Rather than planting the seeds of grapes to create a new vineyard, vine cuttings are chosen from existing vines. This ensures that the new vineyard will contain exact clones of the mother vine, i.e. Pinot Noir will be Pinot Noir, Chardonnay will be Chardonnay, etc. If a grape seed is planted, you may get the vine that you intended to plant or, depending on which vines wind-pollinated which other vines, you may get something completely new.
Vines may also be purposely cross-pollinated to harness particular traits from parent vines to create a new vine that combines the qualities of both. Such is the case of Müller-Thurgau, a grape whose reputation is perhaps based more on the difficulty of pronouncing its name rather than any wine made from it.
Müller did not exist in nature prior to the late 19th century. Named for its creator, Dr. Hermann Müller of the Canton of Thurgau, Switzerland, it can trace its lineage to Riesling, the noble grape of Germany, and Madeleine Royale, known for ripening extremely early and producing high yields. Overall, Müller maintains some of the aromatic qualities of Riesling and it does ripen much earlier (it's usually one of the first grapes we harvest at Montinore) and produce higher yields, but it's never really been seen as anything to age for an extended period. However, when the wine has been created with all the potential for proper aging, what happens after a few years?
The 1999 Late Harvest Müller-Thurgau: made in the ice wine style (the juice was partially frozen after harvest to concentrate the sugar and flavor), pushing the sugar content into dessert wine territory. Honey and apple juice dominate the nose on this one, followed by a faint wisp of petroleum (owing to its Riesling parentage). The acidity is very mellow, with layered flavors of apricot compote, lemon peel, and red apple skin. A good amount of sweetness lingers on the finish.
Despite being 15 years old, this Müller still has lots of life left in it. And good news for all: we're immediately re-releasing a few cases of it so you can try an aged Müller for yourself. If you're a fan of the Frolic dessert wine (which has been sold out for quite some time), you'll want to head to the tasting room for a bottle of this.
We've officially transitioned into summer (although you wouldn't necessarily know it by the weather in the Valley today, but we all know summer starts on July 5th anyway), and what would summer be without Riesling? It's an extremely versatile white, running the gamut from bone-dry to syrupy sweet and can always be kept in balance due to its naturally high, tongue-searing acidity (which is generally why Rieslings have at least a little residual sugar: to balance the acidity).
This acidity also gives Riesling incredible longevity; for successful aging potential, wine requires at least one of three components: acidity, tannin, sugar content. Red wines have tannin from skin and oak contact and good acidity, and while Riesling rarely sees time in barrels, the incredibly high acidity and sugar more than compensate. So, what happens when a Riesling has a few years under its belt?
We turn to our wine of the day, a 1998 White Riesling. This was made in an off-dry style with about two percent residual sugar, making it a perfect accompaniment to spicier fare on its initial release. While young Riesling has a characteristic crispness and very fruit-forward notes, this amber-colored older-vintage has aromatics of honey, dried apricot, Portobello mushroom, and the signature whiff of petroleum that older Rieslings develop. A light floral note and roasted hazelnuts round out the palate, and the bright acidity still remains.
The White Riesling was an early incarnation of our Almost Dry Riesling, and our current release, the 2012, is at a great point in its life right now, still retaining flavors of crisp nectarine, orange zest, and jasmine but just starting to develop the slightest note of petrol. Cheers to another Summer of Riesling!
Parsons' Ridge: the name comes from a family that originally settled the area around Montinore in the 1840s. It's one of the original vineyards planted on the property in 1982 and one of the first selected to isolate its particular qualities as a single block wine. The combination of the unique clonal selection of Pinot Noir (a blend of Pommard, one of the most popular clones planted in the Willamette Valley, and a clonal selection that we obtained from Windhill Vineyard) and the deep, loamy Laurelwood soil provide Parsons' Ridge with its structure and flavor profile, which isn't found anywhere else on the estate.
Flipping the calendar back, we opened the Y2K edition of Parsons' today, its third vintage as a single block and the 18th year of the vines' existence. While 2000 was a challenging vintage while the grapes were on the vine, it did produce some concentrated, age-worthy wines, and this wine has the structure to reinforce that belief.
The primary fruit characteristics of a younger Parsons' have faded, leading into secondary and tertiary notes of overturned soil, leather, and dried tarragon. Some red and dark fruits remain on the palate though, with a distinct flavor of red apple skin. The finish lingers with supple tannins and the slightest hint of basil.
While few bottles of this vintage remain even at the winery, the most recent vintage of Parsons' Ridge, 2010, can still be had. Bursting with youthful Morello cherry and an herbaceous streak of marjoram and bay leaf, it's still one of the best examples of the expression of the majestic terroir of Montinore's wines.
We're going old school on Thursdays, shining light on the forgotten corners of our cellar and studying a bit of history. Sometimes we'll find stars, sometimes duds, but it'll always be an adventure.
Did you know that Montinore used to make sparkling wine? For those first few vintages of production, we tried a few different experiments to find our niche. Deep within the cellar, we dug up this gem: a 1988 Blanc de Noir Sparkling Wine.
Blanc de Noir literally translates as "White of Black," i.e. a white wine made from grapes that are traditionally used to make red wine. With very gentle handling and minimal-to-nonexistent skin contact, the juice won't absorb any color from the skins, thereby allowing you to make white wine (over 99% of all grapes used for wine production have clear juice; extended skin contact gives wine its color). "Méthode Champenoise" means that this sparkling wine was produced by the same technique used in Champagne: a bit of sweet wine and yeast is added to the bottle before sealing, allowing the wine to re-ferment in the bottle. The carbon dioxide produced by fermentation is trapped and creates the characteristic bubbles when the bottle opens.
How does sparkling wine hold up after 26 years? In this particular instance, as admirably as could be expected. The slightest effervescence remained, providing a light tingle on the tongue. The overriding aroma and flavor notes included honey, apple, and citrus. Past its prime, yes, but a nice gateway into history.
Even though it's been a very long time since we've made any sparkling wine, the "blanc de noir" spirit lives on in our 2011 White Pinot Noir, a wine made by the same method, albeit still rather than sparkling. Head out to the tasting room for a sample of this unique, limited-production wine, and grab a bottle before the vintage is gone.
This week we are all about Riesling and the amazing versitility that this grape offers. But this also can lead to confusion and sometimes result in people overlooking the varietal as a whole.
Here are our 4 wines with Riesling components place on the International Riesling Scale - a international method used to compare the perceived sweetness of Riesling, using the Acid, pH and Residual sugar in the finished wine. And to break down some basic Riesling food pairings, we have used the same scale to show traditional foods for each section of wine.