Wallis Family Estate

2008 'Little Sister Red Wine'

Red Blend

California: Napa Valley: Diamond Mountain

Offer Expired:Jul 09, 2011 at 11:59 pm
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Mission Codename: Not your average little sister

Operative: Agent White

Objective: Revisit our friends at Wallis Family Estate and abscond with their delicious Little Syster Red Wine

Mission Status: Accomplished!

Current Winery: Wallis Family Estate

Wine Subject: 2008 Little Sister Diamond Mountain District Red Table Wine

Winemaker: Thomas Rivers Brown

Backgrounder: The grapes for today’s proprietary blend come from the esteemed Diamond Mountain District of Napa Valley. The Diamond District AVA (American Viticultural Area) at the northern tip of the Napa Valley, is part of the Mayacamas Mountains. The higher elevation of the region sees more direct sunlight and less cooling that the rest of the valley, leading to the production of some of the most concentrated and delicious Cabernet Sauvignon in the entire Napa Valley.

Today’s fantastic blend of Bordeaux varietals is 61% Cabernet Sauvignon, 17% Cabernet Franc, 13% Merlot, 9% Petit Verdot.

Wine Spies Tasting Profile:

Look – Beautifully dark and dense purple with a dense clear core that barely lets the light show through. Where it does and along the edges, the color remains a dark garnet purple. When swirled, widely spaced medium-fat legs descend quickly to the wine below.

Smell – Fragrant and redolent ripe sweet black and blue fruit including ripe cherry, blackberry and raspberry mingle with floral and earthy forest aromas. Add a touch of sweet and baking spice, smoke and hints of sweet tobacco to that and its surrounded by its balanced oak framework.

Feel – This dry full-bodied wine is very smooth initially on the palate then at mid palate its round tannins interact with a touch of tangy acidity and mouth drying mountain minerality to create an expansive and chewy mouth feel.

Taste – Layers of ripe and plump red and black fruit including black cherry, black raspberry, plum and blackberry create a jammy flavor profile. Just underneath the abundant fruit lies complex layers of sweet tobacco, spice, earthy notes, hints of mocha and toasted oak.

Finish – Very long with the ripe fruit lingering as the other complex flavors fade. Once the fruit fades, this wine’s mouth drying structure lasts until your watering mouth begs for another sip.

Conclusion – The 2008 Wallis Family Estate Little Sister Diamond Mountain District Red Table Wine is a delicious fruit forward and generous wine with nice complexity and a mouth feel that starts super plush then trends to show its mountain heritage. A great wine to pair with grilled game meat or steaks. Drinking amazingly well now for a relatively youthful wine, but will continue to improve in the cellar for five to seven years.

Mission Report:


SUBJECT: Edward Wallis


RED: Hello Edward, It’s been a couple of years since we had a chance to share your fabulous wines with our operatives. Please tell us about the Wallis Family Estate 2008 Little Sister.

EDWARD: Well Agent Red, it has been an interesting two years. The Wallis 2008 Little Sister is the first chance to see the result of a very long work in progress. Our winemaker, Thomas Rivers Brown, has crafted a delightful blended Cabernet from our vineyards from the Diamond Mountain District in the Napa Valley.

RED: Ok I’ll bite, what’s the proprietary blend, and why is so special?

EDWARD: We have eight different blocks of varietals in our vineyard. There are five different blocks of Cabernet, single blocks of Merlot, Cab Franc, and Petit Verdot. The 2008 Little Sister is 61 Percent Cabernet Sauvignon, 17 Percent Cabernet Franc, 13 Percent Merlot, and 9 Percent Petit Verdot . We are required to call it Red Wine because it falls below the 75 percent varietal requirement. I believe that it is special because the blend makes the wine so much deeper in palette flavors, and aromas. It’s like a symphony compared to a solo.

RED: Wow ! I see what you mean. Please tell us a little bit about your winemaker Thomas Brown.

EDWARD: Thomas is a little like Merlin. Soft spoken, crazy smart, and he takes meticulous care in his handling of the fruit in the field, and also during the wine making process. He tries to let the wine make itself with gentle guidance. He carefully selects a combination of different French oak barrels. The wines are made in a hospital type environment, with constant surveillance of their chemistry. It is a quiet and thoughtful process.

RED: How have the first tier critics received the 2008 Little Sister ?

EDWARD: We have enjoyed a nice selection of critical review. Mr. Parker describes Little Sister as “A new discovery for me, these two reds (Wallis DMD Cabernet is the other) are both impressive efforts made in an elegant, fresh, lively style with plenty of depth and richness.” Another recommendation came from The San Francisco International Wine Competition where the Wallis 2008 Little Sister won a Double Gold Medal. Only 153 entries out of 4180 got that honor !

RED: Congratulations, I hope our operatives see what a great value we are offering during this sale. An award winning and critically acclaimed, red wine from the Diamond Mountain District in the Napa Valley. Made by Thomas Rivers Brown to boot.

EDWARD: We came to you because your Operatives are savvy, and always on the hunt for the rare, and undiscovered.

What the Winery Says

Awards & Accolades:

Double Gold Medal, Premium Bordeaux Blend2011 San Francisco International Wine Competition

Robert Parker – “A new discovery for me, these two reds are both impressive efforts made in an elegant, fresh, lively style with plenty of depth and richness.” Dec 2010

About The Wine:

The 2008 Little Sister Proprietary Red exhibits a perfumed nose of forest floor, red and black fruits and a touch of mossy underbrush. Medium to full-bodied and elegant with silky sweet tannins and a judicious touch of oak, this restrained yet interesting wine should drink well for at least a decade.

About The Vintage:

The 2006 vintage looked to be a grower’s year and with excellent agricultural practices at WFE the grapes were spectacular. There was a flood on New Year’s day which did some damage to the vineyards, but those parts were replanted and there was no effect on the rest of the vineyard. There was only a slight reduction in crop level. Bud break was slow and came late in the spring with fruit set around June 1st after the weather had turned for the better. There was record breaking heat in July, but with delayed bud break it did no damage to the vines. It accelerated the maturation of the vines to catch up to historical timing. Any clusters that did receive sunburn were removed through the thinning process.

The weather turned seasonal through August and normal maturation post veraison was the order of the harvest. The harvest period was cool with a bit of rain in October which had no effect. The grapes were harvested mid to late October and produce wines of excellence. There is a tannic and vibrant component to the resulting wines that hint at long term aging.

The grapes were harvested at night with lights in the vineyard allowing for cold grapes to arrive at the crusher. Four people sorted the grapes before entering the destemmer where all lots were put into small fermentors to control temperatures more easily. The wines were allowed to ferment close to 90 degrees to extract deep color and cooled to 80 degrees at 12 brix to allow for fruitier components to be preserved in the wine. The wines went to dryness and some of the lots were allowed to have extended maceration to extract the softer tannins. All the wines were put into new French oak barrels and aged for 21 months.

About The Winemaker:

Phil Steinschriber has been involved in the beverage business since his teens. He became Diamond Creek Vineyards winemaker in 1991. “He produces the Diamond Creek wines today after setting a tone of softer wines in the 90’s and rounder more complex wines in the 2000’s.” Phil knows the Diamond Mountain District from a very personal commitment to its terroir. We like to think of it as sperroir, or a spiritual connection to the area. Phil has championed Diamond Creek’s success, and we are very proud that he has made our wine for vintages 2006 and 2007.

Technical Analysis:

Varietals: 61% Cabernet Sauvignon, 17% Cabernet Franc, 13% Merlot, 9% Petit Verdot

Alcohol: 14.5% (14.7%)

TA: 0.57

pH: 3.82

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