Wines

Sauvignon Blanc

2016 Russian River Sauvignon Blanc$18
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2016 Sauvignon Blanc, Russian River Valley

In The Vineyard: The Russian River Valley Appellation, with its cooler summer temperatures, is a great area for growing aromatic white wine grapes. A longer ripening period allows slow and complete maturation of flavor compounds in the grape skins. When the vintage is perfect for white grapes, as was 2013, the resulting wines can show intense varietal character.

In The Winery: Sauvignon Blanc, as with other white grapes, profits from being hand harvested. This gentle method, from 40 pound totes to half ton bins, discourages early juicing, which leads to overly oxidized juice and concomitant extraction from skins prior to pressing the grapes. Harvesting is done at night, when even hot summer temperatures can drop below 55 deg Fahrenheit. The nearby Pacific Ocean is our air conditioner.

White grapes are usually destemmed and lightly crushed on their journey to the wine press. Whole cluster pressing is essential for only warm grapes or overly ripe white rapes. Cold juice from the press pan is quickly pumped to waiting tanks, where it is chilled and settled for several days. Then the juice is racked off solids and yeasted.

Yeast choice can have a great influence on white wine character, making more aroma compounds in the juice available during fermentation. A slow, cold ferment at 50 deg Fahrenheit will help preserve these aromas and flavors. Sauvignon Blanc is not barrel aged but bottled quickly after Christmas each year. By April, when Spring is in the air, Sauvignon Blanc is ready to sip and enjoy.

Tasting Notes: Fresh aromas of citrus and boxwood leap from the glass. A bright acidity makes this humble white wine an excellent complement to food, from exotic Thai dishes to cheese and crackers. It’s refreshing on a hot day; even an ice cube won’t diminish its aroma and flavors of grapefruit that fade to honey and jasmine.

   

 

Chardonnay


$20

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2014 Chardonnay, Russian River Valley

In The Vineyard: Block 8 lies at the western end of our Estate, on a gently sloping, southwest facing knoll overlooking our Pinot Pond and the surrounding Russian River Valley. Block 8 is one of the most established blocks on the property. In 2000 clone 17 Chardonnay was planted, on 1103 rootstock, with an east-west row orientation.

The soils in Block 8 are primarily Spreckles loam, with good drainage and low water holding capacity, allowing for deep root penetration. The moderate, Mediterranean climate conditions of the region are ideal for Chardonnay cultivation. Consistent afternoon Pacific breezes blowing over the Russian River Valley are an important factor in maintaining temperatures suitable for growing quality Chardonnay.

The 2014 growing season had the earliest start in over a decade, following a mild, dry winter and spring. Despite its early start, the overall length of the growing season was similar to past years, with an average of 180 days from bud break to harvest. Warm and mild temperatures through bud break and bloom allowed for optimal fruit set, without threat of frost. A mild spring and summer followed with few extended heat surges, allowing clusters to ripen at a strong and steady pace. Steady warm and sunny summer days allowed for increased growing degree day accumulation, causing the vines to produce small and intense berries. Harvest started on August 15th.

In The Winery: Fruit was brought to the winery in the early morning at very low temperatures. After hand sorting, the grapes were destemmed and pressed to barrel for fermentation (100%). The must was inoculated, left sur-lie and allowed to complete malolactic fermentation, with multiple daily stirring in barrel. After transfer to Cadus barrels, 20% new, this wine was aged seven months.

Tasting Notes: Complex aromas of Bosc pear, toast and cream, with subtle aromas of exotic spice. On the palate, it is multi-layered and smooth textured, showing great intensity and flavors of ripe citrus, white peach and kiwi fruit. The finish is long and satisfying, with complex notes of oak, spice and great minerality..

   
2013 Russian River Chardonnay Reserve$33
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2013 Chardonnay Reserve, Russian River Valley

In The Vineyard: Block 8 lies at the western end of our Estate, on a gently sloping, southwest facing knoll
overlooking our Pi not Pond and the surrounding Russian River Valley. Block 8 is one of the oldest, most established blocks on the Estate; during the original Balverne plantings in the late 70s, this hillside was planted to Riesling. We replanted the hillside in 2000 to clone 17 Chardonnay, or the Robert Young clone, on 1103 rootstock, with an east-west row orientation. The soils in Block 8 are primarily Spreckles loam, formed from weathered metavolcanics, with good drainage and low water holding capacity. The roughly 9 inches of loam lie on up to 18 inches of clay loam and another 18 to 37 inches of clay, allowing for deep root penetration. The moderate, Mediterranean climate conditions of the region are ideal for Chardonnay cultivation; our measurements in the block show mean annual air temperature of 55 degrees and mean annual precipitation of 30 inches. Consistent afternoon Pacific breezes blowing over the Russian River Valley are an important factor in maintaining temperatures suitable for growing quality Chardonnay. 2012 was an outstanding vintage both in quality and quantity. Moderate summer temperatures gave way to a cool fall with good rainfall that by and large held off until after harvesr.We saw bud break in Block 8 on March 26, with 100% bloom by May 18 and 100% veraison by July 29'h. The block was hand harvested row by row between August 29 and September 7. Fruit was harvested at an average 24.6 degrees brix.

In The Winery: Fruit was brought to the winery in the early morning at very low temperatures. After hand sorting, the grapes were destemmed and pressed to barrel for fermentation (100%). The must was inoculated with ICY 047 yeast for fermentation then left sur-lie and allowed to complete malolactic fermentation, with multiple daily stirring in barrel. After transfer to Cadus barrels, 20% new, the wine was aged seven months, racked and lightly fined prior to bottling on January 23, 2014.

Tasting Notes: Complex aromas of Bosc pear, toast and cream, with subtle aromas of exotic spice. On the
palate, it is multi-layered and smooth textured, showing great intensity and flavors of ripe citrus, white peach and kiwi fruit. The finish is long and satisfying, with complex notes of oak, spice and great mineraliry.


 

Pinot Noir

2013 Russian River Valley Pinot Noir
$26

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2013 Pinot Noir, Russian River Valley

In The Vineyard: The Pinot Noir grapes used for this Russian River blend are 100% Russian River. In order of quantity, the blend is composed of four Pinot clones: 459, 667, 777 and 828. Each clone contributes unique sensory aspects to the blend. Clone 459, rarely planted in California, has a racy strawberry fruit, very smooth tannins, and a lighter color. Clone 828, another rare one in California vineyards, contributes deep color and quite a tannic backbone. The fruit component is subtle cranberry. Two of the most popular clones of Pinot Noir in the Russian River Appellation are 667, known for its forward cherry fruit and spicy, robust flavors; and 777, with its cherry/rose scented fruit and rich, smooth tannins.

In The Winery: Barrel choice is extremely important when aging Pinot Noir. Of all the well-known red wine varietals, Pinot has some very unique tannin molecules that make it quite a bit more delicate and naturally elegant than, say, Cabernet Sauvignon. This Russian River Pinot was aged for seven months on lees in a variety of barrels. While 32% of the barrels were new, they were a combination of new French and new American oak. The French coopered barrels were from the well-known Damy and Francoise houses, tight grained and medium plus toasted. Since American oak has such an overwhelming quantity of vanilla lactone, the longer drying period of the wood before being assembled into barrels and medium toasting can tame this aroma.

Tasting Notes: The nose exhibits bright red fruit character, with good acidiry and hints of spice and oak notes. Flavors of plum and other red fruits predominate, with an elegant frame of vanilla and toast. The wine shows a sophisticated, smooth texture, good complexity and lengthy finish with great balance.

 

 

2013 Russian River Valley Reserve Pinot Noir
$45
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2013 Reserve Pinot Noir, Russian River Valley

In The Vineyard: This Reserve Pinot Noir is made from selected lots grown on three blocks at the western and southwestern edges of our Estate. Block 4B's soils are fairly unique on our Estate, consisting primarily of Felta very gravelly loam, a well drained, low water capaciry soil series that is derived from igneous, metamorphic and sedimentary rock. The block is characterised by a very consistent soil profile, with very gravelly loam giving way at 5 inches to loam mixed with clay then to sand at 24 to 60 inches. The soils in Blocks 10B2 and 7B2 are primarily Spreckles loam, formed from weathered metavolcanics, with good drainage and low water holding capaciry. The roughly 9 inches of loam lie on up to 18 inches of clay loam and another 18 to 37 inches of clay, allowing for deep root penetration. Microclimate conditions between the three block are similar, with a 31 degree average temperature variation and approximately 40 inches of rain annually. 2012 was an outstanding vintage both in quality and quantiry. Moderate summer temperatures gave way to a cool fall with good rainfall that by and large held off until after harvest. Between the three blocks, we saw bud break between March 18th and March 22rd, 100% bloom on May 18th and 100% veraison between July 29th and August 7th. Fruit was picked in two passes, on September 2nd and 13th in Blocks 4B and 10B2; Block 7B2 was picked on September 3rd and 16th.

In The Winery: The Pinot Noir fruit was brought into the winery in the very early morning at 50 degrees or less. The fruit was cold soaked for two days and inoculated with Assmanhausen, a slow starting yeast. Once fermentation was underway, a regimen of punch downs and gentle sprinkling of up to four times per day was followed. Our Pi not No irs are generally pressed at about 2 g/L residual sugar, to release some unfermented sugars that can then ferment in barrel, adding more complexiry to the fruit aromas. The vineyard blocks were kept separate and selections were made for the Reserve wine based on robust character and intense color, allowing longer barrel aging with more new oak. Malolactic fermentation took place in barrel, with daily stirring. Once final cuts were made, the wine was aged in a selection of Francois Freres and Sirugue barrels, 40% new, for eight months. The wine was bottled on June 12, 2013.

Tasting Notes: The nose exhibits classic Russian River red fruit character, with a slight floral note and hints of exotic spice and forest floor. The mid palate is well structured with beautiful flavors of red berry fruit. There is a silkiness to the texture, with excellent balance, a layering of flavors, fine grained tannins and a long, complex finish.


 

Cabernet Sauvignon

2010 Russian River Valley Pinot Noir
$33
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2012 Cabernet Sauvignon, Chalk Hill

In The Vineyard: Chalk Hill Cabernet Sauvignon has a well deserved reputation as a very “big”, very tannic, deeply colored, and ultimately one of the most age worthy wines made from Sonoma County grapes. This 2012 Chalk Hill Cabernet is grown on the highest and steepest vineyard blocks. These grapes are also the last ones to ripen. The rocky, volcanic soils drain quickly and produce small, more intensely flavored and colored berries without aggressive canopies (leaves). Reaching almost 700 feet high, these blocks have excellent sun exposure. Afternoon temperatures are moderate due to cooling Pacific breezes from the Russian River Valley.

In The Winery: The Cabernet Sauvignon was handpicked in the cool of the night, brought to the winery and carefully cluster sorted, destemmed (but not crushed) and gently pumped to fermentors. The grapes are left to soak 24-36 hours to get accurate Brix readings. Yeast strains are chosen carefully for each varietal in the winery. For Cabernet and other Red Bordeaux varietals, Lallemand ICV D254 is chosen to emphasize berry fruit, spice components, and marry well with malolactic bacteria for the secondary fermentation in oak. Following two years of aging in French oak by Taransaud and Bosset, the wine is bottled and aged in bottle from 6-12 months.

Tasting Notes: The Cabernet is richly layered with flavors of spice; vanilla, allspice, cinnamon and cardamom blended with hints of berry, raspberry, and cassis flavors from the grapes. The lengthy finish is smooth and well balanced. This exotic mélange continues to develop during bottle aging. A noteworthy wine will change as you consume it; every swirl and sip will bring forth a new sensory aspect of the wine.

 

 

Reds

2012 Estate Red, Chalk Hill
$49
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2012 Estate Red, Chalk Hill

In The Vineyard: Sonoma County growers and winemakers were cautiously optimistic about the 2012 growing season, following on the heels of three previous, problematic harvests: 2009 October rains; 2010 September withering heat wave; and 2011 disastrous September rains. 2012 brought a normal mid-March bud break and moderate summer temperatures that gave way to a cool Fall with rainfall that, by and large, held off until all but the latest grapes were safely picked. Vineyards located in Chalk Hill are emblematic of this appellation: hillside plantings on well-drained, rocky, volcanic soils, and moderate afternoon temperatures due to cooling Pacific breezes from the Russian River Valley

In The Winery: The most extraordinary tool a winemaker possesses is the magic of blending, because blending can yield a wine that has much more aromatic and flavor intensity than the sum of its individual parts. The same holds true when blending the same wine that has been aged in barrels from different coopers, because each cooperage produces a unique barrel style. When tasting and comparing the components of a Bordeaux-style or “Claret” blend, all these factors come into play. Our blend is anchored around the classic varietals, Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot. Four coopers supply new oak (50%) for this blend: Bossuet, Demptos, Fouquet, and Gillet. Chalk Hill mountain reds are big wines and require at least two years of barrel aging prior to bottling.

Tasting Notes : Cabernet predominates in this particular Claret, but the Merlot is the silent partner that accentuates the cassis and currant fruit of the Cab and combines with its bigger tannins to silken the mouth feel. A small amount of Malbec adds soft black fruit like blueberry and plum. Both Merlot and Malbec bring midpalate richness and, with carefully chosen French oak, promote a long and complex finish.