2009 Farina Vineyard Chardonnay
Chardonnay • Farina Vineyard
California: Sonoma Mountain
What we say
SUPERIOR WINE / QPR ALERT:
Today’s 92-point (Wine Spectator) wine comes from a vineyard that neighbors those that produce $100 Chardonnays. Is today’s wine grossly under priced? Regardless, we do believe that today’s wine does represent a terrific value, easily earning it this QPR (Quality to Price Ratio) Alert.
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Mission Codename: Nobody can be exactly me
Operative: Agent Red
Objective: Infiltrate Tallulah Wines, a winery that was founded by our old friend, winemaker, Mike Drash. Sample his wines and select the perfect Springtime treat for our thirsty Operatives.
Mission Status: Accomplished!
Current Winery: Tallulah Wines
Wine Subject: 2009 Chardonnay – Farina Vineyard – Sonoma Mountain
Winemaker: Mike Drash
Backgrounder: Chardonnay is arguably the greatest of all white grape varietals, showing its influence in the legendary sparkling wines of Champagne, the great whites of Burgundy and of course its expression as ‘the’ white wine of California. Chardonnay represents over 50% of the planted white grapes in California with nearly 100,000 acres planted. With such a great number of wines made from this grape, it stands to reason that finding wines of great quality would be hard, but look no further. In this wine, we have a truly original – and delicious – expression of California Chardonnay.
Regional Backgrounder: The Sonoma mountain AVA was shaped by ancient volcanic activity. The mountain, which consists of obsidian, marine deposits and ash, rises high above the Sonoma Valley. Vineyards on Sonoma Mountain benefit from being above the fog line. This allows for even, slow ripening – resulting in complex character.
Wine Spies Tasting Profile:
Look – Dark yellow hues, with perfectly even concentration of color, from edge to core. A fine ring of white gold encircles the wine at the edge of the glass. After swirling, tall tears begin high up on the glass, thinning as they streak downward.
Smell – Balanced sweet, softly spiced, floral and woody, this wine exudes lemon zest, green apple, toasted oak, vanilla, dried white flower petals and pineapple.
Feel – Round and smooth on entry. As the wine passes the mid-palate it takes on a softly complex, grippy feel that gradually spreads throughout the entire mouth.
Taste – Rich, bold and complex, leading with bright citrus and pineapple. These fruits are followed by dried flowers, slate mineral, orange peel, green melon and soft white spice. A hint of sweetness at the end persists long into the bold finish.
Finish – Very long and packed with flavorful, this wine shows bold flavors or fruit, oak and subtle spice. As the primary flavors fade, a touch of sweetness seem to increase.
Conclusion – This is one bold and delicious Chardonnay, from a vineyard that neighbors vineyards where $100 Chardonnay’s are born. Winemaker, Mike Drash, cleverly conducted his own infiltration to secure the fruit for today’s wine. His 2009 Tallaluah Chardonay – Farina Vineyard is a big, robust wine that lovers of complex Chardonnay will fall in love with. This fun wine is a wonderful wine to sip and discuss, calling out an endless stream of flavors and aromas. As the wine warms, it opens up, softening slightly as it brings forth even more character. Pair with a broiled, spice-rubbed chicken or zesty BBQ ribs.
WINEMAKER INTEL BRIEFING DOSSIER
SUBJECT: Mike Drash
WINE EDUCATION: School of hard knocks. I have a degree in Anthropology/Sociology with a Minor in Media and Theatre, go figure!
CALIFORNIA WINE JOB BRIEF: I’ve been making wine for 20 years in Sonoma and Napa. 3 years ago I left my day job to focus on my own wines named after my daughter, Tallulah.
WINEMAKING PHILOSOPHY: I make wine from sustainably farmed vineyards with minimal intervention in the cellar.
WINEMAKER QUOTE: ”Like bull riding, you are never fully ready…it’s just your turn. If you a passion for something, go for it!”
FIRST COMMERCIAL WINE RELEASE: (DATE) 2006
AGENT RED: Greetings, Mike. We are thrilled to be showing your *2009 Tallulah Chardonnay today. Thanks so much for taking some time to answer questions for our Operatives today.
MIKE DRASH: No problem, looking forward to answering some questions!
RED: Was there a specific experience in your life that inspired your love of wine?
MIKE: It was a 1987 Jordan Cabernet Sauvignon that I had in Memphis in 1992. It was the first wine that made me realize what a great wine could taste like. Ironically, I ended up working for them in 1996.
RED: What wine or winemaker has most influenced your winemaking style?
MIKE: Probably Abe Schoener at Luna. He completely thinks outside the box and brought a lot of ideas I still use today. He makes his own wine, Scholium Project, now.
RED: Who do you make wine for?
MIKE: I make wines from exquisite vineyard sites. Whether it is a Syrah, Cab, or Chardonnay vineyard it has to have something unique about it. From there I try to sculpt the wine from what the vineyard gives me. I don’t filter or fine my wines to help protect the character of the vineyard.
RED: Please tell me a little bit about the wine we are featuring today.
MIKE: The 2009 Farina Chardonnay is one of those big time “WOW” sites. Situated at 800 ft elevation on Sonoma Mountain in almost pure rock, the vines are late to ripen. It is the Wente Clone which I love. The fruit comes in with Natural high acidity so I put it through partial ML to soften the acid a bit. It spent 18 months in French Oak barrels from Burgundy to help flesh out the mid palate. The wine will age for 5 to 7 years. Oh yeah and the Wine Spectator gave it 92 points last week!
RED: What is your favorite pairing with today’s wine?
MIKE: Linguine and clams, without a doubt. I actually had it last night. My wife makes the best linguine and clams around and the wine really stands up nicely to it.
RED: In your opinion, what makes the Farina Vineyard such a special place for Chardonnay?
MIKE: Location, Location, Location. On one side of the vineyard is the Dinner Vineyard (Paul Hobbs) and the other is Pickberry (Ravenswood), Kistler’s McCrea Vineyard is around the corner, as well. Super site for Chardonnay.
RED: What is occupying your time at the winery these days?
MIKE: The wines from 2011 are just finishing up ML so we will be racking the wines this month and making in barrel tweaks we need. We’ve got a little bottling coming up so we are finalizing some blends.
RED: How would you recommend people approach your wines and wine in general?
MIKE: My wines are site specific so people should expect the wines to be unique from vineyard to vineyard. I make 2 Napa Cabs from 2009 and they are both great in their own ways. The common thread with my wines is personality. I try to not get in the way of the vineyard and final wine.
RED: Is there anything else you’d like to share with our readers?
MIKE: If you are ever in the Napa Valley be sure to give us a call, tweet, or e-mail and I’ll be sure to show you around. Thanks!
RED: Thank you so much for your time. We learned a lot about you – and your wine. Keep up the great work, we are big fans!
What the winery says
92 Points – Wine Spectator Magazine
About This Wine:
We are proud to announce the release of our first ever Chardonnay. An A+ vineyard from a tiny parcel of land on Sonoma Mountain named Farina. The farmer Joe Votek is the same farmer for our Bald Mountain Syrah vineyard. It was picked the first week of October and fermented in barrel for 3 months. It was aged in the same barrels for 18 months before bottling in April 2010. 40% new oak from Burgundy was used on this stunning wine. 639 cases were created.
About The Winery:
Our focus is the small-lot production of vineyard-designated Syrah, Grenache, Mourvèdre, and Sauvignon Blanc, from Northern California and Oregon. We believe our carefully selected vineyards and artisanal winemaking create wines of superb quality.
Mike Drash comes from a Southern Family with deep roots in farming and religion. Several generations of farmers and ministers make a large part of his family tree. Raised in Memphis, TN just north of the family farm in Como, Mississippi, you could count on 2 things: Church on Sunday and fresh farm raised meals on the table afterwards. Mike always had a yearning for the outdoors and the good life. After graduation from a small college in Memphis, the urge to travel took over and he found himself in the Florida Keys for 15 months where he found his love for wine and food.
With the encouragement of a good friend he moved to California and landed at DeLoach Vineyards as a cellar rat. The occasional chance to drive a tractor was the highlight of a burgeoning career as a winemaker. After a brief stint at Jordan Sparkling Wine, he was named Assistant Winemaker at the prestigious winery, Far Niente.
In 2003 the opportunity to head up the winemaking operations at Luna Vineyards arose. Following in the footsteps of John Kongsgaard, he embraced a minimalist style of winemaking. Coaxing the smallest detail from the vineyard and a hands-off style in the cellar, Luna’s red wines began to get the attention of the world’s most demanding critics.
In 2009 the chance to purchase the Tallulah Wines label was too good to pass up. So in November 2009 Mike left his post at Luna and began his focus on Tallulah Wines, which happened to be his daughter’s first name. Tallulah Bankhead is a distant cousin on his mother’s side, as well. Tallulah focuses on single vineyard wines from sustainable and organic vineyards and there is no fining or filtering of the wines. With the first release of his wines from the 2009 vintage slated for later in 2011, the future looks promising for Tallulah Wines.
Region: Sonoma Mountain
Vineyard: Farina Vineyard