Clos du Bois
2006 Sonoma Reserve Old Vine Zinfandel
California: Sonoma County: Alexander Valley
What We Say
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Mission Codename: Phrench for Phenomenal
Operative: Agent Red
Objective: Infiltrate Clos du Bois and secure a winery-only exclusive wine for our Operatives around the world
Mission Status: Accomplished!
Current Winery: Clos du Bois
Wine Subject: 2006 Sonoma Reserve Alexander Valley Old Vine Zinfandel
Winemaker: Erik Olsen
Backgrounder: Zinfandel is related to the Italian Primitivo grape, tracing its origin to the Croatian grape Crljenak Kastelanski. Zinfandel is one of the most versatile varietals with the ability to make wines, both rich to fruity, dark to light, and dry to sweet. Alexander Valley Zinfandels, which are characterized by their big, extracted flavors, are gaining in popularity with our Operatives. Read Agent Red’s tasting notes and mission report below.
Wine Spies Tasting Profile:
Look – Deepest burgundy with great color concentration right out to the ruby-pinkish edging. This wine has a tightly energetic surface that settles very quickly when swirled, leaving behind tight-spaced and skinny legs that emerge instantly and then move quickly down the glass
Smell – Deeply aromatic, leading with layers of fruit, with juicy strawberry, raspberry, jammy blackberry, smoky blueberry and plum jam. The wine is loaded with dark spice of cinnamon and clove, with black pepper rounding out the spice components. These all sit atop dark forest floor, dark cocoa powder, fall leaves and soft earth
Feel – Medium to full-bodied right almost immediately, as plush tannins grip in, drying and coating the mouth with a soft dryness as a lush feel settles in
Taste – Very delicious and very flavorful, with a beautiful balance of bold fruit and spice. The flavors are all big and jammy and the spice is very present. From the big blackberry, blueberry, cherry and strawberry, to the dusky spice of the clove and allspice. These are complimented by a layer of subtle sweetwood and softest dried leaves
Finish – Big, bright and juicy flavors taper off very slowly, leaving behind a silky dryness and a bold sweetness that leads you to take your next big gulp of this fantastic wine
Conclusion – What a thrill to be able to bring you this very exclusive wine from our new friends at Clos du Bois! Available only at the winery – and here (today only), this exclusive wine is a perfect selection for lover’s of bold, spicy and fruit-driven Zinfandel. From 75 year old vines in Sonoma County’s pristine Alexander Valley, this wine is character-rich and beautifully delicious! Grab some, dear Operative, as supply of this wonderful food-friendly wine is short.
WINEMAKER INTEL BRIEFING DOSSIER
SUBJECT: Erik Olsen
DATE OF BIRTH: June 1965
PLACE OF BIRTH: San Francisco, California
WINE EDUCATION: BS Fermentation Science from UC Davis; MS Food Science from Cornell University; MBA from University of Washington
CALIFORNIA WINE JOB BRIEF: 2003 – present : Clos du Bois ; 1993-2003 : Chateau Ste. Michelle; 1990 – 1993: Simi
WINEMAKING PHILOSOPHY: My philosophy is to create wines that not only represent the best each varietal has to offer, but also the best representation of the place where the grapes come from. I believe in producing delicious wines that are approachable, elegant and always invite a second glass, or a second bottle.
SIGNATURE VARIETALS: Chardonnay and Cabernet
CAREER HIGHLIGHT: 2005 Calcaire Chardonnay winning the Sonoma Harvest Fair Grand Sweepstakes. It the academy awards of wine for us in Sonoma County.
CAREER HIGHLIGHT: Number One-ranked white wine on the 2001 Wine Spectator Top 100 Wines of the Year for the 1999 Chateau Ste. Michelle Cold Creek Vineyard Chardonnay (93 points).
WINEMAKER QUOTE: “I like the creativity and seasonality of wine,” Erik says. “I enjoy a challenge and the fact that every year is different. It’s also inspiring to work with passionate people who come together, always trying to make something better.”
“I pinch myself everyday as I drive to work, because not only is Sonoma County an unbelievably beautiful place, the vineyards here provide everything you could ever want to make distinctive and delicious wines”.
AGENT RED: Greetings, Erik. We are thrilled to be showing your 06 Sonoma Reserve Alexander Valley Old Vine Zinfandel today. Thanks so much for taking some time to answer questions for our Operatives today.
ERIK OLSEN: Of course!
RED: Was there a specific experience in your life that inspired your love of wine?
ERIK: I was only 18, but I landed a crush job back at a very small Zinfandel producer in the Foothills of Amador County. I did a lot of backbreaking work dumping grapes, running the press, and digging out fermentors. It was very satisfying to work hard and contribute to the creation of a beautiful wine. Winemaking still seems like magic to me.
RED: And where did you learn the most about winemaking?
ERIK: Every part of my background has been important in developing how I approach winemaking. UC Davis was the foundation, but I always looked to work at wineries where I could learn and those that focused on always striving for higher quality.
RED: What is your winemaking style or philosophy?
ERIK: My philosophy is to create wines that not only represent the best each varietal has to offer, but also the best representation of the place where the grapes come from. I believe in producing delicious wines that are approachable, elegant and always invite a second glass, or a second bottle.
RED: What wine or winemaker has most influenced your winemaking style?
ERIK: I’ve always believed my winemaking style is influenced in some way by every wine I’ve ever tasted. My collective wine tasting experience is what I look to in approaching a new wine. There have been some notable winemakers who taught me a lot about style and quality and had a major influence on my winemaking.
Ernie Loosen (Dr. Loosen- Germany) was very influential in my approach to making Riesling as together we create the Eroica Riesling program in Washington.
Mike Januik who I worked for at Chateau Ste. Michelle in making flavorful, soft, and approachable red wines.
Zelma Long (Simi) for a quality approach in making barrel-fermented Chardonnay.
RED: How long have you been making wine?
ERIK: I have made wine nearly every year since 1983.
RED: Who do you make wine for?
ERIK: I make wine for people looking for a great bottle of wine that consistently delivers exceptional value. I’m thrilled to make one of the most popular Chardonnays in the country, as well as very small lots that show off some of the little niche varietals and vineyards we have at Clos du Bois. Of course, I love all my wines and drink them at home often, so I also make wines for myself.
RED: Tell me, what makes the Alexander Valley so special?
ERIK: This region has the rare combination of climate and soil type that is ideal for flavor development of wine grapes. The cool evenings and warm days that are characteristic of Alexander Valley, preserve the freshness and acidity of the grapes, but also allow for ideal ripening and flavors development. The soil types found throughout the valley provide the nutrients, and water-holding capacity that allow wine grapes to thrive. With these perfect conditions, the dedicated and quality-focused growers of this area produce wine grapes that are truly exceptional in quality.
RED: What is one piece of advice that you would give to someone that is considering a career as a winemaker?
ERIK: There is no one best path to becoming a successful winemaker.
RED: What is occupying your time at the winery these days?
ERIK: We’re very busy with all the new wines from the ‘09 vintage. Today I tasted all the 2009 Pinot Noirs (yum !), and we’re getting the 2009 Sauvignon Blanc ready for bottling.
RED: Please tell me a little bit about the wine we are featuring today
ERIK: The 06 Sonoma Reserve Alexander Valley Old Vine Zinfandel is from a small vineyard just north of Geyserville. Frank Pastori is the grower and his Old Vine Zinfandel consistently produces some of my favorite wines at Clos du Bois. At nearly 90 years of age, Frank still drives the tractor in the vineyard and delivers every truck load of grapes to the winery at harvest.
RED: What is your favorite pairing with today’s wine?
ERIK: Slow smoked baby back ribs are great with this wine.
RED: Please share one thing about yourself that few people know
ERIK: I’m a first-generation American.
RED: What is your favorite ‘everyday’ or table wine?
ERIK: There’s always a Clos du Bois North Coast Chardonnay in my fridge.
RED: How would you recommend that people approach your wines, or wine in general?
ERIK: Be comfortable with what you like. Don’t get hung up on what others think about a wine you enjoy. If you like it, then it’s a good wine. Most importantly, experiment with wines. Our Chardonnay and Cabernet are both very popular, but we have a whole host of other varietals ranging from Pinot Grigio and Riesling to Zinfandel and Shiraz. Trying something new might just introduce you to a new favorite wine.
RED: If you could choose any one wine to drink (regardless of price or availability), what would it be?
ERIK: Trimbach -Clos Sainte Hune Riesling from Alsace.
RED: Thank you so much for your time. We learned a lot about you – and about your wine. Keep up the great work, we are big fans!
ERIK: Thank you for featuring this wine. We’re proud of it and hope you enjoy it.
Wine Spies Vineyard Check:
The location of the Clos du Bois winery can be seen in this satellite photo.
What the Winery Says
About This Wine:
Zinfandel, at its best, is full-bodied and brimming with ripe red and black fruit flavors, followed by a long, peppery finish. The 2006 growing season produced fruit that gave us just that. Weather conditions allowed for an extended hang time, which in turn allowed for the full development of rich, ripe flavors and intense color concentrations in the grapes. This exquisite Zinfandel, blended with just a touch of Carignane, is alive with ripe fruit flavors and is lush and full on the palate, finishing with notes of pepper, cloves and spice. Fantastic with all sorts of foods, including red-sauced pasta dishes, pizza and roasted or grilled meats.
About The Winery:
With warm sun and cool breezes in just the right measure, and exceptionally diverse soil types, the beautiful, 20-mile-long basin known as the Alexander Valley is a winemaker’s paradise — and our home. Just over an hour north of San Francisco, in northern Sonoma County, Clos du Bois proudly carries on an Alexander Valley winemaking tradition that, for us, stretches back more than 30 years. A tradition of the highest quality grapes and the finest round, supple wines. A tradition you can taste in every bottle of Clos du Bois.
Clos du Bois crafted its first vintage in 1974 from 520 acres of grapes in Sonoma County’s then little-known Alexander Valley. Since that time the Alexander Valley has become one of the world’s most prestigious wine producing regions. Clos du Bois has also become one of the region’s most renowned wineries, famous for elegant, soft and approachable wines.
All the French you need to know: The name, in case you wondered, reportedly originates from founder Frank Woods’ plan to name the new winery “Woods Vineyard.” His children, who were studying French at the time, suggested the more exotic “Clos du Bois” instead, which loosely translates to “enclosure in the woods.”
First releases: The winery’s premier releases in 1974 featured the Classic Chardonnay and Pinot Noir, along with a proprietor’s reserve Cabernet Sauvignon. We introduced the Vineyard Designates program in 1978 with our red Bordeaux-style blend, Marlstone and Briarcrest. The whites, Calcaire and Flintwood, joined the series in 1979 and 1980.
Round out the Classics: We added Merlot and Sauvignon Blanc to the Sonoma County Classic tier in the 1980s. Zinfandel rounded out that series in the early 1990s as the first wine added to the portfolio after the winery moved to its current Alexander Valley location, just outside the tiny town of Geyserville.
Explore an Appellation: In the 1990s we created our special Appellation Reserve Series to explore the taste subtleties of particular wine growing regions — or appellations. That series launched with our Alexander Valley Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon in 1994, followed over the next three years by the Alexander Valley Reserve Chardonnay, Merlot, Shiraz, and Tempranillo. The Dry Creek Valley Reserve Zinfandel and Russian River Valley Pinot Noir completed the series in 2002.
Changing of the Guard: In June 2003 Clos du Bois entered an exciting new era when esteemed winemaker Erik Olsen joined our winery family. Erik’s extraordinary resume and years of award-winning experience have already made their mark on Clos du Bois. We invite you to taste our latest vintages to find out for yourself.
The Exploration Continues: Since 2000, Clos du Bois has released the Russian River Valley Reserve Pinot Noir, Dry Creek Valley Reserve Zinfandel, Alexander Valley Reserve Shiraz and Classic Shiraz. The Tasting Room has offered visitors access to the winery-exclusive Alexander Valley Reserve Fume Blanc and Malvasia Bianca. Our Reserve Chardonnay is now sourced from the Russian River Valley, bringing a stylish new flavor profile to this wine. And all of our wines — from Classics to Marlstone — sport elegant new labels, a mark of the continued refinement of our winemaking style.
Introducing the Proprietary Series: Perhaps Erik’s biggest influence thus far has been the shift in our upper tier wines. Isolating vineyards from the Winemakers Reserve and Vineyard Designate winemaking programs to create a new Reserve Tier — the Proprietary Series — has elevated Marlstone, Briarcrest and Calcaire to new achievements in winemaking. Richer, fuller, more intense. Expect great things from the upcoming vintages of these wines.
About The Winemaker:
Erik Olsen came to Clos du Bois with a truly remarkable resume. He earned a BS in Fermentation Science from UC Davis, an MS in Food Science from Cornell University and an MBA from the University of Washington, giving him that rare background of both technical and business training. And for almost two decades — with time out for a graduate research position at Cornell — he has crafted wine at some of the most prominent wineries in California and Washington, including Robert Mondavi, Simi and Chateau Ste. Michelle.
Wine Type: Red Wine
Appellation: Alexander Valley