What We Say 2005 Thunderbolt Winery Velvet Petite Verdot
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Mission Codename: The Elysian Fields
Operative: Agent Red
Objective: Return to Paso Robles, to our friends at Twilight Cellars/Thunderbolt Winery. In time for Thanksgiving delivery, secure an ample allocation of their boldly delicious Petite Verdot.
Mission Status: Accomplished!
Current Winery: Twilight Cellars/Thunderbolt Winery
Wine Subject: 2005 Velvet – Paso Robles Petite Verdot
Winemaker: Richard Gumerman
Backgrounder: Paso Robles, in California’s Southern Central Coast region (San Luis Obisbo County) is one of California’s oldest and also newest wine growing regions. The first vines were planted in the late 1700s by the Spanish missionaries.
Paso’s unique climate, perhaps influences its vine more than any other area in California. The hot, dry weather that is only minimally effected by coastal fog and wine results in grapes that are more concentrated in flavor and intensity. This climate makes Paso uniquely suited to grow Petite Verdot. Used primarily as a blending component, this Bordeaux delicious varietal is usually characterized as intense, dark, and with powerful flavors. Today’s superior wine marks the first time we have shown a single-varietal Petite Verdot and we are thrilled with our find. Read Agent Red’ s mission report and tasting notes below for the full intel on today’s exciting
Wine Spies Tasting Profile:
Look – Darkest ruby hues, with evenly-concentrated color – from center to edge. After swirling, densely-spaced legs start very high up on the glass wall. They take a very long time to emerge, but then march steadily down the glass to the wine below.
Smell – Deep and sweet, with aromatic blackberry, blueberry, raspberry and cherry out in front. These sit atop subtler earthen components on bramble, soft spice, dried violets, sweetwoods and a hint of sweet tobacco.
Feel – Round at light-weight, at first. Then, the wine settles onto the mid-palate where it takes on a medium weight and becomes almost chewy. Integrated tannins and a bright acidity contribute to the complexity of the wine.
Taste – Ripe and sweet-tart, with blackberry, black cherry, dried cranberry, dark raspberry, dried mission fig, smoky strawberry, dried black flower petals with a subtle spicy and flinty component at the end.
Finish – Long and very flavorful, with dark fruit that morphs from sweet to tart to softly smokey as a a soft, mineral laden dryness encroaches.
Conclusion – This is a really delicious example of Petite Verdot! What took our tasting panel most by surprise was the amount of red fruit that shone through on the nose and palate. The cherry, strawberry and raspberry components are fresh and bright. On the palate, the wine is approachable and friendly, not the brash beast that some Petite Verdot can be. This is impressive, given that this particular PV comes from Paso Robles, where red wine can have more in your face attitude – and flavors that can be rather over the top. Alarmingly, it has been nearly two years since we have featured a Petite Verdot and while we have been offered our fair share of them, none have impressed us enough to present them to you. Until today!
WINEMAKER INTEL BRIEFING DOSSIER
SUBJECT: Richard Gumerman
WINE EDUCATION: 5 years apprenticing at Wollersheim Winery during crush. Then 6 years here in Paso Robles making wine for 14 different clients and crushing up to 520 tons of grapes per year.
CALIFORNIA WINE JOB BRIEF: Grew up in Milwaukee, WI and moved to Newport Beach, CA in 1986. Education at University of Notre Dame in Business Finance and Economics. Worked at many financial institutions including General Electric and Bank of America doing Information Technology jobs. Dabbled in growing wine grapes for over 10 years, especially in Prairie du Sac, WI where I farmed Marechal Foch.
WINEMAKING PHILOSOPHY: Pick the grapes when they are ripe and make the smoothest full bodied wine you can get and age it a long time in oak barrels.
FIRST COMMERCIAL WINE RELEASE: 02/10/2006
AGENT RED: Greetings, Richard. We are thrilled to be showing your 2009 Velvet Petite Verdot today. Thanks so much for taking some time to answer questions for our Operatives today.
RICHARD GUMERMAN: Thank you for having us back on Wine Spies. We love what you guys do.
RED: Was there a specific experience in your life that inspired your love of wine?
RICHARD: My father was a wine collector all through my childhood. He would teach me about the differences between the different types of wine and where they were from around the world. Then on my honeymoon 22 years ago, we spent two days in Napa Valley and bought 9 cases of wine. We found out a couple of years later that the lowest rated wine that we purchased was 98 out of 100 points on Wine Spectator. So we discovered we knew what the good stuff was.
RED: What wine or winemaker has most influenced your winemaking style?
RICHARD: Philippe Coquard of Wollersheim Winery in Prairie du Sac, WI. Philippe and I became good friends when we moved back to Wisconsin from California in 1996. He grew up in Beaujolais and told me to stick to the old world styles in making your wines. You can never go wrong making a wine that has already proven itself.
RED: Who do you make wine for?
RICHARD: I make wine mainly for the foodie’s that love to have wine with food. Along the way I also make wine for many other people, both under contract and for the mass market. But my main goal is to make wine for people who love wine with a meal.
RED: Please tell me a little bit about the wine we are featuring today.
RICHARD: Velvet is our favorite wine. It is full of flavor and velvety smooth. It is great with food but also great by itself. Bottom line, this is good stuff.
RED: What is your favorite pairing with today’s wine?
RICHARD: My favorite food with this wine is Pork Roast. The tannins of the wine cut through the fat of the roast creating a purr-fect pairing. I also love it with game like Antelope.
RED: In your opinion, what makes the Paso Robles so special?
RICHARD: It is a combination of the 50 degree daily temperature swings and the calcareous (limestone) based soils. The vines have to struggle to grow in the limestone and then only get a few hours of heat each day to stretch out the growing season. Thus leading to more structure and flavor in the wines.
RED: What is occupying your time at the winery these days?
RICHARD: We are busy making the 2011 wines. The strange weather we’ve had all year here in Paso Robles has made it more like a year in Bordeaux France than a normal warm year. We noticed this as harvest time was approaching and the fruit was acting like it was ripe but the sugars were a couple of points lower than normal. So the wines from 2011 at Twilight will be between 12% and 14% alcohol instead of being over 14%. The wines should be great.
RED: How would you recommend people approach your wines and wine in general?
RICHARD: Because we age our standard reds at least 22 months in oak before bottling, and our reserves at least 36 months, you can expect our wines to be smoother and softer from the beginning. Our wine is meant to be drank with food so you can count on our wines to be a good pairing at any dinner you make or attend at a friend’s house.
RED: Is there anything else you’d like to share with our readers?
RICHARD: Our winery is celebrating its 50th anniversary this month. It started as HMR Winery back in 1961 as a 1200 acre ranch. They planted Pinot, Cabernet and Chardonnay between rock outcroppings of limestone and by 1975 were making award winning wines that received accolades in Europe. A special competition in Europe was held like the one in 1976 where Stags Leap Cab won. In 1979 HMR’s 1975 Pinot beat Romaneé-Conte. Then we bought the property in 2005 and have concentrated on Rhône varietals and Cabernet.
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!
RICHARD: We were forced to change our name earlier this year from Thunderbolt. We chose Twilight Cellars which was the name of our Pinot Noir. I know some people think we did it because of the movies, but we had the name before the movies came out.
Wine Spies Vineyard Check:
The location of the Twilight Vineyards Winery can be seen in this satellite photo.
What the Winery Says
About This Wine:
Seductive plums, blackberries, violets and dried cherry flavors are combined with sultry aromatics in this deeply colored wine with a long finish. A perfect wine for hearty meals such as Penne with Marinara sauce, slow cooked, fork tender Pork Roast, Venison Stew and Flank Steak with a mushroom sauce reduction.
Tasting Notes: Seductive plums, blackberries, violets and dried cherry flavors are combined with sultry aromatics in this deeply colored wine with a long finish.
Winemaker Notes: This fruit was purchased for blending purposes but was so good we released it on it’s own. It was fermented in open tops and then aged in 100% French oak for 2 years. Still bright, fruity and tannic all at the same time, we expect it to age quite well even though it drinks nicely right now. It is my favorite.
Food Pairing Notes: Perfect for hearty meals such as Penne Marinara, Venison Stew, Antelope Steak, Pork Roast and Flank Steak with a mushroom sauce reduction.
About The Winery:
In 1961, with the name Hoffman Mountain Ranch, Dr. Stanley Hoffman and his illustrious winemaker Andre Tchelistcheff began one of the first modern wineries in Paso Robles. In a 1979 Paris wine competition, the 1975 Hoffman Mountain Ranch Pinot Noir placed third in the world in a comparative tasting of 330 wines from 33 countries.1 Their Pinot Noir beat Romanee-Conti in Europe thus securing a place in wine making history. We invite you to visit the winery where it all began. The name has changed to Twilight Cellars but the dedication to craft wine is the same as when Dr. Hoffman and Andre Tchelistcheff began.
Richard and Aurora Gumerman, the new owners, share their passion for food and wine pairings making your visit educational and fun. The winery and grounds are undergoing intensive rebirth. Respect for the land and nature are primary goals for this renovation and beautification. Richard has started replanting the vineyards. So drive down the hill to where history was made.
Twilight Cellars offers Rhone varietals (Syrah, Mourvedre, Rhone blends), Bourdeax varietals (Cabernet Sauvignon, Zinfandel, Merlot, Chardonnay, and Alsatian Muscat) and Mundo Viejo and Rapture, exquisitely made Ports.
Richard, a former I.T. consultant, started a small vineyard in the Lake Wisconsin AVA as a hobby. He grew Marechal Foch grapes for Wollersheim Winery in Prairie du Sac, Wisconsin. Bob Wollersheim encouraged Richard to pursue his new hobby which later became a true labor of love. Aurora, a former pharmaceutical Representative did food and wine pairings as a hobby and later specialized in international cuisine.
With pioneering spirit, they shed their corporate suits and took upon their shoulders a monumental task. The re-vitalization of a historic winery. So, pardon the dust, and come to enjoy a part of Paso Robles history.
If you are wondering about the thunderbolts, fifteen years ago Richard’s vineyard in Wisconsin got struck by Lightning. Not once, not twice, but three times in the first season. Thunderstorms are not common here in California, but the Midwest has it’s share of them. So Richard came up with the name Thunderbolt for his vineyard when he started selling his fruit to Wollersheim Winery down the street. So if you ever visit his old vineyard, watch out on a blustery day for those lightning bolts. Here at Twilight Cellars follow the Red Thunderbolt signs down the road to find the Tasting Room. Also, watch out, a small Thunderstorm may erupt in the Tasting Room.
Varietal: Petit Verdot
Appellation: Paso Robles
Harvest Date: November 8, 2005
Sugar: 24.8 Brix
Acid: 6.5 g/L
Aging: 25 months – French Oak.
Fermentation: Open Top Bin
Bottling Date: January 5th, 2008
Residual Sugar: 2.1 g/L.