Thursday, June 17, 2010

Elegance from Robert Sinskey Vineyards

The 61 hectare family estate of wife and husband Maria and Robert Sinskey is since 2001 organically farmed, and since 2007 fully biodynamical. “It didn’t make sense to put poisonous chemicals in the vineyards where ourchildren are running and playing around”, Robert says and adds that the vines also suffered from the unhelthy treatment. Together with his winemaker Jeff Virnig, he travelled to Burgundy to visit vignerons working their vineyard fully natural and even biodynamical, like Jacques Seysses at Domaine Dujac and Dominique Lafon at Domaine Comtes des Lafon. This really made him understand the importance of farming his vineyards completely natural.
At Robert Sinskey Vineyards, the annual production reaches 25 000 cases the most, and the wine list includes a few whites of Alsatian grapes and Chardonnay, as well as a quintet of Pinot Noir wines, and seven reds of Bordelaise grape varieties. The style leans more toward the European palate than the typical American.

2008 Abraxas Vin de Terroir / 83-84 p
This is a quite unusual blend of 49 percent Pinot Grigio (Pinot Gris), 22 percent Gewürztraminer, 20 percent Riesling and 9 percent Pinot Blanc. All grapes come from Sinskey’s biodynamical farmed Seintilla Sonoma Vineyard in Carneros. After a slow and gentle pressing, the juice is cold settled in stainless steel tanks, in which also the fermentation later takes place. Not all batches undergoes malolactic fermentation, hence the very fresh and lively acidity. Color is pale straw, the nose clean and delightful with notes of lemon peels, almonds and white flowers, and just a whisper of rose hips from the Gewürztraminer content. There’s also a touch of butter and a dash of fresh grounded black pepper which I believe comes from the Pinot Grigio component. On the palate, it’s fruity and finely textured, but dry and quite crisp with just a slight bitterness in the good, but relatively short aftertaste.
So, is everything perfectly enjoyable with this wine? Well, taken into consideration this is a quite ordinary wine style, there is not very much to complain about – but there is a moment where the alcohol is a bit significant. It’s just slightly a bit too high at its 14.1 percent to be in perfect balance with the fruit. Still, it’s very drinkable and good.
Drink it over the next year.

2005 Cabernet Franc Vandal Vineyard / 91 p
Cabernet Franc is one of the most underrated grape varieties in the world, and a part from a (far too) few wines and some villages in the Loire Valley, it’s rarely seen as a varietal wine. In Californian there are some 1 425 hectares planted – not very much compared to the 30 384 hectares of Cabernet Sauvignon or 19 134 hectares of Merlot planted. In this wine, the cuvée consists of 75 percent is Cabernet Franc and 25 percent Cabernet Sauvignon, all grapes from the Vandal Vineyard in the northern part of Carneros. The wine is brought up during 18-20 months in French oak barrels, a third new. Color is still youthful, and so is the nose – pure, fresh, vibrant, loads of cassis, very fine notes of fresh grass just as expected of Cabernet Franc, also that lovely fine tuned nuance of cedar and Dominican cigars that is so complex. The palate is as well composed, not big, not great, but just fine. Tannins are ripe and very well integrated in the fresh cassis fruit, acidity lively but not fresh, there are some notes of lead pencils (which makes the wine quite Bordeaux like) and the oak very well tuned.
I really like this wine today, especially after 30 minutes (or more) in a decanter, yet it is a wine that will evolve beautifully in the coming years.
Drink it 2010-2025.

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