What We Say 2007 Alexander Valley Chardonnay
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Mission Codename: True Boldness
Operative: Agent Red
Objective: In time for Summer enjoyment, return to Simi Winery and acquire an ample allotment of their exclusive, winery-only Alexander Valley Chardonnay
Mission Status: Accomplished!
Current Winery: Simi Winery
Wine Subject: 2007 Alexander Valley Chardonnay
Winemaker: Steve Reeder
Today’s Alexander Valley Chardonnay comes to us from our good friends at Simi Winery, in Sonoma, California. Grown in Sonoma County’s Alexander Valley, today’s wine is a delicious complex and delicious wine that you won’t find anywhere but at the winery – or right here, today only.
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 Chardonnay, Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot.
Wine Spies Tasting Profile:
Look – Beautiful golden yellow, with perfect clarity and concentrated color, right out to the edges of the wine. When swirled, chubby legs begin high on the glass and then run slowly down.
Smell – Leading with bright citrus and pear, this wine soon offers up caramel, candied pear, maple pecan essence, vanilla and subtle soft oak.
Feel – Medium weight on entry, this initially velvety wine spreads quickly around the palate, drying with a chalky mineral feel as it makes its way around your mouth.
Taste – Rich and delicious, with candied pear, pineapple, green apple, hazelnut, citrus, white flowers and chalky minerals.
Finish – Extra-long, bold and very flavorful, this wine starts tropical and lush. Tropical flavors give way, eventually, to tart citrus and minerals – with a hint of soft sweetwoods.
Overall – There is nothing subtle or wimpy about this great wine! Bright, tart, complex, robust and delicious, this wine is filled with character and deep flavors. Here at Wine Spies Headquarters, we are big fans of more complex Chardonnay, and this wine really excited us; It fills the senses with its big character and delicious flavors. We experimented with tasting the wine at different temperatures, and found that it softened and delivered more fruit as it warms slightly. Enjoy this superb wine with soft, flavorful cheeses.
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 Kendall-Jackson 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 winery-exclusive 2007 Alexander Valley Chardonay 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: Goodness, that is an impressive bunch of winemakers. I am pleased to tell you that we have featured wines made by almost all of them! Tell me, 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: Please tell me a little bit about the wine we are featuring today
SUSAN: This is one of our small production wines, we bottled 380 cases. It’s 100% barrel fermented in new French Oak barrels, and barrel aged for 13 months. Aging in barrel helps to integrate the fruit and barrel aspects in the wine. Extended aging on lees builds weight and roundness, increases viscosity. This wine did not go through malo-lactic fermentation, so it maintains a good balanced acidity. It’s a big wine, maybe more of white wine for red wine drinker; full bodied, lots of viscosity on the palate, but finishes with a lifted acidity. Our Alexander Valley Chardonnay has aromas of roasted pear and pineapple, smoke and toasted brioche.
RED: What is your favorite pairing with today’s wine?
SUSAN: I like drinking this Chard before the meal with a cheese plate of Cowgirl Creamery’s Mt. Tam, an olive oil marinated goat cheese like Laura Chenel’s Cabecou, and Montenebro or a main course of grilled scallops on a bed of shaved Brussels sprout and a very light orange truffle sauce.
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: We are putting together our final blends of 08 Red wines, tasting through the 2009 wine that’s aging in barrel, and finishing up bottling. We are receiving our new barrels at the winery, finalizing our harvest estimates, buying harvest supplies and getting our equipment checked out so we will be in good shape for the fruit to come in this vintage. We are also trying to cram in last minute vacations so we’ll be refreshed and ready for harvest. In a nutshell, we’re prepping for Harvest.
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: Brilliantly clear, lightly golden.
Aroma: Roasted pear, ripe peach, and cognac spice lifted with vanilla notes.
Flavor: Toasty oak spice with bright pear to peach. Full on the palate, richly structured and finishing with spiced with oak.
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.
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: 100% CHARDONNAY
Oak Aging: 13 MONTHS BARREL AGING 100% New French Oak
Total acidity: 6.8g/l