What Is the Deal with Carneros?

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Drew Goin
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What Is the Deal with Carneros?

#1 Post by Drew Goin » April 11th, 2016, 11:25 am

I got involved in the Wine World around 1997. Living in Louisiana, that translates to being at least five years behind the curve of trends and new stuff in general, customers didn't know anything about the SBC, Monterrey, etc, regions. I mean, maybe a couple of folks had been to the West Coast, and they were familiar with Jim Clendenen and the enclave with Bob Lindquist and Lane Tanner...

Carneros was THE spot for Pinot Noir as far as anyone was concerned. Our store owner had a picture of Robert Stemmler with him in the back office, and the Saintsbury Pinot Noir was our top wine.

Occasionally, I could talk a customer into a bottle of a Sanford Single-vineyard "Sanford & Benedict" or "La Riconanda" Pinot, but most were restricted to Carneros. We didn't even have any ABC until around 2003, and it was the Chardonnay.

What is my point? Well, aside from the fact that old habits die hard and that I live in a cultural "bubble", what was so endearing about Carneros to begin with, and why is it now considered poo poo?
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What Is the Deal with Carneros?

#2 Post by Todd F r e n c h » April 11th, 2016, 11:28 am

I noticed that, too - Carneros is not at all considered a great place for Pinot Noir and Chardonnay, it seems, but was so highly regarded in the late 90's. I wonder if it's a weather factor, that there have been too many warm vintages?
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What Is the Deal with Carneros?

#3 Post by John Morris » April 11th, 2016, 11:31 am

People discovered (painfully) that much of the Napa Valley was too hot for pinot. Carneros was on the SF Bay and was cooler. Plus, it was undeveloped land -- mostly grazing land -- in the 80s. So people flocked there to plant pinot and chardonnay in the 80s and 90s.

I haven't followed it much, to be honest, but I'm not sure it ever produced any particularly outstanding pinots. I think the focus on to the Russian River Valley or the Central Coast (for richer styled wines), or to cooler climates close to the coast in Sonoma and Mendocino.
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What Is the Deal with Carneros?

#4 Post by Markus S » April 11th, 2016, 11:31 am

I think people were blinded by the fog.
Land was cheap there and companies wanted to develop it, frankly.
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What Is the Deal with Carneros?

#5 Post by John Morris » April 11th, 2016, 11:33 am

Anyone know how it compares geologically to other areas where there's a lot of pinot now?
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What Is the Deal with Carneros?

#6 Post by Drew Goin » April 11th, 2016, 11:41 am

I believe that Carneros' soils are mostly clay. I could be wrong.

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What Is the Deal with Carneros?

#7 Post by D@v1dZ » April 11th, 2016, 12:20 pm

John Morris wrote:Anyone know how it compares geologically to other areas where there's a lot of pinot now?
I think the issue with Carneros is that where the soils are good, the climate is a hair too warm, and where the climate is just right, the soils are mostly clay-rich alluvium.

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What Is the Deal with Carneros?

#8 Post by D@v1dZ » April 11th, 2016, 12:22 pm

I should add, though, that there is still plenty of world-class Chardonnay coming from Carneros. Hyde Vineyard, Hudson Vineyard, etc. I've never had a Pinot from Hyde but I've heard it can hold its own with Pinot from anywhere in CA.

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What Is the Deal with Carneros?

#9 Post by rfelthoven » April 11th, 2016, 12:47 pm

John Paul of Cameron winery started out there in the 80s and realized that he could never make truly great Pinot noir there (his words), and headed for Oregon.
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What Is the Deal with Carneros?

#10 Post by Drew Goin » April 11th, 2016, 2:41 pm

My following remarks are more accurately described as a report on the thoughts of others than my own:

I just read a Jim Laube opinion piece on Carneros (Wine Spectator , May 15, 1994) entitled "What Lies Ahead for Carneros?"

He credits, at that point of time, the relative disappointing consistency of the Carneros region to a cool, windy climate that straddles the border between under ripe and ripe levels for grapes. Of course exceptions are cited but, for the most part, the Chardonnays and Pinots are just not reliably delivering the goods.

While those are his thoughts, I wonder how many people today assert that the same traits that Mr Laube assigns as a weakness for Carneros as desirable attributes in modern vineyard site selection.

Recently, Matt Kramer (for one) stated that the climatic fringes of successful grape growing are critical for creating great wines. Certain examples, including Sonoma Coast, Western SBC, Anderson Valley, were named in his piece "Not a Sure Thing" (WS, March 15, 2016). While he also explored winemaking practices in his essay, my concern is in respect to the coolness factor.

Is Carneros just too large of an AVA to serve its purpose? Has its drop in esteem been a result of too many poorly chosen planting locations, or was it never the promised land it once was thought to be?

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What Is the Deal with Carneros?

#11 Post by Jorge Henriquez » April 11th, 2016, 2:52 pm

John Morris wrote:but I'm not sure it ever produced any particularly outstanding pinots.
I thought Saintsbury made some darned good Pinots in the Byron Kosuge years. Doesn't Hanzell fruit come partially from Carneros?
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What Is the Deal with Carneros?

#12 Post by Chris Seiber » April 11th, 2016, 2:53 pm

I've wondered this in the last decade or so as well. I don't find that pinot and chardonnay from Carneros does much for me, with a few exceptions here and there, and even those tend to be more ripe and heavy than I prefer in California pinot and chardonnay. And then they usually carry the high Napa price tag with them.

The other thing is that I perceive that most Carneros wines are the lower-priority offering from wineries who specialize in other things, usually cab and merlot. So your big napa cab houses will round out their set of offerings with a Carneros pinot and/or a Carneros chardonnay, but it's really not their strong suit or their calling card. So think a lot of Carneros pinot is your Robert Mondavi, BV, Clos du Val, Cakebread, Domaine Chandon, etc.

Having said that, I've pretty much stopped looking for or buying Carneros wines in the last decade or so, maybe I'm missing out on something worthwhile.

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What Is the Deal with Carneros?

#13 Post by Eric LaMasters » April 11th, 2016, 3:54 pm

I've had some memorable Carneros Chardonnays for sure. Fait-Main Toyon Farm Chardonnay comes to mind.

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What Is the Deal with Carneros?

#14 Post by S. Stevenson » April 11th, 2016, 4:01 pm

Hate to generalize(but I'm about to), Pinot Noir is the only grape I was never thrilled about in California. Whether it's the soil, climate, winemaker or a combination, just never did it for me like the French do. And I'm saying that as a California only buying folk. Maybe that's why Manfred stropped trying a number of years ago. If he can't do it, nobody can...
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What Is the Deal with Carneros?

#15 Post by Glenn L e v i n e » April 11th, 2016, 4:07 pm

I don't believe Hanzell buys fruit from Carneros. My favorite wines from there have been Hudson Syrahs.
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What Is the Deal with Carneros?

#16 Post by Drew Goin » April 11th, 2016, 6:03 pm

There are certainly great wines from Carneros. I have enjoyed Syrah from Hyde and Hudson, Truchard Chardonnay, and Saintsbury PN (back in the day). The fact that Biale makes a vineyard-designated Zin, and MTP/Havens sourced Spanish white variety grapes from this area seems to add fuel to the idea that the area is just too large, and that every stinkin' acre of an AVA needn't be planted.

Primarily, my question is how has the perception of Carneros changed? Why did it change? What is the lesson (if there is one) to take away from the descent of Carneros' image as prime Chardonnay/PN territory?

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What Is the Deal with Carneros?

#17 Post by John Davis » April 11th, 2016, 6:43 pm

Markus S wrote:I think people were blinded by the fog.
.
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What Is the Deal with Carneros?

#18 Post by Bob Hunnicutt » April 11th, 2016, 7:34 pm

For comparison: Carneros = wind, Russian River Valley = fog
Carneros was THE place for Chard and Pinot before anybody thought much about the Russian River Valley or the Central Coast ava's.
I think it's gotten to be more of a style preference, honestly, as RRV Pinot has the bright red fruits most like. Carneros is more dusty/earthy cranberry. Don't have enough experience comparing the two for Chard.
Have had some decent Merlot from Carneros.
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What Is the Deal with Carneros?

#19 Post by Nolan E » April 11th, 2016, 7:46 pm

Bob Hunnicutt wrote: Have had some decent Merlot from Carneros.
I was going to say this. Isn't much of Pomerol clay? That would make sense that merlot would work well in Carneros.

I do like merlot with a bit of a green streak, too.
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What Is the Deal with Carneros?

#20 Post by Randy Bowman » April 11th, 2016, 8:06 pm

In the 60's, I used to drive out through Carneros to the Naval Station at Skaggs Island. It was all cattle ranches and hay fields. Windy almost always, but days with fog or sunshine and it could get real hot with large temperature swings. I think the assessment of cheap, treeless, open land available was the draw for wine grapes.

I also think weather conditions and winemaking make Carneros comparable to sections of Oregon where rainy weather delivered austere wines and hot weather delivered fruit forward, bigger wines. From there, it's palate preference. I prefer hot year Pinots from Oregon and certain wine makers' style of bigger Carneros Pinots. Paul Hobbs can make a Carneros Pinot as big as the RRV Pinots. It might just more work to do it. Macario Montoya has made consistently excellent Carneros Pinots, so I know it can be done.

Unfortunately, Chardonnay may be problematic. I have a friend who owns a few acres of Chard in Carneros. The winery he had a contract with dumped him in 2006, right around harvest. He couldn't find a buyer for the grapes that year. The next year he got half as much per ton and had to drop two tons an acre to meet the buyers demands.
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What Is the Deal with Carneros?

#21 Post by Chris Seiber » April 12th, 2016, 12:56 am

Drew Goin wrote:There are certainly great wines from Carneros. I have enjoyed Syrah from Hyde and Hudson, Truchard Chardonnay, and Saintsbury PN (back in the day). The fact that Biale makes a vineyard-designated Zin, and MTP/Havens sourced Spanish white variety grapes from this area seems to add fuel to the idea that the area is just too large, and that every stinkin' acre of an AVA needn't be planted.

Primarily, my question is how has the perception of Carneros changed? Why did it change? What is the lesson (if there is one) to take away from the descent of Carneros' image as prime Chardonnay/PN territory?
All I can do is speculate, but I'd say

(1) Yes perception of Carneros is changing, in the sense of consumer interest in wines from there declining.

(2) It probably changed because (a) better chardonnay and pinot is being made in more other places now than was probably the case 15-30 years ago (Sonoma Coast, RRV, Anderson Valley, SLH, SRH, SCM, Chalone), (b) maybe the heavier styles that tend to come out of Carneros are falling out of favor, (c) a rapidly growing number of dynamic new pinot and chard producers is appearing all over the state but almost none of them is planting its flag in Carneros, (d) most of the pinot and chard producers in Carneros are doing it as a (usually lackluster) side offering from their main ones in Napa (e.g. Mondavi, BV, Cakebread, Domaine Chandon), and (e) the wines tend to be overpriced because they have the "Napa" label and/or the big cabernet producer's label.

(3) The lesson is that wine is a highly and increasingly competitive business, and if a bunch of other regions are developing and improving around you, you can lose market share pretty quickly.

That's all my speculation and opinion as a consumer - certainly, someone in retail or in the wine business could have a more informed perspective.

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What Is the Deal with Carneros?

#22 Post by John Ammons » April 12th, 2016, 9:34 am

I had a '95 Paul Hobbs Hyde Cabernet last month (bought on release) that was shockingly good. That Hyde is quite the vineyard!

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What Is the Deal with Carneros?

#23 Post by Leonard Maran » April 14th, 2016, 1:41 am

The 2012 Saintsbury Stanly Ranch Pinot is superb. I also like some of Donum's wines, though they are pricey. Hudson and Hyde Vineyard Chardonnay are right up my alley.

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What Is the Deal with Carneros?

#24 Post by Clayton Wai-Poi » April 14th, 2016, 5:34 am

A 1977 Martin Ray Winery Lake Pinot Noir I had recently was shockingly good. On that alone there must be some potential in that dirt. Feels to me that Carneros might be currently under-performing its full potential.

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#25 Post by TomHill » April 14th, 2016, 8:51 am

Up until the late '60's, most of the Pinot was planted up-valley in NapaVlly (other than the SCM) and people
finally realized that that was too hot for growing great Pinot. They realized they needed a cooler spot. Hence they migrated
South into the Carneros...much cooler there. There was a huge expansion of planting (Pinot & Chard) in the Carneros.
Compared to up-valley Pinots, they could be very/very good. Some of those first Pinots of FrankMahoney & KentRasmussen,
not to mention Saintsbury & Acacia, were as good as any Pinot in Calif.
But, since then, the competition to growing great Pinot in Calif has gotten much worse. EdnaVlly/SantaBarbara/RRV/SoinomaCoast/SLH/AndersonVlly/OR.
And the Carneros Pinots have just not kept up to the competition.
I think the main problem in the Carneros is the soils. Much of it is heavy clay, underlain by a shallow hardpan. The soils hold the moisture and the
feet of the grapes remain wet. The Pinots, by & large, don't retain the high-toned aromatics of Pinots from other areas. They often show a streak of
earthiness and clumseyness compared to others.
But there are still some bright exceptions to this generality. Frank & Ken still make first rate Pinots.
But in terms of greatness, for Carneros it's gotta be Syrah.
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What Is the Deal with Carneros?

#26 Post by Nate Simon » April 14th, 2016, 9:16 am

If I find a Carneros Pinot at a good price (usually a closeout type of thing), it might be worth a shot as a QPR. I agree that the value just isn't there at full MSRP in most cases, though.
+1 on the Syrah from there, though...better examples are truly world-class. Don't know why the soils would be the culprit, if those soils make for weak Pinot, but great Syrah?

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What Is the Deal with Carneros?

#27 Post by Jay Miller » April 14th, 2016, 2:15 pm

Way back when I often liked the saintsbury brown ranch very much
Haven't had one in years though
Ripe fruit isn't necessarily a flaw.

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What Is the Deal with Carneros?

#28 Post by Evan Pontoriero » April 14th, 2016, 2:29 pm

I don't think of Hudson or Donum as poo poo
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#29 Post by Nolan E » April 14th, 2016, 2:30 pm

Is there much to be said about Carneros south of 12 vs north? South of the highway seems to be a pretty gentle slope towards the bay where as north tends to have more striking elevation change. North of 12 is where I think some of the better land is (Truchard, Hyde, Sinskey, Winery Lake). I understand the highway is sort of an arbitrary border but there's some anecdotal evidence.
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#30 Post by Marshall Gelb » April 14th, 2016, 11:39 pm

TomHill wrote:Up until the late '60's, most of the Pinot was planted up-valley in NapaVlly (other than the SCM) and people
finally realized that that was too hot for growing great Pinot. They realized they needed a cooler spot. Hence they migrated
South into the Carneros...much cooler there. There was a huge expansion of planting (Pinot & Chard) in the Carneros.
Compared to up-valley Pinots, they could be very/very good. Some of those first Pinots of FrankMahoney & KentRasmussen,
not to mention Saintsbury & Acacia, were as good as any Pinot in Calif.
But, since then, the competition to growing great Pinot in Calif has gotten much worse. EdnaVlly/SantaBarbara/RRV/SoinomaCoast/SLH/AndersonVlly/OR.
And the Carneros Pinots have just not kept up to the competition.
I think the main problem in the Carneros is the soils. Much of it is heavy clay, underlain by a shallow hardpan. The soils hold the moisture and the
feet of the grapes remain wet. The Pinots, by & large, don't retain the high-toned aromatics of Pinots from other areas. They often show a streak of
earthiness and clumseyness compared to others.
But there are still some bright exceptions to this generality. Frank & Ken still make first rate Pinots.
But in terms of greatness, for Carneros it's gotta be Syrah.
Tom

In the late 70's, especially 1976-8, the Carneros Creek pinots of Francis Mahoney were among the best in California. In addition, the Winery Lake Vineyard seemed to supply a few wineries with wonderful fruit. As Tom mentioned, Acacia and Saintsbury were highly sought after. I even think Ric Forman made some pinot for a "hot'" new winery called Bouchaine for a while. Lately it has seemed as if the area has lost all it's buzz.

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What Is the Deal with Carneros?

#31 Post by Drew Goin » April 15th, 2016, 12:27 am

I appreciate all the comments. Welcome back, Tom Hill!

I have no problems with Carneros. I just wanted to understand the shift away from the appellation in terms of the "hot list". To my recollection, the Saintsbury wines were (in the '90s vintages) not dark or clumsy, but light and gentle, with a nice earthy fruit element.

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#32 Post by TomHill » April 15th, 2016, 5:27 am

Drew Goin wrote:I appreciate all the comments. Welcome back, Tom Hill!
Thanks, Drew. Nice to know I was missed. Had a great trip to Calif for NEB#6. Saw lottsa good friends.
There was even some wine involved!!! [snort.gif]
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#33 Post by Larry P » April 15th, 2016, 8:30 am

TomHill wrote: But in terms of greatness, for Carneros it's gotta be Syrah.
This sums it up perfectly.

Like the proverbial case of pneumonia, this is also Carneros' problem. I had a talk with one of the owners of a vineyard there, who had in recent years grafted over some excellent Syrah to Chardonnay. Her attitude was, Carneros great for Syrah, good for Chardonnay, terrible for Pinot, but she can't sell her Syrah.

Take a look at Hudson and Las Madres, is all the proof you need. But, given the time it takes to mature a vineyard and market it, getting the right grapes into the right places takes decades, if not centuries.
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What Is the Deal with Carneros?

#34 Post by Mel Knox » April 15th, 2016, 1:21 pm

In 1991 I visited Burgundy with Anthony Hanson. Our hosts,Jean and Noelle Francois, opened a 1980 Acacia PN, an 80 DRC... and an 80 Cros parantoux from jayer and the Acacia did not not take crap from the other two bottles on the table. In the 90s I represented Saintsbury in the UK. During that period Saintsbury won all sorts of medals at the International Wine Challenge, inc two sweepstakes prizes. So do i think Carneros can produce top wines, esp Pinot Noir...yes I do.

It is also true that Carneros can produce excellent Syrah, Merlot and Chardonnay.

We are just recovering from a drought, so perhaps clay soil ---with its capacity to retain moisture ---is not always a bad thing.

The wind can drive you batty at times and play with ripening but this is not unique to Carneros.

Acacia had its financial issues, so it became part of the Chalone group, which in turn became part of Diageo, whose wines are now part of Treasury...what we used to call Beringer Wine Estates.
Treasury also owns Etude, so they have sold the Acacia facility to Peju...The tendency of large groups is to make an inexpensive wine with the same label as the 'real' stuff so now we have Chalone Monterey,
Acacia 'A', along with similar brand extensions for BV and Sterling...Inglenook Navalle anybody?? I don't know what will happen to Chalone Monterey but that's another story.

Both Hudson and Hyde are making their own wine and the Hydes are building a winery in Carneros. Don't forget there are three companies in Carneros devoted to sparkling wines. All of them seem to be doing well.

Of course, when Carneros started to make fine Pinot Noir, and I count from the ZD St Clair 1972, not too many others were in the same ball park and now it seems it's easy to make Pinot and hard to make Cabernet...
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What Is the Deal with Carneros?

#35 Post by Bryan Price » December 16th, 2017, 9:28 am

Didn't realize Carneros wasn't cool anymore, but I did try a few recent vintages and haven't liked them as much as Anderson Valley, RRV, Sta. Rita Hills, etc. Maybe climate change?
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#36 Post by Drew Goin » December 16th, 2017, 11:14 am

Wow! Blast from the (not so) past!

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What Is the Deal with Carneros?

#37 Post by John Morris » December 17th, 2017, 10:38 am

Chris Seiber wrote: (2) It probably changed because (a) better chardonnay and pinot is being made in more other places now than was probably the case 15-30 years ago (Sonoma Coast, RRV, Anderson Valley, SLH, SRH, SCM, Chalone), (b) maybe the heavier styles that tend to come out of Carneros are falling out of favor, (c) a rapidly growing number of dynamic new pinot and chard producers is appearing all over the state but almost none of them is planting its flag in Carneros, (d) most of the pinot and chard producers in Carneros are doing it as a (usually lackluster) side offering from their main ones in Napa (e.g. Mondavi, BV, Cakebread, Domaine Chandon), and (e) the wines tend to be overpriced because they have the "Napa" label and/or the big cabernet producer's label.
I could be wrong, but my sense was that a relatively high proportion of Carneros was in the hands of producers with large corporate owners, like the sparkling wine houses, Acacia, et al. (Correct me if I'm wrong.) And I'd guess that land there was more expensive than places like Anderson Valley, and maybe the Russian River, at least 10-20 years ago. I think the availability of affordable vineyard land was another factor that drove the current generation of cooler-climate producers to other areas, and they are the folks that have captured consumers' imaginations.
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What Is the Deal with Carneros?

#38 Post by Mel Knox » December 17th, 2017, 6:11 pm

John,
I represented Saintsbury in the UK from around '87 until '02. During that time the winery won lots of medals at the International Wine Challenge, including several bests of show.

In Burgundy I've seen Acacia holds its own against wines from DRC and Jayer.

So I do think excellent pinot can be made there.
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What Is the Deal with Carneros?

#39 Post by Drew Goin » December 17th, 2017, 6:57 pm

John, your words sound very logical.

I have noticed that some sparkling houses own extensive properties in lands as high as Mt Veeder and as low (in elevation, not esteem) as Carneros.

The cost of land undoubtedly plays a considerable role in the site selection for new cultivation of untapped, overlooked regions.

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What Is the Deal with Carneros?

#40 Post by Kenny H » December 17th, 2017, 7:05 pm

The take away here is clearly that Pinot should never be grown in the RRV.

The only reason Carneros was even a thing is because it was cheap land and slightly cooler than RRV.
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What Is the Deal with Carneros?

#41 Post by Drew Goin » December 17th, 2017, 7:08 pm

Kenny H wrote:The take away here is clearly that Pinot should never be grown in the RRV.

The only reason Carneros was even a thing is because it was cheap land and slightly cooler than RRV.
Dost thou troll? ;)

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What Is the Deal with Carneros?

#42 Post by Kenny H » December 17th, 2017, 7:30 pm

Drew Goin wrote:
Kenny H wrote:The take away here is clearly that Pinot should never be grown in the RRV.

The only reason Carneros was even a thing is because it was cheap land and slightly cooler than RRV.
Dost thou troll? ;)
Lol. I never let an opportunity to bash RRV pinot go unexecuted.
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What Is the Deal with Carneros?

#43 Post by John Morris » December 17th, 2017, 11:13 pm

Mel Knox wrote:John,
I represented Saintsbury in the UK from around '87 until '02. During that time the winery won lots of medals at the International Wine Challenge, including several bests of show.

In Burgundy I've seen Acacia holds its own against wines from DRC and Jayer.

So I do think excellent pinot can be made there.
I was just addressing why Carneros seems to have lost cachet. The hipster winemakers aren't getting their fruit from there.

Are those wines as good today as they were 25 years ago? I'm curious. I have no idea.
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What Is the Deal with Carneros?

#44 Post by Richard Albert » December 18th, 2017, 11:52 am

Yes, some of the Carneros wines of today are even better than in the past! My advice is to disregard sweeping generalizations and market trends about the Carneros and get specific.

Coincidentally, a month ago I tasted a remarkable and reasonable Pinot from a "cool climate vineyard" in the Carneros:
Floral nose of raspberry. anise, dried fig, rose petal and mint. On the palate: cherries, earth and minerals. Crisp and high toned, but drinkable with a rich, round, dark, spicy fruited finish in the glass.
I would put this juice up against more expensive Pinot Noirs from more en vogue regions anytime and I am not alone in being impressed by Carneors wines again: this winery has placed Carneros wines at the French Laundry, The Grill at Meadowood and at Press!

I was so impressed by this juice, here is what my research turned up on The Stanly Ranch which is visible to the southwest from the Highway 29 Napa River bridge, the eastern edge of of the Napa portion of the Carneros.
From the Somm Journal:
"Stanly Ranch, one of the most coveted vineyards in Northern California for growing cool-climate grapes like Chardonnay and Pinot Noir. Located on the Napa side of the Los Carneros AVA, and in close proximity to breezy, foggy San Pablo Bay, the vineyards soils consist mostly of well-drained Haire loam. Following a bit of pre-Prohibition history going back to the late 1800s, André Tchelistcheff and Louis M. Martini began purchasing grapes from Stanly Ranch in the 1930s, as it was one of the few areas that had survived the phylloxera infestation of the 1880s. (Agriculturally innovative Judge John Stanly is credited with developing a phylloxera-resistant rootstalk.) In 1942, Martini purchased 200 acres and committed to Pinot Noir and Chardonnay clonal experimentation over the next few decades. The Wente family and U.C. Davis would later join him in these efforts"
UC Davis did research in the 1950's = right grapes in the right site.

Just keep on tasting with an open mind.
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What Is the Deal with Carneros?

#45 Post by Mel Knox » December 18th, 2017, 3:37 pm

Why Carneros has lost its cachet is a good question, John. Some day, perhaps soon, we will break bread and discuss this.
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What Is the Deal with Carneros?

#46 Post by John Morris » December 18th, 2017, 10:11 pm

Mel Knox wrote:Why Carneros has lost its cachet is a good question, John. Some day, perhaps soon, we will break bread and discuss this.
I don't think that will ever come to pass. I don't hang out with your type.
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What Is the Deal with Carneros?

#47 Post by John Morris » December 18th, 2017, 10:25 pm

Richard Albert wrote: Just keep on tasting with an open mind.
My question was genuine. It wasn't rhetorical. I have no idea of current versus past quality. I remember some very nice Acacia pinots and chardonnays 30-ish years ago.

My point in that and my earlier post was that the industry and consumer tastes run in fads and the current hip thing is for wines in other relatively cool areas. (This is no knock on the currently trendy. I spent much of the afternoon tasting at Copain.)

Carneros was the new, new thing in the 1980s when I lived in the Bay Area. Now it doesn't have a buzz. There's no necessary correlation with quality.

What I threw out there for discussion was the possibility that the lack of buzz is due to the fact that Carneros is staked out mostly by larger producers and by producers owned by large corporations, not small producers with buzz and/or who take risks and experiment.

Richard - By the way, I'm unclear who the producer was of the Stanly pinot you liked.
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What Is the Deal with Carneros?

#48 Post by Larry P » December 19th, 2017, 9:57 am

Kenny H wrote:
Drew Goin wrote:
Kenny H wrote:The take away here is clearly that Pinot should never be grown in the RRV.

The only reason Carneros was even a thing is because it was cheap land and slightly cooler than RRV.
Dost thou troll? ;)
Lol. I never let an opportunity to bash RRV pinot go unexecuted.
I'm with Kenny; put Santa Lucia Highlands, Santa Cruz Mountains, "The True" Sonoma Coast, and Anderson Valley deep end, ahead of RRV. That cherry cola thing you get from RRV is not what I'm looking for in Pinot Noir, or wine in general.

...and I think Carneros is losing its cachet, because it's not as well suited for Pinot than the above listed regions. It's part of the natural selection for vineyards.
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What Is the Deal with Carneros?

#49 Post by Mel Knox » December 19th, 2017, 10:43 pm

One of my theories about wine regions is that to be successful there has to be a locomotive or two. In Cote Rotie, it's Guigal; Barbaresco, Gaja. Napa and RRV have many. In Carneros it has been Acacia, now basically disbanded, and Saintsbury, whose lower alcohol style has lost favor. Will the new brands/wines being developed by the Hydes and the Hudsons change things??
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What Is the Deal with Carneros?

#50 Post by John M Richards » December 20th, 2017, 3:23 pm

I believe Kongsgaard's chardonnay is a blend of Hudson and Hyde fruit.

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