Spring has finally sprung and as the "selling" season kicks off it is all about location, location, location. Vinolytics is excited to welcome spring with our own version of location through our new feature of Google mapped cellar analysis. Yes, that’s right, you can now see the geographic breakdown of your cellar pinpointed to the vineyard. Along with mapped location analysis, a first of it’s kind in wine asset management software, we have launched a cellar location feature letting those with multiple cellars track their wine storage facilities via Google maps.
A first of its kind in wine asset management software
Who really cares about the geographic breakdown of a cellar? Collectors do and so should their advisors: wine, wealth, insurance or other. A well diversified cellar can be just as rewarding as a diversified portfolio in stocks, bonds, real estate or private equity. Beyond just being a cool thing to look at, it raises the question of why location even matters in wine. It also provides a visual road map of memories and a geography lesson based on wine experience.
While the majority of the wine world is trekking around Bordeaux drinking the 2016 vintage from barrel, Vinolytics recently took a trip to sunny California. I realized all over again how amazing the wine locations of the world are and what a labor of love it is to create a new vintage from vine to bottle. I will be the first to admit I owe California an apology for falling prey to the old cliche of California wine being too full bodied, fruit forward, hard to age and mailing list oriented to rate on a global scale. What I realized more than ever is that where grapes grow, in what ground and with what microclimate matters, regardless of what part of the wine growing world you are in.
Crossing the border from Sonoma to Napa is like lifting a veil that dramatically changes the nature of the wines. The cool climate of Sonoma and the variation in landscape provide for complex, distinct Pinot Noir that can vary widely from plot to plot. I was excited to taste the scion of Napa Cabernet Joseph Phelps' Freestone Pinot Noir. Only 10 years since the first bottling and 20 since the vineyards were established this wine is an expression of place not a producer. Having had a tantalizing glass of Imagery Viognier at a wonderful lunch at The Girl and Fig in Sonoma, I ventured into the sister winery of Benziger located in Glen Ellen, where the winemaker is Joe Benzinger. While a relatively large selection of wines, there were some real winners at Imagery. The "White Burgundy" was excellent and identical to many from Burgundy itself. The Viognier was racy, not flabbly and true to form. Bordering on weird but in many ways worthy, Code Blue, a mix of Syrah with fermented blueberries, really. Here is a winemaker not afraid to try and experiment with the quality grapes (or other fruit) on his doorstep. As we crossed the border to spend time in Napa, it became clear that beyond it's natural beauty Napa's support of food and art makes it a special environment and ecosystem. Along with a wide range of styles of Cabernet and Chardonnay we discovered well made Rhone varietals, Cabernet Franc and a rare indigenous varietal. We worked our way up Route 29 and back down the Silverado Trail and I really enjoyed a small production Charbono from a producer in Calistoga called Shypoke.
Charbono has been growing in California for over 100 years and produces a gem of a wine. Shypoke was complex and expressive and a lovely example of the indigenous varietal. Sadly it is on the extinction list with less than 65 acres grown worldwide of this late ripening varietal. Two futher wine highlights for me were, stumbling across a 2008 Pinot Noir from Richard Grant produced from the ultra rare Wrotham Clone (a must read for wine geeks). Wow was this a pretty wine and a wonderful one to share with English friends. In the Marina in San Francisco at the Dragon Well on Chestnut Street, I saw an old friend on the list, Sean Thackery, and a new wine to me, his magical white La Pleiade. La Pleiade is a worthy complement to any Asian fare.
Location in wine does matter. If you want to be in a place without actually being their head for the wine rack. Whether in the Loire drinking crisp Chenin Blanc or South Africa drinking a slightly fuller bodied Steen, quality wine should be expressive of place and take you there. I can’t recommend the Sonoma/Napa line enough to wine lovers, food lovers and all those you recognize a great location when they see one.