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by Fred McMillin
for January 2, 1998
Winery of the WeekThings Looked Bleak on Atlas Peak
The Rest of the Story: So, 20 years ago it looked like Atlas Peak would remain the domain of hawks and eagles. But five bulldozers, six 25-ton dump trucks, four earth movers and a mine shaft drilling machine, as well as over twenty million dollars can make a difference...including three water-storage lakes, over 400 acres of vines, and a state-of-the-art winery with underground storage. Now, what do we plant up on the hillside above the fog belt?
The Antinori Touch
The 600-year-old Italian Antinori firm has been a partner in the venture since its 1983 inception. Hence, Piero Antinori personally selected a group of clones of his Tuscan favorite, Sangiovese, and 120 acres were planted. Also, there's plenty of Cabernet for Supertuscan blends with the Sangiovese. My panel just gave a HIGHLY RECOMMENDED to the '95 "san-jo." They agree completely with Piero who has concluded that his Tuscan grape "likes the Napa Valley."
Just the Facts
Postscript: The large, shallow-bowl vineyard is 1500—1800 feet above the Napa Valley floor, and part of it is some ten degrees cooler than the floor. This makes it Chardonnay friendly. In fact, the area is cooler than Carneros, and the Chardonnay harvest later. The extra time on the vine produces such rich fruit flavors that John Falcone doesn't mask them with very much malolactic fermentation. Conclusion: Taste their wines and you'll agree with the critics that Atlas Peak is a winery to watch.
Read more articles by Fred McMillin in the WineDay Annex
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