2011 Edna Valley Albarino
California: Central Coast: Edna Valley
What We Say
SUPERIOR WINE ALERT:
Today’s selection from LaZarre Wines is truly a wine of characer and finesse. If you are a fan of the great Albariño, a perfect Summertime sipper, this wine belongs in your chiller – and on your table.
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Mission Codename: The Great White
Operative: Agent Red
Objective: Acquire a limited allocation of the legendary 2011 release of Adam LaZarre’s Edna Valley Albariño – a wine that in its early release, has already garnered wide attention and its first medal.
Mission Status: Accomplished!
Current Winery: LaZarre Wines
Wine Subject: 2011 Albariño – Edna Valley
Winemaker: Adam LaZarre
California’s Central Coast region, and specifically Santa Barbara and San Luis Obisbo County has become one of the state’s premier wine regions. The generally warmer climate, moderated by the coastal fog, its sandy and clay loam soil, and broad exposure results in grapes of exceptional purity.
Albariño is the primary grape used to make dry white wine in Northwestern Spains Rias Baixes (Lower Inlets) part of the Galicia region. Considered to be Spain’s premier quality white wine, Albariño is known in Portugal as Alvarinho, where it is often used as a component of Vinho Verde.
Adam LaZarre, while he is officially the winemaker for Villa San-Juliette Winery (and formerly from Hahn Estates and their affiliated labels) has been making super-premium, limited quantity wines for years and has elevated his skill to an art form. Always an operative favorite, this wine, as with all of Adam’s wines, is highly recommended.
Wine Spies Tasting Profile:
Look – Golden yellow with perfect clarity and even coloring, from core to edge. When you spin the wine, it looks dense and springy. It settles quickly, leaving behind tall,skinny tears that move swiftly down the glass.
Smell – Fresh and bright with plenty of zesty lemon, birch bark, lime, yellow apple and yellow grapefruit. As the wine warms and opens up a little, it reveals underripe pear, white peach, dried white flowers and a hint of minerally almond.
Feel – Soft and round on entry, then quickly zingy, bright, lively and drying. Bright acids transport a rush of crisp flavors to the far corners of the palate. A flinty dryness spreads quickly, drying tongue, lips then cheeks.
Taste – Bright and bold with lively flavors of lemon, lime, white peach, grapefruit and tart green apple. Allow the wine to warm a little and be rewarded with soft, follow-on flavors of white flower petals, pear, slate and subtle white pepper.
Finish – Very long and ever-changing, this wine starts off with tart citrus that gives way to peach and green apple which, in turn, yield to pear, slate minerals, white flowers – with a fine, zesty hint of white pepper at the very end. After flavors fade from the main parts of the palate, the white pepper zing persists on the lips – which is really fun.
Conclusion – Oh, Adam LaZarre, when we start our own winery, will you be our winemaker?! Adam always seems to just get it right when he makes his wines. This explains why he is one of the most sought-after winemakers on the Central Coast – and beyond. We even received a recent report (from one of our deep cover moles) that a prominent Napa Valley winery tried to recruit him.
Adam’s 2011 LaZarre Albariño – Edna Valley is a bright, delicious, fun wine that is filled with life, flavor and complexity. Flavors are persistent and they change from one to another in even tempo, leading to a very long and exciting finish. At the very end, fruits fade away and a lovely flinty minerality is punctuated by a softly spicy white pepper feel on the lips. If you love Albariño, or great white wines for that matter, you’ll want to stock up on this delicious summertime sipper.
Wine Spies Vineyard Check:
The location of the verdant Edna Valley, perhaps the finest place in the Western Hemisphere for white wines (according to Adam LaZarre), can be seen in this satellite photo.
What the Winery Says
About This Wine:
Pear. Apple. Peach. Lush. Rich. Sweet. Bone dry. Traditional. Honoring the grape and its’ origin. Yummmmm.
I’ve wanted to make Albariño so long you have no idea. I’ve been to Spain to research its production. I’ve tried to figure out what everyone stateside is doing right and, unfortunately, doing wrong. When this wonderful fruit from the Edna Valley became available (you know me… I think the Edna Valley is the best appellation for white wines in the western hemisphere…), I jumped on it.
There is some serious winemaking going on here. During the pre-fermentation protocol, the juice was separated into free-run, light press, and heavy press fractions. After tank fermentation, the resulting wines were aged sur-lies for 7 months and the different lots were blended together in a very specific cuvee that took quite some time to nail down. The idea was to create a rich “sweetness” not unlike the lushness that you find in many Alsatian wines. But also, there needed to be that wonderful stone fruit and apple complexity that you find in the great Albariños of Rias Baixas. The resulting wine is dense, ripe, and mouth-filling. Pair with steamed mussels and chorizo, chicken empanadas, and/or sautéed shrimp in garlic and butter.
We often think of Pinot Noir as conforming to one of two distinct styles: Burgundian or Californian. So what defines either? I think I understand what people are referencing when the conversation comes up, but I don’t think that a delineation of these two “styles” is that easy to define, nor is universally applied. Generally speaking, when someone tells me a Pinot is Californian in style, I immediately understand without so much as a confirming taste that what they are saying, is that the wine is oaky, rich, and “clean” – cherry/strawberry notes without the more interesting complexities that whole cluster fermentation and reductive winemaking contribute to the aromatic and flavor profile. I hope that was as diplomatic a definition. I wouldn’t want to be on record as saying “stinky”.
In contrast, when someone tells me a wine is Burgundian, I usually take it to mean that the wine possesses aromas that are reductive, stemmy, or generally unusual and the flavors can only be described as austere. To me, that is untrue, disingenuous, and even insulting to the wines that actually originate in Burgundy. The fact is, only wines that come from Burgundy can be described as “Burgundian”. The terroir is so unique and the growing conditions so inimitable as to be almost completely irreproducible anywhere else in the world…save Oregon in certain years. Outside of that, Pinot Noir must and should be only known as Pinot Noir, without any other defining adjective outside of the descriptors that define the wine in question. Then all will be right in the world and I can get back to my favorite past time: bitching about the over-planting and subsequent over-production of Merlot. Oh, and drinking tequila. Yep. Don’t want to forget that. I love tequila.
How lucky to have made Pinot Noir in 2007. It is by all accounts the best vintage EVER for the variety on the Central Coast, maybe all of California. I can tell you with 100% certainty that the LaZarre wines of 2007 are by far the best I’ve ever made. Just remarkable. Intense. Deep. Structured. Complex. Complete. It is a blend of Sierra Madre Vineyards from the Santa Maria Valley and a famous San Luis Obispo County Pinot Vineyard that I can’t name because of contractual obligations. Nothing is simple with me. Sorry.
About The Winery:
I started LaZarre Wine Company in 2003 as a means to produce unique, small quantity releases of wines I find fascinating, particularly (but not limited to) Pinot Noirs and Pinot Blancs. As a successful veteran winemaker working for some of the most exclusive wineries on the Central Coast I get to work with some of the most remarkable vineyards in California but often have no vehicle that I can use to showcase their wines as they are normally just components in a bigger blend. LaZarre Wines gives me just such a vehicle, often producing vineyard designated or sub-appellation specific wines. Almost all are small lot and hand crafted with minimalist “winemaker intervention”. Just crush, ferment, and jam into the barrel. The strength of the wine lies in the vineyard – as it should be.
About Adam Lazarre – Winemaker
Adam LaZarre is also the man behind outstanding wines here at Villa San-Juliette Winery. Making the transition from Hahn Estates Winery in Monterey where he has been the head winemaker for the past 8 years, Adam has an impressive list of accomplishments under his belt. He has lead the nation in gold medal hauls three out of the last five years as well as Best-of-Show awards. In addition, he has been honored by the Sacramento Bee as Winemaker of the Year in 2005, and was named one of the Top Five Winemakers in 2006 by the San Francisco Chronicle. Adam first fell in love with California wine while serving in the US Navy. At some point, his passion for the liquid became so consuming, that he enrolled in the Enology program at Fresno State University immediately upon receiving his honorable discharge. While in the department, he fell in love with the Central Coast wine growing region and chose to make it his home upon graduation. Although he has produced wines from virtually every major appellatin in California over the course of his two decade career, he truly enjoys above all else the challenges and rewards that Paso Robles wine making has to offer. While walking through the vineyards after first meeting with Ken and Nigel, it became apparent to him that Villa San-Juliette should be his new home. All of us here are excited to have Adam in charge of the team.
Winemaker: Adam LaZarre
Appellation: Edna Valley
Varietal: 100% Albarino
Cases Produced: 198
Cooperage: Stainless Steel Tank / Neutral Oak
Bottling date: May 11, 2012