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RUSSIAN RIVER, BUENA TIERRA VINEYARD
On the nose, you smell honeycomb and apricot with a slight hint of warm spices. The color is bright, clear and golden with legs that gently slide down the sides. The taste is a treat of Meyer lemon and vanilla with a touch of Crème Brulee. Its fresh, smooth and delicate. The complex flavors of the old vines make this wine an old soul. The finish lingers just long enough.
Don was a serious collector (and consumer) of fine wines for over thirty years. In January of 2003 we brought a small knoll 3.5 miles north of Saint Helena in the heart of the Napa Valley. Included in this two acre parcel was a rocky .75 acre Cabernet vineyard planted in 1996, a very modest vineyard cottage (originally a stone barn built in 1921), a guesthouse and a winery. After an internal remodel of the cottage, many gallons of paint and extensive landscaping, the knoll became our home.
Many years ago we read the book Shibumi, which became one of our favorites: adventure, intrigue, romance, the book has it all. The book introduced us to the concept of Shibumi, a Japanese word describing a physical and emotional state which most nearly translates to “the pursuit of perfection though simplicity” or “Effortless Perfection”. Life on our little knoll in a simple cottage surrounded by vineyards, canopied by majestic oaks and blessed with bucolic 360-degree views, is truly one of perfection through simplicity. Hence when we decided to make wine under our own label, “Shibumi Knoll Vineyards” seemed perfect.
We feel blessed to live in the beautiful Napa Valley and thank you for loving our wines.
It is said by Burgundian vinters that the grape is simply a vehicle that allows the vineyard to express itself. Shibumi Knoll is located in the center of the Napa Valley .3 miles off Highway 29 and a quarter mile from the Napa River. It is on the alluvial fan of Mill Creek and is composed of 80% rock. Thus the wine shows the grace of Napa Valley Cabernet yet has the structure we see in wines from stony hillside vineyards. We harvest the grapes when they are ripe but not overly so. Therefore our Cabernet shows many qualities of a great red Bordeaux. Because of these qualities it is a favorite at The French Laundry.
Our first vintage of Shibumi Cabernet was the 2003. The grapes were processed at Benessere Winery located about a half mile north of Shibumi Knoll. There, while watching the grapes being processed, Don met another vintner, Eugena Keegan, who was bringing in Pinot Noir and Chardonnay grapes from Sonoma County. Eugena asked Don if he’d like to barrel taste her wines. The last wine he tasted, a chardonnay from Buena Tierra Vineyards, he felt was stunning. Eugena was moving to Oregon so he approached the owner of Buena Tierra Vineyards, located on the Russian River in Sonoma county about buying the grapes. The owner explained that because the vines were 35 years old and grape production was down, he was going to replant the 2.4-acre block. Don offered to pay full production price for whatever grapes were harvested, an agreement which has continued for 12 years.
The Shibumi Knoll Buena Tierra Chardonnay has proven to be among the best in the country. The 2005 vintage received a 97 from The Wine Spectator, tied for the highest score given California Chardonnay in the first decade of this century.
This ancient block of vines has produced some incredible Chardonnay vintage after vintage.
In the summer of 2012 Don was walking the Buena Tierra Vineyard with Thomas Brown when Thomas pointed to a small block of Swan clone Pinot Noir and said “I could make some great Pinot Noir from these grapes.” 2012 was our first vintage from this block. Our Pinot Noir is a favorite of many among the wines we produce.
Kershaw Chardonnay GPS Series Lower Dulvenhoks is made from 100 percent Chardonnay.
During the year, I have the opportunity to visit a number of areas outside of Elgin. Occasionally, I come across something so fascinating that it deserves a closer look.
In 2016, I discovered a small parcel of Chardonnay grapes growing on limestone soils – a rarity in the Western Cape. With limestone often touted as beneficial for Chardonnay grapes, it made sense to grasp this opportunity with both hands. The GPS Series is testament to these special places and celebrates them.
Restraint, minerality, freshness of fruit and a chiselled edge reflect limestone’s soil properties. This 2017 vintage reveals clean, bright aromas of lemon blossom, wet chalk and powdered stones. Penetrating intensity, animated acidity with a rich mid palate weight, this wine has purity of fruit (orange peel, yellow cling peaches and grapefruit peel) lemon cream biscuits and crème fraiche textures with a long finish.
Grapes were hand-picked in the early morning, placed into small lug baskets and tipped directly into a press before being gently whole-bunch pressed up to a maximum of 0.6 bar or until a low juice recovery of 590 litres per ton was
obtained. The juice gravity-flowed directly to barrel (no pumps were used at all) without settling. The unclarified juice had no enzymes or yeast added to it and therefore underwent spontaneous fermentation until dry, with malolactic discouraged. The wine rested in barrel for 4 months prior to judicious sulphuring and a further 7 months’ maturation in barrel before racking, blending and bottling.
"Delicate, precise nose with hints of lemon and flint. A finely sculpted wine that evokes oyster shells, savory sage. Mandarin pith and lemon zest notes persist on the extended finish. Made entirely from Dijon clone CY95. Part of the GPS Series, the vineyard lies east of Agulhas and 5 km from the sea on an escarpment of clay over limestone. Sees about 40% new 228L oak."
- International Wine Review (Richard Kershaw Lifts Elgin To New Heights, February 2019), 93 pts
Lismore Chardonnay made from 100 percent Chardonnay.
Intense citrus and soft fruit layered with honey and vanilla carried by a distinct minerality and crisp acidity with a lingering citrus finish.
Fermented and aged in 225-300 liter older French barrels with regular batonnage. 10 % Malolactic Fermentation. Residual Sugar: 2.41
Delightful with warm curries which lift the aromatics or a traditional pairing of smoked salmon highlighting the fresh acidity.
"The 2017 Chardonnay is matured on the lees for 11 months in 300-liter barrels. It is well defined and quite Burgundian on the nose – think fine Chassagne-Montrachet. The well-balanced palate is linear and focused, offering flavors of citrus lemon, orange pith and quince. The taut finish suggests that it will benefit from a couple of years in bottle, if you can resist its nascent charm. Superb. - Neal Martin" - Antonio Galloni's Vinous (November 2019), 93 pts
Lismore Chardonnay Reserve made from 100 percent Chardonnay.
Shows intense citrus and soft fruit layered with honey and vanilla carried by a distinct minerality and crisp acidity with a lingering citrus finish.
Coming from a 13 year old vineyard with decomposed shale oiver clay soils.
Fermented and aged 11 months in 500 liter French Oak Foudres (40% new).
Wine was slightly filtered before bottling.
Delightful with warm curries which lift the aromatics or a traditional pairing of smoked salmon highlighting the fresh acidity.
"The 2017 Estate Reserve Chardonnay was matured in 500-liter barrels using 40% new oak. It has quite a powerful bouquet of crushed stone, yellow stone fruit, jasmine and light walnut aromas that are very well defined, although it clearly needs a couple of years to absorb the oak. The palate is very precise on the entry, displaying notes of orange zest (veering toward blood orange), quince and nectarine. This has wonderful acidity and great build in the mouth toward a very impressive, almost Corton-Charlemagne-like finish. This will be outstanding once it reaches the peak of maturity. - Neal Martin" - Antonio Galloni's Vinous (August 2018), 95 pts
"On the nose, the 2017 Estate Reserve Chardonnay has elegant, luscious red apples, lemon and pear tart and seductive floral notes of cherry blossom. It has excellent mouthfeel with perfect mid-palate weight and balance and elegant Chardonnay expression. The 35% new oak is harmoniously integrated and not heavy handed or overdone and it finishes long. This is beautiful and complex like Chassagne-Montrachet. Yes, this is tasty and collectible stuff! Stock your cellars now as these bottles won't last long. - Anthony Mueller"
- Robert Parker's Wine Advocate (Issue #245, October 2019), 94 pts
Ferren Chardonnay Sonoma Coast is made from 100 percent Chardonnay.
"Buttery, yet balanced by a lithe freshness and filled with apple pastry, pear tart and quince paste flavors, loaded with spicy richness. The finish turns unctuous and creamy, showing powerful toasty accents. Drink now through 2025. 100 cases made. - KM”
- Wine Spectator (Web only 2020), 93 pts
Fullerton Five Faces Chardonnay is made from 100 percent Chardonnay.
Five FACES is an acronym for the Fullerton family – Filip, Alex, Caroline, Eric, and Susanne. The wines blend fruit from multiple vineyards in Willamette Valley, mainly in the north of the valley with one to the west in the Van Duzer Corridor. A full representation of the Willamee Valley’s soil types is on display with one volcanic vineyard, two loess (windblown) vineyards, and two sedimentary vineyards. The vineyards range in elevation from 550-700 feet.
Honeydew melon, japanese pear, apricot, honeysuckle, apple-blossom, nutmeg, brioche, and lemon curd. Melon is echoed on the palate with notes of lemon, tangerine, toasted almonds, and fennel. Lovely and integrated acidity balances the palate weight from 17 months on the lees.
17 months in 10% new French Oak
Paris with creamy dishes and cheeses. Chicken and Turkey.
Kershaw Chardonnay Deconstructed Groenland Shale CY548 is made from 100 percent Chardonnay.
The inspiration for this Chardonnay stems from my belief that the Elgin region has both a signature grape as well as particular terroirs within its demarcated boundary that reflect regional credentials. This Chardonnay was selected from a sub-region of Elgin from a specific vineyard and an individual clone (CY548).
Sourced from the foothills of the Groenland Mountain in Northern Elgin this clone has been taken from Corton Charlemagne cuttings. It produces wines that have aromatics oscillating between lemon blossom, white flowers, petrichor and struck stone. Full in body they exude concentration with white stone fruit yet reinforced with an austere texture and robustness that makes for excellent aging potential. The Bokkeveld Shales adds structure and concentration to the flavor.
Sourced from the foothills of the Groenland Mountain in Northern Elgin this clone has been taken from Corton Charlemagne cuttings.
Grapes were hand-picked in the early autumnal mornings, placed into small lug baskets and tipped directly into a press before being gently whole-bunch pressed up to a maximum of 0.6 bar or until a low juice recovery of 580 liters per ton was obtained. The juice gravity-flowed directly to barrel (no pumps were used at all) without settling. The unclarified juice had no enzymes or yeast added to it and therefore underwent spontaneous fermentation until dry, with malolactic discouraged. The wine rested in barrel for 4 months prior to judicious sulfuring and a further 7 months’ maturation in barrel before racking and bottling.
Barrel: Selection: A small number of artisanal coopers are selected from mostly Burgundy, with only French oak was chosen. Up to 40% of the oak is new with the remainder split into 2nd and 3rd fill barrels of predominantly 228 litres.
Look at pairing this with textured fish, straightforward chicken dishes, pan-fried or grilled pork dishes, soft-rind cheeses, cream or creamy dishes be it with pasta or the aforementioned fish, chicken or pork, to allow the complexity of the wine to shine through. If using mustard, preferably use Dijon mustard as it uses verjus (soured grape juice) and not vinegar. Also look to delicate herbs (tarragon, dill, basil, parsley) rather than hard stalked herbs (rosemary, thyme, oregano, etc). Avoid smoked meats or fish as well as highly spiced dishes as this can overwhelm the wine and clash with the oak. I would try oysters; Lobster grilled or boiled but not thermidor as it is too rich; turbot, dover sole, sea bass, yellowtail with a shellfish sauce; fish pie; roasted free-range chicken with tarragon; roast loin of pork with garlic and ginger; truffle risotto; pasta in a clam sauce; slice of brie de meaux.
"Perfume of flowers, minerals and citrus zest. The palate is dense and focused, almost chewy with an opulent mandarin mid palate and long, savory finish. Matured in 50% new oak that is seamlessly integrated with the wine."
- International Wine Review (Richard Kershaw Lifts Elgin To New Heights, February 2019), 94 pts
Terra Barossa Cabernet Sauvignon Importers Reserve 2012 is 100 percent Cabernet Sauvignon.
The color is a deep red. The nose is lifted with delightful floral notes of wild roses. In addition the nose also shows characters of currants, green beans and roasted capsicum. the palate has intense blackcurrant fruit complimented by coffee, nutmeg and dried herbs. The palate is medium bodied with sweet berry fruits right through to the finish. The seamless tannins are soft and silky, adding further complexity to this well balanced wine.
Drink this one over the next 5 to 7 years.
Alain Jaume Vacqueyras Grande Garrigue is made from 65% Grenache Noir, 20% Syrah, 10% Mourvedre and 5% Old vines Cinsault
Deep, intense hue. Aromas of fresh black fruit a little meaty, with dried herbs smells. On the palate, the richness of the tannins harmonizes with the smoothness of the wine. The finish is long, with spices aromas, licorice. A typical wine from this specific terroir called "Les Garrigues".
Soil type Vacqueyras is located right next to Gigondas AOC. It mostly streches on Sarrians territory, where is the famous plateaux named “Les Garrigues”. This area is made of clay and rocks. The beautiful landscape of the “garrigue” is typical of the mediterranean area. The wines itself smell the spices, the dried herbs…you will taste the “Garrigue” in your glass, welcome to Provence … Winemaking & ageing Traditional winemakeing methods, temperature controlled fermentation. Long soaking on the skins.
"Deeper colored, the 2018 Vacqueyras Grande Garrigue offers plenty of spicy characteristics as well as dark fruits and classic peppery garrigue. It’s medium to full-bodied, has wonderful fruit, offers ripe tannins, and is just a smoking Vacqueyras with loads to love."
- Jeb Dunnuck (September 2019, Southern Rhône Part 2: 2017 & 2018 from Gigondas, Vacqueyras, Cairanne, and Rasteau), 90-92 pts