Talk about a cool seminar! “Find your Mojo” at Hospices du Rhone 2011 in Paso Robles opens with “L.A. Woman” blasting from the speakers. Moderator journalist Christopher Sawyer introduces Joey Tensley from Tensey Wines in Los Olivos and Morgan Twain-Peterson from Bedrock Wine Co in Sonoma who discuss their wine.
Joey from Tensey talks about the importance of vineyard. They bought all wines from a single parcel except from the wine called “OGT” (named after his son). We taste through the wines. First is a white grenach/roussanne blend (made from grapes in a vineyard owned by Fess Parker in past). When they planted 11.5 of grenache blanc people thought they were crazy. I try the wine. It looks gold and scintillating in the glass, on the nose it’s ripe racy peach … on the palate bright acidity with rich, concentrated flavors of concentrated peach and apricot, almost a liquid dried apricot with racy acidity and accents of ripe, sharp pineapple. Delicious! Pair this with sauteed scallops.
Tensley Wines 2009 Vineyard Syrah is opaque purple in color with a nose of intense minerality, On the palate, cool mint, intense earth and minerals, rich concentrated fruit, with finish of very intense earth and fruit.
Tensley Wines 2009 Tierra Alta Vineyard Syrah reflects wind driven terroir with clay calcarious soil, the “easiest drinking” wine according to Joey. Rich intense black/blue fruit on the palate, very concentrated with intense perfume, no new oak, med+ body with incredible finish of rich blue fruit and mineral. Hard to believe it is a CA wine, very northern syrah. Very cool nights here, warm days … sometimes harvest is as late as December! The diurnal temperature keeps the wine fresh.
Now we taste Tensley Wines 2009 Colson Canyon Vineyard. Joey uses clone 7 (one of the UC Davis clones) from a vineyard planted in 1970. Interestingly, the highest yield yet most concentrated with its opaque purple, almost black, color and fushia rim. On the nose intense black/purple fruit, very perfumed. Lots of red clay in this site, elevation of 1,300 and on the palate wild concentration of fruit and minerals. It is the only wine they put new oak on (20%). Very jammy wine with intensity of flavor like you have never experienced. Joey thinks people think of this as a classic CA syrah In the tasting room, Joey says this wine sells ten to one.
OGT 2009 is 50% Colson Canyon, 25% each Thompson and Tierra Alta. This wine is only bottled in magnum (200 cases). It is named after his son. This is the only blend, he feels other wines are more distinctive because they are site specific.
Joey now talks about Thompson Vineyard, an older vineyard (Zaca Mesa), where the grapes come from what is called a Chapoutier clone. Joey calls these vines “easy to grow” as you don’t have to spend farming money because not a lot of crop. VInes are nearly twenty years old, which for CA is rare. OGT is rich and concentrated, elegant with mineral/earth finish.
Now it is Morgan Twain-Peterson of Bedrock’s turn. He speaks extensively about the aromatics of his wine, explaining he keeps the wine on lees for eleven months, so he doesn’t have to add sulpher which would knock down the aromatics.
We taste the wines.
Bedrock Wines 2009 Hudson T Block Syrah is 35% whole cluster (trod by foot) with viognier. After fermentation new barrels and neutral barrels are used for 16 months maturation. Color is scintillating purple, On the nose, incredibly aromatic with nuances of different flavors — coffee grounds, floral, and on the palate rich, ripe, yet lifted acidity and long, textured finish with many flavors. Morgan gives credit to grower Lee Hudson for the flavors, saying his grape growing is what does it.
2009 Sonoma Coast – color is black/purple/opaque — (whole cluster)
nose: – perfumed, bacon fat, fat ripe grapes, palate is rich concentrated fruit yet with lifted acidity, very bright, long finish with a lot of nuance and texture.
Bedrock Wines 2008 Hudson Vineyard Syrah 90% Whole Cluster Used Demi-Muid – Very black/purple, with nose of ripe spiced fruit, and rich concentrated palate of incredibly ripe fruit balanced with lively acidity.
Note that the closer you get to the ocean in CA, the more pepper you get on the palate.
The discussion turns to Syrah in CA vs the Rhone Valley, where vines are very aged. Joey says “site is what it is about, yet you can manipulate site as well.”
Morgan: “Clones get less important with vine age.”
Bedrock Wines 2008 Hudson Vineyard Syrah 8% Viognier New Puncheons – lifted nose of ripe blue fruit with slight vanilla overtones, extremely elegant. Palate is dry with concentrated blue/black fruit lifted with bright acidity and that vanilla overtone, long finish of vanilla spiced plum.
Bedrock 2008 Hudson Vineyard Syrah Barrel Fermented NewOak ‘Aussie Style’ – scintillating blue/purple/black color, thin magenta vanilla, nose is deliciously lifted black/blue/purple fruit – palate explodes with spiced purple plum and vanilla overtones.
In summary, this was an INCREDIBLE seminar which really explains what CA winemakers are doing to successfully grow Rhone style wines. The winemakers paid respect to the French Rhone winemakers in a very sincere way, and though the main focus was on growing Syrah in CA, the subject of terroir was front and center.
For MW students and wine geeks, lots of impossible to find technical details about the many details relating to the time of picking, level of brix, ferementation temperature, maturation, and more.