07 September, 2010

"Where Coyotes Outnumber Tourists..." - Review of VinRoc Wine Caves

Winding my way from the flats of the East Bay all the way up to VinRoc Wine Caves location, elevation 1600 ft, I definitely felt outnumbered by wildlife. The springlike weather, in-progress main house and gorgeous, pastoral space made me expect Heathcliff rather than hosts Kiky Lee and Micheal Parmenter.  But once the rest of the group, Amy Cleary, Thea Dwelle and Marcy Gordon arrived and the tour began, it was the wine that took center stage.  We started with a lovely Enjoie Dry Rose ($14).   Made from a blend of grenache and barbera, it had a dark (for rose) watermelon color, interesting aromas (Marcy said "hint of portlike scent")  with a touch of coconut and cherries.  Bone dry, with complex flavors, the wine went well with turkey, salad and fruit.  And at 12.5% alcohol, a porch friendly sipper.  Next, we tried the Enjoie RTW ($40), a Bordeaux blend billed as the "little Brother" of the flagship VinRoc Cabernet.  A blend of mostly Merlot, purchased, and Cabernet Sauvignon grown on property, this "friends and family" wine, went down easily and left me eager to sample the flagship.  First, a tour of the caves and an introduction to the VinRoc philosophy.  Since all the fruit comes from the property and they have all the processing equipment right there too, they can completely control the process in an intriguing small batch production.  Michael "micro"manages the fruit, picking one ton at a time... cluster by cluster if needed... and processes the fruit in smaller bins, where they are seeded and stemmed right away.  The grapes are handled carefully, letting gravity crush them, and each bin is processed to allow VinRoc to blend the best batches together into the VinRoc.  We tried the '06 VinRoc Wine Caves Cabernet Sauvignon ($100).    And speaking of wildlife, this totally brought out the Wine Cougar in me.  The aromas were cedar, chocolate and black fruit.  Careful management of the fruit controls the extraction to produce complex aromas and flavors without overt fruitiness.  A lovely warm finish and I was hooked.  Yes, I agreed that it is young, but I found it completely drinkable now. Rowr!
Vin Roc produces between 200-300 cases a year.  They are sold in several fine dining places in SF and LA including Michael Mina and Gary Danko.  Or you can order directly from the winery if you live in CA, AZ or NY.  But if you are visiting it is definitely worth a trip here to experience this unique part of Napa.    Email cheers@vinrocnapa.com for more info.  The VinRoc offerings flow from the landscape and  provide great expression of Atlas Peak as well as the unique perspective of the owners. 

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