2009 Merlot — Paso Robles
Merlot is the most planted grape of the entire Bordeaux region of France and the dominant grape of the Dordogne side of the region. After 2007, the 2009 vintage is considered the best vintage for Bordeaux varieties from Paso Robles by many vintners. The 2009 season was a slightly above-average rain season in the north county of San Luis Obispo. It was a warm growing season without the weather calamities that occurred in 2010 and 2011.
In the Vineyard
Our 2009 Merlot was produced from fruit grown at the Pomar Junction Vineyard in Templeton and the Carmody McKnight Vineyard of westside Paso Robles. The Pomar Junction Vineyard is planted to the 171 clonal selection of Merlot that has particularly thick skins; these thick skins provide more resistance to fungal diseases as well as more color and tannin in the wines produced from it than other selections of Merlot.
The Merlot at Pomar Junction is on a north eastern-oriented slope. The vines are trellised to a modified Smart-Dyson system where bilateral cordons have spur positions alternating up and down along the cordon. Combing wires are utilized to train and position upward shoots growing toward the sky and to position downward spur shoots towards the ground. The result is two separate fruit zone panels with more space between each cluster, allowing more sunlight to the fruit and better air circulation through the canopy. This trellis and training system is useful for high density plantings or high vigor sites.
The Carmody McKnight Vineyard is located in the far western part of Paso Robles on Chimney Rock Road. The majority of the Merlot on the property is UC Clone #3. The vines are head cane pruned which produces medium- sized clusters with small berries. Both the Carmody McKnight and Pomar Junction Vineyards have excellent calcareous soils for wine growing.
At the Winery
Each vineyard was hand harvested, field sorted and fermented separately during their cellar lives. A variety of open and closed top fermenters were employed. All lots were basket pressed and aged in French and Hungarian oak cooperage when preparing for bottling the 2009 Bordeaux varieties at KVV. Extensive blending trials were conducted to determine blending percentages that would maintain typical characteristics of the varietal yet also make for distinctive wines.
Our 2009 Paso Robles Merlot is a blend of 65% Carmody McKnight Vineyard Merlot and 32% Pomar Junction Vineyard Merlot as well as 3% Cabernet Franc from the Carmody McKnight vineyard. Our 2009 Merlot is a big Merlot in regards to depth of flavors, aroma, and structure.
In the Glass
This wine is tightly wound and near-term consumption would benefit from decanting several hours before service. This dark Merlot has heady aromas of cassis, blackberry, and ripe red plums followed by Paso Robles dust and anise. On the palate, the wine is full volume and rich with flavors of black and blue fruit which are supported by moderate tannins and good acidity.
Our 2009 Merlot pairs very well with rich pasta dishes and grilled meats. Try it with this recipe for a delicious Porterhouse steak.
2009 Cabernet Franc — Paso Robles 2011
Often considered the most fragrant of the Bordeaux varietals, Cabernet Franc actually originated in Pais Basque (the Basque region in Spain) near the French border. It is believed that the variety was first brought to the Loire Valley by Christian pilgrims and then on to Bordeaux. Cabernet Franc along with Sauvignon Blanc are the parents to the much better known Cabernet Sauvignon.
In the Vineyard
Our 2009 Cabernet Franc comes predominately from the Carmody McKnight Vineyard of Paso Robles. The warm growing season of 2009 was conducive to Bordeaux varietal wine grapes grown in Paso Robles—enough heat to achieve full ripeness but not so hot as to sacrifice balancing acidity. The soils of this property are truly unique: they developed 26 million years ago as the result of both tectonic and volcanic origin. The sub-soils are rich in Calcium Montmorillonite. The unique character of these soils has been the subject of study by many university soil scientists.
Established in the early 1980s, the vines were planted on their own rootstock with a 12-foot row, 6-foot vine spacing. The vines are head cane pruned and drip irrigated. Nearly always the last variety to be harvested from this property, the Cabernet Franc was harvested comparably early in 2009, with harvest on October 21, 2009.
At the Winery
The fruit was de-stemmed with minimal crushing into 1.3-ton open-top bins which were layered with dry ice while filling to remove field heat and to promote several days of cold soaking prior to fermentation. Fermentation commenced with indigenous yeast strains and finished with the cultured strain D254. The bins were punched down two to six times a day to promote extraction and temperature control.
The fermenters were drained and basket pressed prior to complete cap fall. The young wine was settled for several days prior to barreling to a combination of French and Hungarian oak cooperage. Malolactic fermentation was completed in barrel. This wine received two racks over its 33 months of aging in barrel. Prior to bottling, after many blending trials, 9% Merlot and 1% Cabernet Sauvignon were blended with the Cabernet Franc to give more mid-palate volume to the final blend.
In the Glass
After more than two years of bottle aging this wine has wonderful aromas of fresh cherry and dried red fruits with nuances of cigar box and aged Ristras. On the palate, this wine is surprisingly lean for its degree of ripeness with flavors of berry and cocoa and firm tannins. This wine can be enjoyed with grilled and smoked foods or rich tomato pasta dishes.
Broiled Lamb Kabobs
2013 Albariño — Riverbench Vineyard, Santa Maria Valley
Albariño is the aromatic white grape of Galacia in northwestern Spain. The variety is grown as “Alvarinho” in Portugal where the variety has been grown since the 15th century. Much speculation exists as to the origin of the variety, but DNA research has not been able to definitively prove its parents.
Albariño produces distinctly aromatic wines with aromas of white flowers and ripe peach and apricot. The variety has thick-skinned berries and produces a large amount of seeds per berry. Both of these characteristics make wines produced from the variety prone to phenolic bitterness unless the fruit is handled with care while processing.
In the Vineyard
The 2013 growing season was a warm one but not as warm as this current season of 2014. A good bloom and fruit set produced an abundant crop of Albariño that required extensive thinning of all secondary clusters and the removal of primary set clusters on short shoots. The harvest was done in two hand picks—ten days apart—to provide a broad range of fruit flavors as well as to manage the acid and pH of the juice.
At the Winery
Following a quick trip across the Tepusquet River Bridge from Riverbench Vineyard, the fruit was whole cluster pressed at the winery. Minimal tumbling of the bladder press cage was conducted to reduce stem and seed shear. After achieving 140 gallons of juice per ton yield, the hard-press juice fraction was segregated. Following cold settling, the clarified juice was fermented at 55˚ and a long, slow fermentation began. Following completion of fermentation, the wine was aged on its gross fermentation lees until preparation for bottling.
Despite the warm vintage, this wine has a low pH and moderate acidity. Malolatic fermentation was discouraged. The finished wine has 345 mg/100ml malic acid, which provides the refreshing green apple bright acidity of the finished wine.
Riverbench Vineyard is one of our neighboring vineyards and wineries across the river from KVV. Riverbench has a great vineyard and even nicer people involved in the business operations. Consider a visit to Riverbench Winery on your next trip to the Santa Maria Valley.
Our Albariño comes from Block 44, which is located east of the entry road leading into Rancho Sisquoc Winery, in the shadow of the San Ramon chapel. This block was planted in 2006 during which KVV was fortunate enough to be able to engage in a long-term contract on planting of Albariño.
In the Glass
Our 2013 Albariño has faint aromas of citrus flowers and ripe fruit aromas of white peach and nectarine. On the palate, the wine is crisp and refreshing with flavors of apricot, green apple and peach. This is an excellent wine to pair with fish, shellfish, Thai food and nearly all Pacific Rim cuisine. Try it with this recipe for prawns in a clove-scented marinade.
Prawns in Clove
2011 Pinot Noir — Santa Barbara County
The 2011 growing season was a very good year for Pinot Noir from Kenneth Volk Vineyards. From that vintage, we bottled three vineyard-designated Pinot Noirs (Enz Vineyard, Steiner Creek Vineyard, and Garey Ranch Vineyard); we also bottled our Santa Maria Cuvée and this wine, our 2011 Pinot Noir from Santa Barbara County. We came close to bottling vineyard-designated Bien Nacido, Soloman Hills and Sierra Madre but in the end the blend of these vineyards seemed far more superior than the single components.
At the Winery
Our Santa Barbara County Pinot Noir is a combination of some of our finest vineyards. A variety of production techniques were employed to produce this wine, including open-top boxes lined with dry ice, large open-top tanks and mid-sized closed-top temperature controlled stainless steel tanks. All lots were basket pressed and aged in French and Hungarian cooperage for 16 months.
In the Glass
This wine was bottled in January 2012 and, with 33 months of bottle aging, the wine is showing beautiful secondary and tertiary aromas. Aromas of dried rose bud and ripe berry lead to spicy notes of anise and cinnamon. On the palate, the wine is rich and supple. The cool growing season produced grapes high in malic acid and the finished wine has a rich, creamy mouthfeel. This wine has flavors of strawberry and raspberry with a distinct taste of cola and sarsaparilla.
In Stephen Tanzer’s International Wine Cellar “Focus on the Central Coast” report, wine writer Josh Reynolds describes the wine as,
“Vivid red. Smoke and herb-accented aromas of raspberry and rose pastille, with a hint of white pepper adding lift. Refreshingly tangy and light-bodied, offering fresh red berry and spice cake flavors that show a refreshingly bitter edge. Closes bright and tight, with good clarity and lingering florality.”
Be sure to stock up on this lovely wine to enjoy for your autumn and winter celebrations!
Braised Chicken with Leeks and Porcini