Alexander Valley Vineyards
2007 Alexander School Reserve Old Vine Grenache
California: Sonoma County: Alexander Valley
What We Say
FINAL AVAILABILITY ALERT:
Once again, The Wine Spies were able to secure the last remaining cases of a wine. Today’s wine is the most popular varietal in the winery’s tasting room.
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Mission Codename: The Crown of Alexander
Operative: Agent Red
Objective: Send Agent Red back to Alexander Valley Vineyard to secure a the final quantity Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon
Mission Status: Accomplished!
Current Winery: Alexander Valley Vineyards
Wine Subject: 2007 Alexander School Reserve Old Vine Grenache
Winemaker: Kevin Hall
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. Today’s rarest of gems is an old vine Grenache, which comes from 85-year-old vines in the Sceales vineyard.
Grenache, most famous in France’s southern Rhone is the primary grape of Chateauneuf-du-Pape (CDP). That being said, most CDPs are an encépagement (blend) of many grapes including Syrah, Mourvedre and up to 10 other grapes. Occasionally, when a particular fruit is so good, you’ll find a 100% varietal CDP. Perhaps the most famous of these 100% CDPs is Chateau Rayas (also known for exceptional white CDPs). So it was with great anticipation that we tasted Bryan Kane’s 100% Grenache, especially knowing that one of his winemaking inspirations are the superb wines of the southern Rhone.
Wine Spies Tasting Profile:
Look – Burgundy hues at its core, transitioning to a thick band of light cotton-candy pink at its edges. After a hearty swirl, clusters of broad legs thin considerably as they descend to the wine below.
Smell – Complex and brambly, with cherry candy, red plum and dried cranberry out in front. As the wine breaths, aromas of sweet green tobacco leaf, dried apricot and sweetwoods emerge.
Feel – Very smooth on the initial attack, then at mid palate the wine becomes firm and grippy. Medium tannins, a balanced acidity and a drying minerality all appear in a rush, lingering long into the finish.
Taste – Earthy black cherry, blackberry brambly and red plum flavors mix with softly toasted oak, dried cranberry, fine tangerine peel and soft black pepper.
Finish – Long, bold and dry – at first. Then, as flavors slowly tail off, the chewy feeling dissipates and is replaced by a mouthwatering dryness. In all, flavors linger for a long time.
Conclusion – The 2006 Alexander Valley Vineyards Alexander School Reserve Old Vine Grenache is as much a mouthful to say, as it is a mouthful to drink. That is to say that the wine is really very mouth filling, with rustic flavors and a big, grippy, mouth-coating feel that makes this wine a unique drinking experience. The nose is bold and fragrant and, with its bright acidity, we think that this is a very food-friendly wine. On sampling this wine, it is easy to see why it is so popular with the winery’s wine club members. Pair with spicy BBQ chicken or a spicy Indian meal.
Busy in the vineyards at this time of year, we were unable to secure an interview with winemaker, Kevin Hall. Tune in again, the next time we feature another fantastic AVV wine!
Wine Spies Vineyard Check:
The location of the Alexander Valley Vineyards can be seen in this satellite photo.
What the Winery Says
Awards & Accolades:
Gold Medal – 2011 Houston Rodeo Wine Competition
About This Wine:
Grenache is truly an undiscovered pleasure. Though it’s one of the most widely planted varietals around the globe, Grenache is not something most people request when they gaze at the wine list at their favorite restaurant or visit their local wine merchant. Yet it’s the foundation of great wines from the Chateuneuf-du-Papes of France to the Priorats of Spain.
Vintners and growers in California also understand that handled correctly, great wines can be crafted from the varietal here in Sonoma. That may be one reason plantings have been increasing in recent years. One grower who has recognized the virtues of Grenache is Ralph Sceales who carefully tends the oldest Grenache vineyard in Alexander Valley that is the source for the 2007 Alexander School Old Vine Grenache. The vines on this small vineyard block are 85-years-old and like all old vineyards, yields are very low.
The first thing you’ll notice with this wine is the gorgeous nose reminiscent of candied fruits. The flavors are soft and elegant, dominated by notes of dried cherries and orange peel accented by a pinch of white pepper.
About The Winery:
Welcome to our family-owned wine estate, once the original homestead of Cyrus Alexander, the namesake of this prominent viticultural appellation, Alexander Valley. We purchased the land from the Alexander’s heirs in 1962, planted vineyards, and in 1975 built our winery. Here we grow grapes and produce delicious wines that complement food and enrich your dining experience.
Alexander Valley Vineyards is located on Highway 128 in northern Sonoma County, just 75 miles north of San Francisco, 6 miles from the sleepy town of Healdsburg and 16 miles from Calistoga in the Napa Valley.
Visit our historic property, taste our award-winning wines including our Estate Cabernet Sauvignon and our renowned Sin Zin, bring a picnic and enjoy beautiful vistas of our peaceful, rural valley. Our winery tasting room is open daily, 10am to 5pm.
About The Winemaker:
Kevin Hall has studied wine and winemaking techniques across the globe, but the AVV winemaker says his philosophy has always been to respect the inherent qualities of the estate grapes right at his doorstep. “I get beautiful fruit from here on the property,” he says, “and my main focus is to preserve the flavor of the varietal and the terroir.”
Kevin, who has a Masters of Science in Enology from the University of California–Davis, joined the winemaking staff at AVV in 1998. Before that, he spent a year exploring the world’s major wine regions with his wife Paula. “My wife’s family is from the Mosel region of Germany,” he says. “Her grandparents made wine and sold it to their village cooperative.” The pair worked at wineries in Bingen, Germany and Hastings, New Zealand. Between assignments, while traveling through Italy, Spain and all the major wine regions of France and Australia, they talked to as many winemakers as they could, learning key techniques that other winemakers used to produce their best wines.
Under his direction, Alexander Valley Vineyards has won numerous prestigious awards including Best of Show at both the Atlanta International Wine Competition and the Houston Rodeo International Wine Competition, Best Red Wine at the Eastern International Wine Competition and the Florida State Fair and Best Bordeaux Blend at the California State Fair.
Appellation: Alexander Valley
Grape Varietal: 94% Grenache, 6% Syrah
Barrel Regimen: Aged for 21 months in 1, 2, and 3-year-old French oak barrels
Cases Produced: 230