It was a festive time for me, to receive all of these wine club selections in the week of my birthday. Even though we pay for all of these clubs, it is just fun to open the packages to see what is there. The last carton was from “A Taste of Monterey,” a club that we joined on our first trip to Carmel-by-the-Sea. Some people go to Pebble Beach, we went to the wine country. We went with their Private Reserve Club, which is three bottles delivered four times a year. At the shop in Monterey at Cannery Row, they have a tasting room, as well as a wine shop. Each delivery they enclose a four-page booklet, usually spotlighting a winery, a discussion about a varietal, a discussion about a cheese and sometimes a recipe, as well as a write-up about the wines that were sent.
Bernardus Winery Chardonnay, Soberanes Vineyard, Santa Lucia Highlands 2019 was the first bottled I pulled out of the carton. Bernardus Winery and Vineyards was founded by Ben Marinus Pon about twenty-seven years ago with the intention of creating premier wines in the Carmel Valley. His intent was to produce single vineyard designated wines and a Bordeaux blended wine. Soberanes Vineyard is a joint venture of two famed growers Gary Pisoni and Gary Franscioni in the Santa Lucia Highlands. This wine is made in the “Burgundian tradition” and it is almost twelve months between harvest and bottling. The wine is aged in French Oak, of which forty-three percent is new. According to the write-up, this wine has a nose of baked apple and crème fraiche, exhibiting white fruit on the palate along with buttery oak notes and a full finish.
Kori Wines Syrah, San Saba Vineyard, Monterey 2018 was the second bottle that I unpacked. This winery is a partnership that started in 2007 between grower Kirk Williams and his step-daughter Kori Violini. The initial launch was their Pinot Noir from the KW Ranch Vineyard. In 2018, they opened up a tasting room in Carmel-by-the-Sea. The San Saba Vineyard is in a sheltered nook just below the Santa Lucia Highlands AVA, and hence the much larger Monterey AVA. The site is known for having little rain, cool and one of the longest growing seasons to produce concentrated and ripe fruit. There are no production notes available, outside of suggesting an aging potential of six to eight years. The tasting notes offer black fruit, plums and baking spice.
Mission Trail Vineyards Cabernet Sauvignon, Carmel Valley 2018 was the third bottle in the carton. Mission Trail Vineyards takes their name from the Mustard plants that can still be found, as the seeds were spread out by the Franciscan Friars around two-hundred-thirty years ago as they planted the original vineyards in the area. Those original vineyards are long gone, but there are plenty of vineyards in Monterey, so those Friars recognized good land back then. In Monterey County there are about forty different varieties of grapes being grown. Ken and Robyn Rauh created Mission Trail Vineyards on the premise of featuring small lots of hand-crafted wines, from different locations throughout the county. Their goal is to produce robust and fruit forward wines featuring Chardonnay, Gewurztraminer, Marsanne, Sauvignon Blanc, Cabernet Franc, Pinot Noir, Merlot, Grenache, Syrah, Zinfandel and a Meritage. There were no production notes available. The wine is described as deep Garnet with a nose of blackberry, cassis and oak. The palate will appreciate first flavors of plum and blackberry that layer into chocolate and cassis, with a finish of terroir and cedar.