I t was a great night of food and wine as Calvert’s presented their monthly wine dinner, this month featuring Failla Wines. Matt Naumann, assistant winemaker at Failla was the evening’s presenter, telling about the 2 Chardonnays and 3 Pinot Noirs that was served over four courses.
Failla, pronounced FAY-la, is a small winery located in St. Helena, California, founded by the husband-and-wife team of winemaker Ehren Jordan and “fellow debtor” Anne-Marie Failla. They originally called the winery Failla Jordan but a conflict with the Jordan Winery resulted in the shorter name (There is also a South African winery named Jordan that uses a different brand name in the US). Failla, according to their website, is a name from “the Italian island of Sicily, a melting pot of southern Europeans, so it’s often mistaken for Spanish or French heritage.”
Matt Naumann is assistant winemaker at Failla wines, having been there for last 4 years. But roles are limited to just making wine. “I’ve been Ehren Jordan’s right hand man for just about any and all things. Winemaker, sales, marketing, you name it.”
Naumann praises Ehren Jordan as the ultimate general manager as he involved in every detail from the being salesman, winemaker, vineyard manager and grower. “We have our hands involved in everything we do. We are a small scale production winery that produces very terroir, very site specific style wines. All varietal, all single vineyard wines.”
He added that their grapes are 20% estate grown while the 80% are purchased. They produce Chardonnay, Pinot Noir and tiny amounts of Viogner and Syrah.
When asked how consistent there wines are from year to year he said, “Hopefully in our opinion they are not consistent. That’s the model fo the winery. Each vintage and each vineyard counts as a place in time. That’s the whole philosphy behind the winery. The Hirsch vineyard in 2009 was very expressive, very aromatic, very fruit forward but had a lot of acid. With other vintages the acid wasnt’ as present but it had a lot of fruit. To me that’s the allure of wine and what makes wine very individual and unique.”
And what does he think about their current release (2009)? “I think our Sonoma Coast wines are very honest representations of what Sonama Coast Pinot Noirs are all about. They overachieve the value. The quality and the sources have great cachet, great reputations. There is minimal new oak, very nice acid, very fresh, very clean, emblematic about what Failla is all about.”
[quote type=”center”]I think our Sonoma Coast wines are very honest representations of what Sonama Coast Pinot Noirs are all about [/quote]
When asked to pick a favorite he couldn’t pick one. “The Hirsh Vineyard 2009 is one of the most special wines we’ve ever made. Very ethereal,lots of acid, lots of freshness. One of those wines you hope to make every 5 years. But one of the most special wines to me is the estate Syrah. Ehren was on the cutting edge when he planted that vineyard. Everyone at the winery looks forward to that wine each year.”
With only 120 cases produced I doubt finding the Syrah outside of the winery impossible.
Of the two chardonnays served, the Keefer Ranch, paired with the Shrimp Remoulade, was full bodied and the right balance of fruit and acid. One guest, Angie, agreed saying this wine has nice oaky Chardonnay with a little fruit that and matched very well with the spicy foods. One taster, Connie, said she is a “white wine girl” and gave it a big thumbs up.
Of the last two wines, the Hirsh Vineyard Pinot Noir and the Occidental Pinot Noir of the evening seemed to please many of the guests. Angie said she thinks the Occidental will be her favorite of the evening.
Naumann has pointed out that the Hirsch Vineyard Pinot Noir was presented in large glasses that helped enhance the aromas saying reinterating what he said earlier about this vintage being so aromatic.
This taster found the Sonoma Coast Pinot Noir, which is the closest thing to a blend they have… it’s a blend of the Sonoma Coast Vineyards, to be very drinkable right now. It isn’t as fruit forward but if you like a less acidic wine this one is excellent. The higher acid in the other two Pinot Noirs is exciting as those wines will only get better with age. They are wines that you can store and look forward to. (Provided you are lucky enough to purchase some!)
Where: Calvert’s Restaurant, 475 Highland Ave., Augusta, GA 30909 (706) 738-4514
When: Thursday, Sept. 29, 2011.
Cost: $65pp including tax and tip.
Here is the evening’s menu:
Sarao Cava Brut (Spain) Paired with: Light hors d’oeuvres.
Tasting Notes: Made with the traditional varietals of Xarel-lo, Parellada, Macabeo and a touch of Chardonnay, this party fresh bubbly spends 12-15 months on its own yeast before disgorgement. Nicely delineated notes of fresh bread dough, apricot, Granny Smith apples and wet stone are ever-apparent here.–From K&L web site
Winery: Josep Masachs
Course 1 Failla Sonoma Coast Chardonnay 2010
Paired with: Chicken & Sausage Gumbo YaYa Tasting Notes: This wine is privileged to be the first release treated to the concrete-egg, used as a fermentation and Žlevage vessel for 20% of the overall blend. The remainder fermented and aged sur lie for 10 months in French oak, only 15% new and barely perceptible in the flinty nose balanced with tropical scents of jasmine, honey, Meyer lemon and pineapple. In concert with the textural contributions of the concrete-fermented lots, malolactic fermentation provides a round, glycerin mouthfeel that can hold its own in the presence of crisp mouth-watering acidity. 900 cases were made.–From their web site
Course 2 Failla Russian River Chardonnay Keefer Ranch 2009
Paired with: Shrimp Remoulade w/ Peperonata over a bed of fresh greens & poached pears Tasting Notes: 2009’s iconic warm, summer California temps were a welcome follow-up to the crippling frosts of 2008. Textbook growing conditions allowed the fruit to develop Keefer’s classic Chablis-like profile of minerally acidity. Whole-cluster pressed directly into 1/3 new French oak barrels, the ’09 offers diverse aromatics of almonds, wet stones, green apple, honeysuckle and panna cotta as a lead-in to the round, textured mouthfeel balanced by a long crisp finish. 375 cases made.–From their web site
Course 3 Failla Sonoma Coast Pinot Noir 2010
Paired with: Blackened Crayfish Stuffed Flounder w/ Creole Lobster Sauce Tasting Notes: 1,500 cases.
Course 4 Failla Sonoma Coast Hirsch Vineyard Pinot Noir 2009 and Failla Sonoma Coast Occidental Vineyard Pinot Noir 2009
Paired with: Porducken & Autumn Hash w/ Rosemary/Peach Butter Sauce Tastings Notes: (Hirsh Vineyard) 2009 was a picture perfect year for this vineyard. The Pommard block, typically the core of our Hirsch bottling, is a hillside planting with multiple exposures that provides tones of cola, boysenberry, white pepper, and pencil lead on the nose and a spine of laser acidity. The second component of the final blend comes from a block of Mt. Eden clone, a breath-taking parcel with direct views of the Pacific. Classic Hirsch elegance is on full display as Mt. Eden’s remarkable feminine quality of an ethereal, lacy mouthfeel compliments the deeper firmer tannins of the Pommard clone. Expect this to be the longest-lived Hirsch at about 10-12 years of cellaring. 390 cases. Occidental Vineyard: This northwest facing vineyard perched above the town of Occidental produces pinot noir black in color with structure and acidity. 2009 was stamped by Occidental’s trademark nose of baking spice, sous-bois, and concentrated fruit for a very sexy first impression. Despite this wine’s brooding color and earthy introduction, there is no need to decant it first as the natural acidity and tannins are already well-integrated and firm. Enjoy its evolution over the next 10-12 years. 240 cases.–From their web site
The Last Bite
Coffee with Bread Pudding w/ Bourbon Sauce & Cherry Brownie w/ Pinot Noir Caramel Sauce