Sunday, January 22, 2017

Taste and Talk: DeLoach Vineyards' Avant-garde Winegrowing in the Russian River Valley

Russian River Passion and Organic Farming at DeLoach Vineyards

Located in the Russian River Valley of Sonoma County, DeLoach Vineyards has been a leading producer of Pinot Noir, Chardonnay and Zinfandel. Deloach was acquired by the Boisset Family Estates in 2003 under the guidance of Jean-Charles Boisset, who incorporated the Burgundian wine-making style and sustainable farming techniques.  DeLoach was certified organic by the CCOF (California Certified Organic Farmers) in 2008 and granted biodynamic certification by Demeter in 2009.  DeLoach Vineyards considers themselves stewards of the land, and "we take to heart the Native American proverb that “We do not inherit this land from our ancestors; we borrow it from our children.”  In this regard, those at DeLoach Vineyards strives to "maintain and encourage biodiversity on the winery estate with chickens, a thriving bee hive, and a diverse vegetable and herb garden that includes the medicinal plants we use in the compost preparations such as yarrow, chamomile and dandelion."
Photo from DeLoach Vineyards 
DeLoach produces wines in 12 Vineyards:  DeLoach Estate Vineyards, Durell Vineyard, Hawk Hill Vineyard, SwiceGood Vineyard, Van Der Kamp Vineyard, Heintz Vineyard, Maboroshi Vineyard, Riebli Valley Vineyard, Ritchie Vineyard, Rue Vineyard, Pennacchio Vineyard and Saitone Vineyard. DeLoach's passion is Pinot Noir – and they use their Burgundian techniques to do it well. "In keeping with our Burgundian Heritage, we use French open-top wood fermentors for all of our Russian River Valley, O.F.S, and Vineyard Designate Pinot Noirs, as well as our old-vine Zinfandel. We also practice hand punch-downs, known as pigeage — another Burgundian winemaking tradition." DeLoach employs open-top wood fermentors, as used in France, to highlight and truly express the Russian River Valley terroir. It was very interesting to learn about DeLoach's French heritage and winemaking styles.  The DeLoach surname itself is French for "from Loches," a small village in the Loire Valley near Vouvray.
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Photo from DeLoach Vineyards
DeLoach's focus on biodynamic, organic, and sustainable winemaking practices led to crops being replanted and revitalized, and ultimately to DeLoach producing Wine Enthusiast magazine’s 2004 Wine of the Year (DeLoach Vineyards’ 30th Anniversary Cuvée Pinot Noir) and making Wine & Spirits' magazine Top 100 Winery list for the twelfth time in 2012.  This month, #WiningHourChat featured organic, biodynamic and sustainably farmed wines and wineries.  It was interesting to explore the differences and nuances between these three types of wine-growing and wine-making styles.*  DeLoach Vineyards proved to be a fitting choice as our guest. 
Image result for deloach wines pinterest

We talked to them about the significance of the Fleur-de-lys design on their bottles. Historically, the Fleur-de-lys was a dressed up lily to symbolize purity and a 'lily among thorns.' However, according to DeLoach Vineyards, the Fleur-de-lys was used on its debut release, a 1975 Estate Bottled Russian River Zinfandel. "­The symbol was suggested as a way to emphasize the French heritage of the DeLoach name and the winery’s specialization in Burgundian winemaking techniques and the Pinot Noir and Chardonnay varietals." ­The Fleur-de-lys is a most appropriate symbol for Deloach! 


As we have been discussing organic, biodynamic and sustainably farmed wines and wineries, DeLoach tweeted to our participants about their prime location in the Russian River Valley.  They explained that they have a 17-acre Estate, where they planted Chardonnay and 8 different clones of Pinot Noir.  What's interesting is that this doesn't even include all of their other vineyards.  

Photo from DeLoach Vineyards
In terms of soil, DeLoach has Huichica Loam.  Not only are they certified organic and biodynamic, "we focus also on sustainable wine-growing." It was a delight to know that many of us have been drinking DeLoach wines for years and did not realize that they were organic until now!
Photo from DeLoach Vineyards
#WiningHourChat's DeLoach Vineyards Tasting:

French oak for Chardonnay
at DeLoach Vineyard
We tasted DeLoach Vineyard Estate Chardonnay 2014.  This Chardonnay is made from grapes from their Old Wente Clone, Montrachet Clone and Clone 809 vineyard blocks. The grapes underwent whole cluster pressing, native yeast fermentation and lees stirring for 10 months. Then there was extended barrel aging in French oak (25% new) for 14 months to enhance depth and complexity. DeLoach Vineyard Estate Chardonnay is adorned in very sophisticated attire, with its beautiful gold Fleur-de-lys accenting the golden bottle.  It is yellow-gold in appearance, with aromas of tropical fruit and oak.  This well-balanced Chardonnay has rich pear and citrus fruit on the palate.  Balanced acidity and luxuriant finish. 14.5 % ABV, and would complement vegetarian dishes, Cornish hens and most poultry dishes.  



We also tasted DeLoach Vineyard Russian River Valley Pinot Noir. Who doesn't love a good Pinot Noir?  DeLoach Vineyard makes about 14 different Pinots! This one is hand-sorted and fermented in small vats. Following the hand punch-down method, it is aged for 11 months in French oak barrels.
Hand-sorted Pinot Noir grapes-DeLoach Vineyard
DeLoach Vineyard Russian River Valley Pinot Noir is garnet, with ripe cherry and raspberry on the nose.  The palate explodes with dark cherry, plum and violet spice. DeLoach spoke of the raspberry aromas and tastes of strawberry and a touch of vanilla.  Their pairing suggestions included wood-grilled pizza. We would also pair this Pinot with duck. Maggie (@Winegal57) paired her Pinot Noir with Fourme d'Ambert, one of France's oldest cheeses. 13.5% ABV. 



So have you tasted DeLoach Pinot Noir or Chardonnay? Don't miss out on these rich Russian River Valley wines produced by the pioneers at DeLoach Vineyards.



*In order to use the "organic" label, certification by an organization such as California Certified Organic Farmers or CCOF is needed.  Organic farms or wineries would not use any synthetics, or any artificial fungicides, herbicides, pesticides or fertilizers.  Grapes are grown organically, without the use of sulfites, even though these are naturally occurring to an extent.  Biodynamic farming refers to self-sustaining, self-sufficient farming methods, or methods that are in-tuned with nature. Characteristics of biodynamic farming include the integration of plants, and livestock into the process, by means of composts, herbs, manure, etc.  Anyone can incorporate biodiversity, but to have the "biodynamic" label, certification by Demeter is necessary.  Lastly, sustainable or sustainably farmed focuses on three things: giving back to the environment, economic profitability and minimal use of synthetic materials.  Sustainable farming methods may include organic and/or biodynamic wine-growing or wine-making techniques.

About The Wining Hour
The Wining Hour writes about wine, Italy and global travel.  The Wining Hour boutique caters to wine-lovers across the globe by offering all wine-related items.  The Wining Hour markets unique wine décor and furnishings, accessories, glassware, barware, wine racks, storage and cooling options, games, gifts and more. The Wining Hour also hosts #wininghourchat on Twitter (@wininghourchat) on Tuesday's at 9 p.m. EST.(For more, see links at the top of this page)

For more information, please visit www.thewininghour.com.­­­

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Sunday, January 15, 2017

Taste and Talk: High Regards for Raymond Vineyards

Rich and Refined Wines in Napa Valley

Photo from Raymond Vineyards
Raymond Vineyards, located in the Rutherford AVA of Napa Valley, was founded in 1970.  Today, Raymond's estate includes 300 acres in Rutherford, St. Helena and Jameson Canyon. Raymond Vineyards has deep roots, as it goes back five generations and is the offspring of two wine families (Raymond and Beringer) through marriage.
Photo from Raymond Vineyards
As of 2009, Raymond has been under the Boisset Family Estates and the guidance of Proprietor Jean-Charles Boisset.
Jean-Charles Boisset (Photo from Boisset Family Estates)
This month, #WiningHourChat featured organic, biodynamic and sustainably farmed wines and wineries.  It was interesting to explore the differences and nuances between these three types of wine-growing and wine-making styles.*  Raymond Vineyards was a great choice, not just because their wines are delicious, but because Raymond’s Rutherford and St. Helena estate vineyards are certified organic and biodynamic, and 100% of the winery’s power comes from renewable solar energy. So, we were delighted to have them as our guest on #WiningHourChat to talk about the winery, wine-making process, answer questions and discuss latest vintages. We were honored to have several of our "winefriends" on for the chat, along with Raymond. Despite the rain and floods occurring recently in the Napa Valley, the folks at Raymond Vineyards were full of sunshine.  It may have been raining, but they were pouring--wine, that is!
Photo: Raymond Vineyards
#WiningHourChat's Raymond Vineyards Tasting:
After sharing information on our chat about the location, history and background of the winery, we discussed a few of Raymond Vineyards' latest vintages. Here are a few highlights from our conversation and tasting:

#WiningHourChat: While we enjoy all of your wines, let's discuss Raymond Vineyards Reserve Chardonnay 2014.
Raymond Vineyards: The fruit used in this Chardonnay is sourced from estate vineyards in Jameson Canyon & select Napa Valley growers.  The estate vineyards are planted on rolling hills at the southern end of Napa Valley. With warm days and cool nights we maintained ideal acid levels with optimum, bright fruit.
Photo: Raymond Vineyards

Photo: Raymond Vineyards
Napa Valley Reserve Chardonnay bottle
The 2014 vintage of Raymond Vineyards Reserve Chardonnay, comparable to a Burgundy, is made from 100% whole cluster Chardonnay grapes, which were cold fermented in stainless steel. After fermentation, the wine was aged sur lie in 75% French oak (20% new) and 25% stainless steel for 9 months. According Raymond's master female winemaker, Stephanie Putnam, "the blending of barrel aged and stainless-steel aged juice lends greater complexity and roundness to the final wine while stirring the lees adds creaminess to the wine’s mid-palate."  With it's bright gold appearance, we smelled aromas of honeysuckle and stone fruits.  The palate is crisp, with pear, yellow apple, lemon, vanilla and oak. Rich and creamy with 14.5% ABV.  Raymond Vineyards Reserve Chardonnay would pair with fish, creamy soups, pork and other roasted white meats.




#WiningHourChat: Next we tasted the 2014 Raymond Reserve Selection Cabernet Sauvignon.  This was exciting as this is a pre-release. We feel quite privileged!  Now, please share with us-isn't this a "special" vintage?!
Raymond Vineyards: Yes! This is our 40th-Anniversary vintage to celebrate the 40th Anniversary of Raymond's first vintage.  Notice it has a touch of the Red Room. We created this label in velvet. This is the first we've ever done, and it is to symbolize the texture, emotion and feeling of this 40th vintage. Do you like the new label?
#WiningHourChat: Absolutely!  It is smooth like velvet, and truly representative of the taste. Everyone loved this one!  Maggie (@Winegal57) mentioned that she "loved the lable and the soft and velvety touch.  It's a beautiful wine." Cara (@CaraMia57) also felt that this was a most "delicious wine."
Photo: Courtesy of Boisset and Raymond Vineyards

Photo: Courtesy of Boisset and Raymond Vineyards
The 2014 Raymond Reserve Selection 40th Anniversary Cabernet Sauvignon is a special vintage indeed.  As mentioned, it is decked out in red velvet, as if it just walked out of Raymond's Red Room. The Red Room is the name of Raymond's tasting room, which is also lined in red velvet-a must see for anyone visiting Napa. There is also Raymond's Red Room Salon Privé, for those wanting luxurious private tastings. The Reserve Selection 40th Anniversary Cab is crafted with hand-sorted grapes from the vineyards in Rutherford and St. Helena "to preserve the bright fruit flavors and rich earthy characters of the fruit."   It is a rich blend of Cabernet Sauvignon, Petite Verdot, Petit Sirah and Malbec that spent 19 months in French oak (30% new). "The wine was bottled unfiltered, contributing greater texture and presence to the mid palate."  Raymond's 2014 Napa Valley Reserve Selection 40th Anniversary Cabernet Sauvignon is a deep, dark ruby and greets with cherry, black plum and rhubarb aromas.  On the palate are evolving flavors of black cherry, black currant and bittersweet cocao. This wine is very smooth, with fine tannins and a persistent finish.  14.5% ABV. Pairing options would be barbeque, steak and other beef dishes...or alone.
Raymond certainly did not hold back for this gorgeous wine's 40th birthday!
Raymond Vineyard's Red Room (Tasting Room)




#WiningHourChat: Raymond Vineyards 2014 Sommelier Selection Cabernet Sauvignon is pretty interesting, and we were happy to taste this as well, as it is not in distribution. Please share some background information about this vintage.  What is the idea behind this wine?
Raymond Vineyards: Our Sommelier Selection Cabernet Sauvignon is crafted by a group of influential sommeliers at the finest restaurants. Here's a great short video about our Somm Selection Wines.
#WiningHourChat: That's great!  Interesting concept.

Somm Select Video by Raymond Vineyards

Raymond Vineyards 2014 Sommelier Selection Cabernet Sauvignon is a varietal that is crafted by 10 influential sommeliers from some of the top restaurants.  On the back label of the bottle, Raymond provides a tiny handbook, as it were, with detailed information and bios of the 10 sommeliers.  This Somm Select Cab is only available on-premise at Raymond Vineyards.  The grapes for this Somm Selection Cabernet Sauvignon are sourced from Napa, Sonoma and Lake Counties and consist of 90% Cabernet Sauvignon and 10% Merlot, which are aged for 15-16 months in French Oak.  
Back label on Raymond
Sommelier Selection Cabernet Sauvignon
It was interesting to learn about the thought process in selecting the grapes for this production: Napa, for its fruit and tannins, Sonoma, for its structure, balance and acidity and Lake County, for the flavors it yields.  The winemakers describe it as a "full-bodied elegant wine brimming with blackberry, cherry and cassis flavors." We experienced a nose of raspberry and plum and a palate of juicy cranberries, black and red currants and cedar. This 15% ABV wine is loaded with fruit and ripe tannins.  It is versatile and would pair with almost anything.  



There is no question that we hold Raymond Vineyards in very high regard, and that they were awarded Winery of the Year by Wine Enthusiast Magazine in 2012 and the Wine and Culture award in 2015. Raymond wines are crafted with care, quality and style.

What is your experience with the rich and refined wines of Raymond Vineyards?

*In order to use the "organic" label, certification by an organization such as California Certified Organic Farmers or CCOF is needed.  Organic farms or wineries would not use any synthetics, or any artificial fungicides, herbicides, pesticides or fertilizers.  Grapes are grown organically, without the use of sulfites, even though these are naturally occurring to an extent.  Biodynamic farming refers to self-sustaining, self-sufficient farming methods, or methods that are in-tuned with nature. Characteristics of biodynamic farming include the integration of plants, and livestock into the process, by means of composts, herbs, manure, etc.  Anyone can incorporate biodiversity, but to have the "biodynamic" label, certification by Demeter is necessary.  Lastly, sustainable or sustainably farmed focuses on three things: giving back to the environment, economic profitability and minimal use of synthetic materials.  Sustainable farming methods may include organic and/or biodynamic wine-growing or wine-making techniques.

About The Wining Hour
The Wining Hour writes about wine, Italy and global travel.  The Wining Hour boutique caters to wine-lovers across the globe by offering all wine-related items.  The Wining Hour markets unique wine décor and furnishings, accessories, glassware, barware, wine racks, storage and cooling options, games, gifts and more. The Wining Hour also hosts #wininghourchat on Twitter (@wininghourchat) on Tuesday's at 9 p.m. EST. (For more, see links at the top of this page)

For more information, please visit www.thewininghour.com.­­­

Get Social with The Wining Hour: