Apsara Cellars - 2013 release

Just got the release letter from Robin, been waiting for this one!

This is a small production Syrah and Sauv Blanc by Mike Smith’s assistant winemaker under his own label - Apsara Cellars. A couple of posts around here on it and a few CT entries. Robin’s really passionate and has access to some great Las Madres fruit.

I got to barrel taste the '11 Syrah and '12 Sauv Blanc back in Sept and it was really coming along. This is Robin’s second production year on both wines and if you are looking for something new with a good refined style and focused balance it’s worth a try. This year it looks like he was able to increase the Syrah from 35 cases(!) to 65 so hoping more people get a chance to try it out this year.
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ah helps if I add the release notes newhere

Release notes:

Apsara Cellars, Las Madres Syrah, 2011
65 cases made. $35/bottle

Tasting notes:

In the glass our Las Madres Syrah shows an intense violet rim with a deep purple core. From the bottle the vibrant nose opens up over time to display a vanilla laced spice box with clove, anise and licorice. There are also hints of dark fruits as well as more savory notes of bacon and black olives.

We’re happy to say this Syrah displays the vintage, pushed to the limits and showing muscular savoury notes of kalamata olives, white pepper, blackberry star anise and subtle black tea on the palatte. Adding to the complexity there is a suggestion of smoked meats and on the finish the tannins coat the palate with a gentle hint of cocoa nibs.


In amongst the rolling hills of Carneros lies a vineyard close to our hearts, Las Madres is a site that produces Syrah of unique qualities and character. Grown on a mix of clone 174 and 300 the vines are planted on an east-west alignment in a sheltered bowl. Making the most of the diurnal flux the vines are always some of the last to be picked, pushed to develop flavor whist retaining a naturally balanced 13.9% alcohol.

The challenging vintage of 2011 meant we had to ride out some sleepless nights before picking this fruit. Given the vintage we decided to pull back on the percentage of whole clusters used in the fermentation, using around 10%. After 5 days of cold soak, we allowed the tanks to warm and utilized a strain of yeast directly cultivated from the wineries and vineyards of Côtes du Rhône.

On completion of fermentation we drained and pressed the tank filling used French oak barrels where upon the wines spontaneously went through malolactic fermentation. The wine was then left to mature for 13 months in barrel.

Apsara Cellars, Rivers Reach Sauvignon Blanc, 2012
85 cases made. $25/bottle

Tasting notes:

Crystal clear with a green-straw color. This years Sauvignon Blanc displays elegant aromas of lychees and passion fruit, alongside notes of pineapple, limes and a touch of green mango. Exotic fruits are complimented by a restrained mineral note that leads through to an almost creamy mid palate. The development of flavors in the mouth is carried through by a refreshing bright acidity that pairs with the phenolic component delivering crisp apple refreshment that lingers through to the finish. The 2012 vintage gave us a more structured wine, whose complexities benefit from some air to display its full character.


Located on well drained alluvial soils just south of the Beckstoffer Georges III vineyard, our Sauvignon comes from low-yielding vines from the To Kalon and Musque clones. The delightful 2012 growing season presented us with near perfect fruit, there were no issues with botrytis or mildew, instead the fruit that came in showed a great balance between flavors, acidity and sugars.

After sorting the fruit, it was loaded into a Champagne press cycle to achieve a long, but gentle pressing of the grapes. The juice was then sent to cold settle for 24 hrs, dropping the heavier suspended solids. We decided to co-ferment two separate yeast strains, the first was chosen to optimize body and texture complimenting the second, which was there to bring out and express the natural flavors and aromas of the grapes.

A long cool fermentation was carried out in 62% used French oak, 30% new French oak barrels and 8% stainless steel. On completion of alcoholic fermentation our barrels received regular battonage (stirring) of the lees to build up a smooth mouth feel. The wine then went through 6 months elevage, resting in barrels until bottling.

I’m in… big fan of Robin’s efforts.

I bought a couple of bottles and am looking forward to trying the wines.

In on the Las Madres Syrah.

I bought my whole allocation of 6 bottles each.

i bought 3 and 3

same [cheers.gif]

Stop it already with these tremendous winery finds (new for me anyway). I am already kicking myself for not being able to take my Myriad and Quivet Syrah allocations and now this post hits. I have to figure out how to resist the temptation yet again.

check out what UPS dropped off!

Really nicely done and bottles look fantastic, almost want to just pop one right away but will let them sleep or at least settle down from the long trip [cheers.gif]

I would do it. How else would you know if you love it or not? If you do, you have access to…more!

good point, but I just placed a Sisters order this morning…hmm wait a second i’m seeing a pattern here. You’re such a pusher Mike!

[welldone.gif] [thankyou.gif]

I look forward to enjoying his Sauv Blanc this spring and summer.

Mine arrived at my brother’s office. Can’t wait to try one (of each).

Anyone know if there are other wines in the pipeline or if the syrah and sauv blanc are the only wines slated for this year?

Robin may have mentioned to us during our last visit or in a subsequent e-mail that a Cab may be in the works.

Baptiste, thanks for posting the photo. Isn’t it funny that we’re such fanatics that we get excited over a photo of the wine. There are Youtube videos that show the opening of nearly any package, be it a set of earphones or a trinket. I wondered what all the hype was about, but then again, we enjoy seeing photos of wines as they’re unveiled.

Thanks again,


I went ahead and bit for six of the SB as summer is coming, and I need to diversify my selection of whites.

I basically bought blindly based on his credentials. Anybody have a TN or comparison of style?

Need a TN? My bottles are in the USP system, give me a few minutes…


Thanks for the photos but I would love for my bottles to arrive. I never saw a bottle of $25.00 wine wrapped so nicely.