There are always gifts in trials. And this is one with unprecedented trials, and unexpected gifts. I miss my students, but am grateful for the extra time with my own children. I miss baseball, and drinks with friends, and browsing stores, but am grateful for the slower pace and virtual reunions. Teaching virtually means a disconnect with my students, but time to participate in some virtual wine tastings and writing, something I basically gave up upon my return to the classroom.
Over the last two weeks, I was able to join three winemakers from Sonoma, two introductions and one reunion. While I had visited Benzinger before, I was not aware of all of their biodynamic initiatives. Each tasting was informative and impressive.
Reared in Colombia, Bibiana Gonzalez Rave chose a label for her wines that honored her home of origin; the wines honor the place which she has chosen to call home, Sonoma County.
We sampled two Alma de Cattleya wines, a 2019 Sauvignon Blanc and a 2019 Rosé of Pinot Noir. Each wine made it easy to see how Rave has earned the accolades “40 Under 40: America’s Tastemakers in Wine Enthusiast and San Francisco Chronicle’s Winemaker of the year in 2015.
The Rosé was mainly sourced from the coast and Carneros, two cooler parts of the county and is from the 115, Pommard, and 777 clones. Hand-picked at night, hand-sorted, gently pressed , then racked, after sitting overnight, to remove the heavy lees. Fermented in neutral French oak barrels for six months, the wine achieves an elegant mouthfeel and fruit reigns. The nose is perfumed fresh strawberries and roses, echoed on the palate, with a long, beautiful finish of mandarin orange. A standout example of the style.
The Sauvignon Blanc is also harvested at night, hand-sorted, and follows the same initial process ending with six months on lees in neutral French oak. This is a vivacious wine with notes of citrus and jasmine. Each wines has a price point around $20. Stunning values for the caliber of wine.
On the label of the Alma de Cattleya wines, you’ll find the national flower of Colombia, the Cattleya. In Spanish, “Alma” means soul. The name, the label are an homage to Rave’s home. Her gentle winemaking allows the fruit to speak of Sonoma. The wines embody the soul of the winemaker, the place, and that which connects those who produce and enjoy these wines.
Next, a look at Lucia wines from Pisoni Family Vineyards.