Friday, October 21, 2011

Tasting the Sonoma Wines of Flowers Vineyard & Winery with Estate Director Christopher Barefoot at Northside Social in Washington DC, USA

Picture: Christian G.E. Schiller and Christopher Barefoot, the Estate Director at Flowers Vineyard & Winery

I joined Christopher Barefoot, the Estate Director at Flowers Vineyard & Winery in Sonoma at the Northside Social Wine Bar in Arlington, Virginia for a special tasting of the Flowers wines, paired with small plates of cheese and charcuterie.

The price was US $40 per person for food and wine.

The Flowers Vineyard & Winery in Sonoma

With vineyards at elevations of 1,150 to 1,875 feet and 2 miles from the rugged Pacific Ocean cliffs, Flowers Winery is not a typical Sonoma wine producer. In 1989, when Walt and Joan Flowers purchased 321 acres, including a ridge top, high above the Pacific Ocean on the northern Sonoma Coast, they were expecting the same foggy weather they had experienced along the coast, but were excited to discover abundant sunshine on the ridge. However, the overall temperature was still relatively cool due to the property’s proximity to the ocean, the cool morning fog below 1000′ and the afternoon sea breezes coming over the ridge. The ridge was named Camp Meeting Ridge. They eventually planted 33 acres of Pinot Noir and Chardonnay on the property's ridge top and built a gravity-flow winery specifically for Chardonnay and Pinot Noir.

Picture: Sonoma Coast AVA and Sonoma County

Just when the Flowers thought their vineyard and winery were complete, a neighbor presented them with an opportunity to purchase an additional 327 acres. This property, like Camp Meeting Ridge, was less than two miles from the Pacific Ocean, but it had two ridges with elevations of 1,400 to 1,875 feet. Flowers Ranch, as everyone soon called the property, was also a warm site in a cool climate. 47 acres of Pinot Noir were planted from 1998-2001. Two vineyards were designated within Flowers Ranch, the 25-acre Frances Thompson Vineyard and the 22-acre Sea View Ridge Vineyard. In 2004, two distinct vineyards were recognized as part of Flowers Ranch, the 25 acre Frances Thompson Vineyard and the 22 acre Sea View Ridge Vineyard.

Pictures: Christopher Barefoot, the Estate Director at Flowers Vineyard & Winery

Today, Flowers Vineyard & Winery produces Chardonnay and Pinot Noir from its two estate properties, Camp Meeting Ridge and Flowers Ranch, as well as other select vineyards in the Sonoma Coast AVA, which are farmed to Flowers’ specifications by their own crews. The winery produces 22,000 cases a year, 85% of which is estate grown. The estate vineyards are planted about 66% to Chardonnay and 33% to Pinot Noir. The wines are made with Burgundian values, which translates into good acidity, usually no more than 60% new oak, no fining, no filtration, and generally native yeast fermentations. The winery is located 2 hours north of San Francisco.

In 2009, it was announced that Huneeus Vintners, the wine company owned by the Huneeus family and owners of Quintessa Vineyards in the Napa Valley, had bought a substantial interest in Flowers. Tom Hinde, Flower's president since 2006, was retained to maintain consistency. Joan and Walt Flowers retired from their project.

The Food

The Wines

Flowers Sonoma Coast Chardonnay 2008 $42

Tasting notes: Showing balanced depth and complexity, light straw to golden color. White peach and lime citrus aromas. A clean wine with lean acidity refreshes the palate. Stone minerals and luscious melon equally contend for attention in this mouth filling, delicious wine.

Technical notes: Yields - 2.8 tons/acre. 100% French oak; 19% new. Time in barrel: 8 months. Alcohol: 14.1%.

Flowers Andreen Gale Chardonnay 2007 $52

Tasting notes: Light golden-straw in color. Aromas are layered and complex; showing Honeydew melon, Meyer lemon, and citrus notes of tangerine with added depth of brioche and toasted oak. Flavors of Ajou pear and minerality broaden on the palate with a backbone of crisp acidity to compliment the finish.

Technical notes: 42% new barrels; 100% French oak. Time in barrel: 8 months.

Flowers Sonoma Coast Pinot Noir 2009 $42

Tasting notes: Bright ruby color with violet hues on the rim. Blackberry and briar patch come forward in the initial aromas and evolve into high-toned cherry and bergamot orange. Flavors of dried black cherries and savory herbs complement the bright acidity and supple tannins which frame a lingering and silky finish.

Technical notes: Cellared in 100% French oak, 34% new, for 9 months. Alcohol: 13.6%.

Flowers Andreen Gale Pinot Noir 2007 $58

Tasting Notes: Dark ruby garnet color. Core aromas are dominated by dark fruit; black cherry and plums. Hints of rose petal and violets uplift and compliment leather and oak components. Inviting flavors, redolent of dark fruit, crushed stone and delicate orange peel provide a finish that is long and luscious.

Technical notes: 45% new barrels; 100% French oak. Time in barrel: 16 months. 3462 cases produced. Alcohol: 13.5%.

Flowers Perennial Red 2008 $40

Tasting notes: Floral and toasty aromas abound in this year's version of Perennial; roses, blackberry, plum and anise. Savory flavors of black pepper, ripe dark fruits, and cassis make up the core with nuances of cocoa and cranberries for added density. Texture is rich and chewy with a lingering finish.

Technical notes: 62% Pinot Noir, 27% Syrah, 7% Pinot Meunier, 4% Chardonnay. 100% French oak; 25% new. Time in barrel: 11 months. Alcohol: 13.7%.

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