by Fred McMillin
Winery of the Week
The Durell Spell
Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms (BATF)—If a vineyard is named on a label, 95% of the grapes must come from that vineyard.
The Rest of the Story
The names of five vineyards appeared on the labels of our last blind tasting. After ranking the wines, we uncovered them, and suprise. The top two bottles were from different wineries, but from the same vineyard, owned by Ed Durell. So our "Winery of the Week" is the Durell Vineyard. Its 150 acres extend from the southern end of the Sonoma Valley south into the western portion of the cool Carneros. It is located in the hills. Wine whiz Jed Steele says this provides protection from the cool winds off the San Francisco Bay, producing richer-flavored grapes. Those grapes are chiefly Chardonnay and Pinot Noir. Vineyard manager Steve Hill found Pinot Noir the more difficult to master. It required such heart-wrenching steps as snipping off all the clusters that lacked the richest color. In any case, my tasters are convinced that his tricks really work, as displayed in these two winning wines.
Durell Vineyard Pinot Noir by Chateau St. Jean
from vines planted in 1980
Durell Vineyard Pinot Noir by Steele Wines
Winemaster Jancis Robinson in Vines, Grapes & Wines wrote that California Pinot Noir "often has an unnerving suggestion of overboiled cabbage about it." For sure, the Durell Vineyard is not cabbage country.
Credits—Marie and Jed Steele provided much of the information about Durell.
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