52% Merlot, 28% Cabernet Sauvignon, 22% Cabernet Franc. The 1999 vintage was particularly kind to Carneros red varieties. A long growing season with just enough rain, a warm late summer and a moderate fall, led to well-balanced grapes. This wine has Old World style, showing nice structure with aromas of dried herbs and olives, yet it has the unmistakable voluptuousness of a sun-drenched, California born beauty. The color of the wine is deep, rich violet. It has aromas of stemmy dark fruit backed by a delicate hint of clove and bayleaf. Dark plum and velvety cocoa dance with dried cherries and smooth tannins. The result is a wine that combines a respect for its forbears with a singularity of place nurtured and accentuated by RSV's dedication to organic and biodynamic farming methods. Terroir lives!
Robert Sinskey Vineyards
With a humble beginning of just 15 acres of vineyard land in the early eighties, RSV’s has grown to just under 200 acres of prime vineyard in five Carneros locations and a small 4.8 acre estate vineyard next to the winery in the Stags Leap District. The wines are 100% estate-produced. Rob Sinskey, Winemaker Jeff Virnig, and Vineyard Manager Kirk Grace, have created unique methods to grow and produce Pinot Noirs that are silky, elegant, and complex. They also make two California Bordeaux style proprietary reds (the RSV Vineyard Reserve from the Carneros and the RSV Stags Leap District Claret) that have a sense of place and exhibit incredible tactile qualities. The vineyards are farmed and the wines are made 100% organically. RSV also produces limited quantities of Merlot, that explodes with bright fruit character, a non-malolactic Chardonnay that is full flavored with natural, mouth-watering acidity, a whole cluster pressed Pinot Blanc that is free of oak influence, a delicate salmon-colored Vin Gris of Pinot Noir and a few other goodies… just for the fun of it.
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Technically a part of Napa Valley, the Carneros region straddles both Sonoma & Napa counties. It's the Napa region closest to the San Francisco peninsula and the San Pablo Bay, which is instrumental in controlling the climate of the area. The winds from the San Pablo bay create a cool weather pattern ideal for growing Chardonnay and Pinot Noir.
Both Chardonnay and Pinot Noir from Carneros are delicate, yet complex, with firm structure and acidity. And while the pair are the most popular varieties of the region, some winemakers have branched out, particularly with Syrah. The cool climate Syrah of Carneros is well structured and stylistically similar to Syrah from the Northern Rhone, though often fuller-bodied.
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.