What does a CEO of a gold mining operation and one of the top winemakers in Napa have in common? They both are extracting a rare commodity from the earth. Ewan Downie, CEO of Premier Gold Mines LTD, Thunder Bay, Ontario, Canada purposes to finding and exploring land to find buried gold. Rudy Zuidema, is a vineyard manager, viticulturist and superb winemaker, is taking what the earth and terroir offer and converting this into “liquid gold”. Nothing shows this remarkable partnership like their 2014 Audition Chardonnay which won Double Gold at the 2016 San Francisco Chronicle Wine Competition.
Up on the backside of Mount George, to the northeast of Napa, at 1200 foot elevation is the Alyris Vineyard which produces a wonderful, hearty and smooth Cabernet Sauvignon. Their Zinfandel and Chardonnay are sourced from the Carneros region. One of the keys to all their wines is the “cave aging process” for all their wines. The Cabernet in 100% French oak is aged 22 months in 60% new oak. The Chardonnay is aged 10 months in 100% French oak in new barrels and the Zin cave aged 17 months in French and Hungarian oak with 40% being new.
This “mining adventure” has struck three great finds. The Zinfandel, is a smooth peppery Napa Valley style Zinfandel. This wine is a must for those liking Zin’s and a great treat for those wanting a more traditional non-fruit bomb Zinfandel. As Wine Enthusiastic in their 92 point rating stated “Peppery, brambly, integrated and balanced, this impressively layered and complex 100% varietal wine highlights the grape’s ability to be fruity, spicy and soft all at the same time.” Only 140 cases were produced.
The Chardonnay is from Carneros region and is in the old world style. Alyris winemakers’ notes are spot on as it possess “Aromas of white nectarine, cereal grains, and honeysuckle are the greeting to this wine. Core flavors of peach, ripe fig, and fresh lavender are held together with a rich and smooth structure that lasts through the finish of minerals, nutmeg and allspice.” This is one of my favorite “non-buttery Chardonnays in Burgundian style. The secondary malolactic fermentation is held at around 30%. Only 170 cases were produced.
The Cabernet Sauvignon is a delightfully smooth with lingering tannins. It is 100% Cabernet with no melding or manipulation of adding other varietals. Rudy describes it in the winemakers’ notes as “The 2013 vintage is expected to be one of Napa’s best, with impressive wines displaying excellent structure and having substantial longevity. The 2013 Audition cabernet is dense and concentrated with cassis, violets, and dark chocolate notes on the nose. The firm tannins are kept juicy with rich black currant, Bing cherry, and toasty brown sugar. The finish is long and fresh with rose pedal, pipe tobacco, and a lint of wet forest floor all wrapped in an envelope of creamy French oak.” Only 160 cases were produced.
All three wine varietals are tucked away today in my cellar. If you want to find “liquid gold”, look no further and simply shout out “Eureka” (Latin for I found it!) at Alyris Vineyards.
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