What We Say 2005 Alexander Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon
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Mission Codename: Simi, Hear me
Operative: Agent Noir
Objective: Return to Simi Winery, acquire as many bottles of their limited Reserve Cabernet as possible
Mission Status: Accomplished!
Current Winery: Simi Winery
Wine Subject: 2005 Alexander Valley Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon
Winemaker: Steve Reeder
Today’s Cabernet Sauvignon comes to us from our goood friends at Simi Winery, in Sonoma, California. Grown in Sonoma County’s Alexander Valley, today’s wine is a delicious Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon from Simi’s own premium vineyard sources
Alexander Valley in northeast Sonoma County is located on the western side of the Mayacamas range and extends westward to the edge of the Russian River Valley. This appellation was formerly considered a part of Dry Creek Valley but became its own appellation in November 1984. The region is best known for exceptional Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot but recently people are starting to discover its Sangiovese, Nebbiolo and Chardonnay as well.
Wine Spies Tasting Profile:
Look – Very dark, with a red/black hue, almost no light gets through the middle and the edges gleam with hints of purple. The dark garnet coats the glass and lets you know this is a full Cabernet Sauvignon that means business. There are nice legs and they roll slowly down the side of the glass with lots of glycerin.
Smell – The bouquet is full with lots of smoky sweet oak, giving you a hint that this big wine was made using high quality French barrels. It smells lavish and classy with subtle floral notes and a build up of intense dark fruits as it gets air.
Feel – The palate is powerful, rich and bold, a modern new world Cabernet in texture and class, but with smooth ripe tannins that while holding it together. The bold feels easily fades to the background and the mouth feels thick and rounded.
Taste – This wine invades the mouth and fills the palate with classic Cabernet flavors and richness with lots of black and red fruits coming in wave after wave. Blackberry, currants, plum and dark cherry are all there along with chocolate, crème de cassis, melted licorice, mint leaves, tobacco, cedar and lots and lots of sweet oak shadings.
Finish – The finish of this big Cabernet is long and robust with lingering black currant, sweet and savory notes, low acidity. While you feel some tannins and know this is a powerful wine, nothing aggressive shows through on the finish. The last thing you get is the vanilla from that good new oak, though it is all good and not over the top.
Overall – This Cabernet has what it takes to live with the big boys. It even blows some of them away, leaving a very good impression that will make your friends beg for more. This wine will turn some heads and it really demands attention with focused details, great depth and balance. This wine is drinking great now and should go another 5 years from now with no problem, though it might be hard to wait as good as it is.
WINEMAKER INTEL BRIEFING DOSSIER
SUBJECT: Susan Lueker
DATE OF BIRTH: August/1964
PLACE OF BIRTH: Little Rock, Arkansas
WINE EDUCATION: University of Missouri, UCD
CALIFORNIA WINE JOB BRIEF: Always in Sonoma County. Started at Hacienda Winery in Sonoma Valley, brief stint at KJ in Geyserville, 7 years at Dry Creek Vineyard and 9 years at Simi
WINEMAKING PHILOSOPHY: Keep it simple, let the fruit speak for itself, try not to overwhelm fruit with oak, I like higher acids makes the wine work better with food and keeps flavors lively
SIGNATURE VARIETAL: Love Zinfandel and Sauvignon Blanc
CAREER HIGHLIGHT: I think I’m still waiting for that, I love it when people really enjoy the wine and want to drink more.
CAREER HIGHLIGHT: I just did a winemaker dinner, actually I think the wine was the fluff with Tom Colichio and John Legend in New York. Simi’s wines show perfectly with the food, John sang for our dessert. Sweet!
WINEMAKER QUOTE: I’ve got the best job in the world, I love what I do, I hope it shows in the wine.
AGENT RED: Greetings, Susan. We are thrilled to be showing your 2005 Alexander Valley Cabernet Sauvignon today. Thanks so much for taking some time to answer questions for our Operatives today.
SUSAN LUEKER: It’s great to be back with you, Red!
RED: Was there a specific experience in your life that inspired your love of wine?
SUSAN: I do remember a few wine stained sunsets that were magnificent, all the best times in my life have been associated with the consumption of wine. Wine just makes good times brighter
RED: And where did you learn the most about winemaking?
SUSAN: some at school, UCD, but mostly on the job. Watching color and aromas develop during pumpovers, putting your back into punch down. I also liked to think the things we did in the cellar had a positive impact on the wine. Topping barrels to keep them fresh and healthy, inoculating fermentations to be able to sleep. Experimenting every year to find something new and better for the wine. Tasting to see development, blending to make the best wine possible.
RED: What is your winemaking style or philosophy?
SUSAN: Keep it simple, don’t over think it. Start with the best grapes available use the yeast that will give you the flavor/structure character you want, keep your barrels/tanks topped and the wine healthy.
RED: What wine or winemaker has most influenced your winemaking style?
SUSAN: Hard to say, I really respect everyone I’ve been fortunate to work with and I think they’ve all shaped my winemaking…. Eric Laumann, John Hawley, Larry Levine, Miro Tcholakov, Nick Goldschmidt, and Steve Reeder. They all have unique styles and place more emphasis on different processes.
RED: How long have you been making wine?
SUSAN: 18 years?? Is that possible?
RED: Who do you make wine for?
SUSAN: I enjoy the process, but the end product is for the consumer. I like to think the wine is enjoyed with a great meal, but it could easily go with sitting on the porch watching life go by.
RED: What is one piece of advice that you would give to someone that is considering a career as a winemaker?
SUSAN: You’ll need to like to work hard, playing hard is not bad either.
RED: What is occupying your time at the winery these days?
SUSAN: Getting wines ready for bottling. And getting all the 09 wines tucked in for Christmas break.
RED: Please share one thing about yourself that few people know
SUSAN: I love watching football on Sundays from a bar stool.
RED: What is your favorite ‘everyday’ or table wine?
SUSAN: I’m really enjoying a friends GSM at the moment. It’s really a seasonal thing for me.
RED: How would you recommend that people approach your wines, or wine in general?
SUSAN: Look for the good in it, it’s meant to be enjoyed not dissected
RED: If you could choose any one wine to drink (regardless of price or availability), what would it be?
SUSAN: Champagne, Brut Rose is my fave, possibly from Krug
RED: What is the one question that I should have asked you, and what is your answer to that question?
SUSAN: I always like to ask people what they had to drink last night with dinner. I had a margarita with Mexican food
RED: Thank you so much for your time. We learned a lot about you – and about your wine. Keep up the great work, we are big fans!
SUSAN: Thanks, good, interesting questions. Keep enjoying the wine. Thanks, again.
Wine Spies Vineyard Check:
The location of the Simi Winery can be seen in this satellite photo.
What the Winery Says
About This Wine:
Appearance: Opaque crimson center with a garnet edge
Aroma: Dense, concentrated, evolving aromas of plum with black cherry, blackberry and cassis, layered with cocoa, toasty oak, sweet herbs and a hint of violets.
Flavor: Intriguing dark flavors of plum, cassis and black cherry are layered with toffee, cocoa and vanilla lifted with fresh herbs. Concentrated, structured and full on the palate from start to finish, ending with ripe, yet age worthy tannins.
Sonoma County’s Alexander Valley possesses the greatest diversity of soil types of any winegrowing region in California. Dramatic geological activity has created numerous soil types and microclimates allowing Simi Winery to select from a diverse range of vineyard sources for wines of distinct flavor, texture and character.
Simi Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon is created by keeping each vineyard block separate throughout the winemaking process. Winemaker Steve Reeder selects the best vineyard lots for the final blend. The complexity of this wine is created not only from our vineyard sites, but also from blending with other classic Bordeaux varietals.
This unique combination of vineyard sites and varietals result in a wine that is both powerful and elegant, with Alexander Valley’s signature luscious, velvety tannins.
About The Winery:
A lot of what we do at Simi is based on tradition, enhanced with cutting-edge innovation. Our philosophy has always been to maintain the quality and style that we’re recognized for, while at the same time improve our methods for growing grapes and crafting wines to reflect the experience and knowledge we are accumulating and have been throughout the winery’s 125-year history.
Long ago we also realized the importance of Alexander Valley and knew that it would be a leading appellation for growing Bordeaux varietals. Today we showcase the region with our Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot as well as our vineyard-designated Landslide Cabernet Sauvignon.
In 1989 we purchased our Russian River Valley Goldfields Vineyard and planted it to hand-selected original cuttings from some of the best and oldest vineyards in California. This innovative technique gives us the amazing diversity of flavors that has made Simi’s Russian River Reserve Chardonnay famous.
With every taste of Simi wines you’ll discover our devotion to tradition that is enhanced by our pursuit of the best vineyards, the best grape-growing methods, and the best winemaking techniques.
About The Winemaker:
Steve Reeder – Twenty-six years after his first harvest at Alexander Valley Vineyards, Steve Reeder returned to his winemaking roots, becoming Vice President of Winemaking for Simi Winery in August 2003.
Reeder, an internationally recognized winemaker, has received wide acclaim throughout the wine industry for many varieties, especially the Bordeaux-varietal wines. Among his accomplishments was securing the number one and number two places on Wine Spectator’s prestigious Top 100 Wines of the Year list in 1999 and 2002 respectively for Cinq Cépages, Chateau St. Jean’s proprietary Bordeaux-varietal blend.
“When you think of the great wineries of Sonoma County, Chateau St. Jean and Simi are at the top of the list.” Reeder confides, “In fact, I’ve lived across the street from Simi for many years and have thought it would be just a matter of time before I worked here.”
The son of an Air Force pilot, Reeder is a third-generation Californian who spent a large portion of his childhood on the East Coast and in Europe, primarily Germany and France. A childhood fascination with fermenting things later inspired him to return to his home state and earn a degree in Fermentation Sciences at the University of California at Davis.
After a brief stint of winemaking in California, he began a ten-year period of winemaking on the East Coast. In 1992, Reeder went to Kendall Jackson, and in 1994 he and his family moved to Healdsburg, to return home. In 1997, he became the Winemaker and Director of Operations for Chateau St. Jean.
At Simi Winery, Reeder has come full circle and has satisfied his aspirations of living up to his Sonoma beginnings. “I’m returning to Healdsburg and the Alexander Valley where I started 26 years ago.”
Winemaker: Steve Reeder
Varietal composition: 95% Cabernet Sauvignon, 5% Petite Verdot
Oak Aging: 25 months in 45% new French oak
Total acidity: 6.5g/l
Release Date: February 1, 2009