The Ancien Estate Wines
The Estate is owned by Ken and Teresa Bernards whose combined experience is moving into its 3rd decade, having made acclaimed wines for other producers prior to focusing on their own label, Ancien. Their trips to Burgundy filled them with inspiration drawn from the ancient history and tradition of winemaking. While the techniques have constantly been refined, they have been using the same principles of winemaking for generations.
The Ancien Vineyards
Carneros Chardonnay comes from a plant selection, planted on vineyards at the Toyon Ranch on the Napa side of Carneros and the Vella Ranch. Carneros Pinot Noir is a blend of two very similar vineyards situated near the Napa-Sonoma county line at the southern end of the appellation. The two vineyards, Domaine Chandon and the Ferguson Ranch, were both planted in 1973. Both are austere sites with lean soils and low vigor. The similarity of site, rootstock, clone and vine age (28 year old) ensure a commonality between the wines. Sonoma Mountain Pinot Noir is grown in Steiner Vineyard, at 1100 feet elevation, on the cool northwestern slope, 17 miles from the ocean. The first grapes were planted here in 1973 (making them pioneer of the region). Seeing the unique qualities of grapes grown in this outstanding area, they were a driving force in creating the Sonoma Mountain Appellation. The soils vary through the vineyard changing from clay loamy stuff with fractured ryolite to an austere rocky area. Carneros Pinot Gris is grown on the far southwestern edge at the Sangiacomo family's El Novillero Vineyard (2 acres). The soils and eastern facing orientation are perfect.
Ancien Chardonnay Coombsville Haynes Old Block is made from 100 percent Chardonnay.
Inspired by the classic and most revered Chardonnay vineyard in the world, Le Montrachet, Ancien winery utilizes the same classic techniques. It is fermented in tight-grained French Oak cask after a gentle squeeze as whole clusters. The wine is not moved through the fermentation and aging period, only pushed by inert gas in gentle fashion into the bottling tank. In vintages where the wine achieves good clarity through natural settling, the wine is not filtered – otherwise it undergoes a light polish to help reveal is core of fruit.
The effusive nose welcomes with layers of lemon meringue, ripe apple, citrus zest, honey and grape blossom. The palate is vibrant and fresh, and the richly textured mouth-feel is expansive. Baked apple tart and stone fruit emerge as this opulent wine reaches the depths of your palate, with further notes brioche. The finish is a focused amalgamation of minerality and ripe fruit. Give this cellar worthy Chardonnay time to open up and it will reveal increasingly lush and creamy layers as it evolves over minutes in the glass and the years in the bottle.
Ancien Pinot Noir Carneros is made from 100 percent Pinot Noir.
Pinot Noir Carneros comes entirely from the Toyon Vineyard, located in the Napa side of Carneros. This vineyard was originally planted for Ancien Wines in 1998 with cuttings tracing back to the Swan estate in Sonoma County and Dijon 115 - followed by cuttings from Ed Penhoet’s vineyard in Carmel Valley. Ed’s selection from River Selection is a story into itself, and is sometimes referred as “Pisoni Clone” since Gary Pisoni took cuttings from the vineyard in the early ‘80s.
Baking spice sings in an endless symphony with wild berry notes, complemented by characteristic Carneros notes of cola. Juicy cherry notes grace the palate and combine seamlessly with anise and hibiscus, ending on a savory note. The palate is round and full of textural, mouth-coating tannins balanced by a bright acidity. Broad chewy tannins, earthy spices and minerality complement the fruit and exotic floral notes of this wine. The palate of this delicious wine will continue to develop in opulence over years of aging, revealing even darker layers and an increasingly smooth texture.
Ancien Pinot Noir Fiddlestix is made from 100 percent Pinot Noir.
The Fiddlestix Vineyard is located in the Sta. Rita Hills AVA, which straddle the Santa Ynez River as it makes its way to the Pacific Ocean. As an East-West oriented valley, opening its mouth to the cool Pacific breezes, the consistent and cooling marine influence is significant. The vineyard is managed and owned in partnership by Kathy Joseph, who has planted an array of clones and rootstocks on several, varied soils to create a staggering level of diversity from this single vineyard. The remarkably consistent weather, characterized by lower highs and higher lows than our North Coast vineyards, conspires with silica-laden, marine sedimentary soils to make wines of power and exceptional structure.
Fiddlestix always presents a bold Pinot Noir with notes of fruit and exotic spice. As the vines have aged, we noticed more and more underlying depth (they now are approaching their 25th vintage). The nose greets with notes of cassis, Indian spice, and hints of incense. Fresh dark fruits lead the palate, and the focus settles on ripe flavors of blackberry and currants spiced with peppercorn/allspice. Velvety and softly chewy tannins emphasize structure, while ever-present acidity balances and brightens. The spicy aromatics and flavors continue through the long finish.
Ancien Pinot Noir Russian River Jouissance is made from 100 percent Pinot Noir.
Jouissance is sourced from the single vineyard established and farmed by Mark Lingenfelder at his home estate. Mark’s decades of experience as a vineyard manager and consulting viticulturalist have provided him the depth of experience to reach the pinnacle at his own property. Having worked with storied wineries over the years, we are grateful our paths have crossed enabling us to work with him for our Russian River designate. He tends the vines himself while relying on neighbor Lee Martinelli to provide additional help at the peak times. We work with a mix of Pommard and Dijon 667 vines from his oldest and youngest blocks – aged wisdom combines with youthful vigor!
The 2021 growing season was a welcome success after a more varied and challenging 2020. The vines came on with aplomb, demonstrating the rich fruit concentration we expect – even if the crop was meager. The ongoing drought in California served to further accentuate the character and concentration of the fruit. While warmer conditions have prevailed in other areas, the coastal areas of California continue to benefit from the maritime influence and moderating influence that it brings.
We fermented in our one ton, open-top tanks after filling by gravity. A warm fermentation with a combination of native and isolated Burgundian yeasts produced excellent and focused flavor extraction, complemented with traditional punch-downs by hand. The wine was aged entirely in Francois Freres cooperage, 40% new, and racked once, gently, prior to bottling. Grapes, must, and wines were moved using gravity through to the barrel and using inert gas through racking and bottling. 151 cases produced.
Bright fruit notes dominate the aromas with bright cherry, plum, and boysenberry underlaid by allspice and clove. On the palate the wine is liquid velvet, it’s silkiness segueing into a burst of fruit and spice that rides high on the palate while gradually opening to deeper berry, tea, and baking spices. It is a refreshing and lively Pinot Noir in its youth that will continue to fill out in depth and complexity over the next 2-5 years.
Belle Glos' first wine under the newly minted West Sonoma Coast AVA and a cellared release, this majestic vineyard brings plum with a slight burnt edge in the glass and boasts aromas of freshly tilled land, a rich oak forest in Autumn, and Crème de Cassis. Once on the palate, the acidity sparks a fire of smoked caramel and cinnamon spiked cranberry sauce. The silky-smooth texture gives way to a long and balanced finish that leaves your senses wanting more.
Located in the westernmost section of Sonoma County, this rugged, elevated, marine-influenced sub-AVA is the newest in the region. This almost nine-year-old wine immediately delivers a memorable experience through its perfume of jasmine, gardenia, and tangelo; on the palate, notes of brown-sugared cherry join a parade of orange peel and crushed stone. Grainy yet juicy strawberry weaves into vanilla and cedar as white pepper keeps the palate primed for more flavor.
-Tasting Panel 97 Points
Poggio Nardone Rosso di Montalcino is 100 percent Sangiovese Grosso.
Intense ruby red color with garnet tints.
Intense and delicate aromas of fresh fruits with notes of cherry.
Dry red wine with a good strength and freshness, along with a nice aromatic persistence.
The 5 hectares of specialized vineyards in Montalcino are at an altitude of 350 meters above sea level and are surrounded by woodlands of ilex, oak and arbutus which are characteristic of Montalcino’s hillside habitat. The soil is predominantly composed of marl and limestone which renders this terrain particularly rich in mineral salts.
Pairs well with pasta prepared with meat sauces, mushrooms or truffles; complex rice, main courses of pork or veal with sauces.
"Aromas of red fruit, rosemary and white smoke. Medium-bodied with bright acidity. Pleasant, savory herbs on the palate. Wet-stone finish. Drink now."
- James Suckling (September 2021), 90 points