What We Say 2006 Sonoma Valley Cabernet Sauvignon
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Mission Codename: True to the Fruit
Operative: Agent Red
Objective: After a long tour of desk duty, send Agent Red back into the field to discover the best wines of the Sonoma Valley. Retrieve a stellar Cabernet Sauvignon that showcases the fruit of the region.
Mission Status: Accomplished!
Current Winery: Eric Ross Winery
Wine Subject: 2006 Bonino Vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon
Winemaker: Eric Luse
Backgrounder: The Sonoma Valley AVA is one of the oldest wine growing regions in California with the first vines being planted in the early 1800s. The AVA is located along California Route 12 and its eastern boundary are the southern end of the Mayacama mountains. The unique micro-climate with less rainfall and fog than other parts of the region along with its unique soil provides ideal growing conditions for Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot and Zinfandel.
Wine Spies Tasting Profile:
Look – Dark ruby with a slightly darker but clear heart of dark garnet. On swirling, this wine shows a soft and springy surface that settles quickly, leaving behind long and thin wine-stained tears.
Smell – Bright cherry and cassis, with cranberry and other red fruit up front. Purple plum, dusty dried mushroom, oak and chocolate powder bringing up the rear.
Feel – Soft and round on entry, then fine tannins settle on the tongue, bringing about a rapid drying that begins at the back of the palate and spreads its way forward at a good speed.
Taste – Bright and flavor-filled, this wine leads with tart red cherry, young strawberry and cranberry. As these taper off, they yield to darker flavors of plum and black cherry, with oak and soft cocoa.
Finish – Ultra long, flavors begin tart and bright and then go darker as they tail off very slowly.
Conclusion – Winemaker Eric Luse, the winery’s namesake, takes great pride in allowing the pure expression of the fruit that he selects for his wines. Not your typical Cabernet Sauvignon, this wine is nonetheless rife with character and charm. Mostly, though, this delicious wine delivers a true sense of the ultra-premium fruit – and the special parkside vineyard from which it sprang. Bright and flavorful, this wine plays very well with food. We recommend a lightly seasoned pork shank or a grilled steak with this pretty wine.
WINEMAKER INTEL BRIEFING DOSSIER
SUBJECT: Eric Luse
WINE EDUCATION: Napa Valley Wine Program, UC Davis Wine Extension and Santa Rosa Junior College Viticulture Program
CALIFORNIA WINE JOB BRIEF: Began making wine in 1988 and founded Eric Ross Winery in 1993.
WINEMAKING PHILOSOPHY: Much like Heirloom Tomatoes there is no replacing quality fruit. Respecting that and knowing which region to source what fruit from is key. Once it’s picked at the right time I alter the fermentation and barrel protocols based on the fruit.
WINEMAKER QUOTE: “Taste The Vineyard”
FIRST COMMERCIAL WINE RELEASE: 1994
AGENT RED: Greetings, Eric. We are thrilled to be showing your 2006 Cabernet Sauvignon today. Thanks so much for taking some time to answer questions for our Operatives today.
ERIC LUSE: Thanks, Red. It’s a pleasure to finally meet you in person!
RED: Was there a specific experience in your life that inspired your love of wine?
ERIC: Photographing Sue Bass of Porter Bass Vineyards and seeing firsthand the uniqueness and quality of her Zinfandel.
RED: What wine or winemaker has most influenced your winemaking style?
ERIC: Among the greats, David Lett, Eyrie Vineyards, Tony Soter, Etude now Soter Winery, Randall Graham, Bonny Doon Winery, Tom Rochioli, Rochioli Vineyards.
RED: Who do you make wine for?
ERIC: The sophisticated palates that walk through the door of Eric Ross.
RED: Please tell me a little bit about the wine we are featuring today.
ERIC: A small Cabernet Vineyard just off Hwy 12 in the Heart of Sonoma Valley. Bob and Leslee Bonino’s vineyard with it’s southern exposure gets the heat and drainage Cabernet needs to properly ripen. As with all of our wines it’s much like cooking, a balance of the fruit and oak barrel aging.
RED: What is your favorite pairing with today’s wine?
ERIC: It’s terrific with a medium rare Hanger Steak or Leg of Lamb.
RED: In your opinion, what makes the Sonoma Valley so special?
ERIC: This region is full of hands on farmers and winemakers working hard at their craft. Making a creative statement with their products is much more than just having a label. This is very much reflected in this Cabernet, great farming, perfect weather and respectful winemaking.
RED: What is occupying your time at the winery these days?
ERIC: Just finished bottling new 2009 wines, Albarino, Tempranillo and Marsanne~Roussanne.
RED: How would you recommend people approach your wines and wine in general?
ERIC: Our wines should always have the vineyard in mind, taste the fruit not an oak barrel.
RED: Is there anything else you’d like to share with our readers?
ERIC: Wine is an exciting experience with new possibilities right in front of you. Come and try varietals that you may have not met before but guaranteed to be a long time memory after.
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
Eric Ross Winery
Awards & Accolades:
Gold Medal – Harvest Fair
About This Wine:
Hand harvested under the chill of early morning fog in rich rocky red soil nestled in a warm micro-climate, necessary for world class Cabernet. The Bonino Vineyard, close to Glen Ellen produces a Sonoma Valley Cabernet with firm tannin structure supporting beautiful layers of mocha and deep fruit balanced with ample French Oak undertones.
About The Winery:
Eric Ross began in 1993 with a couple of award winning shooters for San Francisco’s two competing daily newspapers. Over the crack of a bat, motor drives buzzing the other life passion, wine, came to life. Over a home run, gone, long gone Eric Ross Winery was born! Eric, the original winemaker is known for producing wines with ample personalities and heartfelt passions continues hitting home runs Eric Ross Wines!
History: The Eric Ross Winery began near Occidental, California, on the site of an old Italian winery. Long time friends, and award-winning photographers for the San Francisco dailies, the Examiner and Chronicle joined together to produce wines with personalities and heartfelt passions. Their decision was based on having personally tested hundreds of grapes and having been exposed to the state’s diverse wine growing regions in the course of their journalistic assignments. They knew Sonoma Valley, specifically Russian River Valley was the ideal spot from which to craft wines of nuance.
“The long, cool growing season, just above the fog line, keeps the vines temperate, yet there’s plenty of sun to ripen,” Eric explains. “The cool-down at night prevents acids in the skins from dissipating, struture and flavor surely to follow. Slowly ripening developing what we’re after, fruit of great concentration, wines with great character!”
A winemakers place is not to interfere with the process it should be respecting the individual varietals with copious amounts of personal attention. “A beautiful Russian River Pinot needs to taste like Pinot with it’s subtle unique nuances, not like a big & burly Syrah,” Eric adds.
Eric Luse continues with his two “career” passions, winemaking and photography. Wine and photography are both so visually stimulating I can’t imagine just having one in my life!
A foodie at heart, Eric likens the wines to a rare meal: “If you start out with really good ingredients, I mean really good, you have the fundamental components for something extraordinary.” Taking advantage of this premium growing region, and by hand-crafting each vintage, Eric Ross Winery produces a small quantity of extremely remarkable wines.
While the original location lent romance and history to the Eric Ross Winery, as well as a spectacular views, Eric eventually decided looks weren’t everything. Since the early “romantic days” Eric Ross now has state of the art facilities to ensure the focus is on the integrity of the wines, especially respecting the varietal differences, not the present weather forecast.