Many wine aficionados know of Alexander Valley as a premier grape region, but do you know where the name comes from? In the 1800’s, Cyrus Alexander, with a land grant from the Mexican government, acquired 9,000 acres for cattle grazing. Today it is called Alexander Valley home of some great Cabernet Sauvignon, Chardonnay and Zinfandels.
The Stuhlmuller family has their winery on the lower southwestern edge of Alexander Valley. The planted vineyards total 150 acres: 90 acres are planted in Chardonnay, 57 acres with Cabernet Sauvignon & Petite Verdot and the remaining 3 acres with Zinfandel and Petite Sirah. In total they produce just under 12,000 cases a year, but do not confused them with a “larger production facility”. Many of their wines are artisan and handcrafted with quantities running 100 cases and less per release.
The winemaker is Leo Hansen who in January 2015, SF Chronicle wrote an article naming him one of “Winemakers to Watch in 2015”. Leo’s background is extensive after graduating from college in Denmark. Leo has traveled to great wine regions such as Loire, Alasace, Champagne, Burgundy, Spain, and Italy. Additionally, he worked as a certified European sommelier in Copenhagen, a one star Michelin restaurant. Leo also worked at Clos du Bois, Chateau Souverain and Bowen Estate (Coonawarra, Australia). After working as an assistant winemaker at Stuhlmuller, he became head winemaker in 2004.
The list of awards for Stuhlmuller wines in very impressive (suggest their website) and I will highlight only three of them. The first being their 2013 Pinot Cooper Block which has yet to be rated. It is a Russian River Pinot with 14.2%, 50% whole cluster and aged in 100% new French oak. Only 100 cases were produced. It was rated my personal highest of wines I tasted that day. The other one which was outstanding was their 2013 Cabernet Sauvignon Block 8 which with only 75 cases produced. It was deep ruby in color with a produced nose and balanced tannins. The last being their 2013 Reserve Chardonnay with 25% new French oak barrels and 100% malolactic fermentation. At $40 it is a solid wine to purchase.
So take a drive down a road less traveled to find some history and treat yourself to some great wines.
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