Newsletter and Tasting Notes
We hope this newsletter finds you and your loved ones happy and well. Thank you sharing your lives with us through your calls, emails, photos and personal visits. This year we found ourselves with many milestones to celebrate. In March I (Denise) celebrated my 50th birthday and marked the occasion by hiking to the summit of Mt. St. Helena. The views are said to be so expansive that you can see the distant ocean from its peak. By the time we had climbed the five miles to the summit, we had hiked right into the thickest fog imaginable. Nonetheless, it was an amazing way to mark the occasion. In May, Kirk also celebrated his 50th birthday and we rang in that day by enjoying a long hike on the Monterey Peninsula followed by an exhilarating whale watching trip on the Monterey Bay. With flat seas, brilliant sun and in the company of frolicking Gray whales with hundreds of dolphins this occasion was also duly marked. In June, we celebrated 25 years together on the majestic shores of Lake Tahoe. As we reminisced over the years, we said what we have always said to one another, “We are blessed with a beautiful life together.”
This fall we are releasing our 15th vintage of WesMar. Although it seems like we are far too young to have worked this long at WesMar, no matter how many times we do the math, it is true that we have worked with wine for the majority of our working lives. The fact that it has been such a labor of love, is the only reason that we have continued to embrace the hard work and dedication required. Okay, the complimentary wine does not hurt either!
After winter dormancy the vineyard awoke in early spring. We witnessed vigorous growth throughout spring and into early summer. The vine trunks grew to a hearty diameter. The vine canes shot skyward towering over us as we walked each row. After careful consideration we made the difficult decision to forgo a small crop this year. In order to promote vine health and growth, we decided to remove all of the juvenile grape clusters except for one row of each clone. This will allow us to harvest about fifty vines of the Pommard and Martini clones and garner a sneak peak into next years first harvest.
2014 Vintage Retrospect
After years of drought conditions, coupled with a very heavy crop in 2012 and a robust crop in 2013 we really did not know what to expect from the 2014 crop. The 2014 growing season began with moderate temperatures and minimal rainfall. In April and May the weather was warm and dry which led to an even flowering set. Moderate conditions throughout June and July ushered along an even and well developed crop. August brought moderately cool weather and typical Sonoma Coast fog patterns which slowed fruit maturity and allowed the grapes to ripen at an optimal pace. This methodical ripening allowed the grapes to be picked with less sugar since they arrived at physiological maturity earlier in the season. In the end, every vineyard was harvested in the range of 23 to 23.9 brix, with a moderate crop size of superb quality.
The 2014 vintage Pinot Noirs are so expressive even at this young age. Our tastings have shown some of the most balanced wines with which we have worked in quite a number of vintages, perhaps dating back to the 2007 vintage. Most vintages settle in over time allowing individual components to come together in a balanced fashion, but this year Mother Nature delivered these components in complimentary proportions from the start. The fruit is elegantly feminine by nature but robust in strength, offering flavors that just hang on the palate seemingly without end. The sufficiently strong fruit tannins marry with the bright acidity showcasing the wines, without overpowering the experience. The oak essence lies just outside the tasters periphery. The harmony of elements within these wines indicates to us that they will age wonderfully due to ample fruit strength, coupled with low ph’s and low alcohol levels.
As tasted August of 2016. These wines were bottled unfined and unfiltered
The 2014 vintage is comprised of four vineyard designated Pinot Noirs and two appellation Pinot Noirs.
2014 Pinot Noir, Sonoma Coast, Hellenthal
Every vintage we struggle to describe the Hellenthal Pinot Noir. Sure, most years it is the richest fruit with which we work, but we find ourselves asking: what is its predominate fruit makeup, why is the nose so shy in its early development, do those background flavors come from the earthy or mineral side, why are some of the clusters large berried and others tiny berried. After conferring with the Hellenthals, we can honestly tell you it is still a mystery. What we do know is that the vineyard is planted to three different clones, two whose profile should be dark fruits and one that should be lighter red fruits. These inter-planted clones create a wonderful mélange of flavors that challenge traditional tasting notes. The 2014 Hellenthal is just such a bottling, displaying a vibrantly sweet yet elusive nose. On the palate dark berries lead with more subtle red fruits trailing, offering an intense concentration of flavors. There are notable fruit tannins that add structure and definition. The complex flavors offer a depth of layers and the staying power to persist on the palate seemingly forever. As we recently acknowledged to each other, the best Hellenthal vintages have another gear that most wines do not posses. Welcome to a Grand Cru bottling.
2014 Pinot Noir, Russian River Valley, Salzgeber Vineyard
The Salzgeber vineyard located very near the Russian River is true to its appellation. The Salzgeber offers one the most varietally accurate expressions of Russian River Pinot Noir. It has aromas of red fruits and a touch of minerality. In the glass one discovers red cherry and red plum flavors, balanced with the typical Salzgeber drying fruit tannins that add a texture to the experience, finishing with notes of tea, cinnamon and vanilla.
2014 Pinot Noir, Russian River Valley, Balletto Vineyard
As is typical of the Balletto vineyard, some years more than others, this vintage has an initial nose of light white pepper with dark fruits lingering behind. On the palate can be found a mouthwatering entry of blueberries, secondary flavors of black plum and a velvety texture. The hints of white pepper that are found in the nose morph into spiciness on the palate. This full bodied finish is so long it stains the palate.
2014 Pinot Noir, Russian River Valley, Oehlman Vineyard
Due to its lower alcohol this vintage of Oehlman is showing its more traditional self, offering a nose of orange rind, tea leaves and honeysuckle. Luscious flavors of sweet Orange/Cranberry fruits with an almost candied nature exist within a framework of soft tannins with a subtle oak impression, lingering long on the palate. The Oehlman’s lighter fruit profile and feminine nature couple with wonderful mouthfeel and balance to create a harmonious experience.
2014 Pinot Noir, Russian River Valley
The Russian River Valley offers a multitude of aromas ranging from light to darker red fruits through to floral notes and baking spices. This wonderful blend showcases many of the fruits of its origin offering the beautiful Oehlman entry with its sharply focused flavors and interest, followed by the boldness of the Balletto fruit, accentuated by the fruit tannins of the Salzgeber. A truly rich and rewarding experience that shows off the best that the vintage has to offer.
2014 Pinot Noir, Sonoma Coast
Aromas of dark berries and sandalwood. This weighty Pinot Noir is an exotic blend of red and dark stone fruits. A sip reveals a blend of Hellenthal and Balletto that fills the mouth and continues delivering highly concentrated and addicting fruit flavors, with moderate fruit tannins in the foreground leading to an extremely fulfilling long finish.
2014 Chardonnay, Russian River Valley
This Russian River Chardonnay is made in typical WesMar style with a light hand. It is aged in 25% new french oak and 75% neutral french oak and of course bottled unfined and unfiltered. On the nose you will find lemon aromas coupled with a nutty essence. On the palate of this lean and crisp Chardonnay are flavors of Lemon Custard and Pippin Apple leading to a mid palate creaminess. There is wonderful viscosity to the mouthfeel with slight minerality mid palate, nice acidity, moderate structure with a lasting finish.
Reflections of Aged WesMars
After having limited access to our WesMar library wines for nearly a decade, have we made up for lost time. Over two nights we opened fourteen bottles dating back to our first commercial vintage in 2000. We really did not know what to expect. We have always suggested that our Pinot Noirs would age from four to seven years depending on the vineyard, the vintage, the storage etc, but what would we find when we opened WesMar Pinot Noirs from fourteen and fifteen years ago? We found a wealth of education in wines that had aged beautifully. All of these wines were still offering a vivid experience even at their advanced ages. Each bottle tasted offered a differing elemental combination of an aged wine. By comparing vineyards and vintages side by side we were able to look back over our harvest notes to help differentiate between wine making decisions and vintage attributes. As you know grapes harvested with lower brix will produce a wine with lower alcohol. What surprised us was the impact of the percent of alcohol on a wine’s longevity. Of course alcohol is only one component contributing or detracting from a wine’s potential ageability, with pH being another. So, grapes picked with lower brix will also have a lower pH. These two elements more than any others in a wine contribute to its aging potential. We discovered that some of our more bold noteworthy Pinot Noirs which had been picked with slightly higher brix that had come out of the gate with really rich and concentrated fruit had taken on a more refined and less fresh character, while others with less alcohol that had seemed more diminutive in stature upon release, had held together extremely well offering a more balanced experience at this stage. This latter group may not necessarily improve with additional age, but they are likely to maintain their plateau for years to come. The truth of the matter is, for long term aging, lower alcohols and lower pH’s produce a wine that has more longevity than its bigger, bolder siblings.
WesMar from your Perspective
Hi Kirk & Denise,
Just wanted to let you know that I had two nice bottles of wine for my birthday at Rivoli Restaurant last night. The 1997 Productori de Barbaresco Ovello was as good as expected, but your 2002 Oehlman Pinot Noir stole the show! It was showing incredible balance & seamless texture; the fruit was fresh & alive, with a nice combination of earth & acidity. I’m confident that it has at least 3-5 more years at this peak. Congratulations, you guys hit it out of the park! Thanks for adding to a great B-day dinner. Carl, Oakland, CA
2014 Magnums (1.5 liters) and Jeroboams (3 liters)
In the spirit of commemorating our 15th vintage we bottled extra magnums and some Jeroboams. Magnums are great for celebrations, gifts, large parties or as is frequently the case in our house, one of us suffering from consumption competition defeat. Jeroboams on the other hand are twice the size of a magnum. To that I will add, of course size matters, no one wants a small glass of wine! Or, if you simply insist on besting, the Jeroboam is for you.
- In appreciation of your patronage we are offering Free Ground Shipping for purchases of 24 bottles or more.
- To place your order please visit our website at http://www.wesmarwinery.com, or return the enclosed order form via mail, pdf file or fax to (707)829-8886. Please feel free to call with any questions or to place an order over the phone, we would love to catch up with you personally (707)829-8824.
You will receive an email prior to your shipment.
- If you would like to pick up your wine, please mark pick up on your order form. Details and directions to follow.
Visiting WesMar Winery
We welcome you to visit and taste with us at the winery. We always enjoy
meeting new guests and getting caught up on the lives of those returning to see us. Please call ahead so that we can schedule your appointment to best suit your availability. We look forward to seeing you in the near future.
We want to thank you for the opportunity to present our wines to you. We are very pleased with the 2014 vintage wines and know they will please your palate as well.
Sincerely, Kirk “Wesley” and Denise “Mary”