David Lattin, winemaker at Emeritus Vineyards, joins Steve Jaxon and Dan Berger on California Wine Country. Barry Herbst from Bottle Barn is also in.
Emeritus Vineyards specializes in Russian River Valley estate-grown Pinot Noir. Dan Berger says that this wine is exemplary of Russian River Valley. With all the fog, the land is a little cooler than the rest of the county. Emeritus has made careful selections of which clones are planed in exactly which vineyards.
David Lattin says he got into the wine business by being exposed to wine as a child, including when his family lived in Germany for a while. He had a science degree and applied to the UC Davis program for a master’s in enology.
Emeritus Vineyards only produces Pinot Noir. It’s all 100% estate grown. They only harvest at night. Vin Gris literally “gray wine” is a term that means you can get white juice from fresh red grapes, but it will not have color if the skins are not broken into the crush. It’s called Halberg Blanc. Halberg is a 110 acre vineyard of theirs. The aroma is minerally and has flavor of faint dried apples. It is sort of a white wine without anything distinctive. It is nice, clean and fresh but not flowery. The finish too is more minerally. It is not austere but it is dry, so it would go well with shellfish.
Dan has brought a 2012 Gewürtztraminer from Cathy Corison. The wine label is called Córazon. She gets fruit from Anderson Valley and makes the wine in St. Helena. It is not sweet like some of this varietal.
Bryce Jones and Kirk Lokka, his vineyard manager, saw the property in the center of the Russian River AVA “like a flying carpet of Pinot Noir.” They decided to apply dry farming which means it is not irrigated. If you water, the roots stay shallow and when you don’t, the vines will send roots down to follow the water. He says he has found roots as deep as 18 feet down, in test pits. It takes time to establish and reduces yield, but it is good for the wine.
Next they taste a wine called “Don’s Block” named after their late winemaker Don Blackburn It is a 2015, called La Combette. Dan Berger says it has strong aromatics and subtle in mid-palette fruit, a great wine. They pick their grapes 3 weeks earlier than anyone else, to get better acid. Dan says this will give the wine great structure. This is $110 here but if this were coming from France it would sell for at least $300. Dan says it will reach an early peak after 10 years.
Dan Berger explains that Russian River Valley Pinot Noir wines tend to have a fairly narrow flavor profile. These wines however have a little more substance in the mid-palette. This next tasting is denser but without strong tannins. It has the structure to go well with strong flavored foods like roasts or lamb.
Next is the 2013 Pinot Noir from the Halberg Ranch. This is a little more aged than the others. When Pinot Noir gets about 4 to 6 years after the vintage, you begin to see what Pinot Noir will show. It’s the best of all the aging wines because you don’t have to wait forever. With Cabernet, it can take 10 years before you see it. Pinot Noir has more aromatic diversity. The previous wines tasted were only two years older, but this one has much more than they to. Dan says the limit is about 10 to 12 years. After that, the wine may not get any better. Dan describes it as rich and flavorful. David also notes that this is only from two years’ worth of full dry farming. Each subsequent vintage gets more concentrated. The Halberg Ranch is one of Dan’s top five vineyards for Pinot Noir in the country.
Bryce Jones knew he was making a gamble when he planted Pinot Noir in these vineyards. Many wines by other top winemakers have Halberg Vineyard on the label.
BOTTLE BARN is running a flash sale every other Friday and today Barry Herbst has brought a Kuleto Cabernet. This wine sells at $75 per bottle on wine dot com, but they bought it on a close-out and are going to sell it at $27.99. It is a Cabernet Sauvignon from St. Helena. Dan says this is real mountain grown fruit, from 1500 feet, next to some of the other most famous Napa Cabernet vineyards. It is has lots of structure but no painful tannin. Dan Berger says it will respond very well to aeration. Dan detects a subtle minty quality. David says there is a lot of dry scrubby brush up there. It is blended with a little Cabernet Franc and Malbec.
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