The Frostwatch Kismet (76% Sauvignon Blanc, 24% Semillon) is a proprietary blend of Sauvignon Blanc and Semillon. This White Bordeaux cuvee is based on “mis-plants” later identified as these two varieties which were accidently planted in our original Chardonnay block. After several years of holding the fruit back and making wine in our garage, we came to the conclusion that the blend was something special. We decided to devote more acreage to these mystery clones and make this cuvee on a commercial basis. Our new plantings are coming into maturity and are producing three to four tons per acre in a warmer vintage. While this tonnage pales in comparison to more production oriented vineyards, we believe that given the extreme quality of the fruit, the trade off is justified. With consistent high marks from Connoisseurs Guide to California Wine, The Wine Advocate and Wine Enthusiast, this may be as close to a sure thing as you will ever find. Vibrant fruit (peach, apricot, fig) coupled with richness and complexity; this is an alternative white that’s easy to love.
We produced a Semillon in 2013 that was labeled “Vice Versa” because the wine was the opposite of our Kismet in a number of ways. It was predominantly Semillon rather than Sauvignon Blanc, it was off dry rather than dry and it was barrel fermented rather than fermented in stainless steel. While everyone loved the Vice Versa, many of our customers urged us to try producing a dry, rather than off-dry, Semillon. After experimenting with various blends, our final cuvee is 83% Semillon and 17% Sauvignon Blanc. The resulting wine is voluptuous with a silky smooth mouthfeel and a very nice acid balance. The wine exhibits traditional Semillon notes of fig, but also expresses honeydew melon aromatics and flavors. Semillon is susceptible to botrytis cinerea which is known as the Noble Rot. In general, we can’t resist anything that increases complexity in our wines. We note the intense honey-like flavors typically associated with noble rot but also an additive complexing due to our use of indigenous fermentation. This Semillon is weightier than our Kismet and is perfectly suited as an aperitif wine.
This wine is a blend of our two Chardonnay blocks, the densely spaced Platt Wente Clone Block and our more traditionally spaced Clone 4 Block. The wine, as always, is barrel fermented utilizing both native indigenous yeasts and malolactic bacteria, which results in long, cool, and most importantly, complex multi-layered fermentations. This results in a chardonnay that has layers of flavors that evoke a number of different, and sequential, sensations on the palate. The initial impression is that of ripe red apple followed by citrus notes of lemon, lime and orange peel. On the mid-palate the wine exhibits a rich silky mouthfeel with just a nuance of well-integrated French oak. Finally, the wine concludes with a lengthy finish that is supported by good, but not over-powering acidity. The wine’s bright finish allows it to pair well with a variety of foods. The two previous vintages of our Frostwatch vineyard bottling were well received scoring 92 and 93 points from Connoisseurs Guide to California Wines. The 2013 vintage also received 90 points from the Wine Enthusiast and Gold Medals from the 2016 San Francisco Chronicle Competition and the 2016 American Fine Wine Competition. We are confident that this release will be as well received by the critics as well as our customers.
As always, our decision to make the Ophira, our reserve chardonnay, is a year-to-year one. Not surprisingly, we are more likely to make the Ophira in an outstanding vintage (2009, 2012, 2013, and 2014). Each year we taste through each barrel to see if a particular barrel speaks to us, meaning that the barrel stands out above the others and deserves a reserve designation. Given that our fermentations utilize indigenous yeast, aside from oak considerations, each barrel is unique and different because the fermenting yeast and fermentation dynamics are different for each barrel. For the 2014 vintage, we chose three barrels of the Platt Wente clone that exhibited exceptional concentrations of fruit, complexity and texture. One barrel was new and two barrels were one year old. The 18 months of barrel aging and frequent lees stirring, coupled with the exceptional fruit from the Platt Wente Clone in 2014, give this wine the trademark laser-like focus, complexity and unctuous mouth feel expected from our Ophira reserve. The wine is drinking beautifully now but will get even better for several years at a minimum. The last vintage (2013) of the Ophira received excellent reviews (94 pts from the Wine Enthusiast, 91 Points from Connoisseurs Guide, 90 Points from The Wine Advocate and a Gold Medal at the Chronicle Wine Competition) but we feel that this vintage will be even better.
Frostwatch Merlot is quickly becoming a benchmark for New World Merlot production. Among other accolades, the 2011 received a 91 point score from the Wine Spectator at a price point of $30/bottle. The other eight wines that received scores between 90-92 points averaged about $81/bottle. The 2012 vintage received a 91 point score from the Wine Spectator and received a double gold medal from the San Francisco Chronicle Wine Competition. It also received 91 points from the Wine Enthusiast and was picked as one of the top 100 wines from Sonoma County in 2015. Robert Parker of the Wine Advocate tasted the 2013 vintage and in March 2016 scored it at 94 points. He wrote “[it] has an impressive opaque purple color and offers a big blast of fudge and black chocolate along with a dense cherry and blackberry fruit. Unctuously textured, full bodied and rather classic for Merlot, this has a super concentrated style that one rarely sees these days. This is a gorgeous Merlot built for 20+ years of consumption. Actually, it hearkens back to some of the great early Matanzas Creek Merlots from the early 1990’s. This is a stunner.” Mr. Parker nailed this one. The wine is an impressive, yet balanced effort that will continue to improve in the bottle for many years
As with our previous Pinots, the 2013 is sourced from the Frostwatch Vineyard which is planted exclusively to the Swan Clone. This clone is known for excellent fruit with small clusters and berries which produce wines with extreme concentration. The sole downside of these tiny berries and petite clusters is an extremely low case production per acre. (We continue to hope, as the blocks mature, future vintages will be larger!) The evolution of this particular wine from the 2013 vintage has been a complex one. The wines prior to bottling were effusive and showed generous fruit and well-defined structure. Post-bottling they were more closed and not as generously proportioned. However, as they have aged in bottle, they are emerging from their slumber and starting to become what they promised in barrel. This vintage may require bit patience but we are confident Pinot lovers will be properly rewarded.
Purchasing Frostwatch Wines:
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Important Notes on Shipping:
Out of state orders will be charged $34 per case for shipping. Orders of less than a full case will also be charged $34. Wines are shipped within California via Golden State Overnight at $20 per shipment. Shipments to locations outside of California will be shipped by UPS. Alternatively, if you plan to visit Sonoma County in the near future we are willing hold your wine for pick up at the winery free of charge.
We strongly recommend delivery to a business address.
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