A little bit of “Yin and Yang” (in Chinese philosophy it describes how opposite or contrary forces are actually complementary) conversation over lunch last week. The Yin and Yang participants were David Tate and his fiancé, Suzanne Gay, partners in TATE Wines. The conversation was about price points on quality/artisan/authentic wines by a relatively new comer, like TATE Wines.
First a little history on how TATE Wines came to existence. Suzanne’s brief history while going to college in Austin, Texas (where she was raised), she very much enjoyed a wine appreciation course. She then went to study culinary arts at CCA in San Francisco. She went to work in Houston at a fine wine distributor for five years. It was a wine dinner that she met David Tate. In 2010, she moved to Napa Valley.
David Tate’s credentials as a winemaker for 20 years are very strong: Ridge Vineyards, as an assistant winemaker; worked in Barossa Valley, Australia; Provence, France; Canterbury, New Zealand. He also has travelled to just about every fine wine region in the world. David graduated from Brock University in Enology and Viticulture with honors. David is originally from Vancouver, British Columbia. David currently is the winemaker at Barnett Vineyards, winning many outstanding awards for their wine.
So in 2011 David and Suzanne formed TATE Wines. So here again is bit of the Yin and Yang influence, David as the artisan winemaker, Suzanne as the marketing and sales arm, one from Canada and one from Texas. Yet combined they make a synergistic and complementary team of two, ready to take on the world with their wines.
Currently they have five wines to offer—one white and four reds. The white is a Chardonnay from Yountville fruit. While aged for 11 months in oak (36% new/64% one to four years old), it is simply off the charts! It is both an old world Chardonnay with finesse and citrus hints, combined with a new world style, with just the right amount of oak and a controlled secondary malolactic fermentation, to create a slight butter taste to this intoxicating white gem. Their 2014 made my list of the best wines of 2015 (see website http://californiawinesandwineries.com , click on top to view Best wines of 2015). Very impressive as this wine is roughly 1/3 the price of Peter Michael (also on the list). This is now my “go to” Chardonnay in the house.
The four reds they make are: A Cabernet Sauvignon, Spring Street; a Cabernet Sauvignon (92 pts RP), Mount Veeder (94 pts RP): a Cabernet Sauvignon, Jack’s Vineyard / Howell Mountain (91+ RP) and a Merlot, Spring Street (89 pts RP). Each micro vineyards which David has access to, presents an unique and specific terroir which David extracts for optimum distinction. For example, the Jack’s Vineyard from Howell Mountain, is at 1700 foot elevation with clear views of the sky. It is an isolated single one acre vineyard. It was aged in oak barrels (75% new) for 22 months. The small berries and pump overs for 12 days, created a deep purple and layered wine. David’s description is “intense cassis and coffee emerge on the palate as well as blueberries and rich chocolate.” He also believes aging will benefit for at least 12-15 years. Having tasted it twice (once late last year and last week at lunch), this is worthy of the 94 pts Parker bestowed.
Their 2013 Merlot went extremely well with a Ginger Teriyaki Steak prepared last week. This was the third vintage of Merlot. It is 100% Merlot, 22 months in French oak barrels (50% new/50% two to four years old), using on fruit from St Helena and only 96 cases produced. Again the color is a deep purple “with aromatics being lively and jump from the glass with big plum, cinnamon and anise”. On the palate it is “plush and round” and “where darker fruits of black raspberry and pomegranate emerge”.
All the wines complement the individual expressions of the micro-vineyards for TATE Wines. The wines seem to mirror the Yin and Yang of the two owners—complementary and use of land and winemaking. You can only imagine as well they have done with their wine, it will extend to their upcoming nuptials.
You can view their website for all the notes and descriptions on the other reds at:
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