2002 began with a bang and ended on the same note, producing dramatic wines of great structure and intensity.
The 2002 Counterpoint is decidedly in the modern style of cabernet: big, brash, fruity, rich, and delicious. For lovers of the 2001 vintage, 2002 vintage may seem a bit too much of a good thing, with its alcohol of 14.5% and its up-front flavors. But what saves this wine from turning into a modern monster is its firm underlying acidity and clearly delineated focus. Let's just say that it is very much in the Laurel Glen mold, just more so!
The 2002 Counterpoint is extremely limited for two reasons: the crop was unusually small and given the high quality of the vintage, more lots made their way into Laurel Glen.
The resulting wine is dark, rich, focused, warm, friendly, and at the same time, rather brooding and mysterious. The more I drink it the more I find new nuances, and that's what I like in a wine!
Laurel Glen Vineyards
Laurel Glen Vineyard, a thousand feet up the slopes of Sonoma Mountain, has long been considered one of the iconic Cabernet vineyards of California. Originally planted in the 1880’s, the present-day vineyard was developed in the 1970’s by Sonoma wine pioneer Patrick Campbell. The 1st vintage of Laurel Glen Vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon was made in 1981. The vineyard’s combination of high altitude, eastern exposure, rocky soils, and small diurnal temperature swings combine to produce very distinctive wines. Despite its small production, the wine has received international acclaim for its exceptional balance, elegance and ability to age gracefully.
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Twice as large as Napa in size, Sonoma County only makes about a half the amount of wine as her northeasterly neighbor. But Sonoma, with her size, is able to vouch for more diversity within her borders, including sub-AVAs that are climatically varied. The atmosphere of Sonoma is decidedly laid back and down home country style. But in wines, they are keeping up with the Joneses, or Napa-ites if you will. Grape varieties are more varied here, from Pinot Noir and Zinfandel to Cabernet Sauvignon and Chardonnay.
The largest sub-AVAs of Sonoma include Dry Creek Valley, Russian River Valley, Alexander Valley and Sonoma Valley. Each sub-AVA, with its own micro-climate, is unique in its grape varieties and styles of wine. Dry Creek makes a mean Zinfandel while Russian River produces stand up Pinot Noir and Chardonnay. The Alexander Valley makes some of the better Cabernet Sauvignons in the county and Sonoma Valley creates excellent wines from all the above varieties. Other grapes found throughout Sonoma include Sauvignon Blanc, Merlot and Syrah.
It's not rare to see a wine's country of origin listed as "California." A country into itself in the wine world, California makes enough varieties and styles to match many European wine countries. It produces a diverse range of wines that span the quality spectrum.
The most famous of the California wine regions is Napa Valley, and these wines are certainly outstanding – but it's not as broad and diverse as its larger neighbor, Sonoma County. Down south, Santa Barbara's Santa Maria Valley is well-known for its Rhône blends, as well as cool-climate varieties like Pinot and Chardonnay. The Central Coast, the largest California AVA, has many different microclimates that lead to a wide range of wines with many sub-AVAs.
Most wine ranges from 10-16% alcohol by volume. Some varietals tend to have higher (for example Zinfandel and Cabernet Sauvignon) or lower alcohol levels (Pinot Noir and many white varietals), but there is always some variation from producer to producer. Some wine falls outside of this range, for instance Port weighs in closer to 20%, while Muscat and Riesling are usually a bit below 10%.
Wine Style Guide
Light & Crisp
Light to medium bodied wines that are high in acid and light to medium fruit. Typically no oak.
Fruity & Smooth
Light to medium bodied wines with lots of juicy fruit, typically medium acid and medium oak.
Rich & Creamy
Full bodied wines that have typically undergone malo-lactic fermentation and/or spent time in oak.