Spring Release is in the Air


Spring often teases us with some sun and flowers here and there, and then suddenly it arrives overnight and the world is in full bloom. Mother Nature will be the first to teach you about patience, a shapeshifting, ever-present virtue. In Sonoma, the drought continues despite a few winter showers and a sudden freeze, but Spring has definitely sprung. The horizon is flecked with daffodils and the vines are swelling with cotton tips. Budbreak just arrived in our Chardonnay and Pinot, and the Syrah should be following the trend soon. At the winery, the racket and rhythm of bottling trucks is a welcome loudness. It’s great to see new wines suited up in their Donelan best. With our Rosé as the bellwether for the vintage, the 2021 wines are looking stunning. This fall, we’ll harvest new sources of Pinot, Chardonnay, and Cabernet. We’re feeling inspired, rewarded by patience, and excited to begin our Spring Release.

After seeing a growing interest in our older wines, we decided to work on a release unlike any we’ve done before by offering brand new wines and also dipping into our library. It’s rare for a winery to open its cellar, but it’s even more unlikely for a winery to make its best, oldest, and rarest available during a release. Our team is excited to do something special and a little unconventional. In February, we tasted through our entire portfolio, going back more than a decade all the way up to the newest releases. It was a wonderful, nostalgic thing to experience how far we’ve come, taste the fruits of patience, see how our wines are doing and meet the personalities they’ve grown into after all these years. Time is remarkable. After days of tasting, talking, and writing down our findings, we hand-picked the wines that really took our breath away, and those are the wines we’re sharing with you today. Our 2022 Spring Release includes four new releases and five library wines. We have extremely finite amounts (we’re talking as little as 5 cases of the 2011 Nancie!) so if you’re interested in a specific bottle or want them all, place your orders soon.

We want to express how much magic library wines bring into our lives, by way of your lives. These older vintages are like time stopped in a bottle. They’ve been released so many years ago now, there’s no telling who has a dusty vintage sitting in their house, patiently waiting for the right year, the right occasion, the right time to be rediscovered. We’re lucky enough to experience fairly often the miracle that happens when that right time does come around. Once or twice a month, we get a call or email from someone telling us they found an old Donelan Syrah or a lone Chardonnay, decided to open it up and were blown away. They tell us what meal they cooked, who they shared it with, the way it made them feel, and in essence, describe a memory made with our wine. Two instances of this stand out in recent memory. One was last year when a stranger from the United Kingdom contacted me to say our 2012 Venus was tasting phenomenal. As it turned out, he found this rare bottle through an old friend I’d met over a decade ago. From this library wine, dots had been connecting and paths unfolding for years on the periphery and came together in England. I joined him for a Venus tasting not long after. The other instance a library wine worked its magic was this January. As we were releasing our new 2016 Obsidian Estate Syrah, I received a beautiful story from a man who just tasted one of our older Obsidians and, to quote him, had “that mystical experience when tasting a wine of being called to a place.”

These stories are the miracle of wine. Bonding with folks we may never meet, bringing joy to tables we may never sit at, across years and years of time passing is a remarkable thing. It’s the power of a library wine, it’s what winemaking is all about for us, and it’s what we hope to bring you with our 2022 Spring Release.

Meet the New Wines

2020 Genevieve’s Block Chardonnay

Although young, the new 2020 Genevieve’s Block Chardonnay is showing beautiful and intriguing qualities. We can always count on the Genevieve to have an extremely distinct nose. It’s what makes it stand out in our portfolio and also in the realm of Chardonnay. From the glass, you’ll pick up aromas of warm vanilla pan dulce, honey butterscotch candy, quenching green papaya salad, and an air of marine saltiness hearkening back to its one-acre roots on the Sonoma Coast. The palate on the 2020 Genevieve is piercing, super precise, and angular like a coiled spring that will unravel gracefully as time goes on. This wine is tasty now with some decanting but it will enter a serious drinking curve in a few years and has another 10-15 years to dazzle and develop.


2019 Nancie Chardonnay

The new 2019 is Winemaker David Milner’s first grape-to-glass vintage of Nancie Chardonnay. Every vintage of this wine embodies elegance and class, but no vintage is the same. The assemblage changes every year and thus, Nancie does not have a recipe. This wine lets us sit shotgun while the cool climate and the terroir do all the navigating, and they never steer us wrong. It is truly an inimitable wine. This Chardonnay has fantastic structure for such a young wine, and its youth brings the party to the palate with lively peach pit, flinty minerality, and juicy quince. The acidity is very chalky and pleasantly mouth-coating. Give this wine two more years and it’ll be drinking like a stunner.

2016 Cuvée Moriah

The 2016 Moriah is our ode to Chateuneuf du Pape. It’s an Old World hat trick of Mourvedre, Syrah, and Grenache. Ripe raspberry and crushed cherry allude to Frambois and Kirsch, with flashes of pomegranate and spiced plum. Signature fresh white pepper, black olive, and herbs de Provence tango on the nose and the palate. This is one of our most versatile wines across the board. It’s intense yet elegant, sweet yet spicy. The pairings are endless but Shepherd’s Pie, Moroccan tagine, and barbecue are a few of our favorites. Cushing Donelan calls the 2016 Moriah “automatic” because it’s ready to join you right now or in 2026.

2016 Two Brothers Pinot Noir

Our 2016 Two Brothers Pinot Noir opens with a fresh and pretty bouquet of rose petals, cranberry, dried cherry, and crushed raspberries. It’s a medley of deep, spiced scents that call to mind early fall fragrance, when berries are ready for harvest and roses are putting on a final show of flowers. The 2016 also has an earthy brilliance created by aromas of mint, dusty earth, white pepper, and whole cluster spice. This wine is medium-bodied with a nice long finish. People who enjoy Old World, classically styled wines will appreciate this vintage.



Library Wines to Discover

2011 Cuvée Keltie Syrah

They say necessity is the mother of invention, and our 2011 wines are proof. 2011 was the infamous “year with no summer.” With such cold, rainy, and unpredictable weather, we paid extreme attention to detail with the little crop we had to work with. And we made some of the most remarkable wines from this once-in-a-lifetime tough vintage. Year in and out, the Cuvée Keltie is a selection of the best vineyard parcels and barrels. We produced only 185 cases but what’s left is something magical. Obsidian, Richard’s, Steiner, and Walker Vine Hill Vineyards create a mélange of fruit and savory aromas. The personality of this wine at first suggests a French Côte Rôtie. As it sits in the glass, it releases aromas in layers of licorice, smoked sea salt and chocolate, pork pancetta, and rosemary. The 80% whole cluster fermentation gives Keltie structure that persists and lingers on the palate for 30+ seconds with a full-bodied mouthfeel of crème de cassis, blackberry, charcoal, and graphite.

2011 Nancie Chardonnay

2011 Nancie is another fabulous wine that emerged triumphant from a historically difficult vintage. Rain during bloom and October showers coupled with a cool summer lead to yields as low as 50% in some of our vineyards. But the fruit that made it to the finish line have become instant classics, with vintage hallmarks of freshness, balance, and good acidity. 2011 Nancie smells incredibly young for a 10-year-old wine. Chamomile blooms, fresh-cut flowers, tangy green apple, baked pear tart, and lightly buttered croissants come together in a wonderful way that evokes springtime florescence. This cool-climate Chardonnay is filled with energy and verve and meets you at the rim with delicate inflections of mint and lime. It’s beyond refreshing and precise on the palate and will be great for another 10 years.

2013 Tripp’s Block Pinot Noir

The 2013 is our first vintage of Tripp’s Block Pinot Noir. For an almost ten-year-old wine, it’s very much alive, extraordinarily rich, and juicy. It smells like a deep and comforting spice box. Imagine a cedar cabin at Christmas time, red cherry pie is coming out of the oven to be dusted with cinnamon and powdered sugar. A gentle wood fire accompanies the citrus smell of candied orange peels, and white pepper cracked over savory meats wafts from the dinner table. The acidity in this Pinot Noir is mouth-watering. Drink this wine in the next 5 years.

2013 Cuvée Moriah

A blend of 87% Grenache and 13% Syrah, the 2013 Cuvée Moriah is complex and irresistible. The nose opens with savory and funky aromas of beef bouillon, then meanders into a forest where your senses fill with the unmistakable rush of just-plowed earth, damp with dew and patches of wildflowers, moss, and mushrooms. The third act of aromas is confectionary notes of Luden’s wild cherry lozenges and rich cranberry sauce. This wine has great weight on the palate and quite a bit more tannin than the 2012 vintage. It’s very broad in the mouth with new flavors of dried orange peel and warm, herbal cardamom. It leaves you wanting more with a 25-30 second finish. Lamb Bolognese would be wonderful with this wine. Enjoy it over the next 7 years.

2010 Kobler Family Syrah

The 2010 Kobler has an aroma you’d follow anywhere. It’s super heady with an undercurrent of smoky mesquite, dusty dry straw, and sweet muddled raspberries. This vintage is lither than the ’08 or ’09. The palate is loyal to the red and savory nose with complimentary cherry and gamey Rhône flavors like whisky pepper steak. With moderate tannin, this 97% Syrah with a touch of Viognier possesses a graceful masculinity. Enjoy it right now but definitely in the next 5 years.

We hope you love the wines and that you enjoy them this year and for years to come with family, best friends, and amazing meals. Log in to our store to start shopping. Cheers to Spring!

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