De Angelis Wines
What we say
SUPERIOR WINE ALERT:
Today’s Viognier is, hands down, the best we have ever tasted. We only feature wines that we love, not what wineries need to sell. When one really stands out, we issue these special alerts, to let you know that we really love it.
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Mission Codename: Heaven Scent
Operative: Agent Red
Objective: Infiltrate De Angelis Wines, a San Luis Obispo winery that has been creating quite a stir on California’s Central Coast. Taste their sought-after Viognier. If the wine is as good as its reputation suggests, procure an ample allocation for our Operatives’ Spring and Summer enjoyment.
Mission Status: Accomplished!
Current Winery: Swanson Vineyards
Wine Subject: 2009 De Angelis Viognier
Winemaker: Jerry and Marsha De Angelis
Viognier, is a very shy grape that is difficult to grow and was once an endangered species worldwide. Today, skillful growers and winemakers tend the grapes with great care, closely monitoring their progress and picking at the pinnacle of ripeness. Viognier, when perfectly produced, is a delightful wine that can range from fully dry to demi-sec as is the case in today’s delicious example.
Wine Spies Tasting Profile:
Look – Brilliant yellow gold with color that extends evenly, right out to the very edge. When swirled, this wine spins in the glass for a very long time, giving clues to its weight and viscosity. When the wine settles, tall, slow-moving columns move slowly down the inside of the glass.
Smell – Bright white peach, pear and golden apple leap from the glass. Tropical notes follow, as the wine warms slightly. The more you spin the wine, the more it releases aromas of orange blossom honey, white flowers and a hint of sweet light spice.
Feel – Ultra-soft and velvet-smooth, this wine has a decidedly sexy feel. It takes on added dimension at the mid-palate where soft acids and a hint of minerals add complexity and weight. A soft dryness follows the fruit.
Taste – Fresh, full, dense flavors of apricot, citrus, pineapple, orange zest and honeysuckle provide a bold, delicious initial rush of flavors. These are followed by pear, golden delicious apple, Asian pear, soft, sweet white spice and subtle minerals.
Finish – Extremely long with sweet fruit and flowers taking a long time to fade. Long after the wine is swallowed, flavors persist, gradually replaced by a softly spreading dryness. Minerals and soft spice ultimately give the wine a softly chewy feel, but not in the way that a highly tannic red wine can. This chewy feel is soft and light.
Conclusion – The 2009 De Angelis Viognier is a tremendous wine! We were really blown away by how fragrant, delicious, complex and tender this wine is. Bursting with lush aromas and complex, delicious flavors, this is the best Viognier that we have featured in a very long time. This tender wine is packed with life, flavor and smooth feelings. Enjoy it all on its own, or pair with fresh fruit, creamy cheeses, Charcuterie, or a summer salad with mandarin slices and goat cheese. Enjoy this highly recommended treat!
AGENT RED: Greetings, Jerry & Marsha. We are thrilled to be showing your 2009 Viognier today. Thanks so much for taking some time to answer questions for our Operatives today.
WINEMAKERS: We are happy to be a featured wine in Wine Spies. We feel that this is a great opportunity for us, and for folks to access a handcrafted wine made in very small lots.
RED: Was there a specific experience in your life that inspired your love of wine?
WINEMAKERS: Like many winemakers, we started with a small personal winery and vineyard. As our knowledge grew, and our wines became more appreciated, we were asked to make wine at a number of wineries, and eventually to become the winemakers and general managers at a larger winery and Custom Crush facility in Paso Robles, CA.
RED: What wine or winemaker has most influenced your winemaking style?
WINEMAKERS: We have had a number of great teachers and colleagues. Probably the most influential was Harold Osborn. Harold was, and is, an incredible resource, as well as a fine winemaker. During his many years in the field, he has made wine in California, and consulted to wineries in New Zealand and Australia.
RED: Who do you make wine for?
WINEMAKER: We make wine for ourselves – De Angelis Wines – as well as for a number of clients. These clients are located in Northern and Southern California, and as far away as New York. We handcraft our wines paying great attention to detail, and to developing wines that are true to the variety. The wines we produce taste like they should taste and reflect the region, and the terroir of that region.
RED: Please tell me a little bit about the wine we are featuring today.
WINEMAKER: This wine – our 2009 Viognier – was made from fruit of exceptional quality. The alcohol level is 13.5%. That is consequential because many Viognier exhibit much higher alcohol levels. In our opinion that masks the flavors, and can upset the acidic balance of a white wine. Stone fruit characteristics are evident in this Viognier, as is a well-balanced acidity. The mouthfeel and the long finish add to this wine’s appeal. Approximately 70% the wine was aged in Hungarian oak, and the rest in stainless steel. The wine in stainless was stirred on the lees for 4-6 months to increase its creamy aspects. The wine was bottled in April of 2009 following cold stabilization and sterile filtration. Sterile filtration was necessary because this wine was not allowed to undergo malolactic fermentation. This is a white wine which, in our opinion, should not be poured very cold. Temperatures below about 45° F. usually inhibit the nose of Rhone whites, and negate the floral tones of this style of wine.
RED: What is your favorite pairing with today’s wine?
WINEMAKER: This Viognier is balanced, and can be served with any number of appetizers or main dishes. For instance a lighter pasta, a roasted fowl or fish dish, with or without mushrooms, may be served with this wine. We especially enjoy a seared Tuna salad, as well as a well-constructed Nicoise salad with this wine.
RED: In your opinion, what makes the Central Coast so special?
WINEMAKERS: The climate here is conducive to growing fine Rhone varieties.
RED: What is occupying your time at the winery these days?
WINEMAKERS: We are bottling 2010 red wines, and beginning to prepare for the 2012 harvest.
RED: How would you recommend people approach your wines and wine in general?
WINEMAKER: We recommend that people approach our wines, and wines in general, with few, if any, preconceptions. There are thousands of labels in California, many of which are produced in small lots by dedicated winemakers. What makes winemaking so interesting is that there is no singular way to make a particular wine variety. That is there is room for many wines and wine styles.
RED: Is there anything else you’d like to share with our readers?
WINEMAKER: That’s about it! Thank you for the opportunity.
RED: Thank you so much for your time. We learned a lot about you and your wine. Keep up the great work, we are big fans!
What the winery says
About This Wine:
This wine was made from Northern California fruit of exceptional quality. The acidity is balanced and the alcohol level is 13.5%. That is consequential because many Viognier from the Central Coast exhibit 15%-16% alcohol levels. In our opinion that masks the flavors, and can screw up the acidic a balance of a white wine. (“Screw up” is a scientific term.) Our 2009 Viognier is balanced offers a long finish, and can be served with most chicken, fish appetizers or main dishes. Any foul or fish dish, as well as a lighter pasta dish is especially good with this wine.
About The Winery:
This adventure in winemaking began in 1999 . We planted a small vineyard in Chardonnay, Syrah, Pinot Noir, Sauvignon Blanc and Malvasia Bianca on the Central Coast of California. Shortly after we planted, a neighbor planted a 30 acre vineyard, mostly in Pinot Noir, Chardonnay and Syrah. As we became more involved with our own winemaking, we tended to spend time in the neighbor’s vineyard. We began to share information, problems, and at least most of the time, solutions.
This part of the California is known for Pinot Noir, and Chardonnay. A little farther north and inland, Zinfandel and Cabernet Sauvignon are grown, and to the south Viognier, Roussanne and more Pinot Noir. Since 1999, the same area has increased production until it is now home to some incredibly large vineyards.
Wanting to learn more about the art and science of winemaking, we asked to work, gratis, at a nearby winery. We did that for two seasons, and made our own wines as well. The wines kept improving, and we kept learning.
In 2004, we were asked to become the winemakers for the neighbor mentioned above, and agreed to do so. Seemingly overnight our home winemaking hobby was a pretty full time job. This kept us busy as we made 4200 cases of wine that year.
In 2006 we were asked to help design a new winery, where wines would be made for a number of people as well for as ourselves. We accepted. During that year we not only made wines for others, but established De Angelis Wines. De Angelis Wines is a small production label, where each wine is crafted by hand. The fruit for our wines is sourced from our own small vineyard in San Luis Obispo County, as well as the Santa Barbara area, and the Sacramento Delta. The total production of our 2006 wines was 355 cases. Production in 2007 was 535 cases of our wines. We increased production in 2009 to 735 cases. In addition, we also managed to make approximately 12,000 cases for other folks at the winery. Our latest work in wine making was completing a 2011 harvest, followed by accepting invitations to design, and help build, two new wineries, and to be the winemakers and/or consulting winemakers at both. So in what area do we make all these great wines? That area is Paso Robles, CA.
This story is not terribly dissimilar to others who have gone from home to professional wine makers. We did this fairly quickly. One reason is that one of us has a doctorate in chemistry, so that part was easy. The other reason is that we are probably – when one combines our ages, either the oldest, or one of the oldest pair of winemakers on the planet – 136 years young. This experience is very important as we make wine, manage our vineyard, and manage the winery in general. Additionally, we still do quite a bit of the work ourselves. This is often to the chagrin of our young, impressionable, but terrific staff.