, or just the back porch on a hot summer day!”
We blended the wine in stainless steel tanks then aged it in primarily neutral oak, with just 7% new oak barrels. It was aged in the oak for about three months before bottling. It was then aged for six more months in the glass bottles before I released it for sale.
When I taste wine one of the things I feel is very important, and something I strive for in our wines, is good nose with lots of aromas and a strong lingering finish. I believe we accomplished that with this Sauvignon Blanc.
On the nose there is a hint of minerality (a smell of crushed rock or gravel, or maybe like a chalkboard)…not much, just a little…and fresh white fruit. I find the mouth feel delightful with a balance of acidity and dryness (you get just a little of that puckerness that pulls your cheeks in) and the taste of the fresh white fruit you smell on the nose and a certain crispness. The finish displays a little of the acidity and is a nice length of 10 to 15 seconds, and you are left with a nice aftertaste in your mouth. The wine scored 87 points with Wine Enthusiast magazine, which we were disappointed in as we were hoping for 90 points but gladly accepted the score.
As we blend the next vintage we’ll take all the things we have learned on this 2013 and try to make the next one even better. What fun it will be. I am excited to get the wine blended and in the barrels for a little aging. Our Glenwood Cellars Sauvignon Blanc is sold at Chalet Party Shoppes and a number of local restaurants. I hope you’ll try the wine if you haven’t already. Let me know what you think of the wine if you taste it.
Over the coming weeks I will be profiling each of our wines and reporting on my trip to Napa Valley. So stay tuned for more wine chatter.
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Until next week,