In this episode of IntoWineTV, host Lisa Kolenda and wine experts Bartholomew Broadbent and Loren Sonkin convene among the vines at Crushpad in Napa Valley to taste and discuss the cult wine brands of Crushpad.
Theme: Cult Wines of Crushpad
Wine: 2009 SonkinCellars Persona Buy this wine
Vineyard: Whitehawk and Alder Springs Vineyards
Region: California AVA
Alcohol %: 14.3%
Varietals: It is a proprietary blend of Whitehawk and Alder Springs Vineyards Syrah with 2% Viognier.
Read the IntoWine interview with Loren Sonkin of SonkinCellars
Background: SonkinCellars will release its inaugural wine, Persona, in the spring of 2011.
Our goal for this wine is to take a step back and look at winemaking from a bit of a different perspective. The French have a term known as terroir meaning a wine will taste of its place. This is used in France, and throughout the world, to mean that the place the grapes are grown adds uniquely to the flavor of the wine reflecting it soil, latitude, climate, slope, etc. This is why grapes grown only a few meters from each other make wine that tastes different. Many winemakers seek to make singular expressions of terroir. From Burgundy to California to the rest of the world, single vineyard releases are becoming de rigeur in today’s wine world.
The 2009 SonkinCellars Persona is a blend of Syrah grapes from Whitehawk Vineyard in Santa Barbara and Alder Springs Vineyard in Mendocino. Syrah aficionados will recognize those names as two of the best vineyards in the state, having produced wines for many well-regarded wineries. The wine is not 100% Syrah. In the tradition of wines of the northern Rhone Valley, a bit of Viognier grape must was added at fermentation. We used the skins of Viognier grapes that had just finished crush, creating a lovely floral wine. The skins were added to our Syrah grapes when they were fermenting in vats just after harvest. The resulting wine is approximately 25% Viognier.
Our vision for the wine:
We hope the final proprietary blend will include a majority of juice from the White Hawk Vineyard. This is sun kissed from Santa Barbara County, California. The wine is exuberant showing gobs of fruit; black raspberries and blueberries with a juicy texture reminiscent of biting into a really ripe plum. The wine is big and bold with a deep inky purple color. It’s all about sunshine and fruit. The 2009 vintage was incredible for White Hawk. The fruit was harvested exactly where we had hoped and before the rains hit during October. Some fruit from this vineyard is left to hang on the vines until the resulting wines achieve over 15% abv. This has never been our goal. Our goal was to harvest the grapes when they were ripe with the flavor profile we hoped for but before the alcohol reached a dizzying level.
The balance of the wine is from Alder Springs Vineyard in Mendocino County, California. We chose this vineyard because we loved the structure it provided the grapes. It has a very nice undertone of minerality. Usually, there is just enough fruit to flesh out the wine. This fruit was almost ready to be picked when the rains hit in October. The wines of 2009 will undoubtedly be mixed depending on when the fruit was picked. We let the grapes hang after the rains in order to process all that rainwater. Despite the extra hang time, the grapes had very little additional development. When the juice was tasted at Crush, it had good structure and minerality, but lacked fruit.
And why the name Persona? For us, it goes back to the concept of terroir. This wine is the result of all the elements that led to it, the terroir of the vineyards, as well as the terroir of the people involved in SonkinCellars. We chose the word Persona to encompass both the terroir of the grapes and the people in to a resulting wine. The exact expressions will change over time for this wine. Future releases will undoubtedly be a bit different. But the 2009 SonkinCellars Persona will always be true to itself.
Bartholomew Broadbent, CEO of Broadbent Selections. Bartholomew was named as one of the "fifty most influential people in the wine world" by Decanter Magazine. He is also widely considered to be one of the world's foremost authorities on Port and Madeira. Learn more about Bartholomew Broadbent.
What is Crushpad?
Crushpad is a facility that enables anyone with a serious interest in wine to participate in the magic of winemaking. With their team of wine industry veterans, modern winemaking technology, and access to some of the best grapes and vineyards around, Crushpad empowers their clients to make the type and style of wine they desire. Crushpad clients are as involved or uninvolved as they wish. Some take a "hands on" approach to every step of the process while others let the Crushpad professionals take care of the time consuming parts. In short, Crushpad is a pathway into the art, science, and business of winemaking for passionate wine lovers who don't own a vineyard or winery. Interested in learning more? Stop by the Crushpad tasting room in Napa Valley or visit Crushpad.com.