If you asked me today what my top ten favorite wines are, three from Crocker & Starr would definitely make the list.
My friend, Julie, and I received a warm welcome by winemaker Pam Starr at the Crocker & Starr Estate in St. Helena yesterday. We began the unique 'Vineyard Experience' on the porch of the farmhouse with a taste of the 2011 Sauvignon Blanc.
I have always loved the Crocker & Starr SB ($32/bottle). Made from organically grown grapes sourced from the Crocker Vineyard and the Hyde Las Trancas Vineyard in Oak Knoll, this wine is medium-bodied, fresh, and fruit-forward. It is aged sur lies, 96% stainless steel barrels and 4% new French oak barrels, which adds a wonderful creaminess to the mouthfeel and intensity to the flavors. Floral aromas with white peach, guava and citrus. Finishes clean with brilliant acidity.
In yesterday's 85+ degree temperatures, this wine was wonderfully refreshing!
Wine glass in hand, we walked from the porch to the edge of the vineyard. You can really hear the passion in Pam's voice as she talks about pruning and vineyard management, clones, and soil types. It was both fascinating and inspiring!
Eager to get out of the sun, we settled at the long walnut table (big enough to seat at least 8 people or more) under the arbor to taste the Estate red wines.
I have been enjoying Pam's wines for about three years now, and they remain consistently delicious year-to-year. As usual, the red wines were outstanding.
The 2009 Cab Franc smells like blueberry pie right out of the oven. The palate offers layers of sweet blueberry, cherry cola, herbs and baking spices (particularly cinnamon and cardamom). Luscious mouthfeel with dry, velvety tannins. The wine ends with lingering flavors of tobacco leaf and cocoa. This wine will age well but is very drinkable now. ($62/bottle, less than 500 cases)
The 2008 Stone Place Cabernet Sauvignon is dark, powerful, and concentrated. This 100% Cab shows rich, black fruit aromas. Blackberry jam and dark chocolate flavors are backed by firm tannins and hints of baking spice. Black licorice and sweet vanilla linger on the palate. Absolutely delicious! Aged in barrel for 20 months, 80% new French oak. I was actually shocked by how well this wine is showing upon release; but it definitely has the potential to improve over the next 10+ years. ($90/bottle, less than 500 cases)
Tours and tastings are available daily by appointment only. Definitely worth visiting! (photo below: Julie and I posing near a vintage wine press)
And I strongly recommend the Prime Rib French Dip sandwich at the Rutherford Grill afterwards. Mmmmmm.....
P.S. Pam also makes super-small amounts of wine specifically for the Crocker & Starr Casali Wine Club (the Malbec is amazing!) and she is the winemaking genius behind the Bridesmaid wines. A second label that she produces with Drew Nieman, the Bridesmaid Bordeaux-style blends are affordable and ready-to-drink. Perfect for summer!