About The Author:

"Roger, The Wine Guy" is Roger Yazell, CWS. He is a member of the International Wine Guild and has had a long time admiration of wine. After careers in broadcasting, advertising and marketing account management, he explored his love of wine in hospitality, wholesale and retail sales. The intent of Roger's Grapevine is to share stories, history and information that will add to the reader's love, enjoyment and appreciation of wine and sake'.

Questions, requests for topics and comments are always welcome via email: rogerthewineguy@gmail.com.

(Note: The Wine Guy is currently undergoing chemotherapy and this blog will be on hiatus for the duration and into a recovery period. The Wine Guy is planning to celebrate his recovery with a trip to the two wine producing regions in Argentina and that should provide for some interesting new blogs. Meanwhile please enjoy the archives and feel free to email in the interim.)

Thursday, February 25, 2010

A look at Lander-Jenkins

One of the best things about being in the wine trade is the opportunity to attend trade shows and trade tasting events. Even though I’m retired, as both a writer and a part-timer at retail, I still get that opportunity occasionally and always enjoy the exploration. Recently, one of my local wholesalers hosted a tasting event for two wines being rolled out to a district retail group covering Nevada, Arizona and New Mexico. It didn’t hurt, at all, that the event was being held at one of my favorite sources for pizza in Scottsdale, Arizona. Thanks are due to Craig Cardella, Intermountain Regional Sales Manager from Rutherford Wine Company (pictured above with The Wine Guy) for both the wine AND the pizza tasting opportunity.

The wines were a Chardonnay and a Cabernet Sauvignon from Lander-Jenkins Vineyards, St Helena, California (Napa County). This winery is still run by third and fourth generation descendants of Welch immigrants but is now a part of the Rutherford Wine Company. Rutherford’s senior winemaker, Steve Reud, had a hand in the development of these two California appellation wines that are label-branded under the name: "spirit hawk". Both Lander-Jenkins and Rutherford have a long history of sustainable viniculture and the nesting of birds of prey (owls and hawks) are encouraged in their vineyards as a means of rodent control. Steve’s memory of a soaring hawk over one of the company’s vineyards was the inspiration for the wine’s name. These two wines rolled out successfully last June and are now winding their way through the distribution network nationwide and they are due to hit the beverage departments of Cost Plus World Market stores in Arizona, New Mexico and Nevada this month. Here’s a review of the two wines I sampled:

Lander-Jenkins spirit hawk California Chardonnay:

Principally sourced from Monterrey county vineyards, this Chardonnay is accented with 3% Muscat Canelli. It is a blend of about 2/3rds stainless steel and 1/3rd French oak aged Chardonnay and comes in at about 13.5% alcohol, which is just on the moderately high side for a lighter style Chardonnay. This golden straw colored wine exhibited healthy legs, delicate aromas and definite notes of peach and apricot (probably from the balancing addition of the Muscat) There was a light creaminess in the mouth with robust acidity and just the lightest touch of oak and some mineral aftertaste on the moderate finish. Food and Wine Magazine named it one of their 12 best California Chardonnays under $15. The Wine Guy found it to be light and enjoyable but found myself wondering if it wasn’t trying to appeal to both ends of the chardonnay spectrum without offending the other. That said, it’s a good value and worth your exploration.

Lander-Jenkins spirit hawk California Cabernet Sauvignon:

This is a 92% Cabernet with the dominant portion coming from Paso Robles vineyards. There are light additions (all 3% or under) of Malbec, Merlot, Zinfandel and Petit Verdot. The alcohol is a respectable 13.5% and aging is for 14 months in French oak. This wine is moderately deep garnet in color. The fruity nose is accented with just a trace of mint. Exhibited tastes were dark fruits, principally blackberry and plum with just a light hint of spice. Tannins were moderate and the oak was subtly present and somewhat subdued. Despite the tendency to fruitiness, there was a nice lingering finish to this wine and it was, overall, an enjoyable Cabernet Sauvignon, especially if your preference is the more medium-bodied expressions of this grape.

As with their rollout last year, Lander-Jenkins introduction in the World Market stores will include an opportunity to mail in and receive some coordinating note stationery that includes imbedded seeds in the paper (a great tie-in and reminder of their commitment to sustainable viniculture). Once the notepad is used, the recipient simply plants the paper and will be rewarded with wildflowers. As gardening is my number two activity behind sipping wine, I can’t wait for the blooms.

Cabernet Sauvignon and Chardonnay still rank one and two, respectively in U.S. wine consumption. If either is on your shopping list, you may want to try some Lander-Jenkins spirit hawk wine!

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