Donelanpedia: wine terms defined.
Bud break: buds formed yesteryear finally getting to strut their stuff as Spring springs new leaves with stored plant energy.
Lately we have spent much of the mid-winter checking in on wines we made several years ago. At times we are impatient to see how our Pinot Noir or Syrah or whatever develop because that information can inform what we do in the upcoming vintage (which is why we often taste verticals as harvest approaches). It was with great pleasure though, and patient savoring that we recently cracked a 2009 Nancie Sonoma County Chardonnay, our inaugural vintage (we recently uncorked our 2009 Pinot Noir too).
When first bottled, this wine was reticent if at once richly textured and crisply structured. Those mouth feel characteristics have been happily retained but the aromatics have begun to complexly open and develop in a way that expresses classic Chardonnay. The nose seems Californian with its riper tropical fruit but mixes in hints of wet stone and other “mineral” notes along with citrus and white peach. The palate continues to be where the wine shines and orients itself toward its cousins across the Atlantic. If you have any of 2009 Nancie Chardonnay left, check in on it with some fish or scallops, it won’t disappoint. It should also continue to nicely develop over the next several years.
Obsidian Vineyard Syrah wine is produced from one of the most unique terroirs we cultivate. Learn a little more about the vineyard and the wine with this description from winemaker Tyler Thomas. Obsidian sells through fast so be sure to join our community to find out more.
Sometimes I wonder if I love our Cuvee Christine Syrah too much. It may be one of our most underappreciated wines. Several people thoroughly enjoy it, but I wonder why not more. Cuvee Christine, our quintessential Sonoma County Syrah offering, bridges the gap between new and old world so well; taking advantage of California’s sunshine and ripeness all the while maintaining a European sensibility. Doesn’t that sound lovely? Some have suggested that if we charged more than the $45/bottle it might gain respect. However as a winemaker, you simply want it to be about the wine.
Well at this year’s Nantucket Wine Festival we did a private dinner in a wonderful home with our family of customers. The very talented Peter and Kathleen Wallace of the Westmoore Club created the menu. Without exaggeration I can say that I became nearly Continue reading
It takes a lot of hand work to make great wine. Excellent vineyards, sensible decisions, time, cuts, and bruises all help deliver that Donelan goodness. As a new season begins to enter full swing we offer this reflection on the purple hands that handled the 2011 vintage. Enjoy!
Music with permission of New Jerusalem Music
We have noted previously how we identify great sites for making terrific wine. One important element in this land of sunshine and dry weather? Wind. For many decades it was difficult for vine researchers to distinguish the impact of sun vs. heat. You see, a dark grape receiving direct sunlight in the middle of the day can be as much as 30 degrees warmer than ambient air temperatures. So was it more sunlight, or warmer berries that increased your color?
Then in 2000 a study was published that used heated and cooled air flow to alter the temperature of grape berries without altering their sun exposure. The air passing over the grapes dampened high temperatures. Now, imagine yourself sleeveless on a sunny summer day, perhaps some perspiration on your arms but sipping some wonderful Syrah. Will you be cooler with a breeze, or without? It is breezes like in the video below occurring nearly every afternoon at Obsidian Vineyard that we believe allow us to make a floral, savory, cherry laden Syrah that tastes of something from a cooler climate than one would otherwise suspect from this vineyard. Obsidian is consistently one of our top rated Syrah; it is an old vine vineyard, rocky, burly, extremely low yielding, and breezy. And we know those breezes, even with full sun, will decrease the temperature experienced by those grapes – altering their physiology. It is another cog in the mystery of terroir. Join Donelan if you’d like to try some of the inimitable Obsidian Syrah.
Lamb and Syrah are nearly as epic of a combination as Lamb and Easter. So if you plan on the latter this Easter weekend, why not combine it with the former. I asked Chris Donelan, of Cuvee Christine Syrah fame, to provide me a family recipe for lamb that I could try with my folks who were in town recently. I went to Chris because I have experienced her hospitality and cooking on numerous occasions and have a fondness for the simplicity with which she creates high quality meals.
The following recipe is no exception though it does require – as always I suppose – high quality ingredients. This roast lamb can be done in the broiler, though we grilled ours with a touch of mesquite charcoal added to our normal briquettes. As for side, go with what you like. We are on the tail end of beet season and had beets tossed with salt, pepper, olive oil, and a touch of lemon along with green salad, cheese, and crunchy bread (grilled). The lamb is so good that whatever you serve with it is truly going to be only a complement, so compliment it with something nice, fresh, and Eastery.
As I mentioned in our risotto recipe, what makes great recipes great are their reliance on good ingredients and flexible parameters. This is such a recipe. Chris finely chops her Continue reading