What We Say 2006 Russian River Valley Pinot Noir
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Mission Codename: Martini 23
Operative: Agent Red
Objective: Infiltrate long-term surveillance winery, Olson Ogden, and finally raid the final supply of their outstanding Russian River Valley Pinot Noir
Mission Status: Accomplished!
Current Winery: Olson Ogden
Wine Subject: 2006 Pinot Noir
Winemaker: Tim Olson
Backgrounder: The Russian River Valley in Sonoma is particularly well suited to producing exceptional Pinot Noir. This AVA was officially designated in 1983, but many of the wines in the region used the designation as early as the 1970s (early in California’s wine history) with the many of the vines having been first planted in the early 1900s. In today’s wine, Olson Ogden Wines presents their own delicious take on Russian River Valley Pinot Noir by delivering a wine of bold and delicious character. Read Agent Red’s mission report and tasting noted below for the full intel on this very exciting wine
Wine Spies Tasting Profile:
Look – This gorgeous wine has the appearance of black cherry juice. With great clarity and a slightly darker heart, the wine has pretty pinkish edges that glitter in the light. When swirling this wine, I notice a softly bouncy surface that settles very quickly, leaving behind medium-width legs that take a long time to emerge before they slowly make their way down the edges of the glass
Smell – Leading off with beautiful red cherry, black cherry, dried rose petals, raspberry, kola nut, and a hint of chocolate dust, these lovely aromatics are followed by a hint of forest after a rain, with hints of oak, soft spice and subtle gunpowder
Feel – Round and tender on the initial taste, then the wine grows more lush and slightly grippy, especially at the mid-palate. This wine starts soft, and finely-weighted medium tannins take hold at the edges of the tongue and inside the cheeks and lips, introducing a soft dryness and minerality
Taste – Complex, with flavors that run between Classic Cali and more traditional old-world Burgundian. Flavors include earthy red cherry, smoky raspberry, soft plum, cola, hints of cedar and dark chocolate and a soft, flinty minerality
Finish – Ultra long, starting off slightly tart and dry, then the mouth waters and sweeter flavors and soft minerals emerge before the slowly and lovingly shepherd the flavors away to nil
Conclusion – This is a really fantastic great Pinot Noir from a very ellusive winery that I chased for more than a full year before I was able to finally infiltrate them! And, it is probably best that I did take so long to secure this wine as it is drinking beautifully right now. This is a delicious wine that finds me taking long sip after long sip, just so I can experience a mouth filled with the flavors present in the wine. Add to this great aspect ofthe wine the facts that the feel and the aromatics are also quite remarkable. This is a fun to drink and very balanced Pinot that expresses the best character of the Russian River Valley, a Wine Spies favorite for great Pinot Noir. With enough softness and acidity to make the wine a great food companion, I think that it would pair with just about anything. I enjoyed my review bottle with an organic whole wheat wild mushroom and black olive pizza. A delicious pairing, with wine and food complimenting each other perfectly. Find out why this wine was so worth the wait!
WINEMAKER INTEL BRIEFING DOSSIER
SUBJECT: Tim Olson
DATE OF BIRTH: 11/30/55
PLACE OF BIRTH: Berkeley, CA
WINE EDUCATION: Mostly by trial and error as a home winemaker. Have taken extension classes at UC Davis and was in the viticulture program at Napa Valley College.
CALIFORNIA WINE JOB BRIEF: Rosenblum, Caymus, St. Supery, Acacia and 3 years at French Cooperage Tonnellerie Nadalie.
WINEMAKING PHILOSOPHY: I don’t make the wine so much as guide it. Start with great fruit, keep things simple and clean and get out of the way. The stuff really does make itself.
SIGNATURE VARIETAL: Pinot Noir
CAREER HIGHLIGHT: So far, it would have to be the Wine Spectator reviews and full page picture of my partner and I as one the leading new Syrah producers.
WINEMAKER QUOTE: “If the grower does a great job in the vineyard, I get to be lazy in the winery”
AGENT RED: Greetings, Tim. We are thrilled to be showing your 2006 Olson Ogden RRV Pinot Noir today. Thanks so much for taking some time to answer questions for our Operatives today.
TIM: Thank you, Red!
RED: Was there a specific experience in your life that inspired your love of wine?
TIM: Not really. I didn’t like wine coming out of college, I was a beer and tequila guy. But I went to a Christian Brothers high school (De la Salle) and my parents always had wine at the dinner table. So I suppose it was a natural evolution.
RED: And where did you learn the most about winemaking?
TIM: Mostly by trial and error as a home winemaker, which I did for 9 years before going commercial. The cooperage job was like getting a masters degree at finishing school. In the three years I was there, I visited over 300 wineries throughout California and Oregon. I met hundreds of winemakers, tasted thousands of barrel samples and had an opportunity to ask a lot of questions about what technique had what effects. And then I got to taste the results directly from the barrel.
RED: What is your winemaking style or philosophy?
TIM: My style is pretty traditional. Generally, in winemaking like in cooking I think less is often more. Start with good ingredients and do the least possible to help the grapes become wine. I prefer natural (some say wild) yeasts, gentle handling and movement by gravity whenever possible. When it’s ready, bottle the wine without filtration or fining if possible. I want each wine to represent the vineyard and vintage it comes from. I try to make the wine as naturally as possible.
RED: What wine or winemaker has most influenced your winemaking style?
TIM: While many winemakers have influenced me, I would say overall that Burt Williams from Williams Selyem was my biggest inspiration. Some of his wines were just pure works of art.
RED: How long have you been making wine?
TIM: My first vintage, in the garage, was in 1987.
RED: Who do you make wine for?
TIM: I make wine for myself and for my customers. We are small enough that focus groups are not part of the equation. If my partner and I like it, there will be enough people that will also like it. After all, we are our own customers. And we continue to be wine lovers that buy and collect other wines from many producers, many of whom are now friends.
RED: Tell me, what makes the Russian River Valley so special?
TIM: The Russian River Valley is a special place carved out by geologic glaciers eons ago. The combination of the soils and climate creates a near perfect environment for growing great wine grapes. The confluence of air moving east from the Pacific ocean along the Russian River and the air that comes north along Hwy 101 from the San Francisco Bay creates great weather for Pinot Noir in particular and many other varieties as well.
RED: What is one piece of advice that you would give to someone that is considering a career as a winemaker?
TIM: Don’t make wine by the numbers. Make wine that is tasty and true to itself and don’t compromise on quality ingredients.
RED: What is occupying your time at the winery these days?
TIM: Preparing for harvest which is 30 days away.
RED: Please tell me a little bit about the wine we are featuring today
TIM: The 2006 Russian River Pinot is one of my favorite Pinots. The color and aromas are pure Russian River Valley with typical rose, cola and spice notes. This wine has the structure to age for quite a few years, probably as long as 10 to 15 years or more. For short term drinking (next 2 to 5 years) I recommend decanting for an hour or two prior to serving. The airtime will give the wine some time to open up and reveal some of its many layers of flavors.
RED: What is your favorite pairing with today’s wine?
TIM: So many choices. While I think Salmon is a great match for this wine, I really like the wild mushroom risotto recipe that is featured on our website under “Food and Wine”. The recipe was created by my friend and noted winery chef Richard Haake.
RED: Please share one thing about yourself that few people know
TIM: I don’t know how to whistle.
RED: Excellent answer! You get top points for this week’s most original answer. Tell me, what is your favorite ‘everyday’ or table wine?
TIM: My current favorite is our 2006 Sonoma/Napa County Syrah. My nickname for it is ‘Tuesday Night Spaghetti Red”. It retails for under $30 and scored a 92 in the Wine Spectator along with a Gold Medal at this year’s Orange County Fair.
RED: How would you recommend that people approach your wines, or wine in general?
TIM: Our wines are made with food in mind. To me, wine is a beverage meant to be enjoyed with family and friends, ideally over a good meal. And they are made with the idea of having a good time. Good food and good wine add a counterbalance to some of the harder aspects of daily life. So enjoy our wines, you’ll make us and yourself happy.
RED: If you could choose any one wine to drink (regardless of price or availability), what would it be?
TIM: 1947 Cheval Blanc.
RED: What is the one question that I should have asked you, and what is your answer to that question?
TIM: Have you ever stomped grapes with your feet like they did in the old world? Yes I have. And Lucy was right, it was a lot of fun.
RED: Thank you so much for your time. We learned a lot about you – and about your wine. Keep up the great work, we really love your wine!
TIM: Thank you very much. Thanks for your time also. Cheers!
Wine Spies Vineyard Check:
The location of the vineyard where today’s wine was grown is TOP SECRET
What the Winery Says
Olson Ogden Wines
About This Wine:
The color is medium to dark cherry red. In the nose there are hints of cola, rose, spices and a touch of forest floor. It is medium to full bodied and well balanced. This young Pinot is complex and full of flavor with a long, lingering finish. It is tightly wound now but will relax with a little time in the bottle. Patient cellaring over the next three to ten years will be rewarded.
Tasting Notes: “Fragrant cherry blossom, plum and raspberry fruit is ripe and minerally, full-bodied and spicy, ending with chewy tannins. Drink now through 2012. 283 cases made.” –JL
Vineyard Notes: The Russian River Valley is renowned for producing superb Pinot Noir’s and is widely regarded as one of the premier spots in California for this fickle grape. We feel our second release of Pinot Noir under the Olson Ogden brand name does the appellation justice. We sourced our grapes from two very different vineyards. One is relatively flat, on the valley floor and the other is on a hillside. One is planted to UCD 23 and the other to a selection known as the Martini Clone. Both are in the heart of the Russian River Appellation and both are managed by dedicated farmers. Yields averaged 2.5 to 3 tons per acre.
About The Winery:
Olson Ogden Wines is a small, artisan wine company located in the Russian River Valley of Sonoma County. We specialize in small production, handcrafted wines. Our focus is on Pinot Noir and Rhone varietals, with an emphasis on vineyard designated Syrah’s. We seek out passionate growers with special vineyards.
Our primary goal is to produce balanced, complex and tasty wines that express the terroir and vintage from which they come. Olson Ogden Wines are made with food in mind as we feel that wine is an integral part of a good meal. Our winemaking philosophy has its roots in traditional methods but is tempered by trial and error and creative innovation. Our wines are usually bottled unfined and unfiltered and will likely contain a natural sediment during their evolution. This results in an authentic and honest wine that is rich and complex and a pleasure to drink.
Tim Olson has been a winemaker in Northern California for more than 21 years. For six years Olson served as winemaker for Tarius Wines in Santa Rosa, CA. With a focus on vineyard designated Pinot Noirs and Zinfandels, Tarius Vineyards produced 1500 cases a year and was distributed in 12 states and three foreign markets. Olson’s wines have garnered numerous awards including “Best of Show” at the California State Fair and numerous gold medals in other competitions. His wines scored well in national wine publication tastings including Wine Spectator, Wine and Spirits, Wine Enthusiast and Connoisseurs Guide To California Wine, among others.
Prior to Tarius Wines, Olson spent three years at French cooperage Tonnellerie Nadalie in Calistoga, CA. There he served as director of enology, managing experiments on cooperage variables in addition to his work in wine sales and marketing activities. His research culminated in organized wine tastings involving nearly 300 winemakers in which he gathered a wealth of statistical data later published in Practical Wine & Vineyard magazine. While at Tonnellerie Nadalie, Olson learned all aspects of forest selection, wood curing and barrel production. His work allowed him to visit over 300 wineries and taste and critique literally thousands of barrel samples.
Before joining Tonnellerie Nadalie in 1995, Olson’s winemaking experience included work at Acacia Winery, Caymus Vineyards and Rosenblum Cellars. He also spent a couple years in the lab as Enologist for St. Supery Winery.
John Ogden manages marketing, sales and business operations for Olson Ogden Wines. Over the course of his 15-year career, Ogden has overseen numerous successful sales, marketing and business development initiatives for a range of businesses from ventures at their earliest stage of development to multi-million dollar companies.
Ogden was an early employee of America Online in Dulles, VA and worked in a variety of business development, sales, marketing and management positions that directly contributed to the company’s hyper growth from 300,000 to 30 million members in five years. After America Online, Ogden advised early stage and mid-size Internet industry companies on their growth, brand and sales strategies.
In addition to his role at Olson Ogden Wines, Ogden is president of Progressive Design Playgrounds, a Southern California Company that designs and manufactures environmentally sound commercial playgrounds, natural playgrounds, safety surfacing and recreation site furnishings that are available nationwide through a network of sales representatives. Widely regarded as a pioneer in children’s play products, Progressive Design Playgrounds recently launched a line of natural playgrounds called Outdoor Learning Environments.
Ogden’s career includes work in the public sector as a legislative aide in the United States Senate and a staff assistant for the United States Senate Financial Committee.
Appellation: Russian River Valley
Bottling Date: March 01, 2008
Fermentation: French Oak, 55% New French Oak
Months in Barrel: 16 Months
Release Date: June 01, 2008