Sleeper: Hallberg Ranch

THE SLEEPER...KEEPER OF 2011 = HALLBERG RANCH PINOT NOIR!

SCHERRER WINERY RUSSIAN RIVER VALLEY PINOT NOIR 2011

I Finished work with a tasting of the Scherrer 2011 Pinot Noirs-in-progress. They were so amazing that I drove a few miles or so down Highway 116 to Emeritus’ Hallberg Ranch and took this picture. The D-block is off in the distance. Pinot Noir Elite and Dijon 828 clones make up most of our Russian River Blend. It will be unbelievable! Really exciting!  I’m glad I was a part of this because the overall vintage talk from others is very negative. Not so here in the apple orchard!

We received Hallberg Ranch Pinot on Thursday, September 22 and Monday, September 26 (in the early morning no doubt). The rains came October 3 – a week later. Fred knows viticulture – he keeps up with the weather, samples grapes in the vineyard and calls the pick.

(Rangers struggle early but finally come through in the 9th to win Game 2. Rangers 2 Cardinals 1. World Series tied 1-1. Back to Texas).

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Artist

EASTSIDE ROAD , RUSSIAN RIVER VALLEY, OCTOBER 19, 2011

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Save the date: Library Teaser

AT MY DESK TRYING TO COME UP WITH SOME CONTENT FOR THE BLOG

HELLO! Look at the color of that almost decade old Cabernet. It’s Scherrer Vineyard 2002 from Ed Scherrer’s (Fred’s Dad) Vineyard in Alexander Valley. The family farm is closer to Chalk Hill than to the warmer Cloverdale area.

Structure. Great Cab flavors with a backbone of acidity and tannins that will probably hold up for years to come.  No milkshake here. This wine does have good fruit but also includes some nice subtle savory herbal notes to it as well.

HOW ABOUT THIS BIG BOY FROM YEARS GONE BY. 3-Litre '97

I LOVE FILM NOIR. THESE TWO BRUISERS FROM 1993 AND 1996 IN 3L

KERRY AND I WERE DOING THE LIBRARY INVENTORY WHEN I DUSTED THIS '93 OFF

THAT WAS EXCITING UNTIL I FOUND THESE TWO GEMS! 1991 WAS FRED'S DEBUT VINTAGE!

Scherrer Winery is not the new kid on the block. He’s been making wine since the 80s. Dehlinger. Fort Ross. He even helped out with some projects for Sonoma-Cutrer when they asked for his help. Fred’s not the new “cool & groovy” bad boy from UC-Davis…oh wait…he did go to Davis…way back in the day…and he does play guitar. Anyways, what I’m saying is that this is “that” winery you say you want to find:  Tiny. Winemaker’s always there. Hand-crafted. Down to earth. Quaint. Some of the equipment is homemade or antique.  Smokin’ wines. Truly Unique!

Try to visit the Scherrer Open House in November. There will be a selection of wines from the Library. (not necessarily the ones pictured above)

new episode under “The Months” section

<disclaimer. I did not receive any of these wines free (damn it all), nor am I being compensated by Scherrer Winery for writing my blog (double damn it all)
. I like the wines and I like to blog…I usually don’t critique wines in my blog.>

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Cab On The Horizon

AS THE SUN SETS SLOWLY IN THE WEST....

...BEAUTIFUL SCHERRER VINEYARD CABERNET, SAMPLED ON SEPTEMBER 15, IS NOW READY!

THE OLD VINE CAB BLOCK IS ON THE UPPER LEFT

SAME CAB BLOCK VIEWED FROM THE HILL ZIN BLOCK. BEST OF THE BEST!

ED SCHERRER, FRED'S DAD - FAMILY VINEYARD SINCE 1899. BEST FRIEND TRIXIE

1899. That’s how long the Scherrer family has been farming in the Alexander Valley. Ed, now in his mid-80s, still does much of the vineyard work himself.

The Cabernet block above was planted in 1989.  The “young vines” to the right were planted in 1993.

Ed didn’t go with the popular opinion of the time, which was to plant on AXR1 rootstock. He preferred to stick with what was working well – St George rootstock.  Viticultural history shows that AXR1 was susceptible to the vine louse phylloxera which decimated many California vines in the late 80s and early 90s. So, Ed’s Cabernet vines are older than many Cabernet vineyards in Napa or Sonoma.

ED STILL HAS TIME FOR THE GARDEN

Tomorrow morning, October 15, 2011, as you are reading this, Cabernet from Fred’s family vineyard will be arriving at Scherrer Winery!!!

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Tonka Truck – The Mighty Grape Truck

NOT FROM HASBRO OR TOYS"R"US. OTIS AND HIS MIGHTY TONKA TRUCK

UNLOADING CALYPSO VINEYARD SYRAH FOR THE ROSÉ

The Calypso Vineyard grapes from less than 2 miles away, are delivered by Otis on this Tonka Truck flatbed! It was a myth to me until yesterday.

Fred kept saying ‘look for the Tonka Truck’ when we 1st started receiving some Calypso fruit this week. I was finally around when Otis dropped off some more of his immaculate Syrah.

BELLA AND OTIS

Notice the grape stains on Otis’ jeans. He meticulously picks all the fruit himself from his 2-acre vineyard near Iron Horse in Green Valley. The vineyard is divided into 19 blocks, each with its’ own dedicated irrigation lines. Fred tells me Otis has the most unique trellis system as well, so I will add to this post after I visit Calypso. Alban clone Syrah, Syrah Noir, Viognier, Zinfandel, Merlot and Pommard Pinot Noir were some of the varietals I heard mentioned. (We also made a very tiny batch of Calypso Pinot Noir this harvest).

Then, he loads the bins onto the Tonka and delivers it to Fred.

TONKA TRUCK DOCK FOREMAN, BELLA

Fred is the exclusive recipient of Calypso fruit! Another great relationship with a small neighborhood Sonoma grower.

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Planet (Syrah) Rosé

SATELLITE IMAGE OF PLANET ROSÉ

Sorry for not checking in the past few days. We have been receiving Syrah from Otis’ Calypso Vineyard in Green Valley near Iron Horse (more info on this vineyard soon). This juice will be fermented separately but later it will be blended with that Grenache Rosé.

BEAUTIFUL DROPLETS OF SYRAH FOR A MAJOR PORTION OF THE 2011 ROSÉ

Pressing the Syrah is exciting but takes time. Lots of low pressure cycles so that we don’t extract too much of a good thing. You want bright fruit and good acidity but you have to be aware of astringent notes that show up in the later cycles. Last night’s juice from the press pans had a wonderful peppery note and some mouthwatering tartness to it!

IT HELPS TO HAVE STRAWBERRY SHORTCAKE AND A CUP OF JOE

So, I’ve had to take my dessert right near the Press. Look at the color on the juice in the background.

SOMETIMES THE MORNINGS COMES TOO SOON. SEE THE MOON IS STILL OUT ON EASTSIDE ROAD IN THE RUSSIAN RIVER VALLEY

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Soggy SOG

We came back to Platt Vineyard to get our Pommard Pinot Noir. Rain was in the forecast for 11:00 AM. We started at 7:00.

THE POMMARD PINOT LOOKS GOOD, ESPECIALLY AFTER LAST WEEK'S RAIN

EARLY MORNING FOG WAS CROWDING IN ON US

CHECK OUT THE EXTREME FOG.

…at some point during the pick we had to amend “extreme fog” and admit that “ok, it is, in fact, rain now!”

WE GOT A LOT DONE BUT WE DIDN'T TOTALLY BEAT THE RAIN. TODAY'S PICK CAME TO A MUDDY END

I said it before – “this is the true Sonoma Coast.” Farming grapes at the extreme edge. Not for the feint of heart. Fred has made some great calls on when to pick. Although we got a little wet, we got the grapes in before any real damage was done!

HEARTY POST-PICK CARBS

ps – did I mention that The Texas Rangers won today’s Game 2 on a walk-off Grand Slam!

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The Holidays Are Coming

ROBIN, MY ROOMMATE, GOES ALL OUT WITH HOLIDAY DECORATIONS

SCHERRER OLD & MATURE ZIN PAIRS GREAT WITH THANKSGIVING FARE

SCARE SOME UP FOR YOUR GUESTS

Ok, so it is a gratuitous plug for Scherrer Winery, as is The Library post. But, I really do believe you will love the Zinfandel and The Open House is always a good time that shows off the age-worth winemaking that goes on here in the apple orchard.

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THE LIBRARY

1997 SCHERRER VINEYARD CHARDONNAY

FRED LATE NIGHT WITH THE LIBRARY WINES

FORKLIFT SEARCH FOR PAST VINTAGES DATING BACK DEEP INTO THE 1990s

OR, MAYBE A RARE VINEYARD DESIGNATE LIKE THIS PINOT FROM FT ROSS HIGH SLOPES

Late into Saturday evening, Fred, Kerry and I searched through the dwindling supply of older wines from Scherrer Winery’s Library stash. Fred is trying to find just the right mix of interesting vintages that will show well for the November Open House. Some exciting stuff will be poured. Make sure to be there!

(Maybe try some Bliss Vineyard Syrah from his old buddy Don Bliss’ place)

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Getting to the Guts of a Story

PRESS WITH LEGS?

YOU HAVE TO GET INTO THE GUTS OF THE PRESS TO REALLY CLEAN IT

THE INSIDE SCOOP. SQUEEZE IN HERE WITH THE PRESSURE WASHER

CLAUSTROPHOBIC INTERNS NEED NOT APPLY. PLUS IT'S HOT AND WET IN HERE

THE AUTHOR CONTEMPLATES A DESK JOB

Another Fred saying heard ’round the winery: “use a Belt and Suspenders” meaning to be extra careful. So, when getting inside the press, put the brake on, open air release, unplug the press and turn off the power source.

(if you use a ‘belt and suspenders’ your pants won’t fall down!)

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