Recap of the 2014 Seven % Solution Tasting

Last week, I attended the second “Seven % Solution tasting in San Francisco.  The event was organized by Bergamot Alley.   It’s a unique event premised on the following:

Recap of 2014 Seven % Solution Tasting

Image courtesy of Bergamot Alley

Roughly 93% of Northern California Vineyard acreage is planted to eight grape varieties. The remaining 7% of acreage is home to an impressive aggregation of lesser known varieties. A small but growing force of winemakers champion these grapes, tending terroir and making juice that is swiftly shifting the global perception of California winemaking. This tasting is a showcase of twenty-one outstanding Northern California wineries and their “Seven% Solutions.

It’s an event I’d been looking forward to for a year because tickets for last year’s inaugural event, which was held at Bergamot Alley in Healdsburg, were sold out in a heartbeat.  I lagged, I lost.  Not this year!

The participating vintners (new in 2014) included:*Arnot Roberts *Bedrock Wine Co. *Broc Cellars *Copain Wines *Dirty and Rowdy *Donkey and Goat *Edmunds Saint John *Forlorn Hope *Idlewild Wines *Jolie-Laide *Leo Steen *Lioco *Matthiasson *Nico Wines *RPM *Ryme Cellars *Stark Wine*The Scholium Project *Two Shepherds *Unti Vineyards *Wind Gap

When I saw the lineup it looked like a “To Do” list for me.  It includes many of the hottest small wineries in Northern California.  For a wine geek, such as myself, these are the wineries that are working with lesser known grapes, from interesting vineyards,  vinified in interesting ways, by passionate artisan producers.  Most it seems, are sold through mailing lists, so I you didn’t get the memo early, it can be a challenge to actually buy most.

So while I was looking forward to trying wines made from grapes I’d not tried before, since I’d only tasted wines from a handful of the wineries previously, I was really looking forward to actually tasting wines from wineries for which I didn’t get the memo!

The Event

The San Francisco event was held at the Folsom Street Foundry, a hip space, with an industrial chic vibe located in the SoMa neighborhood.  Upon arrival I stepped into the cozy bar/lounge entry area.  I was greeted warmly, and given one the best tasting booklet I’ve ever received.  It included all the key information that a taster would want to know, including winery names, and websites, plus an up to date accurate list of wines each producer was pouring.  I especially appreciated the compact size of the booklet.  It small enough to easily carry around to jot down notes. My only quibble is that would have been nice to see the retail price of each wine.

I picked up my glass and headed back to the spacious main room, which featured a larger bar, and plenty of cozy seating options.   As I stepped in the main room, I was put at ease by the dulcet sounds of a quartet that was playing…

Seven Solution Band

And much to my delight, the Merigan Sub Shop was in the house dishing some seriously delicious and wine-friendly subs.

Recap of the 2014 Seven % Solution Tasting

I picked a “Terrina” sub about halfway through the tasting. It was porktastic with nice spicy kick. I paired it with the Bedrock Wine Co. Ode to Lulu Rosé…Just what the doctor ordered!

The Wines

By my count, there were about 75 wines available to taste, including 47 different grape varieties.  More whites, and rosé, than reds I’d say.  As advertised,  there were what I would characterize as “lesser” known grape varieties like Aglianico, Arneis, Carignane, Cinsault, Colombard, Counoise, Grenache Blanc, Petite Sirah, Picpoul, Sylvaner, and Vermentino, that I’ve experienced in my wine travels, to be had.  But there were also many what I’d deem, “obscure” grape varieties like Greco, Ribolla Gialla, Trincadeira, Trousseau, and Trousseau Gris that were new to me.

I tasted through the whites and rosés first, then circled back for the red wines.  I mostly skipped producers I’ve tried recently like such as Bedrock, Stark, Two Shepherds and Unti. Ultimately, I was able to taste all the wines I targeted.

My favorites were:

Favorite Reds

  • 2012 Arnot Roberts Trousseau
  • 2012 Bedrock Wine Co. Evangelho HeritageCarignan, Mourvèdre, Zinfandel, Mission, Palomino
  • 2013 Broc Cellar CassiaGrenache Gris
  • 2012 Donkey & Goat Prospector/ Mourvèdre, Grenache
  • 2012 Donkey & Goat Five ThirteenGrenache, Mourvèdre, Syrah, Counoise, Cinsault
  • 2011 Edmunds St. John Fenaughty Syrah
  • 2012 Forlorn Hope Mil AmoresTouriga Nacional, Trincadeira, Tinta Roriz, Tinta Cao
  • 2012 Nico Wines Dolcetto
Recap of 2014 Seven % Solution Tasting

Broc Cellars Lineup

Favorite Whites and Rosé

  • 2013 Bedrock Ode to Lulu Ancient Vine RoséCarignan, Mourvèdre
  • 2013 Dirty and Rowdy Sémillon
  • 2013 Idlewild Arneis
  • 2013 Idlewild Vin GrisGrenache
  • 2013 Jolie-Laide Trousseau Gris, Fannuchi-Wood Road Vineyard
  • 2013 Lioco Indica RoséCarignan
  • 2012 Matthiasson Ribolla Gialla
  • 2013 Matthiasson Tendu/Vermentino
  • 2010 The Scholium Project RhododactylosCinsault
  • 2013 The Scholium Project VLV Reserve/ Verdelho
  • 2013 The Scholium Project Gewürztraminer
  • 2012 Two Shepherds Pastoral BlancRoussanne, Marsanne, Viognier, Grenache Blanc
  • 2013 Wind Gap Trousseau Gris, Fannuchi-Wood Road Vineyard
Recap of 2014 Seven % Solution Tasting

Idlewild Wines lineup

I’m a bit surprised that my favorites were so heavily weighted toward the white and rosé (despite the fact that there were more white and rosé than red wines) because typically like most wine lovers, I drink far more red than white wine.  Come to think of it, I probably drink more rosé than white too.  Generally speaking, I found the whites were more distinctive, had more personality, than the reds at this tasting.

I especially enjoyed the Trousseau, and Trousseau Gris wines I tasted.  It was interesting to note that the Trousseau Gris variety is so obscure that a single vineyard was the source for most, if not all the wines made from that variety at the tasting – for example, Trousseau Gris from Fanucchi Wood Road Vineyard.

The tasting was a splendid showcase not only for the lesser known grape varieties, but also for the innovative, passionate producers working with these grapes.  These producers deserve credit for taking the vinous road less traveled, and the concomitant commercial risks associated with working these intriguing and refreshingly different grapes.  And perhaps just as importantly, their use of innovative winemaking techniques, such as skin-fermenting whites, whole cluster fermentation, not filtering or fining their winesand carbonic maceration.

Oh, and let’s not forget THE most important thing – the wines were delicious! I found something to like from every producer.

Simply a phenomenal tasting! Bravo!

__________________________________________________________________

Martin Redmond is a Financial Executive by day, and a certified wine geek with latent foodie tendencies the rest of the time. In addition to the wine lifestyle and food he enjoys family, fitness and traveling. He likes to get thoughts of wine off his mind by sharing experiences on his ENOFYLZ Wine blog, which features wine reviews, wine country travel, and wine and food pairings.

Follow me on Twitter @martindredmond for all things wine, and since I’m a wino, with latent foodie tendencies, you’ll also find food and wine pairings, and food related stuff! Become a fan and join ENOFYLZ Wine Blog on Facebook. Cheers!

This article is original to ENOFYLZ Wine Blog.com. Copyright 2014 ENOFYLZ Wine Blog. All rights reserved.

#DrinkPink Rosé of the Week: 2012 Copain Tous Ensemble Rosé

It’s that time of year… Yes, it’s Rosé season!. With that in mind, I’ve embarked upon a series of weekly “Drink Pink!“ Rosé tastings.  This week’s Rosé is the 2012 Copain Tous Ensemble Rosé.

The Winery

Copain Winery was founded by winemaker Wells Guthrie in 1999.  According to the Copain website…

Wells Guthrie discovered early on that his taste in wine gravitated toward Europe in general and France’s Rhône Valley in particular. So much so, he picked up and moved with his new bride to the region to learn from the best. For two years, Wells apprenticed for esteemed winemaker and living legend Michel Chapoutier in France’s Rhone Valley. During that time, Wells was deeply inspired by the traditions and practices of French winemaking, not to mention the European attitude that wine is an essential part of life.

Guthrie started the winery with an old friend, and named it Copain, which means ‘friend” in French.

Copain is focused on Chardonnay, Pinot Noir,and Syrah.  They also produce this Rosé, and an interesting, food friendly and outstanding wine named “P2″ which is a 50/50 blend of Pinot Noir and Pinot Gris. They offer three lines of wines, the entry-level “Tous Ensembles”, mid-level “Les Voisins”, and their top of the line “Single Vineyard” Wines.

Their beautiful tasting room is located in Healdsburg. The winery sits atop a hillside with a breathtaking view of the Russian River Valley. Here’s a pic from my most recent visit…

copain View

The Wine

The fruit for this Pinot Noir-based Rosé is sourced from the cool-climate Anderson Valley.   is the perfect companion to a summer evening, indeed.

#DrinkPink Rose of the Week; 2012 Copain Tous Ensembe Rose of  Pinot Noir

My tasting note follows:

Salmon color with a copper hue, it exhibits  appealing peach skin, red fruit and a hint of floral aromas. On the palate, it’s light-bodied and fresh with a soft texture, along with delightful strawberry, honeydew, cherry flavors and a mineral undertone. Lingering finish.

Rating:  B+: Pinot Noir makes a great Rosé.  Copain makes small quantities of this delightful wine, so you’ll have to look for it.  It’s well worth the effort. >>Find this wine<<

Pair with: This wine works well as both an aperitif, and at the table.  Try with grilled fish paired with a salad.

Sample purchased for review 

Ratings Key:

(A+) – 98-100/Extraordinary
(A) – 94-97/Outstanding
(A-) – 90-93/Excellent
(B+) – 86-89/Very good
(B) – 80-85/Good
(C) – 70-79/Bleh
(D) – 50-69/#Fail

Follow me on Twitter @martindredmond for all things wine, and since I’m a wino, with latent foodie tendencies, you’ll also find food and wine pairings, and food related stuff!

Become a fan and join ENOFYLZ Wine Blog on Facebook. Cheers! This article is original to ENOFYLZ Wine Blog.com. Copyright 2013 ENOFYLZ Wine Blog. All rights reserved

Wine Of The Week: 2009 Copain Syrah Les Voisins

My Wine Of The Week for October 13 – October 19 is the 2009 Copain Syrah Les Voisins.

The Winery

Copain Winery was founded by winemaker Wells Guthrie in 1999.  The winery sits atop a hillside with an astounding view of the Russian River Valley.  As I looked out over the valley on gorgeous Indian summer day, I was struck with a sense of tranquility I can still vividly recall!

View of the Russian River Valley from Copain Winery

View of the Russian River Valley from Copain Winery

According to the Copain website…

Wells Guthrie discovered early on that his taste in wine gravitated toward Europe in general and France’s Rhône Valley in particular. So much so, he picked up and moved with his new bride to the region to learn from the best. For two years, Wells apprenticed for esteemed winemaker and living legend Michel Chapoutier in France’s Rhone Valley. During that time, Wells was deeply inspired by the traditions and practices of French winemaking, not to mention the European attitude that wine is an essential part of life.

Mr Guthrie started the winery with an old friend, and named it Copain, which means ‘friend” in French.  Copain is focused on Chardonnay, Pinot Noir,and Syrah.  They also produce a Rose, and an interesting, food friendly and outstanding wine named “P2″ which is a 50/50 blend of Pinot Noir and Pinot Gris. They offer three lines of wines, the entry-level “Tous Ensembles”, mid-level “Les Voisins”, and their top of the line “Single Vineyard” Wines.

Their beautiful tasting room, located in Healdsburg, is open to the public Thursday through Saturday from 10:30 AM to 4 PM, and by appointment only Sunday through Wednesday. There is a $15 tasting fee, which is waived with the purchase of wine.  They also offer a seasonal “Picnic Pairing” tasting option, where you taste three wines chosen by Copain to pair with a picnic lunch from Chloe’s French Cafe for $35.

The Wine

I picked up this wine a few weeks back when my wife and I went to Sonoma to attend the Russian River Jazz and Blues Festival.  We drove up on a Friday, and visited several wineries.  Copain was easily the winery of the day!

This wine is a blend of grapes from 3 neighboring vineyards in the cool-climate Yorkville Highlands AVA in Mendocino County.  The vineyards are planted on a rocky hillsides which rise from 600 to 2500 feet elevation. Guthrie uses whole cluster fermentation for 30% of the wine and does not use new wood for ageing.

2009 Copain Syrah Les Voisins

2009 Copain Syrah Les Voisins

We picked up several bottles of wine when we visited. I’m a sucker for cool-climate Syrah, but all the wines we tasted were elegant and well-balanced. I highly recommend the winery…and next time we go, we’re going to have that picnic tasting!

My tasting notes follow:

Opaque black-red color with aromatic mixed berry, and floral aromas. On the palate, it’s medium-bodied, well-balanced and elegant with fresh acidity and black cherry, raspberry, and mineral flavors. Medium-long finish! – 91pts

 

Highly recommended!  This is a world-class Syrah for $36!

The Wine Geek Stuff:

Alcohol: 13.9% alcohol.

Closure: Cork.

AVA: >CaliforniaNorth Coast>Yorkville Highlands

Varietal(s): 100% Syrah

Cooperage: Neutral Oak

Retail: $36

Cases produced: Unknown