Wednesday, January 27, 2010

2005 Snows Lake Vineyards "One"

A clear and pesent danger - to your wallet. 

Rating:  A very exciting wine and faithful expression of the varietal that demonstrates the potential for this region.



(Full disclosure: This wine was received as a press sample from the winery.)
The rest of the story:  We haven't been this excited about a tasting for a long time.  Since this wine arrived from the winery a couple of months ago, we've been drooling over the thoughtfully written and evocative press kit that accompanied our samples.  And our anticipation was not without reason - or reward.

Snows Lake Vineyard is a high-end winegrowing farm.  They grow red grapes on contract for wineries.  And not just any wineries - some heavy-hitters.  So, why are these grape farmers making their own wine?

According to Monica Granados, Public Relations Account Manager for Snows Lake Vineyards, "Snows Lake is extremely proud of their grape customers and the wines they make from them. They felt making their own wine was important in order to explore our own vision of the quality of their grapes. In essence, to establish a reputation for quality from a new vineyard in a new region, they felt it was paramount to have control over how the grapes were treated in the wine making process. Their own wine is also an important tool in spreading that message of quality since using a grape customer’s branded product for PR and Marketing is severely limited."

When Monica refers to "a new vineyard in a new region", she's talking about the Red Hills AVA.  You hadn't heard of it either, huh?  Well, it's time to start paying attention.

Red Hills sits at the foot of the ancient volcano Mount Konocti on the southern shores of Clear Lake.  Snows Lake Vineyard is perched among the tall pines high (2500 feet) in the foothills of the Mayacamas.  This unique growing area shares many desirable soil attributes with very famous vineyards in nearby Napa Valley.  The fact that it is still mostly unknown is only to your advantage.  Based on our findings, it;s only a matter of time before word gets out.

The 2005 Snows Lake Vineyard One is 100% Cabernet.  Its dense, luminescent color almost radiates in the glass.  Like many ageworthy wines in their youth, this one needs a few hours in a decanter to evolve and lose its bite.  But after it does, you'll want to drink it with your nose. The ripe, dense fruit aromatics are rich in your nose and tell you that this wine is a big deal.

Like its nose suggests, the flavors are ripe and dense black fruit while still being very dry.  Full bodied and with a silky smooth mouthfeel, this exemplary specimen of Cabernet will go the distance.  Yes, it's very young still, yet so lovely.

Given how incredible a wine this is, we cannot wait to taste "Two", a Cab-based blend.  Stay tuned for that.  In the meantime, only 250 cases of this wine, vinted by Michael Scholz (head winemaker at St. Supery), were made.  It's available direct from the winery.  At $45 a bottle, this represents a clear and present danger to wallets everywhere.

But let's be reasonable...$45 buys a lot of groceries.  And, frankly, we liked the wine a lot more during the holidays when it was on sale for $30.  At that price point we had it rated at 4.5 stars, but have bucked it down to 4 stars on account of the price tag.  Hypothetically speaking, of course, if the price were ever to hit the $25 mark, this would be a full 5 stars.

Still, you cannot deny what an incredible wine this is.  And if you can stomach the splurge, it may be worth it.