When I first met Thea, the Luscious Lush, she raved and raved about Russian River Valley Pinot Noir. I remember telling her “I’m not that big a fan of Pinot Noir.” She promptly pronounced it as “Blasphemy!”
My non-penchant for Pinot might well have been because I’m also not a big fan of mushrooms and truffles. In fact, the only kind of truffles I liked came in a gold box with “Godiva” printed on top. And I suppose a great deal of my avoidance was due to the movie “Sideways.” While all the rest of the world was running from Merlot to Pinot Noir, I was drinking Cabernet Sauvignon, Malbec, Tempranillo and Sangiovese, with a side of Zinfandel and Syrah.
If something is “the thing you must have” then I’m usually the last to buy it, or see it in the theatre, or read it. Which is why I’ve still yet to see “The English Patient,” “The Davinci Code” or “Pretty Woman.” I prefer to discover things, like Alanis Morisette when “You Oughta Know” was only played after 10 p.m. on college radio and before it became the rock anthem of spurned girlfriends.
And that’s why I love small, artisan wine companies – those just waiting to be discovered outside of California Wine Country. And that’s why I was excited when Olson Ogden contacted us to see if we would, perhaps, like to taste their wines.
Olson Ogden describes themselves as a small, artisan wine company located in the Russian River Valley of Sonoma County that specializes in small production, handcrafted wines. Their focus is on Pinot Noir and Rhone varietals, with an emphasis on vineyard designated Syrahs. And, as advertised, their Syrahs are truly marvelous. We enjoyed all that we tasted, but wanted to highlight both a Syrah and a Pinot Noir for you. (Because, yes Thea, I have learned that I do, indeed, love Pinot Noir!)
Olson Ogden 2007 Stagecoach Vineyard Napa Syrah
Bottled in March and released in June of this year, this beautiful small lot (140 cases) 100% Syrah is opaque, an inky purple with gorgeous ripe fruit. Joe noticed blueberries, blackberries and rich baking spices on the nose, reminding him of a succulent pie. Once in the mouth, we tasted more of the blackberry and blueberry flavors combined with brown sugar and cloves, with a nice toasty oak on a finish that ended in gobs of fruit, spice, vanilla and velvety tannins. Truly an awesome Syrah!
The Stagecoach Vineyard where the grapes were sourced, sits on the southern face of Napa’s Pritchard Hill at an elevation ranging from 900 to 1700 feet above sea level. Carved out of the boulders created from the volcanic flow of Mount Saint Helena, Winemaker Tim Olson tells us, are soils or red, orange and brown littered with stones. Priced at $52, this is the crowning jewel of Olson Ogden’s 2007 portfolio.
Just as Thea promised me, this Pinot Noir does not disappoint. Earthy, with bright fruit on the nose as well as soft spices and just a bit of my father’s favorite “physician” Dr. Pepper — this RRV beauty reminded me of walking through the cool of the woods just after passing a fruit grove on a sunny afternoon. This is 100% Pinot Noir sourced from two very different vineyards, says says Tim Olson.
The Eastside Road vineyard is planted on rolling hills on well draining soil, creating a bit of stress so that the vines must work a bit harder to ripen their fruit. In contrast, the Willowside vineyard sits on the valley floor in soils that don’t drain as well as those on the hill – so the key to managing vine stress is water management. Priced at $42, get yours while you can — since only 159 cases were produced.
Olson Ogden is also creating a new offering planned for release in March 2010. Focusing on a larger production for this particular wine, the winery got its fans involved in a naming contest via their Facebook Fan Page. Here were some of the tidbits to help fans create the name:
• The winemakers have taken to calling this wine “The Other One” in an ode to the Grateful Dead. Incidentally, the Grateful Dead has served as the soundtrack for the making of more than one vintage.
• The wife of one of the winemakers is not a fan of The Grateful Dead and hates the name.
• The unnamed wine, currently in barrel, will be a straightforward, easy drinking, and fruit forward, uncomplicated red wine that may be made up of multiple varietals including Syrah, Grenache, Pinot Noir, Merlot and Cabernet.
• The winemakers also considered naming the wine “Nomad” because of the frequency of winery moves (six times in eight vintages). The name was already taken.
• The varietals come from more various winemaking regions throughout Northern California and the Central Coast. It will not be a vineyard designate wine.
• The wine will retail for under $20.
The winning name is still under wraps as the winery goes through the task of getting label approval from the Alcohol Tax and Trade Bureau. As of this writing, their new label isn’t listed, so we can’t scoop our fellow bloggers and tell you what it is! But we’ll keep checking the Olson Ogden blog and Facebook Fan page so we can announce it as soon as it hits the interwebs!
The newest offering will be available by the bottle, in boutique wine shops, by the glass, in fine restaurants nationwide, and to their mailing list customers. We can’t wait to taste it!