Steve MacRostie from MacRostie Vineyards is back this week on California Wine Country with Steve Jaxon and Dan Berger. Barry Herbst is back from a trip to Portugal to visit the Cork Producer’s consortium there.
Steve MacRostie started at Hacienda Winery in the mid-1970s after studying at UC Davis. He was buying grapes and making wine from all over Sonoma County. He then started his own business, MacRostie Winery. It ended up being pretty successful. His first vintage was 1974. He met Dan Berger about two years later. Now he also has MacRostie Estate Ranch.
They talk about the MacRostie 2015 Russian River Chardonnay. They moved to the Russian River Valley in 2013 and built a new facility. In addition to their Sonoma Coast Chardonnay, they do some other bottlings, including this one. Steve says it’s an expression of some of the best grapes from the area. Dan tastes bright fruit, a little bit of grapefruit, some tropical notes. There is not very much oak. It’s very delicate, with a nice, big rich mouth feel and good acidity, all characteristics of Russian River Valley Chardonnays. It’s a top seller at retail.
Steve MacRostie describes the MacRostie Estate House, saying it is on a perfect location. Look at their website to see more pictures. It is southwest of Healdsburg, at 4605 West Side Road. It’s on a hilltop with a great view. Dan Berger says it’s one of the nicest views in all of wine country and the best part of a trip to Sonoma County. Steve remarks that it looks like Tuscany. It has a great view of the Russian River. It has 13 acres of Pinot Noir, named Thale’s Vineyard, after Steve’s wife of 36 years. They also make Rosé from that vineyard. They specialize in Chardonnay and Pinot Noir and began making Rosé for fun. It was only in the last five years that Rosé has become so popular. Steve tells how the late Ben Pearson used to say that guys didn’t want to drink pink wine and that Rosé was known for being sweet. Dan explains that a lot of old Rosé production used the wrong grapes and was not produced the right way. They weren’t using enough cold fermentation, which preserves the fresh delightful flavors.
Next they taste a 2015 Wildcat Mountain Chardonnay. The vineyard is located technically in Carneros, on the western edge of that appellation. It is right next to the newly defined and approved Petaluma Gap appellation. It has volcanic soil, at about 700 ft. elevation. It’s a windy site, close to the bay, so it gets a lot of fog and it is in the Sonoma Coast appellation.
In contrast to the Russian River one just tasted, Dan notices nuances of barrel fermenation and lees contact, all the great flavors you want in a Chardonnay. The acid is so good that it is balance, which allows it to sustain a slightly higher alcohol content than usual for Chards, this is 14.8%.
This will be Steve MacRostie’s 45th vintage, he has been in the business since 1974. His tasting room is open and he suggests an appointment on www.vinovisit.com.
They used to have a tartan pattern on their label, but they have retired it now. His name is Scottish and his family has been in America for over 200 years. He and his label designer decided it was time to retire the tartan label in 2008.
He decided to work in the wine business after he was in the Army in Vicenza, Italy, during the time of the Vietnam War. He describes it as a great experience. He was a cryptographer, working on secret missle codes.
Barry opens a Barnard Griffin 2017 Rosé of Sangiovese, which has won numerous top awards. Dan says, put fresh raw cherry tomatoes, thinly sliced garlic, raw olive oil and fresh basil over hot pasta and serve it with this Rosé. This winery was making red wine and about 12 years ago he converted to rosé production. Dan says, serve it at about 60 degrees, instead of cold from the fridge. The winery is in Washington state. Steve MacRostie remembers being offered a job in Washington back in his beginning. He suggested his friend Rob Griffin take the job, and he did.
Then they taste a MacRostie 2015 Pinot Noir of Thale’s Vineyard, planted with two selected clones. Gorgeous red cherry fruit, beautiful aromatic personality, Russian River character and underlying acidity, says Dan.
Next they taste a red blend called Eruption, a 2013, also an award winner at the Press Democrat competition, best of class for Bordeaux blends. It has nice Merlot flavors. At first they thought it was from Washignton, but they discover that it’s from High Valley in Lake County, California.