GILROY, Calif., Nov. 2, 2015 /PRNewswire/ -- Winegrower Tim Slater is ready for a vacation: "Wow. A long, hard slog – we started picking on September 1 with some estate Pinot Noir for our Rose program. And we finished on October 23 with Piquepoul Blanc. The crew is exhausted but ecstatic – like everywhere on the Central Coast, yields are down. But overall grape quality looks superb. I'm very excited about the eventual 2015 wines."
The mad scientist in Tim loves to experiment and tinker with different varietals and blends (he garnered 25 different inventing patents in his previous career in micro engineering). His property's Sarah's, Timcat, and Dwarf Oak blocks are planted to 10 different vinifera grapes. While the Sarah's Vineyard label's flagship bottlings are certainly its limited, highly regarded Pinot Noir and Chardonnay, Mr. Slater also loves the history and character of the Rhone varietals. He currently has Grenache, Viognier, Roussanne, Grenache Blanc, Piquepoul Blanc, Clairette Blanche, Counoise, and Mourvedre planted. The S.V. estate lies in the foothills of the southern Santa Cruz Mountains, in the cooler climate "Mt. Madonna" district. Here daytime temperatures are mitigated by wind and fog – allowing for quality "hang time" and full, gentle phenolic ripening on the properties' various Burgundian and Rhone blocks.
Tim comments on the overall growing season: "Estate total yield was down by 30%, compared to 2014. Pinot Noir was especially hard hit. But the small, remaining crop received all the vines' energy; quality overall was excellent. This year was very reminiscent of 2011, with a very cool spring and summer. But while 2011 was a wet year fraught with mildew and rot issues for most growers, 2015 has been a dry year and the growing conditions were blissful - until the late heat waves that began at the start of September. Pinot Noir in particular was extraordinary. Smallest clusters I've seen, very small berries, and very, very dark color - jet black. Fermentation aromas were beautiful. 2015 should be an excellent year – there just won't be a whole lot of it."
New this year at Sarah's...
"We had our first harvest out of our newest Pinot Noir block, 'Timcat.' TImcat is composed primarily of Chalone, Pommard and Swan clones. I think of these as 'California Heritage Pinot Noir.' If they meet expectations, we'll include them in our three Estate Pinot releases."
"We also had our first harvest of Clairette Blanche, a white Rhone grape prominent in Chateauneuf-du-Pape whites. My favorite Chateauneuf-du-Pape producer is Chateau La Nerthe, and both of their white wines feature a heavy dose of Clairette Blanche. It used to be a very popular grape in California; old vineyard surveys show it was widely planted throughout the state in the 1870s. However, it has fallen so far from its former stature that today it's not even a listed varietal on the official, annual Grape Crush Report. Thanks to well-known 'Rhones' advocate' Tablas Creek, it has been re-introduced as a varietal in California. Our intention is to modify our Cote de Madonne white blend with the CB, to more closely emulate C. La Nerthe."
"We've also added two highly regarded 'sourcing' vineyards this year as part of our Pinot Appellation Series: Boer Vineyard in the Chalone appellation and Tondre Grapefield in the Santa Lucia Highlands AVA. We were very fortunate to secure Pinot Noir from these famed growers."
The Sarah's Vineyard estate and label is a labor of love for winegrower Tim Slater. The property occupies 18 acres in the cool climate "Mt. Madonna" district of the southern Santa Cruz Mountains. Tim in his former life has been a DJ, a musician, and a successful "micro-machining" engineer with many patents to his name. At S.V., he channels both his inner "mad scientist" and his artistic side to grow and produce world-class Pinot Noir and Chardonnay. Tim also cultivates his interest in the traditional Rhone varietals, with plantings of Grenache, Viognier, Roussanne, Grenache Blanc, Piquepoul Blanc, Clairette Blanche, and Counoise. The popular Sarah's Vineyard Tasting Room is open daily on Hecker Pass Road, outside of Gilroy. S.V.'s online home is SarahsVineyard.com
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SOURCE Sarah's Vineyard