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Twomey Cellars by Silver Oak Russian River Pinot Noir 2008
The 2008 growing season started cool and dry, carrying over the drought effects from 2007. The dry weather continued into April when a number of frosts followed by a warm, breezy bloom period combined to create a small and intense crop of berries. Summer weather was mild and temperatures rarely exceeded 90°F. Fog was notably absent for most of the summer. August brought perfect warm weather which pushed ripeness along giving us ideal flavor development and a very early harvest. Lower crop levels, greater light intensity due to smaller berry size and reduced fog combined to create an exceptional vintage of Russian River Valley fruit.
The fruit was harvested during the cool early mornings and then rigorously sorted and destemmed. Whole clusters were added to open-top fermenters. The must underwent a seven-day cold soak to gently extract the grapes' delicate flavors and color. Each clone from each vineyard was fermented separately to allow the greatest expression of each site. The cap was punched down every six hours to further extract color and aroma at the height of fermentation. After 14-21 days on skins, the free run juice was drained and the wine was gently pressed off the skins. The wine was aged for 13 months sur lies in 100% French Burgundy barrels, 50% new.
Critical AcclaimAll Vintages
The Duncan Family’s spirit of innovation would lead them to discover new varietals when in 2000, they secured the nine-acre West Pin vineyard in Sonoma’s Russian River Valley, legendary for its extraordinary Pinot Noirs. Several years later, they acquired a winery in Healdsburg where the Pinot Noirs are now produced. Twomey is dedicated to producing Pinot Noir that achieves the greatest balance & expression from four top California appellations, including Sonoma Coast, Russian River Valley, Anderson Valley and Santa Maria Valley. Twomey’s newest offering is Sauvignon Blanc, a crisp, refreshing wine that originates at the family’s estate vineyard in Calistoga. Today, Twomey Cellars is run by Managing Partners and brothers David and Tim Duncan. Founding winemaker Daniel Baron and Winemaker Ben Cane carry out their vision of making wines that eloquently express their vineyard and vintage.
The bucolic region often identified as the southern part of Burgundy, Beaujolais actually doesn’t have a whole lot in common with the rest of the region in terms of climate, soil types and grape varieties. Beaujolais achieves its own identity with variations on style of one grape, Gamay.
Gamay was actually grown throughout all of Burgundy until 1395 when the Duke of Burgundy banished it south, making room for Pinot noir to inhabit all of the “superior” hillsides of Burgundy proper. This was good news for Gamay as it produces a much better wine in the granitic soils of Beaujolais, compared with the limestone escarpments of the Côte d’Or.
Four styles of Beaujolais exist though most is sold under the basic Beaujolais appellation. The simplest, and one that has regrettably given the region a subpar reputation, is Beaujolais Nouveau. This is the wine that is made using carbonic maceration (a quick fermentation that results in sweet aromas) and is released on the third Thursday of November in the same year as harvest. It's meant to drink young and is flirty, fruity and fun. The rest of Beaujolais is where the serious wines are found. Beaujolais-Villages, which must come from the hilly northern part of the region, offer reasonable values with some gems among them. The superior section are the cru vineyards coming from ten distinct communes: St-Amour, Juliénas, Chénas, Moulin-à-Vent, Fleurie, Chiroubles, Morgon, Regnié, Brouilly, and Côte de Brouilly. Any cru Beajolais will have its commune name prominent on the label.
Delightfully playful yet at its best capable of impressive gravitas, Gamay is responsible for juicy, berry-flavored wines in Beaujolais and parts of the Loire Valley. It has received some criticism for its role in Beaujolais Nouveau, a young beverage more reminiscent of fruit punch than wine. But make no mistake—the Gamay grape is very capable of producing light yet serious wines, especially in the cru villages of Beaujolais. The variety is also widely planted in Savoie and Switzerland, and has recently found success on a small but growing scale in Oregon.
In the Glass
Gamay can be decidedly light and fruity with flavors cherry candy and cranberry. Made for Beaujolais Nouveau, with a quick fermentation process, the wines give fun and flirty aromas of banana or bubblegum. The Nouveau style is to drink early and not contemplate. More complex Gamays (Village or cru level) offer dark blackberry or ripe cherry flavors with enticing aromas of baking spice, violets and dark wet earth as well as aging potential.
Gamay is delicious on its own, especially with a light chill. It is the quintessential picnic red and goes well with simple charcuterie, country pate, and terrines. Served at a cool temperature, it is an unexpected but outstanding partner for freshly shucked oysters. Gentle tannins and bright acidity make it a great option with Asian food, even dishes with a bit of a spicy kick. Gamay can also be a great pairing with poultry, especially duck or Thanksgiving turkey with cranberry sauce.
Within Beaujolais, there are ten different crus, or highly ranked grape-growing communes. Each one has its own distinct personality—Fleurie is delicate and floral, Côte de Brouilly is concentrated and elegant, and Morgon is serious, structured, and age-worthy, capable of rivaling some red Burgundies.