2005 Pinot Noir
California: Sonoma County
What We Say
If you are visiting The Wine Spies for the first time, Welcome! The Wine Spies feature one exceptional wine each day – and we only bring you wines that we ourselves seek out and love. Always, the wines are great. Sometimes even better than that – as is the case with today’s wine from Souverain.
Exclusive Wine Alert!
Today, The Wine Spies bring you another wine that you can’t buy anywhere but the winery – and HERE!
Shipping Included on 6 bottles or more. Enter this coupon code at checkout (discount will be shown before you complete your order): PINOTSPY
Mission Codename: Sunshine always follows (Souve)rain
Operative: Agent Red
Objective: Go undercover at Souverain to find a hidden gem that you can’t buy anywhere but from the winery itself – and grab a handful of cases for our Operatives
Mission Status: Accomplished!
Current Winery: Chateau Souverain
Wine Subject: 2005 Sonoma County Pinot Noir
Winemaker: Ed Killian
Backgrounder: Many wineries produce wines for the mass market – those that you can buy at your local grocery store or bottle shop. While these wines can be just dandy, our Operatives demand the more top secret wines that wineries sell only in their tasting rooms and to wine club members. Today, Agent Red goes undercover at Souverain where he manages to recover a few cases of their “tasting room-only” Pinot Noir. Read his tasting notes and mission report below
Wine Spies Tasting Profile:
Look – This wine has a concentrated heart of deep burgundy that goes to dark garnet all the way out to the edges – with a tight and springy surface and tight-spaced legs
Smell – Rich aromatics of dark cherry, blackberry, strawberry and plum, with smoked bacon, and soft earthen spice. After a few hours of decanting, gunpowder and even a hint of cocoa powder make an appearance
Feel – Cool and round at the front of the mouth, velvety at the mid-palate and mouth-coating at the fringes with soft tannins. With decanting, this wine softens up and becomes even more round and smooth
Taste – The flavors here are mirrored almost exactly by its aromas, with added featured that include cranberry and kola nut. Once again, decanting only improves this wine and give its flavors a more even, balanced and refined character.
Finish – Exceptionally long and lingering with a mild dryness and flavors that change as the wine winds down, reminding you to take another sip
Conclusion – Did I mention that you should decant this wine for best results? After several hours in the air the wine becomes much softer, without losing its edge. I really enjoyed this wine best after leaving it in its ungassed bottle overnight. Topping a bottle with inert argon gas prevents over-oxygenation which can break down a wine. Its a fine balance as a wine exposed to the air for too long can turn bad quickly. With this wine, I experimented, leaving it in its uncorked bottle for 10 hours. It was perfect and so much better than on first open!
Authentic and Attainable is how Souverain describes their great wines. While we agree with the first part of that declaration, we found the second part to be somewhat, well, relative.
You see, many wineries hold back their more precious wines for their tasting room customers or for their wine club members. Today’s wine is just such a wine and unless you are a club member or can get yourself into their tasting room in picturesque downtown Healdsburg, this wine is unattainable to most of our Operatives. However, as an Operative, you know that this exclusivity has never kept us from getting you a wine once we have our sights set on it.
I wish that I could tell you that today’s mission to obtain the unobtainable was fraught with intrigue and peril. Rather, we simply relied on our network of assets in the field.
One such asset, industry insider Codename: Malbec, pulled a few strings and made a few key introductions and viola! I was in, landing a temp spot in the tasting room. Once inside, I was able to learn everything that I could about Souverains great wines. Because our Operatives have been keen for a great Pinot Noir for under $25, I zeroed in on the 2005 Sonoma County Pinot. With a few days at the tasting room, I was able to sample the wine freshly opened and well-decanted. Both were great, but a few hours of decant on this wine and it sings!
While I worked there, I got to learn a lot about the Souverain way of making wine. Their 120 year-old estate vineyards sits within Sonoma County’s Alexander Valley, where I happen to think some of the finest California wines come from. Winemaker Ed Killian has been making wines in this region for more than a quarter century and his desire to create wines that express the harmony between place and varietal shows in each of the wines that he stewards at Souverain.
When my temp gig was up, Malbec quietly revealed my true identity to the tasting room manager – who was happy to have had a bonafide Wine Spy in the house. The manager pumped my hand and asked me which wine I loved most, and how many cases I would be needing.
I just love this job!
Wine Spies Vineyard Check:
The location of the Souverain estate vineyards is Top secret, but their tasting room can be seen in this satellite photo.
What the Winery Says
Today’s wine comes to us from Sonoma County, where Souverain is a proud member of Sonoma County Vintners
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About This Wine:
Dark saturated garnet in color, this Sonoma County Pinot Noir offers beautiful aromas of ripe black cherry and dark plum with back notes of strawberry, violet and spice. Rich, fruit-driven flavors that echo the nose are framed by structured tannins. This Pinot Noir has jammy and earthy notes that lead to a long finish that is complemented by hints of baking spices. Enjoy now, but also tuck some away in your cellar as this Pinot Noir is sure to age well.
About The Winery:
Authentic – Wines that are the best expression of each varietal and Alexander Valley
Attainable – Exceptional wines that you can drink every day
Award Winning – A sixty-year history of unsurpassed wine quality as noted by the wine press
At Souverain, our goal is to make authentic wines that are the best expression of each varietal and Alexander Valley. We believe our consumers deserve to drink great wine every night, so our wines are exceptional & attainable. Our love affair with producing wines has stretched back over 60 years and during that time our award winning wines have received numerous accolades and praise from the wine press.
In the end, though, the most important award to us is a satisfied consumer.
Having worked with the same growing areas – and in some cases the same vineyards – for more than 25 years, Ed Killian knows the vineyards of Alexander Valley inside and out. He understands which blocks will give him the fruit he’s looking for to create Souverain’s signature style. He believes the most important part of winemaking is learning the characteristics and tendencies of the vineyards.
Ed joined Souverain winery as associate winemaker in 1992 from Lambert Bridge Winery in Dry Creek Valley. In his role as associate winemaker, Ed had a strong hand in every aspect of winemaking at Souverain, and was named winemaker in May of 1996. As winemaker, Ed views his role as the steward of the Souverain name and historical legacy. He uses his expertise to craft Alexander Valley wines on which he’s proud to put the Souverain name.
Souverain has such an incredible history of making distinct wines, and I constantly work to carry on that legacy and tradition, says Ed Killian. The beautiful, concentrated fruit of our 120-year-old Alexander Valley Estate Vineyards contributes to this, as do our cellar techniques and our new state-of-the-art winemaking facility. My mission is to continue to craft wines that represent the best of Alexander Valley.
Ed serves on the Board of the Alexander Valley Winegrowers, and is a member of the American Society for Enology and Viticulture and the California Enological Research Association. He earned a bachelor’s degree in biology at the University of Redlands and a master’s in enology at the University of California at Davis. Upon graduation Ed worked as a research enologist for Guild Wineries before joining Lambert Bridge in 1981.
He and his wife, Jean – both native Californians – have lived in Healdsburg since 1981. When Ed is not making wine, he is an avid home brewer and also enjoys cooking, scuba diving and gardening
The history of Souverain began in the Napa Valley in 1944 when J. Leland “Lee” Stewart harvested his first crop of wine grapes from his Howell Mountain property in the northern part of the valley.
At the suggestion of his young daughter, Stewart named his winery “Souverain” (taken from the French word for “sovereign” or “supreme”), and his Cabernet Sauvignon bottlings from the 1960s were considered by many to be just that.
In the years that followed, Stewart used innovation and a natural gift for winemaking to establish Souverain as one of the great California wineries.
The winery moved to the Alexander Valley when Stewart eventually sold it in 1973. Stewart stayed on as a consultant throughout the construction of the new facility. In 1976, a limited partnership of growers took control and by 1981, Stewart had fully retired from winemaking.
Beringer winery bought Souverain in 1986 and added the word Chateau to the Souverain brand name. In 1992, Ed Killian was hired on as Associate Winemaker and by 1996 he was the head Winemaker.
In 2006, Souverain built a state-of-the-art winemaking facility surrounded by the 120-year-old Souverain Estate Vineyards in the Alexander Valley, near Cloverdale, where Winemaker Ed Killian has long been sourcing the grapes for his award-winning Alexander Valley Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot and Sauvignon Blanc.
While the name, faces and location of the winery have changed over the years, the tradition of fine wine production continues at Souverain today. Just as Lee Stewart began, Ed Killian consistently produces outstanding wines that represent the best of their region.