Truett-Hurst Vineyards & Winery
2007 Black Sheep Pinot Noir
California: Sonoma County
What we say
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Mission Codename: The White Sheep of the family
Operative: Agent Red
Objective: Continuing our celebration of Women Winemakers, return to Truett-Hurst and return with another of their fantastic wines – and an interview with winemaker, Ginny Lambrix
Mission Status: Accomplished!
Current Winery: Truett-Hurst
Wine Subject: 2007 Black Sheep Pinot Noir
Winemaker: Ginny Lambrix
Backgrounder: Our Operatives are gaga over Truett-Hurst wines. Crafted by winemaker, Ginny Lambrix, Truett-Hurst’s wines deliver remarkable distinctiveness and a pleasurable drinking experience – each time. When it came time to select our winemakers for our week-long salute to Women Winemakers, Ginny was an obvious choice. Please enjoy our interview, following our detailed tasting notes on today’s wine, below
Wine Spies Tasting Profile:
Look – Beautiful ruby red with a slightly darker heart and pretty pink color-concentration right out to the edges of the glass. This wine has a tight surface that settles quickly on swirling. The wine’s skinny but tightly-spaced legs move quickly down the glass
Smell – A rush of beautiful and fresh aromas of cherry, sweet raspberry jam, vanilla, black tea, chocolate powder, dried rose and hints of soft spice
Feel – Smooth, full and bright, velvety across the front palate. Then, medium-bodied with bright acidity and a medium tannic structure that leads to leads to a delicate balanced minerality
Taste – Bright and juicy, leading off with black cherry, cola, strawberry and softest spice
Finish – This wine finishes super clean and ultra-long with a smooth finish that incorporates its flavor components and a soft minerality
Conclusion – This fantastic Pinot Noir took us a while to get to, and boy do we wish that we had tasted it sooner! Having worked our way through much of the Truett-Hurst lineup, we expected great things from this wine – but I don’t think I was expecting the wine to be this great! Ginny Lambrix shows off her penchant for Pinot in this wine, by delivering a drinking experience that goes beyond the price of the wine. Thank you, Ginny. Thank you for your time in giving us a great interview and thank you for today’s wonderful Pinot Noir!
In continuing with our special Women Winemaker Week on The Wine Spies, we are proud to present Agent Sparkle’s interview with Virginia Lambrix:
AGENT SPARKLE: Hi Ginny, let’s jump right in! What inspired you to become a winemaker?
GINNY LAMBRIX: On a trip to South Africa, I tasted a really spectacular wine. I was hooked.
SPARKLE: How long have you been making wine?
GINNY: Since 2002 – when I started working harvests during graduate school.
SPARKLE: What is your winemaking style or philosophy?
GINNY: Winemaking begins with an understanding of the vineyard and allows for translation of its unique character through to the bottle. It requires spending a lot of time with the grower, the vineyard and the wine, to try and really understand what each should express in the finished wine.
SPARKLE: Do you think that women winemakers have an advantage over their male counterparts?
GINNY: Sometimes. It works both ways. I suspect that doors have both opened and shut because I am a woman. I chose to focus on the open ones…
SPARKLE: What is the biggest obstacle you have encountered in your career, and how have you overcome it?
GINNY: Finding a job that allows me to farm biodynamically and make wine. Usually viticulture (the growing of grapes) and winemaking are considered separate jobs. I got lucky – when I was looking to make the transition from viticulture to both winemaking and grape growing, Paul Dolan – a friend and fellow biodynamic practitioner- asked if I would be interested in working on the Truett Hurst project. I still have to pinch myself to believe its real.
SPARKLE: Who is your favorite woman winemaker and why?
GINNY: Merry Edwards. She is the real deal and makes stunning wines.
SPARKLE: What is the one question that you would ask another woman winemaker – and what is your answer to that question?
GINNY: Do you feel that your winemaking style reflects your personality? My answer is, I hope so. I like to make bold, yet feminine wines- that hopefully engage people on intellectual and emotional levels.
SPARKLE: What is one piece of advice that you would give to a woman that is considering a career as a winemaker?
GINNY: Know what you want and keep your mind focused on that. Everything else will fall into place.
SPARKLE: In the eyes of consumers and the eyes of those in the wine business, is there gender equality among winemakers?
GINNY: I’m not sure. Each year, there are more women winemakers either gaining recognition or entering this career path. I think if there is not gender equity now, we are at least on the right path. And that makes me happy.
SPARKLE: What is your current favorite wine?
GINNY: The Tandem Manchester Ridge Chardonnay… ok I’m partial- my mentor made it, but yum.
SPARKLE: What was the last wine you drank and did you enjoy it?
GINNY: Iron Horse Wedding Cuvee – and I enjoyed it very much!
SPARKLE: What is your favorite pairing with today’s wine?
GINNY: Anything with mushrooms!
SPARKLE: Please share one thing about yourself that few people know.
GINNY: I’m a vegetarian, but still love the smell of bacon.
SPARKLE: What is the one question that I should have asked you, and what is your answer to that question?
GINNY: Who else has inspired you? Greg La Follette- for the time and energy he has devoted to me and my winemaking career- and the leaders in alternative agriculture- Paul Dolan, Mike Benziger, Randall Graham, Alan York. They are incredible people who have helped me more than they know.
SPARKLE: Thanks for the great interview, Ginny!
GINNY: It was fun! Now, let’s go find a bottle of Black Sheep Pinot Noir!!
Wine Spies Vineyard Check:
The location of the Truett-Hurst Winery can be seen in this satellite photo.
What the winery says
About This Wine:
This wine is a meeting of opposites. Two vineyards, contribute to the blend. One located on a cool, foggy hillside within the Russian River Valley. The other, perched above the clouds on top of the old volcanic slopes of Sonoma Mountain. Ephemeral, perfumed notes signature of the Russian River, find weight and balance in the frame of Sonoma Mountain fruit.
The grapes were fermented in small open tops and barrel aged for 12 months in fine grained, French Oak., 30 % of which was new. The result- a decidedly feminine pinot. Aromas of rose petals, black cherry cola, alpine strawberries, vanilla and hints of mocha kaleidoscope together seamlessly. On the palate, juicy layers of chocolate covered cherries give way to undertones of sizzling bacon fat. The wine finish is lengthy, yet delicate, laced with red summer fruits and hints of spice.
About The Winery:
Truett-Hurst Winery is Dry Creek Valley’s newest Biodynamic winery. Our commitment to earth-friendly stewardship is paramount and echoes throughout everything we do, from the scenic stretch of bucolic Dry Creek on which we reside, through the vineyards and tasting room.
We are planting heritage clones of Zinfandel and Petite Sirah and intend to produce world class wines from them. We will also produce traditional, decadently delicious Port. We intend to bring forth the best of what Dry Creek Valley has to offer.
The partnership of Phil & Sylvia Hurst, Paul Dolan, his son Heath Dolan and Mark De Meulenaere is committed to making Truett-Hurst Winery a place that you will want to visit again and again. We encourage you to visit us during the building of the winery and the planting of our vineyards. Come join us, and be a part of our biodynamic winery from the ground up!
Sustainable stewardship – that’s what we are all about. We are committed to caring for our little piece of paradise: we are using sustainable farming practices – including planting crops and a huge Biodynamic garden that complement our vineyards; attracting beneficial insects, building raptor boxes for owls and hawks and providing a home for chickens, sheep, goats and cattle, we are working on a project to preserve the steelhead trout and salmon that live in our stretch of Dry Creek and we are remodeling our visitor’s center with organic and reclaimed materials.
We invite you to join us on our journey. Bring a picnic, enjoy our world-class wines, ask us some questions about biodynamic farming, relax and stay a while.
About Biodynamic Farming:
Biodynamics is a more intensive and restricted process than organic farming. A certified Biodynamic® farm meets all organic standards, such as the prohibited use of chemical fertilizers, herbicides, pesticides and synthetic fungicides. The biodynamic approach goes further, requiring disciplined soil enrichment, constant observation, labor-intensive fieldwork, and ongoing, intuitive awareness. A biodynamic farmer maintains a close connection with the land.
- Biodynamic farming develops a self-contained ecosystem, integrating the cultivated land with the surrounding environment. Ideally, only farm-produced organic composts and manure amend the soil. Domestic animal life integrates with plant life. Year-round cover and companion crops provide host environments for beneficial insects. Diligent handwork controls weeds.
- The health of the soil increases the expression of terroir, that unique “taste of place”. Throughout the growing season, the farmer applies a series of nutrient-rich biodynamic preparations to the soil, thereby stimulating the life.
- Responding to the natural life forces above and below the ground, biodynamic farming aligns farming practices, such as pruning, planting, and the applications of special preparations, with the lunar cycles.
- Biodynamic® certification by the Demeter Association, a non-profit, independent organization, guarantees that the farm has met specific standards of biodynamic agriculture.
Our Winemaking Team:
Phil Hurst – Phil Hurst grew up on a 1000-acre ranch on the eastern hills of Napa Valley where his family raised cattle, horses and sheep. “That’s what gave me the ag bug,” says Phil. He is still proud of the reserve grand champion steer that he raised to show at the Napa Town and Country Fair.
As a teenager he worked in wineries during summers. When he headed to the University of California at Davis, he intended to become a veterinarian, but a great summer job at Domaine Chandon inspired a new vision. Phil studied Fermentation Science, earning a BS degree in 1985, the same year he joined Paul Dolan and the winemaking team at Fetzer Vineyards. “We did a lot of organic farming then, with great results,” Phil recalls. When Brown-Forman (B-F) purchased the winery from the Fetzer family in 1992, B-F appointed Phil their International Winemaker.
After 12 years at Fetzer, Phil joined Golden State Vineyards (GSV), serving as Vice President of International Sales. While at GSV, Phil met the people who became his partners in Winery Exchange, a venture-backed company founded in 1999 to source, create and develop private labels and national brands of fine beer, wine and spirits. In 2007 sales reached $50 million. Phil is co-founder and was Senior Vice President, Sales and Marketing.
Over the years the Dolan-Hurst relationship, which began at Fetzer, has grown. The two families share a mutual dream: to build a small wine estate where they can practice the highest level of earth-friendly farming and make the finest wine. In 2007 Phil and his wife Sylvia joined Paul and Heath Dolan in the purchase of a 24-acre property in the heart of Dry Creek Valley. Phil loves this land – its beautiful views of the valley and neighboring hills, pristine character and creek-side venues. “I want this to be a family legacy where my boys will someday get involved with winemaking, grapegrowing and marketing. Right now, I want them to learn to drive the tractor,” says Phil.
Phil and his wife Sylvia live in Dry Creek Valley, Healdsburg, with their two sons.
Virginia Lambrix – Raised on her family’s farm in upstate New York, Ginny Lambrix graduated from Colgate University with a degree in Psychology. She began her career as a chemical ecologist for the Max Planck Institute in eastern Germany. While on holiday in South Africa, she tasted her first “serious wine”. She was captivated, and within a year she was studying Horticulture and Agronomy at the University of California, Davis. Her focus was Viticulture and Enology; in 2003 she received her MS degree.
She worked in Chile for Concha y Toro; while there Ginny visited a vineyard that impressed her with the potential of Biodynamic® farming. “There was so much life in that vineyard,” she recalls. Ever since that revelation in 2005, she has been a student of Rudolf Steiner and biodynamic farming. “The more I study organics and biodynamics, the more I realize that the inherent respect for nature and ecology makes sense both scientifically and intuitively.”
Before joining Truett Hurst in 2008, Ginny worked at Hendry Ranch in Napa Valley and for Lynmar Winery and De Loach Vineyards in the Russian River Valley. At De Loach Vineyards for 3 years, she worked closely with growers to move their estates to organic and biodynamic farming practices to improve quality and moderate farming costs. Ginny has worked for La Follette Winegrowing, consulting on viticulture and winemaking projects.
Appellation: Sonoma County
Varietal: 100 % Pinot noir
Alc: 14.5 %
Residual Sugar: Dry
Aging: 12 months French oak, 30% new
Production: 400 cases