Rooting For Carneros
I keep rooting for Carneros. I can’t help it.
Over the years it got bad raps from critics, has experienced an identity crisis, seemed to be at the top of the Pinot heap before being overtaken by other regions and has to dance between between being both Sonoman and Napan. Those are some big chips to carry around on your shoulders.
But have you tasted the wines?
Check out this list:
Saintsbury, Schug, Etude, Acacia, Donum Estate, Sangiacomo, Hudson, Durell, Hyde, Ceja, Pats & Hall, Talisman, Ancien,
There are some pretty devoted folks, esteemed wineries and hallowed ground associated with this appellation that suggests we ought to pay perhaps more attention than we tend to.
The folks in Carneros think this is the case too and they are taking their case to the trade in the form of the upcoming Pinot Plus Trade Auction that the Carneros Wine Alliance is putting on. It’s a beauty show that is likely to pull out all the stops. Napa Valley does the same sort of thing with it’s "Premier Auction" happening this weekend. It’s a chance for the Carneros producers to pull put on their game face and remind folks why they were among the first appellations to be noted for true, terroir-based quality.
I’ve been lucky enough to work with two establishment Carneros wineries; the type that helped define the appellation early one and continue to demonstrate its enormous potential and it’s place as one of the top sources for great California wine: Saintsbury and Schug. Both are Carneros Icons. Both have folks at the helm who have zero faith in the appellation, but rather experience to back up their contention that the region is where great grapes are grown.
I’m looking forward to Pinot Plus. Not just because it’s a chance to taste through a number of the region’s Pinots, but because I’m going to taste through the other wines that the region seems to have found great success with: Syrah and Merlot. Carneros is a hugely varied appellation with micro climates abounding over each hill. There are spots that deliver varying degrees of warmth and others that are bone chilling and wind swept.
I guess what I’m rooting for is that Carneros take on a separate identity from Napa Valley and Sonoma. I want to see it understood as a source of unique wines (particularly the vineyard designated sort). Part of this desire must relate to the associations I’ve had with some in Carneros and with it being pretty close to my back yard.