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WineSmith Double Dare Offer (4)

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Last Wooter to Woot:
Cesare
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Cesare


quality posts: 1642 Private Messages Cesare

WineSmith Double Dare Offer 4-Pack
$59.99 $̶1̶3̶5̶.̶0̶0̶ 56% off List Price
2003 WineSmith Napa Valley Chardonnay, Student Vineyard Napa Valley College
2004 WineSmith Napa Valley Faux Chablis, Student Vineyard, Napa Valley College
CT links above

Winery website

-il Cesare
Sole Absolute Triple
Exalted High Tastemaster Supreme
“In the entire world there are only a few sounds that bring joy to all but the most jaded. One is the murmur of a kitten purring. Another is the thwack of a well-pitched baseball hitting a perfectly swung bat. And the third is the pop of a cork being pulled from a bottle of wine.” —George Taber

Cesare


quality posts: 1642 Private Messages Cesare

Opened the 2004 the other night which I had from the previous rpm tour.
Since I last tried it the wine is starting to calm down and come together. Wonderful tropical fruits and apple on the nose. A hint of minerality. Also, something savory. I want to say "cheesy" but.. not in the way you are thinking. Like a nutty, salty, aged, hard old world type cheese. Probably a combination of the minerality, un-toasted oak and yeast (lees). Quite a complex nose.
On the palate it is dry, crisp, and clean with a little bit of creaminess/oily feel on the finish which is long. I taste some citrus and slight wood with some tannins still present. Great acidity. No alcohol apparent. Very interesting and different wine. Was spectacular with white clam sauce.
If you've had much Burgundian Chardonnay this will remind you of that. Less minerality/stone and possibly more fruit. If you've only had CA Chardonnay, even the unoaked no malolactic version then you have no idea! 100% of the time it is either too hot or too fruity or too flabby with no acidity or minerality. The time and care put in to this is obvious.
I would buy a case and age some of it further and have the rest this summer with seafood.

-il Cesare
Sole Absolute Triple
Exalted High Tastemaster Supreme
“In the entire world there are only a few sounds that bring joy to all but the most jaded. One is the murmur of a kitten purring. Another is the thwack of a well-pitched baseball hitting a perfectly swung bat. And the third is the pop of a cork being pulled from a bottle of wine.” —George Taber

winesmith


quality posts: 49 Private Messages winesmith

I tell this story best on my video at http://bit.ly/Z0GWiF . Please go there and hear me out.

I have taught winemaking classes at Napa Valley College since 1991 off and on. In 2001, I started making Chablis-style Chardonnays. I am so tired of the oaky toasty butterbombs Napa is known for, and we wanted to show that this is not our terroir, but rather just a cheap marketing trick that has little to do with the true potential of Napa for Chardonnays of great distinction, building on the work of Fred McCrea at Stony Hill.

The Student Vineyard is lovingly tended by the Dean of Viticulture and Winery Technology, Dr. Stephen Krebs and an army of students, each of which is assigned ten vines to baby, making this the most carefully tended vineyard in Napa. Steve and I both love our Valley and long to see its true expression emerge through the trendy obscuring influences of excessive oak, microbial elaboration and excessive hangtime.

We wanted to test Claude Bourgignon’s claim that we could get true Chablis-like minerality without the limestone -- yes, even on our sandy loam – if we knocked it off with the herbicides and pesticides and let the weeds go crazy, allowing the earthworms to work the soil and we get a healthy mycorrhizal population which facilitates trace mineral uptake.

Now when I say minerally, I am not talking about wet stone aromas and tastes, but rather a sort of electric buzz in the finish, often confused with acidity. Nobody knows exactly what this is, but when you taste it (usually from wines grown on limestone, schist, slate or decomposed granite, or in organic vineyards), the wines are reductive and tight in youth and age a long time.

Finally, we opted for a non-malolactic style with no toast on the oak (we actually do it in stainless with 5 g/L of well-cured untoasted Allier forest oak chips in the fermenter – so shoot me. I did this to give me a tannin skeleton on which to build a structure using lees stirred twice weekly for about eight months.

The secret of Chablis is although cold, the days are very long and grapes achieve full ripeness. Ripeness happens at about 18 brix, which would result in thin, salty wines. To correct this imbalance and show the flavors in balance, the French routinely add beet sugar to boost the alcohol from 11% to 12.5%. In the drier climate of Napa, we get fully ripe fruit at maybe 24.5 brix, which yields about 14.8% alcohol, resulting in wines that are quite hot and bitter and with poor aromatic expression. To correct this imbalance and reveal the true flavors of terroir, we use the reverse osmosis process I invented (okay, draw and quarter me and THEN shoot me) to lower the alcohol to the Chablis range. This dispels the bitterness and allows the lemon oil / lemon blossom aromas to emerge.

The result is a classic style which shows off our terroir and goes deliciously with crab, ceviche, sushi, lobster, and of course, half shell oysters. The bad news: the combination of oak tannin, lees and minerality, all strong anti-oxidants, means the wine takes ten years to come around. But it’s worth the wait!

Clark


[MOD: Embedded video for you!]


klezman


quality posts: 126 Private Messages klezman

I'm wishing there was Cab Franc in this offer also, but seriously considering this one despite my constraints. I remember these being excellent but quite young when we tasted them on the 2010 Tour.

2014: 42 bottles. Last wine.woot: 2012 Iron Horse Estate Chardonnay
2013: 66 bottles, 2012: 91 bottles, 2011: 92 bottles, 2010: 74 bottles, 2009: 30 bottles, 2008: 3 bottles My CT

cmaldoon


quality posts: 62 Private Messages cmaldoon

Since I know the smith himself will poke his head in here, could you please talk to:

"Alcohol adjusted via recombinatory distillation of reverse osmosis permeate to “sweet spot” at 12.9 %"

What is it, why is it, how does it make for a better wine, and how are you sure?

EDIT: And Already answered, my hat is off to you Dr. Smith

2014 - 20 Btl. Fjellene (10 bot), Urraca Chard (10 bot)
Last purchase: 5/3/14

2013 - 75 btl. 2012 - 98 btl. 2011 - 112 btl. 2010 - 30 btl.
My Cellar

kylemittskus


quality posts: 231 Private Messages kylemittskus
klezman wrote:I'm wishing there was Cab Franc in this offer also, but seriously considering this one despite my constraints. I remember these being excellent but quite young when we tasted them on the 2010 Tour.



Split and trade on the 30th?

"If drinking is bitter, change yourself to wine." -Rainer Maria Rilke

"Champagne is a very kind and friendly thing on a rainy night." -Isak Dinesen

cmaldoon


quality posts: 62 Private Messages cmaldoon
Cesare wrote:Just had the 2004! Notes to come soon...



Waiting on these notes.... I NEVER buy Chardonnay untasted (too hit and miss for my palate) but this one piques my curiosity... perhaps enough to jump in.

2014 - 20 Btl. Fjellene (10 bot), Urraca Chard (10 bot)
Last purchase: 5/3/14

2013 - 75 btl. 2012 - 98 btl. 2011 - 112 btl. 2010 - 30 btl.
My Cellar

loveladyelectric


quality posts: 23 Private Messages loveladyelectric
kylemittskus wrote:Split and trade on the 30th?



I'm down if he isn't.

ThunderThighs


quality posts: 583 Private Messages ThunderThighs

Staff

winesmith wrote:I tell this story best on my video at http://bit.ly/Z0GWiF . Please go there and hear me out.
...



Welcome! Thanks for staying up with us tonight... this morning.



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cmaldoon


quality posts: 62 Private Messages cmaldoon

Seems to be quality, aged, well made chardonnay for $16/bottle. Even if some of those adjectives are less than 100% true, this is still likely a good deal. At very least SWMBO can look forward to some tasty Chicken Picatta.

With 290 bottles of red and 10 bottles of white, I need to fix something...

In for a full Case!
Last wooter to woot:cmaldoon

2014 - 20 Btl. Fjellene (10 bot), Urraca Chard (10 bot)
Last purchase: 5/3/14

2013 - 75 btl. 2012 - 98 btl. 2011 - 112 btl. 2010 - 30 btl.
My Cellar

winesmith


quality posts: 49 Private Messages winesmith
cmaldoon wrote:Since I know the smith himself will poke his head in here, could you please talk to:

"Alcohol adjusted via recombinatory distillation of reverse osmosis permeate to “sweet spot” at 12.9 %"

What is it, why is it, how does it make for a better wine, and how are you sure?

EDIT: And Already answered, my hat is off to you Dr. Smith



Great question, and thanks for asking. This is a topic about which there has been way too much yellow journalism and way too little straight talk. Ever since I dropped out of MIT in 1971, I’ve been engaged in trying to understand wine and improve the making of it. In the early 1990s, visiting French friends told me that California fruit is not very ripe at normal sugar (say around 23 Brix). This is as opposed to French grapes, which get ripe at about 21 brix due to rain on the harvest and also the influence of humidity. However, at 11% alcohol, French reds taste thin and salty. Accordingly, Napoleon’s minister of Agriculture, Dr. Chaptal, legalized alcohol adjustment the addition of beet sugar to French wines (up to 20 gm/L) and that’s been a standard practice, even in First Growth Bordeaux, for 200 years.

In California, we have the opposite problem. In our dry climate, photosynthesis runs wild and we end up getting true ripeness at high sugar, leading to wines that are hot, bitter and aromatically suppressed (the aromas are soluble in the alcohol).

So 20 years ago, I stumbled on a process involving a water purification membrane called reverse osmosis which turned out to be a gentle and effective way to reduce alcohol. I patented the process and started a company called Vinovation (you can get a lot more detail at Vinovation.com) in 1992 to offer alcohol adjustment as a service. It took off, and is regularly utilized by about half the wineries in California, and between that method and a vacuum distillation process called the Spinning Cone, today about 45% of California’s wine is reduced in its alcohol, which is about the average percentage that is chaptalized in France.

True French Chablis, though low in alcohol, is made from fully ripe fruit. To get that lemon oil character, Steve Krebs and I waited until the berries were fully golden. This left us with 14.8% alcohol and a wine that was hot and bitter, with little aroma. We used alcohol adjustment to bring the level down to a “sweet spot,” a point of harmonious balance, at 12.9%. At this level, the wine has much more expressive aromatics, the energetic minerally finish is apparent, and the wine ages much longer.

The proof of all this is in the bottle. What other Napa Chardonnay is still straw green at ten years of age?

About 2000, a number of paparazzi decided to blow the whistle on this as wine manipulation. But it depends on your definition. My Random House supplies the following:

ma•nip•u•la•tion \mə-ˌnĭp-yəˈlā-shən\ n.{ens}1 : treatment or operation with or as if with the hands or by mechanical means, especially in a skillful manner.{ens}
2 : Shrewd or devious management by artful, unfair, or insidious means, especially to one’s own advantage.

I’m going to assume that readers are all in favor of wines made according to definition #1, to wit, handcrafted. Those are not grapes in that glass. As everyone knows, wine is perhaps the most manipulated of all foods, and that’s just what we want. Pick ’em, crush ’em, ferment ’em, press ’em, age ’em, bottle ’em, and nobody minds. Those aren’t, it seems, offending manipulations. Indeed, this first definition is the very essence of the artisanality for which winemakers are worshipped so lustily.

So I don’t think I am going out on a limb when I interpret the desire to avoid manipulation as somehow connected to the moralistic accusations embodied in definition #2.

In this they have a point. A better word would be “deceit.”
Winemakers use these tools but they don’t know how to talk about them. For the history of why, see my article “Some Like It Hot” http://wine.appellationamerica.com/wine-review/466/Some-Like-it-Hot.html.

The paradox right now is that those winemakers who do speak out lose sales. Nevertheless, I make it a point never to use a tool I’m not willing to be straight with my customers about, as now. I know that some people will walk away from this offer because they buy the paparazzi BS that great wine makes itself and less is more. Indeed, showing off the wine’s natural character is our work, to become invisible, as it were. But I can assure you that it takes great skill to become invisible, and benign neglect is not a recipe for excellence.

More about all this at winecrimes.com.
I am working on a site where winemakers can go and make full disclosure. Meantime you can count on me to fill you in about my wines.

winesmith


quality posts: 49 Private Messages winesmith
klezman wrote:I'm wishing there was Cab Franc in this offer also, but seriously considering this one despite my constraints. I remember these being excellent but quite young when we tasted them on the 2010 Tour.



I'm so happy you know about my Cab Franc projects. It's the most difficult grape to get right, and the most rewarding. We'll have a Cab Franc offer before long.

winesmith


quality posts: 49 Private Messages winesmith

In order to stimulate more burning questions, maybe I should say a little more about the things I'm engaged in.

Although I do not write science fiction (that's Clark Ashton Smith), I do wear a lot of hats in the wine industry, which can be confusing. I make my WineSmith, Planet Pluto, PennyFarthing and Cheapskate wines as well as consulting for a large number of wineries.

I sold the wine technology business in 2008 to devote myself to writing and exploring the wine world. I run the Best-of Appellation tasting panel for AppellationAmerica.com, teach at CSU Fresno and Florida International University, for whom I do research in cognitive enology, teach online courses and conduct Edu-Tours to places like the Finger Lakes and the Republic of Georgia. I teach a class in Fundamentals of Wine Chemistry http://winemaking411.com/wine-chemistry which is basically a UC Davis degree crammed into a weekend, next one in Santa Rosa May 10-11.

I write a monthly column, Postmodern Winemaker, for Wines and Vines magazine which has been compiled into a book, Postmodern Winemaking, out this summer from UC Press http://www.ucpress.edu/book.php?isbn=9780520275195.

I'm very interested in the connection between wine and music, and am finishing up a CD of original songs about wine and winemaking.

The place to go for all these links is WhoIsClarkSmith.com.

Bring on the burning questions.

Cesare


quality posts: 1642 Private Messages Cesare
winesmith wrote:Bring on the burning questions.


Do you sleep?

-il Cesare
Sole Absolute Triple
Exalted High Tastemaster Supreme
“In the entire world there are only a few sounds that bring joy to all but the most jaded. One is the murmur of a kitten purring. Another is the thwack of a well-pitched baseball hitting a perfectly swung bat. And the third is the pop of a cork being pulled from a bottle of wine.” —George Taber

winesmith


quality posts: 49 Private Messages winesmith
Cesare wrote:Opened the 2004 the other night which I had from the previous rpm tour.
Since I last tried it the wine is starting to calm down and come together. Wonderful tropical fruits and apple on the nose. A hint of minerality. Also, something savory. I want to say "cheesy" but.. not in the way you are thinking. Like a nutty, salty, aged, hard old world type cheese. Probably a combination of the minerality, un-toasted oak and yeast (lees). Quite a complex nose.
On the palate it is dry, crisp, and clean with a little bit of creaminess/oily feel on the finish which is long. I taste some citrus and slight wood with some tannins still present. Great acidity. No alcohol apparent. Very interesting and different wine. Was spectacular with white clam sauce.
If you've had much Burgundian Chardonnay this will remind you of that. Less minerality/stone and possibly more fruit. If you've only had CA Chardonnay, even the unoaked no malolactic version then you have no idea! 100% of the time it is either too hot or too fruity or too flabby with no acidity or minerality. The time and care put in to this is obvious.
I would buy a case and age some of it further and have the rest this summer with seafood.



That element you're trying to get at is definitely the sur lees character. It has opened up considerably more in the 2003, and resembles the bouquet of long en tirage Champagne, but I see what you mean about an old, dry parmessan or mancheca cheese. The lees element give the wine a structure which makes it appeal to red wine drinkers much more than your basic modern fresh, simple white wine, and contributes to the wine's longevity.

cmaldoon


quality posts: 62 Private Messages cmaldoon
winesmith wrote:
Bring on the burning questions.



What is your take on:
1) Extraction/concentration (I'm talking that which happens late in the process, not on the skins) I think it can be done with the help of a vacuum pump.
2) Barrel substitutes - (and for once I'm not asking about chips and staves.) I just recently saw some plastic tanks at a winery that supposedly let through the same amount of oxygen as a 2 year old barrel.

2014 - 20 Btl. Fjellene (10 bot), Urraca Chard (10 bot)
Last purchase: 5/3/14

2013 - 75 btl. 2012 - 98 btl. 2011 - 112 btl. 2010 - 30 btl.
My Cellar

winesmith


quality posts: 49 Private Messages winesmith
Cesare wrote:Do you sleep?



Discussing my passions is pretty playful work, and I cannot tell you what a privilege it is to connect with you wooters, who seem to "get" what I'm up to. I hope you realize what a unique community you are.

I reckon I'm good for another hour or two before I cash in. Got ribs and Cab Franc, so it's all good.

What else you got?

cmaldoon


quality posts: 62 Private Messages cmaldoon
winesmith wrote: Got ribs and Cab Franc, so it's all good.

What else you got?



Damn.... I want what you have!

2014 - 20 Btl. Fjellene (10 bot), Urraca Chard (10 bot)
Last purchase: 5/3/14

2013 - 75 btl. 2012 - 98 btl. 2011 - 112 btl. 2010 - 30 btl.
My Cellar

Cesare


quality posts: 1642 Private Messages Cesare
winesmith wrote:Discussing my passions is pretty playful work, and I cannot tell you what a privilege it is to connect with you wooters, who seem to "get" what I'm up to. I hope you realize what a unique community you are.

I reckon I'm good for another hour or two before I cash in. Got ribs and Cab Franc, so it's all good.

What else you got?


Now that sounds good, ribs and CF.
Yes we are wine nerds and proud of it! And very happy to have you here finally.

Can you talk about the terroir of this vineyard and also the area in general and how much you think comes through in the wine. And why that is important for the wine especially as it ages. Compare and contrast to France and other regions you are familiar with.

-il Cesare
Sole Absolute Triple
Exalted High Tastemaster Supreme
“In the entire world there are only a few sounds that bring joy to all but the most jaded. One is the murmur of a kitten purring. Another is the thwack of a well-pitched baseball hitting a perfectly swung bat. And the third is the pop of a cork being pulled from a bottle of wine.” —George Taber

winesmith


quality posts: 49 Private Messages winesmith
cmaldoon wrote:What is your take on:
1) Extraction/concentration (I'm talking that which happens late in the process, not on the skins) I think it can be done with the help of a vacuum pump.



I apologize, but I'm not tracking your question. What kind of extraction are you referring to here? Please clarify your question, and I'll take another shot at it.

Wine can be concentrated by a semipermeable membrane such as an RO, and the skin of a barrel is actually an example, as it will concentrate wine about 4% per year in a dry cellar. I suppose you could increase this rate in a vacuum. However, in my experience, wines often do not improve from concentration. They often become oafish, and the flaws are concentrated too, as well as the acidity.

Extraction during fermentation is a rich topic. An understanding of the promotion of copigmentation colloids through monomeric phenol balance in the fermenter is a key postmodern skill.

winesmith


quality posts: 49 Private Messages winesmith
cmaldoon wrote:What is your take on:
2) Barrel substitutes - (and for once I'm not asking about chips and staves.) I just recently saw some plastic tanks at a winery that supposedly let through the same amount of oxygen as a 2 year old barrel.



Well, despite some skepticism about concrete eggs, I am a huge fan of the plastic egg portatank from Flextanks. Here's what I wrote from the SIMEI equipment show in Milano last year:

"Daffy as its appearance is, the 230-gallon Apollo polymer egg manufactured by Washington-based FlexTank is surprisingly practical. Designed permeable to oxygen at a rate of 1.7 mg/L/Month, FlexTanks imitate barrel micro-oxygenation rate without the evaporative loss or contamination and are a perfect vehicle for chips, beans and other barrel alternatives.

FlexTanks have already gained 1200 winery customers in North America, but the Apollo is newly released in 2011. At $700, they’re unexpectedly affordable. “We’re aiming to replace the macro-bin,” declares the firm’s owner John Smeaton. The egg shape concentrates the cap during fermentation for deeper immersion and easier punchdown, and the mouth is easily sealed against fruit flies and oxygen, permitting sanitary conditions for extended maceration. The cornerless design appears wonderfully easy to clean and sterilize. Half-round supports which rotate on the axis of the tank’s center of gravity facilitate forklift dumping of pomace."

All that said, the problem with any permeable tank is that wine's appetite for oxygen is not a fixed quantity. Barrels supply about 1 ml O2 per liter of wine per month. A typical Cabernet will gobble up 60 times this amount on the day of dryness, 5 ml three months later, and two years later at bottling, about 1 ml, and maybe 0.1 ml after a few years in the bottle, so we have a thousand-fold decrease over the wine's life. I would rather use an adjustable micro-oxygenation diffuser to feed the wine its need than to rely on a tank to do so.

The good thing about permeable plastic tanks or old barrels, however, is the off-gassing that cannot occur in stainless. Young wines have sulfides, krauty malolactic byproducts and other funk that they need to breathe out.

winesmith


quality posts: 49 Private Messages winesmith
Cesare wrote:Now that sounds good, ribs and CF.
Yes we are wine nerds and proud of it! And very happy to have you here finally.

Can you talk about the terroir of this vineyard and also the area in general and how much you think comes through in the wine. And why that is important for the wine especially as it ages. Compare and contrast to France and other regions you are familiar with.



I discuss a lot of this in the video at http://bit.ly/Z0GWiF. Napa Valley College is just south of Napa town near the Big Bridge, on Trancas across from the insane asylum. It isn't quite in Carneros, nor Coombsville, but in between them. Strangely, this very cool site grows lousy Pinot Noir, but some of the best clone 337 Cabernet Sauvignon i the world, which I bottle as WineSmith Crucible, the subject of a later offering on wine.woot.

Comparisons of California and Burgundy terroirs are fraught with mystery. The closest Pinot Noirs we have to the Cotes d'Or are the Jensen Mt. Harlan wines, a windswept, warm, high altitude desert resembling Burgundy in no way except for the limestone. Go figure.

Napa College's latitude, soil, and climate don't bear any resemblance to Chablis, but I still admire those wines and wanted to see if a Napa Valley version were possible. In fermenting on untoasted chips (for a tannin structural skeleton) and aggressive lees stirring, I departed from their model, which shows in the wine, but on the whole I am pleased that we showed we can play in their ballpark. I really make WineSmith wines to show possibilities outside the mainstream for my winemaker clients, and on the whole, I'm very pleased with the Faux Chablis project on that score.

Chablis is a very cool, somewhat rainy region in northern France on the 48th parallel. It compensates for these weather conditions by an extra two hours of sunlight in the summer which gives rich flavor maturity without baking off the flavors. Its soil is limestone, which imparts a lively minerality. Its wines are lean, long-aging, and have ripe Chardonnay aromas resembling lemon blossom or lemon oil, developing a firm richness with age. They provide an edge which cuts through the richness of halfshell oysters and other seafood.

I have already explained the approaches we took to imitate this style. I was compelled to show that a Chardonnay could be made in Napa Valley which actually expresses our own terroir rather than the overly embellished trend of the Big Wine with lots of NFO, ML, and alcohol -- to me a very cynical approach to crowd-pleasing a la Carol Doda that has nothing to do with terroir.

Chardonnay exhibits many faces in California. Salinas Valley gives us golden delicious apple; Santa Lucia Highlands gives us rum and orange peel; in the Sana Cruz Mountains we see tamarind and bow rosin; Sonoma Valeey has pear and pippin apple; Arryo Seco is nectarine.So imagine my delight when I asked our southern Napa vineyard to give me a Chablis, and it obliged with a rather convincing knockoff - those same lemon oil / furniture polish aromas I was used to from William Fevre, my Chablis hero. These aromas are characteristic of Napa Valley, but you almost never get to observe them because they are hidden underneath all that alcohol, oak toast and butter.

My incentive to make this wine was really to experiment with Claude Bourgignon's theory that any soil can impart minerality if it has a healthy mycorrhizal fungi population. These organisms spread through the soil and penetrate the grape rootlets, living in sybiosis, trading trace minerals for sugar. This doesn't work well in conventional California viticulture because the soil is too dry and the fungi are very sensitive to chemicals. But if we discontinue pesticides and herbicides and encourage a healthy earthworm population, it turns out Napa is a wonderful place to sustain these fungi because our soils don't freeze in the winter, so we can perpetually build our living soil. Claude was obviously right, and our wines have gotten more minerally every year, and more long-lived.

It's kind of a sick joke that southern Napa Valley terroir actually resembles Chablis, of all places, but we cover it up with cheap cosmetics and silicone, when we could be making wines like this, full of life energy, depth and soulfulness. Napa really is a special place to grow grapes.

winesmith


quality posts: 49 Private Messages winesmith
cmaldoon wrote:Seems to be quality, aged, well made chardonnay for $16/bottle. Even if some of those adjectives are less than 100% true, this is still likely a good deal. At very least SWMBO can look forward to some tasty Chicken Picatta.

With 290 bottles of red and 10 bottles of white, I need to fix something...

In for a full Case!
Last wooter to woot:cmaldoon



You will find that this wine rings your red wine bells pretty well. It's not your basic modern unstructured, arrested-in-development pop music sort of style, but operates instead in the realm of sinewy profundity.

rpm


quality posts: 173 Private Messages rpm

Clark shared this with us at Scott Harvey's during the cocktail hour before the highly memorable dinner in the vineyard on 2010 rpm magical history tour.

It was hard to give it a really fair serious tasting under the circumstances, but I enjoyed it very much. Thought it a tad dear for whatever the price was at the time, but I think at this price it's a good deal.

I am very fond of Chablis, from simple Chablis for everyday drinking (especially with oysters...) to fully-aged Grand Cru Chablis with richer dishes. Sublime.

My strong sense is that Clark is on to something with his Faux Chablis and it's worth a look if you're tired of over-oaked, flabby, high alcohol California Chardonnay.

You can see from Clark's posts he's a bit of a technogeek and he does de-alc this wine, but there is room for this as well as for the fully organic winemaker who has his 'nieces' stomp the grapes, uses a 200 year old hand wine press, makes the wine in an open fermenter and doesn't rack or fin it, etc., etc.

Try it!

And, yes I bought!

Wine-tasting in 8 words:
Pull lots of corks!
Remember what you taste!

tdedek


quality posts: 4 Private Messages tdedek

I enjoyed a bottle of the 2004 Faux Chablis the other night. Here are my notes from CellarTracker:

Served chilled. Upon opening, muted nose and not very expressive. Hot in the mouth. Color is a light gold. Medium forming legs. Set aside in an aluminum bucket, no ice, to breathe.

After an hour of air, this starts to open up. Nose of honeydew and white fruit. Medium dry finish. Good crisp acids, melon, a little citrus and minerality on the palate. Slightly oily in mouthfeel as it warms back to cellar temp. You can tell this was meant to enjoy some bottle age and has gained some complexity and depth as a result. Does not seem to be slowing down. Great with our fruit and cheese plate before dinner.

Really enjoyed this wine. In my personal notes, was expecting around $20/bottle and told myself I would jump on it if it is around this. So at about $17.50 each, shipped, I am in for at least 1 set, possibly 2. Like Cesare, I would be interested in aging some of this further to see where it goes in the future. As I said in my CT notes, this doesn't seem to be slowing down at all.

I am glad Clark pointed out the flavor/essence Cesare couldn't put his finger on - the sur lees character. I believe this is what I was referring to when I said you could tell the bottle aged well and had gained some complexity and depth - hard to put your finger on, but really helps to form the overall character of the wine.

If you are considering a purchase, I don't think you will be dissapointed by this one! May turn some that are not fans of California Chards - this is not your over oaked butter bomb, but something very different and unique for this part of the world. Great job on this Clark! Excited to try the 2003 as well.

North316


quality posts: 107 Private Messages North316

Had a bottle of the 2003 last night.

To preface this one, I’ve never had a traditional Chablis, and my experience with chardonnay is limited, let alone a “faux Chablis” or an aged chardonnay. This was a good tasting experience for me and I am going into it with an open mind and a cleansed palate.

Upon first opening, there was some definite funk on the nose, eerily similar to a dirty diaper. Color similar to a very light olive oil, much brighter than your average straw color. First taste carried some of that funk from the nose and added some bitter lemons. This definitely needs to rest for a minute and blow-off after sitting in the bottle for so many years.

After a little while the funk blew off and opened up to an intoxicating burst of fresh lemons and citrus on the nose. Unbelievable ho w much things can change in 15 minutes in the glass. The taste now shows some lemons and citrus fruits, maybe a bit of grapefruit, some good acidity and hints of stone and minerality.

This is very interesting wine to me. It is definitely not in my normal wheelhouse, and if someone asked me what type of wine it was, I don’t believe that Chardonnay would even be in the top 3 of my guesses. This honestly reminded me more of a non-grassy sauvignon blanc or a gewurtztraminer than a chardonnay; not knowing much about Chablis, maybe that is the point? There is definitely a good mineraility to it, which is the one characteristic I find pleasing in some white varietals that I would typically not like. After each taste, bright lemon fading to stone/mineral, and nice, almost bracing acidity, medium to long finish. This style actually reminds me of exactly what richardhod used to look for around here on a regular basis.

If the price is right, I am definitely in on this, which says a lot for anyone that knows my general taste in whites.


Dave, interested in a split on this?

My CT
"Trust your homies on the net", Clark Smith.
R.I.P. Inkycatz - Feb. 2013

mommadeb1


quality posts: 18 Private Messages mommadeb1

Welcome!!
LOVE to see such great winery participation!! Unfortunately, not my favorite types of wines, so I will not be purchasing today.. But, look forward to other offers in the future!!

winesmith


quality posts: 49 Private Messages winesmith
tdedek wrote:If you are considering a purchase, I don't think you will be disappointed by this one! May turn some that are not fans of California Chards - this is not your over oaked butter bomb, but something very different and unique for this part of the world. Great job on this Clark! Excited to try the 2003 as well.



I'm jazzed that you guys are understanding this wine and getting beyond any preconceived notions I normally see when trying to sell a ten-year-old white wine that's neither the blowsy bombshell nor the simple fruit smack we get these days under the "Chardonnay" moniker.

Hey, let's change the world together. Every winemaker would play in this style if she could.

mibuwolf83


quality posts: 6 Private Messages mibuwolf83

Mr. Clark Smith, I am going to take your double dare and I might even double or triple your double dare (it's really tempting!). When I saw this offer, I was enchanted because this is EXACTLY what I've been looking for! Chardonnays that are 9 and 10 years old from Cali?!?! I totally get it and I am right behind you to support it. It's only 7:21 am here on the East Coast, but I wouldn't mind opening a bottle of this if I had one.

I recently purchased 4 bottles of 2002 Michaud Chardonnay and that's suppose to be at its peak right now. Have you ever tried it? I wonder if there are any other wineries that produce age-worthy Chardonnays in Cali....

winesmith


quality posts: 49 Private Messages winesmith
North316 wrote:Had a bottle of the 2003 last night.

To preface this one, I’ve never had a traditional Chablis, and my experience with chardonnay is limited, let alone a “Faux Chablis” or an aged chardonnay.

This is very interesting wine to me. It is definitely not in my normal wheelhouse, and if someone asked me what type of wine it was, I don’t believe that Chardonnay would even be in the top 3 of my guesses.



I admire your forthrightness - it's exactly the response I wanted to elicit in making this wine.

If you buy my notion that wines are like movies, then when you are tasting any wine, it's useful to figure out right away what genre the winemaker has in mind. Hollywood pretty much boils down to three categories: Comedies, Action/adventure, and Dramas/foreign films. In other words, the Yummy Style, the WOW! Style, and the "Hmmm..." Style.

Faux Chablis is definitely in the area of dramas and foreign films, a wine that directs you inward toward learning something new instead of pushing your Yummy button or your Wow button. This is the essence of wines of terroir.

Politically, I think this project points to the embarrassing position that Napa Chardonnay could all be a lot more interesting than it is.

winesmith


quality posts: 49 Private Messages winesmith
winesmith wrote:

I admire your forthrightness - it's exactly the response I wanted to elicit in making this wine: a shameless outpouring of the suffering we keep hidden.

If you buy my notion that wines are like movies, then when you are tasting any wine, it's useful to figure out right away what genre the winemaker has in mind. Hollywood pretty much boils down to three categories: comedies, Action/adventure, and dramas/foreign films. In other words, the Yummy Style, the WOW! Style, and the "Hmmm..." Style.

Faux Chablis is definitely in the area of dramas and foreign films, a wine that directs you inward toward learning something new instead of pushing your Yummy button or your Wow button. This is the essence of wines of terroir.

Politically, I think this project points to the embarrassing position that Napa Chardonnay could all be a lot more interesting than it is.

winesmith


quality posts: 49 Private Messages winesmith
mommadeb1 wrote:Welcome!!
LOVE to see such great winery participation!! Unfortunately, not my favorite types of wines, so I will not be purchasing today.. But, look forward to other offers in the future!!



Thanks for chiming in anyhow. Not to press, but you might discover that being persuaded to dribble down-court and shoot this wine's basket instead of expecting it to shoot yours can expand your notion of the possible. I love to pour this for people who say they don't like white wine. It usually turns out they just don't like bad white wine.

chipgreen


quality posts: 195 Private Messages chipgreen
North316 wrote:Dave, interested in a split on this?


Sure, this looks interesting and I've really enjoyed reading Clark's posts and your tasting notes as well. Count me in!

RyanANNAPOLIS


quality posts: 2 Private Messages RyanANNAPOLIS
winesmith wrote:Great question, and thanks for asking. This is a topic about which there has been way too much yellow journalism and way too little straight talk. Ever since I dropped out of MIT in 1971, I’ve been engaged in trying to understand wine and improve the making of it. In the early 1990s, visiting French friends told me that California fruit is not very ripe at normal sugar (say around 23 Brix). This is as opposed to French grapes, which get ripe at about 21 brix due to rain on the harvest and also the influence of humidity. However, at 11% alcohol, French reds taste thin and salty. Accordingly, Napoleon’s minister of Agriculture, Dr. Chaptal, legalized alcohol adjustment the addition of beet sugar to French wines (up to 20 gm/L) and that’s been a standard practice, even in First Growth Bordeaux, for 200 years.

In California, we have the opposite problem. In our dry climate, photosynthesis runs wild and we end up getting true ripeness at high sugar, leading to wines that are hot, bitter and aromatically suppressed (the aromas are soluble in the alcohol).

So 20 years ago, I stumbled on a process involving a water purification membrane called reverse osmosis which turned out to be a gentle and effective way to reduce alcohol. I patented the process and started a company called Vinovation (you can get a lot more detail at Vinovation.com) in 1992 to offer alcohol adjustment as a service. It took off, and is regularly utilized by about half the wineries in California, and between that method and a vacuum distillation process called the Spinning Cone, today about 45% of California’s wine is reduced in its alcohol, which is about the average percentage that is chaptalized in France.

True French Chablis, though low in alcohol, is made from fully ripe fruit. To get that lemon oil character, Steve Krebs and I waited until the berries were fully golden. This left us with 14.8% alcohol and a wine that was hot and bitter, with little aroma. We used alcohol adjustment to bring the level down to a “sweet spot,” a point of harmonious balance, at 12.9%. At this level, the wine has much more expressive aromatics, the energetic minerally finish is apparent, and the wine ages much longer.

The proof of all this is in the bottle. What other Napa Chardonnay is still straw green at ten years of age?

About 2000, a number of paparazzi decided to blow the whistle on this as wine manipulation. But it depends on your definition. My Random House supplies the following:

ma•nip•u•la•tion \mə-ˌnĭp-yəˈlā-shən\ n.{ens}1 : treatment or operation with or as if with the hands or by mechanical means, especially in a skillful manner.{ens}
2 : Shrewd or devious management by artful, unfair, or insidious means, especially to one’s own advantage.

I’m going to assume that readers are all in favor of wines made according to definition #1, to wit, handcrafted. Those are not grapes in that glass. As everyone knows, wine is perhaps the most manipulated of all foods, and that’s just what we want. Pick ’em, crush ’em, ferment ’em, press ’em, age ’em, bottle ’em, and nobody minds. Those aren’t, it seems, offending manipulations. Indeed, this first definition is the very essence of the artisanality for which winemakers are worshipped so lustily.

So I don’t think I am going out on a limb when I interpret the desire to avoid manipulation as somehow connected to the moralistic accusations embodied in definition #2.

In this they have a point. A better word would be “deceit.”
Winemakers use these tools but they don’t know how to talk about them. For the history of why, see my article “Some Like It Hot” http://wine.appellationamerica.com/wine-review/466/Some-Like-it-Hot.html.

The paradox right now is that those winemakers who do speak out lose sales. Nevertheless, I make it a point never to use a tool I’m not willing to be straight with my customers about, as now. I know that some people will walk away from this offer because they buy the paparazzi BS that great wine makes itself and less is more. Indeed, showing off the wine’s natural character is our work, to become invisible, as it were. But I can assure you that it takes great skill to become invisible, and benign neglect is not a recipe for excellence.

More about all this at winecrimes.com.
I am working on a site where winemakers can go and make full disclosure. Meantime you can count on me to fill you in about my wines.



Sounds like a great offer from a passionate and thought provoking winemaker. I love old world Chardonnay and while I am pretty well stocked on Chard I might have to be in for one of these just because I like your style!

-Ryan
http://www.TheFermentedFruit.com/

woopdedoo


quality posts: 36 Private Messages woopdedoo

I had the 2003 recently and here are my notes.

Color: Straw with a slight green tinge.

Nose: Very, very little on the nose - really had to coax out a bit of pear.

Taste: Not sure if this is a geography of the tongue thing, but there is a noticable difference in entry vs mid-palate taste.

On entry: First impression - this is a SB not a Chard. Minerally, very slight citris, hint of the pear again, no detectable butter. (I suspect this was never in oak) I am fairly sensitive to high acidic whites, and I would not say that it is super acid, though at the same time, no detectable residual sugar either. Acid enough to be refreshing without being astringent.

Mid-palate: For me, all of the fruit flavor - lime, pear - comes through on the mid-palate. It is the drinking rather than the sipping that brings it out. There is a slight bit of detectable butter on the finish, but again, if I were tasting this blind, I would have guessed SB rather than Chard. (of note: I really enjoy a minerally SB)

Even though this is a 2003, there was no evidence that it was the least bit past its prime.

Hope that is helpful.

jhkey


quality posts: 51 Private Messages jhkey

Hi Clark,
You probably don't remember, but a few years ago you sent me and my friends 4 different bottles of Cabernet that each had different levels of alcohol removed. My buddy wrote up our observations in his blog here:

http://wineilike.blogspot.com/2010/04/finding-sweet-spot.html

It was pretty amazing to taste the differences in what was originally the same wine.
Thanks for the great participation, I bought 2 sets and can't wait to try this!!

"I double the doctor's recommendation of a glass and a half of wine a day and even treble it with a friend."
- Thomas Jefferson (CT)

North316


quality posts: 107 Private Messages North316
chipgreen wrote:Sure, this looks interesting and I've really enjoyed reading Clark's posts and your tasting notes as well. Count me in!



Last Wooter to Woot:North316

Done!

My CT
"Trust your homies on the net", Clark Smith.
R.I.P. Inkycatz - Feb. 2013

coynedj


quality posts: 7 Private Messages coynedj

The SIWBM is dead! Long live the SIWBM!

I remember this wine from the 2010 tour - it was very interesting then and I'm sure it's even more interesting now. I drank the two bottles I bought on the tour a while back, and am happy to get more and see how it has developed in the time since. A worthy choice to end a WBM.


Speed to First Woot: 3m 41.222s
First Sucker:Allieroon
Last Wooter to Woot:coynedj
Last Purchase:a few seconds ago

I started out on Burgundy but soon hit the harder stuff. Bob Dylan, Just Like Tom Thumb's Blues

How on earth did I get 7 QPs?

yorknh


quality posts: 3 Private Messages yorknh

@#%*!

Got all excited to support a winemaker who is trying to do something different, only to be foiled by shipping limitations.

Too bad really, because I haven't ever had a white that was older than 5 years.