As sure as Spring begins on March 20th a month later winemakers are meeting at Las Madres Vineyard, the home of John Painter and his Wife Jean Gadiot, for the annual Winemakers Luncheon. I was fortunate enough to receive another invitation and didn’t blink an eye. It’s been quite a rainy season this year and rain was falling on Monday before the event, Tuesday was cool a windy and lo and behold Mother Nature was out in full spleandor on Wednesday with sunny skies, temps in the mid-70s and a light breeze.
Las Madres strutted its stuff once again. Such an idyllic setting.
The vineyard is planted to two blocks named after Johns Grandmothers, Esther (Syrah clone 174) and Hulda (Syrah clone 300) with a smattering of Viognier.
Esther is planted on a hill. The vines are just breaking bud.
Hulda is planted on a gentle slope
The afternoon began with with everyone saying their hellos and chatting over an exceptional Rosé of Syrah from
2018 Belharra Rosé of Syrah Sonoma County, Carneros
2hrs after the 2018 early pick this fruit was being pressed at 20.7 brix. The resulting wine is light pale pink wth watermelon and citrus florals. Wonderfully tart berries glide over the tongue, a burst of sappy watermelon on the midpalate and lip smacking acidity to finish it off. This is a terrific Rosé with an edgy quality that makes it such an easy drink. Anne’s best Rosé to date. Loved it.
We then adjourned to the dining area for a barrel sample tasting of the 2018 Syrahs from all the winemakers/assts in attendance. John started us off with a review of the vintage from a farming aspect, 20th leaf - 17th vintage. As far as he was concerned every vintage can be a 2018. Plenty of rain no major prolonged heat spikes and a great crop picked October 11th.
Note: These were all barrel samples, most of which just finished malo and have some barrel time ahead of them.
The first wine tasted came from a new project by Camille Gaio, Anne Fogarty’s partner in crime and Belharra, called Purlieu - Black pepper and black fruited nose, blackberry, iron, bracing acidity, firm tannins.
This wine was destemmed, fermented in an open top and had a bit of extended maceration. Yum.
Next was Eric Kent - 75% whole cluster and 3% Viognier coferment.
Very floral, tart dark red fruit, tannic wall on the midpalate, lift of acid and a slightly bitter finish. This had a carbonic stemmy note to it as well.
Kyle from Coterie did a blend of 2/3 Esther 1/3 Hulda with 4% Viognier - Blackberry and white pepper abound, silky midpalate, tart red berries, not really complex at this stage, very easy drinking.
Ben Brenner presented the wines from Matt Nagy. The first was referred to as Carboy and was a private client wine. 30% whole cluster cofermented with Viognier in a closed tank, pumped over and barreled to new French oak. My notes said this had my favorite nose yet of the wines tasted, lots of Blackberry fruit up front, the palate was dominated by oak and was very tannic. Tasted like a Syrah made in a Cab Sauv approach. Different from everything else on the day.
Bouchaine was cofermented with Voignier in an open top, 1/3 whole cluster, 23% new French oak. The nose was surprisingly clipped despite the Viognier, time will tell. Tasty red and black fruit, lighter bodied.
Ben showed Benevolent Neglect which was. 50-50 blend of the two Vineyard blocks and 50% whole cluster. There’s that black olive tapenade that is the vineyard signature! Fruity ripe palate, nice tannin integration. Matt’s wines are always standouts for me.
Benevolent Neglect 100% Whole Cluster was picked 2-1/2 weeks before the rest of the vineyard at 23 brix. This is experimental and they’re not yet sure if it will be bottled as a standalone wine. Juicy explosive dark red fruit, bright, edgy, nice balance of acidity and tannin. I could guzzle this stuff, am a big fan. If they do release I’m in.
Lastly was Anne Fogarty’s Belharra, Esther and Hulda in separate ferments then blended and barreled down to 20% new French oak. Black pepper, blackberry, black olive, seamless from front to back. Great balance and expression of site. Bravo.
After the tasting and clearing the tables of wine glsses we enjoyed cheese, fruit, crackers and back vintages of Syrahs from various Las Madres producers while lunch was being prepared. A powertasting of sorts while we chatted some more, taste, spit, repeat. No formal notes.
This is really developing nicely
First vintage from the vineyard. John said there are only two bottles of this left and that’s probably a good thing. Showing the longevity of the vineyard but the fruit has all but faded away leaving some tart red berry in the background. Fading into the sunset. Considering it was made in a barn by a farmer and a vineyard manager it’s long life is encouraging for all the other wines to come afterwards. Will probably see it at the next two luncheons.
This one is showing its age as well but holding onto more structure with the fruit still showing dark.
2011 was the worst vintage for Las Madres, too cool to properly ripen. Mike Smith can get flavor out of a rock. This wine was fabulous. In his absence at the luncheon the wine represented.
Real nice, great fruit.
Good balance, solid showing.
The food did not suck either! I iked it so much I recreated the dish for dinner a couple nights later. But that’s a story for another forum.
Once again an outstanding afternoon with great people, great food, great wine and the promise of another stellar round of wines from this world class vineyard for the 2018 releases. Many thanks to everyone involved especially John and Jean for opening their home to the extended Las Madres family and allowing this Berserker to tag along. Much love!