1. I've followed KentRasmussen's wines from the very start, back when he first released his Estate/Carneros Chard and PinotNoir. I was quite impressed w/ both of them. The Chards, then, tended to be a bit on the reductive side annd showed what I characterized as the "Rasmussen stench". That was long/long ago in a galaxy far away and they no longer show that character. But they aged amazingly well.
Over the yrs, Kent has made a lot of very interesting wines. Some terrific botrytis Rieslings from
WnryLakeVnyd. Some amazing Ports. The first Calif Dolcetto...in this ugly cobalt/blue btl. Calif's first Pinotage. He expanded his production to include the well-priced Ramsey line from purchased grapes. I understand the Ramsey production is being greatly curtailed. He moved from making his wine in this tiny garage on his Carneros estate into a much larger facility on the SilveradoTrail across from StHelena that was a former meat-packing plant.
Tasting thru this lineup of wines, I was relieved that Kent's wines are just as good as I remember them over the yrs...that advancing age hasn't caused him to miss a beat. His bread & butter, the Chard and the Pinot, were just as good as ever. Alas, this is his last Chard. He's not been able to find the grapes that he liked as much as his old Chard vnyd. And it's a tough sell these days. The Pinot seemed a bit lighter in extract than his earlier ones, but had an elegance and restraint and a great perfume that should appeal to the AFWE and those, to invoke the current hot topic, who are seeking "balance" in their Pinots.
I also liked the Roussanne. Not as profound and structured as, say, the Qupe; but it had great aromatics and classic Roussanne fruit. The PetiteSirah is a pretty tough/extracted wine and I think it'll be interesting to see exactly where it goes.
It's always nice to run into an old...errrrrr...long time friend and find them just as full of piss & vinegar as you remember them from yrs ago. That's how I felt about these wines. These are wines that fly well under the radar. They shouldn't be.
2. Rose: Kent relates: The Grenache Rose is my current "favorite of the house". It is lovely, light, fruity and admittedly a bit too light in color. The grapes were (red) Grenache from Mendocino County (right on 101 in downtown Cloverdale). Old head trained vineyard. Late season ripening and picked at about 22 brix (because I was planning on making rose---this is not juice draw-off from a red fermentation). When the grapes came into the winery I immediately pressed them as whole clusters using the "champagne" cycle on the press. This technique for pressing absolutely minimizes the the phenolics in the juice. Problem was that virtually (and I mean virtually) no color came out either.....which left me in a bind as to what to do. I couldn't call it Grenache blanc as that the name of another grape. I tried coloring it up with Petitie Sirah, but it really ruined the charming character of the wine at even tiny percentages. I finally decided to use as little as possible to give it a hint of pink (about 1 gallon in 200---half a percent), but by the time I had filtered the wine and put it in the bottle a lot of that color had disappeared. Thus......great wine.....strange color.....and hence the blue bottle (creative...????).
When I first saw the color of this wine, I thought it may have been made from GrenacheGris
as an orange wine. But it didn't have that oxidative or tannic character those wines show.
Obviously, it couldn't be labeled as GrenacheBlanc. But it certainly could have been labeled
as Blanc de GrenacheNoir, as some white Pinots are labeled. It's a pretty unusual rendition of GrenacheRose, but I found the wine to be quite likeable.
3. Kent relates on the SauvBlanc: The SB was an interesting bit of winemaking in that it is the first wine I have ever made that we bottled in the year we made it. I was after a very very austere style of SB. Those type of wine (think Vino Verde) don't get any better than the day they finish fermentation, so it is best to get them in the bottle so that they are stabilized and don't loose their lovely fruit. 44 days vine to bottle! Could have done it in 28, but I had trouble getting the labels that quickly.
4. EdStJohn Roussanne: I rather puzzled by the place this wine is right now. This was brought as a mystery wine by SteveCostigan. Tasting it blind, I was convinced that it was a lower-level Chablis because of its chalky minerality and lack of lush fruit. Once it was unveiled and I returned to try it, I was not able to identify Roussanne in it, either young or aged. On release, because of its intense Roussanne fruit w/ a high acidity and underlying minerality; I thought it one of the most profound Calif Roussannes I'd yet had. It was showing very little of that aged Roussanne/hazelnutty/honeyed character the do. Maybe I'm just a doofus in predicting how a wine will evolve. Maybe its just in a weird/shut-down stage right now. The acidity is there and I suspect it'll need some time to show its glories down the road.