Textured, classic Russian River Chardonnay with pleasing counterbalance between ripeness and acidity,distinguishable by underlying minerality, quality oak.
The nose is a blend of pear fruit and caramel. On the palate, these notes continue and are balanced with a hint of Rangbur lime in the finish. The crisp acidity is a perfect balance to the richness of the wine. This is to my mind exactly what RRV CH can be when top sites are well farmed and winemaking is focused.
Eric Flanagan and his family live on the vineyard property the Chardonnay comes from.
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Marcassin Sonoma Coast Chardonnay is made from 100 percent Chardonnay.
The 2014 Chardonnay from the Marcassin Vineyard could be described as a letdown after two perfect wines, but of course, it’s not. It shares the great intensity of its predecessors, doesn’t seem to have quite the complexity and profound depth of either the 2012 or 2013, but since it’s younger, that may appear with more time in the bottle. Certainly the tangerine oil, caramelized citrus, honeysuckle and lemon blossom are all present in this wine of impressive fruit purity, equilibrium and length. Like the 2013 and 2012, it has at least 10-15 years of aging potential.. -Wine Advocate 96 Points
What an extraordinary tasting this was at the Marcassin winery just north of Santa Rosa in Sonoma County. Just when you think the duo of Helen Turley and John Wetlaufer can’t make greater wines, they bowl over the taster with an array of exquisite quality that really must be tasted to be believed. Marcassin was probably California’s greatest Chardonnay after the famous Chalone winery fell from the pinnacle and onto hard times in the 1980s (and it has yet to rebound). Moreover, Marcassin set the bar for great Pinot Noir as well. And while both their Chardonnay and Pinot Noir have many competitors these days (from the likes of Harford Court, Mark Aubert, Kistler, Kongsgaard, DuMol, Thomas Brown, Peter Michael, Martinelli and Luc Morlet, to name a few), John Wetlaufer and Helen Turley remain the reigning geniuses of these two varietals in California. Certainly, their meticulous attention to detail in both the vineyard and in the winemaking and élevage account for the quality, but they were among the pioneers who saw the unlimited potential from the Sonoma Coast, now a relatively crowded neighborhood. This was a remarkable tasting that simply blew me away, and I have been following their wines since the first Marcassins were made in the early 1990s. By the way, any doubts about aging potential should be crushed immediately, as even in the most challenging vintages in California, Marcassin Chardonnays and Pinots have aged as well as, if not better than just about any grand cru white Burgundy. For example, 1995 and 1996 Chardonnays, particularly those from the Lorenzo Vineyard, are incredibly youthful and dynamic, and the Marcassin Estate Pinot Noir, even from vintages such as 1998, is simply amazing.
The three Chardonnays tasted include two perfect wines. Perhaps the closest comparison is not to anything made in California, but a Corton-Charlemagne in a top vintage from the famous Jean François Coche-Dury.
Our 2015 Flanagan Pinot Noir Sonoma Coast continued the string of “winemaker vintages” that started with the 2012 vintage. For the third year in a row, there were no damaging weather events and fruit condition was excellent. We continue to do relatively short fermentations with some whole cluster additions. The wine was aged in Francois Freres and Rousseau barrels for 12 months.
This wine is the first that includes fruit from our two new vineyard designate sites. Both Sunchase and Sonoma Stage are well regarded, cool climate Sonoma Coast vineyards and in 2014 both produced abundant, ripe, clean fruit. The resulting wine is reflective of the cooler climate sites and shows more restraint and more elegance than the 2013 Pinot Noir. The fruits are focused on black cherry and nearly ripe black plum (sweet, but crisp and not flabby). We used a gentler touch on the oak to allow the great vineyard sites and the beautiful vintage to shine through.
A complex nose of white nectarine, marzipan, citrus peel and pineapple upside down cake with a full palate, offering nuanced flavors of Asian pear, lemon curd and Calimyrna fig.
The Bien Nacido Vineyard is located in the Santa Maria Valley on the South Central Coast of California, just east of Santa Maria. The topography of the valley features transverse ranges with an east/west orientation, opening up to the Pacific Ocean. The climate is strongly influenced by the ocean providing ideal temperate growing conditions for Chardonnay. Early spring warming, mild summer temperatures and late arriving cold fall temperatures provide a long growing season for the development of rich color along with concentrated and complex flavors.
This wine from the historic vineyard is light in color but not shy on the nose at all: lime blossoms, lemon curds, honeysuckle and lemon-lime soda all leap from the glass. The palate combines chopped dill and dewy herbs with green fruits, from pears to kiwi to lime peels, all presented with a lot of briskness. 93 Points Wine Enthusiast
The 2014 vintage is the maiden release of Cabernet Sauvignon from Keermont Vineyards. All the grapes come from their Cottage Lane Vineyard on the mid-slopes of the Helderberg. This vineyard is situated on the crest of a ridge (320m above sea level) so has aspects ranging from East through North to West. It is very exposed resulting in small vines with low yields. This has allowed them to make a relatively fine grained Cabernet, but the clay soils translate to a wine with power, tension and fresh acidity.
Rich crimson red color. The nose is a complex mix of savoury notes: crushed herbs, violets, sandalwood, leather and some lovely bright red fruit. The palate is fine and yet powerful. Lush spicy red fruit is complimented by blueberry and bramble notes. Powerful tight-knit tannin and a very linear acidity afford the wine a long succulent finish. Drink 2017-2030
All grapes used in producing their wines are grown on Keermont Vineyards. Small parcels of grapes are specifically selected according to ripeness, harvested by hand and vinified separately. This process is carried out gently and naturally in open top fermenters using traditional methods only. This wine spent 22 months maturing in 225 Litre French oak barrels before being bottled by hand without filtration. They produced just 3654 bottles. The wine was bottle matured in the Keermont cellar for a further 18 months before release.
The season’s winter was generally mild, but became cold and wet towards spring time. Keermont experienced record rainfall and even snow on the mountains during August 2013. This allowed for good vine growth during the spring, but also increased the mildew pressure and resulted in an unusually large insect population. Fortunately neither of these had a major impact on our crop. Our soils stayed moist throughout the growing season thanks to moderate temperatures and we hardly had to irrigate at all before harvest. A series of heat waves in early February jolted us into harvest action. The vines, which had been very nurtured by all the moisture, suddenly started to show some signs of stress and we needed to pick quite a few of the blocks over a short period. The favourable growing conditions contributed to a healthy crop of 150 tons for Keermont Vineyards.
Alc: 15.0 %
RS: 1.72 g/L TSO2: 63 mg/L VA: 0.82 g/L
"This is the first vintage of this varietal Cabernet, grown on red clay loam soils at 300 metres. The vines are still quite young, but it’s a superb début, with subdued oak, savoury, perfumed top notes, fine-grained tannins and pure cassis and wild herb flavours. One to watch. 2019-25."
- Tim Atkin (South Africa 2017 Special Report), 93 pts
"The 2014 Cabernet Sauvignon is a new addition to the Keermont range. It comes from a single, low-yielding block, although it will not be labelled as such, from loamy soils around 300 meters above sea level. Most of the maturation is in 225-liter barrels with around 20% new oak. It has a straightforward bouquet, perhaps not quite as personality-driven as the Cabernet Franc at the moment, but developing pleasing graphite/pencil box scents with time. The palate is medium-bodied with crisp tannin, good body and presence in the mouth with that graphite theme continuing from the aromatics. Well balanced and harmonious towards the finish, I would afford this a couple of years in bottle to develop more varietal character. - Neal Martin"
- Robert Parker's Wine Advocate (Issue #230, April 2017), 91 pts
The Ritchie Vineyard is one of the most famous Chardonnay sites in Sonoma County. The vineyard was planted in the early 1970’s to a Wente clone of Chardonnay on AXR-1 rootstock. It was later discovered that AXR-1 was not phylloxera resistant and owner Kent Ritchie was told he would need to replant the vineyard. Forty years later the vineyard still produces world class fruit! The 2014 Flanagan Chardonnay from Ritchie was barrel fermented in 50% new French oak and aged sur lies in barrel for 11 months before being transferred into a tank for a remaining 5 months. This wine is rich in texture with great acidity. The flavor profile shows tropical fruits and the minerality unique to the volcanic soils of this legendary Sonoma County vineyard.
Eric Flanagan is the founder and visionary behind the Flanagan wines and Flanagan brand.
Our journey into wine began with a love of wine and an appreciation of the places that create unique wines. In the early 1990’s, wine quality exploded higher in Sonoma and Napa. It was an exciting time to be a consumer of wines from Northern California and a great time to come and meet the vintners who were responsible for these inspiring new wines. We began in 1999 with the purchase of forty acres in Bennett Valley. In 2011, we acquired a small Russian River Valley vineyard, and, starting with the 2014 vintage, we have added vineyard designated wines from top vineyards in the Russian River Valley and the Sonoma Coast. Vineyard sources now include Ritchie Vineyard and Bacigalupi Vineyard for Chardonnay, and Sunchase and Sonoma Stage for Pinot Noir. In 2015, we will also add the iconic Platt Vineyard as a source for both Chardonnay and Pinot Noir. We believe that Platt may be the best vineyard in California for those varieties.
Sustainability at Flanagan:
There are a few marketing buzzwords that are prevelant in the wine industry right now that can be very confusing to the consumer. Terms like organic, biodynamic, sustainable... What exactly do those terms mean? To us, it's very simple. Sustainabliltiy means we farm our vineyards with long term mindset. We do everything we can to ensure that this land will be as healthy, or healthier than it was when we found it. We are in the process of having our vineyards certified as sustainable by the California Sustainable Winegrowers Alliance "CSWA".
Sonoma County is making a huge push to be the first farm community to be 100% certified sustainable. The CSWA program has 138 catagories for vineyard owners to self assess and then they support the process with an outside auditor. Sonoma County has hired a full time sustainablility coordinator and is making great progress towards our goal of have all of the vineyards in Sonoma County farmed sustainably.
Proprietor Eric Flanagan:
Eric came to the wine business from a love of wine. His family did not own a winery or a vineyard, and Eric did not grow up on a farm. Through his travels Eric became fascinated by how grapes of the same variety expressed themselves in different places. From New Zealand to Greece, Eric visited wine growing regions around the world, but in the late 90's he chose to create his vision in Sonoma. He started in 1999 with the purchase of 40 acres on the side of Bennett Mountain and expanded in 2011 with the purchase of their Russian River Valley site. Flanagan is now producing wines from several of the top vineyards in Sonoma County under their vineyard designate program. Flanagan is becoming known for making great wines from the best vineyards in Sonoma County.
Eric, Kit, and their 3 daughters (Riley, Lola, and Ruby) make their home at the Three Starrs Vineyard along with 3 dogs, 10 ducks, 4 Dwarf Nigerian goats, 2 geese, 1 donkey, and 1 mule (also named Ruby).
Winemaker Cabell Coursey:
Cabell joined Flanagan Vineyards as Winemaker in 2014. His obsession with winemaking began with a harvest in Burgundy while he was enjoying an undergraduate semester abroad. After finishing his B.S., Cabell spent a few vintages picking grapes and scrubbing floors in Burgundy, and then moved up to Oregon’s Willamette Valley. Following his time in Oregon, Cabell traveled to Christchurch, New Zealand, where earned degrees in Enology and Viticulture from Lincoln University. During his time in New Zealand Cabell focused on cool climate viticulture, which serves him very well in his current role at Flanagan. Cabell has also held winemaking positions at Alder Springs Vineyard, Dumol, and Kosta Browne.
Cabell’s approach to winemaking is to use his senses in conjunction with his knowledge in biology, chemistry, and farming.
Cabell describes his philosophy:
“Winemaking is the culmination of a vast number of decisions. Starting with the site, the farming practice, the response to weather conditions, the picking date, the tank and barrel programs, ferment protocols, and continuing through blending and bottling. It is the daily decisions, actions, and sometimes lack of action that unlocks a vineyard’s highest potential. This quest to reveal each vineyards unique personality, while dealing with the challenges inherent in farming, is what makes winemaking challenging, interesting, and highly rewarding. My goal is always the same, to deliver each vineyard’s best expression in each vintage and to make a wine where the last glass is better than the first.”
The vineyards represents 69 acres in total:
Graves vineyards is 13 acres, planted with Syrah (6 acres), Cabernet Sauvignon (4 acres) and Merlot (3 acres).
Platt vineyards is 34 acres, planted with Chardonnay (13 acres) and Pinot Noir (18 acres) and Riesling (1.4 acres)
and Gaps View is 22 acres, all planted with Pinot Noir.
Our Côtes du Rhône Villages is elaborated on the superb Terroir.
The average age of the vines is 34 years; The assembly favors
Grenache, Syrah and Mourvèdre. This complex wine can be kept 8 to 10 years and we
Keermont Fleurfontein is made from 60% Sauvignon and 40% Chenin Blanc.
An attractive autumn yellow gold color, powerful apple, lime and melons on the nose with light oak and nut aromas, palate defined by a central core of fresh acidity which balances the sweetness and layers of fruit and rich lease. Drink now through 2020.
All grapes used in producing this wine were grown on Keermont Vineyards. Bottling was carried out by hand without filtration, so if you are lucky you may find a little lees in the bottom of your bottle.
The wine is produced by pinching the stems of the grapes while they hang on the vine. This stops the translocation of fluids into and out of the grapes and allows them to slowly dry out on the vine. The raisins are harvested a few weeks later and the syrupy juice is squeezed from them with a hard pressing process. The syrup ferments in barrel and is left to mature for 12 months. Total production was just one barrel yielding 580 bottles.
"The 2018 Fleurfontein has a lovely bouquet of tangerine, marmalade, honeysuckle and almond aromas that display wonderful intensity. The palate is very well balanced with a viscous texture (very Sauternes-like) and a harmonious custard tart and tangerine finish. Gorgeous! - Neal Martin."
- Antonio Galloni's Vinous (November 2019), 95 pts