What comes to mind when you think of the word “noble?” Perhaps you’re thinking kings, queens, and all things royalty. It may be less likely that the word “noble” made you think of grapes, but in our world, that’s exactly where our minds go.
The world of wine offers its own version of royalty, and Yorkville Cellars is home to said royalty. For the past 25 years, we have been growing grapes and making wine from all six of the noble reds that originate from the highly acclaimed Bordeaux region of France. These six grape varietals include Cabernet Franc, Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Malbec, Petit Verdot, and Carménère. We are one of the only wineries outside of France that produce ALL SIX of the Bordeaux red grapes, so it’s only fair that we give you a little rundown on each of these noble reds and what makes ours so special.
Now, before we dive in, it’s important to note that some Bordeaux grapes are typically used to create blends. It’s not often that these grapes are used to produce single varietal wines, but we believe in the uniqueness of these grapes and the terroir that they are grown in, so we do just that. It has allowed us to produce wines that truly capture the essence of the grapes.
So, without further adieu… Introducing the Noble Reds of Yorkville Cellars:
First on our list is Cabernet Franc, or in royal terms, the King of the noble reds. This grape is often seen as the “other” Cabernet but comes first in the Cabernet family lineage. It is parent to Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot. Although similar to Cabernet Sauvignon, it buds out slightly earlier in the spring and also tolerates cooler growing conditions. This varietal is characterized by its food-friendliness and versatility. It is a highly aromatic wine with rich fruit flavors and continues to be a favorite among our wine club members. Our 2016 vintage is blended with a bit of Cabernet Sauvignon to give it structure, but not too much that it masks the delightful flavors of the Cabernet Franc. Our favorite dish to pair with Cab Franc is roast pork with caramelized onions and garlic mashed potatoes. Yum!
Moving down the noble lineage brings us to our Prince, the Cabernet Sauvignon. It is believed that sometime around the 17th century in Bordeaux, France, a natural cross between Cabernet Franc and Sauvignon Blanc occurred when the vines first propagated. Some see Cabernet as the awkward kid who eventually grows up to be attractive and refined. It’s the most famous red grape in the world now, so this Prince definitely made a name for himself. It produces consistently robust and structured wines, with the ability to age gracefully. Our 2016 Cabernet Sauvignon presents flavors of delicious black cherries and holds a Gold Medal from the S.F. Chronicle Wine Competition. Pair this wine with beef-based dishes and strong cheeses for a delicious and complementary experience.
The most approachable of the royal family is Merlot. A true Princess in nature, this grape is known for being soft, ripe and elegant. Merlot adds softness and luscious fruit when blended with Cabernet Sauvignon, and is also wonderful to enjoy on its own. The name Merlot is perhaps derived from merle, French for blackbird, as the birds love the sweet, plump berries. Newbies to the wine drinking world are often advised to start with Merlot because of its fruit-forward flavors. We have wonderful terroir to grow Merlot, as well as the hot days and cooler nights that it needs to reach its true potential. Our 2015 vintage is secretly everyone’s favorite, and in good sibling rivalry fashion, Merlot decided to one-up Prince Cab with a Double Gold Medal from the S.F Chronicle Wine Competition.
If you’re looking for something with more of a fighting spirit, meet Malbec, our Knight in shining armor. As with all of the Noble Reds, Malbec was born in Bordeaux, France but the roots were easily susceptible to rot and didn’t fare as well in France’s climate. Instead of dying out, though, it put up a good fight and has steadily grown in popularity. It is most popular in Argentina where it has become their signature grape. It is known for its dark fruit flavors and smoky finish. It’s also referred to as the “Black Wine” because of its intensely deep color. Ultimately, it is a wine of great structure with rich-fruit quality. We love Malbec so much that we have produced 21 consecutive vintages of the Rennie Vineyard Malbec. Our 2015 vintage is a nicely matured wine perfect for steak night and is “Highly Recommended” by Tastings.com.
Petit Verdot closely translates to “little green one,” and as the saying goes, “though it be but little, it is fierce.” Since it is not quite as popular or widely produced as the other Noble Reds, we’ll call this fierce grape the Marquess of the noble bunch. These grapes can be difficult to properly ripen, yet plantings of Petit Verdot are on the rise because the grapes produce bold flavors that can add a layer of mystery and depth to Bordeaux style blends. It is typically added to only 10% of most wine blends. But in true Yorkville Cellars fashion, we decided to produce it as a single varietal wine and continue to be one of the few wineries in California to do so. Our 2015 vintage received two silver medals and is “Highly Recommended” by Tasting.com.
The last of the Noble Reds is the Carménère varietal. This would be a situation where the second cousin twice removed pops up out of nowhere and swears they have royal blood somewhere in their lineage. Basically, it was thought to be extinct in France but then found new life in the hills of Chile. It is an extremely rare grape that has seductive dark chocolate aromas with undertones of pepper and earth. It is said to produce wines that resemble the blends of Bordeaux, all from a single grape. Our 2015 vintage is also “Highly Recommended” by Tasting.com. We are proud to be one of only a couple California wineries that offer the delightful Carménère wine varietal.
As we bid you adieu…
We hope that when you think of nobility, you think of this complex family tree of grapes, full of rich history and uniqueness. The terroir of Yorkville Cellars in Mendocino County has made a nice home for this noble family, and we’d love for you to come by and taste our lineup of these six noble reds. You can even choose a reserve tasting that involves a playful blind tasting game of “Name That Varietal”!
Before: Late 1980s – small vineyard on a hill and a sheep pasture at the entrance
A 25-year journey: smooth sailing, bumps, and highlights. One of the most exhilarating parts of winemaking is that the product itself holds a diary of sorts of the adventure. It's akin to an archeological dig with each vintage unearthing its own record. There are vintages when we intervene to make them happen, and those plain sailing years when we just let them happen.
Certified organic growers since 1986
From the beginning, it was important for us to grow the grapes from which we would produce wine and to do so without chemical fertilizers or pesticides. Our hillside vineyard was planted throughout the ‘80s with Sauvignon Blanc and Semillon.
Planting Started: Cinco de Mayo (May 5, 1990)
After staking out Rennie Vineyard and erecting our quadrilateral trellis, on Cinco de Mayo in 1990, we planted the five varietals that are the central focus of our production: Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Cabernet Franc, Malbec, and Petit Verdot. Our vision at that time was to make one wine: a Bordeaux style blend. We soon did a U-turn and realized we wanted to bottle each of the five varietals separately. 1994 was our inaugural vintage of these five wines. The following year we produced a lineup that was to become our core: the five Bordeaux reds and two whites. Blends of each became our Royal pair, Richard the Lion-Heart, and Eleanor of Aquitaine.
Today: our mature vineyards, Randle Hill in the back with white grapes, and Rennie Vineyard in the front with red varietals.
As we learned and grew alongside the vines, we made many additions. Here is a brief look at the highlights:
1997: Our first vintage of Rosé de Franc. The dried herbs and savory quality of Cabernet Franc lent itself to a Rosé. The early wines were dark in color; we called them “Cab-Lite!” Now the grapes go straight to press, so recent vintages are a shimmering pale salmon pink.
Petit Verdot - Almost Unheard of in 1990
2003: We took a bold step and grafted (transplanted) a vineyard block in front of the tasting room to more Malbec and Petit Verdot, plus the elusive Carmenere. It was at this time that we created our unique split vine, grafting Malbec on the north facing cordon and Petit Verdot or Carmenere on the south.
2005: We picked our Carmenere and in 2007 we bottled it. As far as we know, we were the first to produce this varietal in California. This exotic and aromatic wine was an immediate hit.
The distinct crimson leaves of Carmenere grape vines.
2006: It was a bountiful year and the time was right to create a new blend crafted for easy drinking, and so the Hi-Rollr Red was born! It was the plentiful, juicy, big blackberry notes of Malbec that, also in 2006, inspired us to invent a new sweet wine, our Sweet Malbec. While sipping on the juice and testing the Brix (sugar levels) of the fruit, we decided to find a way to preserve that beautiful fresh fruit flavor. Arresting fermentation by chilling the wine traps not only natural grape sugars in the bottle, but a tiny touch of carbon dioxide left over from fermentation that adds a tingle to the sweetness.
2009: This marks the first Late Harvest Semillon wine from Yorkville Cellars. If ever there was a wine that reflected the microclimate of a vineyard, it is a late harvest wine. The noble rot that develops to concentrate both sugar and acidity thrives in cool damp conditions that tend to occur in the fall. But rain will encourage many less noble fungi to develop making perfect conditions rare.
2009 Late Harvest Semillon
2011: This was a challenging year and a bumpy ride for most vineyard owners. A cool and wet spring followed by cooler than usual summer temperatures and earlier October rains yielded a delayed growing season. The silver lining, however, is that the damp cool conditions were again just right for a late harvest wine, and we produced our second and last multi-award-winning late harvest Sauvignon Blanc and Semillon blend. Accurate forecasting of a cool and foggy year prepared us for the production of our first sparkling wine. The grapes were picked early at low sugar levels and we selected from among all our grape varietals to produce two inaugural bubbles: Malbec for our first Sparkling Malbec; and 50% Semillon, 25% Sauvignon Blanc and 25% Cabernet Sauvignon for our Brut Cuvée. The Brut was ready for release for our 20th anniversary in 2014.
2011 Sparkling Malbec
2013: If 2011 was a year for intervention, then this year was the opposite. A perfect and trouble-free year! This was an exceptional vintage, and we confidently set about producing four new wines. 1) Amber Folly is a skin contact Semillon, our first Orange wine. 2) A zingy, fresh Malbec Rosé, also known as Vin D'une Nuit. 3) In recognition of the exceptional vintage, we selected a few rows for our first Reserve Cabernet. 4) Our first vintage of MPV, a Malbec and Petit Verdot blend picked from the same singular vine we grafted together back in 2003.
Caps of Semillon skins are punched down to create our skin-contact “orange wine,” Amber Folly.
We have so enjoyed each twist and turn of this 25-year journey, and we are thankful to share it with so many Yorkville Cellars fans. We’d love to celebrate this milestone with you in the tasting room. We’ll see you soon!
Meet Slate, Our Trusty Tasting Room Mascot
Friendly, loyal, and de facto assistant winemaker, Slate doesn’t run the place, but he sure likes to think he does! From welcoming the guests to herding sheep (well, attempting to…) in the vineyards, he has a lot of tasks that keeps his day-to-day pretty busy. Spending all this time up close to the action, we like to think he knows a thing or two about how to have your best tasting visit at Yorkville Cellars. We chose 5 of our favorite ways you can enjoy wine tasting in Mendocino wine country like Slate does each day!
Tip #1: Explore
Slate is an adventurous little kitty, to be sure. We find him roaming the vineyards early, late, the middle of the day, you name it! Slate has roamed every inch of our 30-acre estate vineyard, and along the way, he’s spotted some interesting things – from ladybugs to bud break each spring. So, how do you walk a mile in Slate’s shoes, you ask? Enjoy the vineyards as Slate does in one of our VIP Tasting Experiences.
On our Organic Vineyard Tour, you will take a hands-on educational walkabout through the vineyards with one of our founders/owners. You’ll learn about farming decisions and taste their effects on the final wine produced as you follow-up your tour with a private tasting. Starting first with several whites and moving on to discover the six Noble Reds, enjoy your tasting paired with fine cheeses and nibbles along the way.
Or, opt for the Progressive Tasting in Our Vineyards, where you not only tour the vineyard but experience wines from the very vines you’re looking at! Swirl, sniff, sip, then touch the grapevines from which each wine is made! At each of the picnic stops, we’ll serve a tasty appetizer, Slate’s favorite part.
Tip #2: Make Friends
Slate is known for his friendliness. One look at the tagged photos on our Instagram feed says it all. Slate is a social media star! Wherever guests are, Slate is, too! And, we think he has the right idea. Of course, we encourage you to make friends with fellow tasting room visitors and share stories of wine country visits. But for our second Slate tip, we’re talking about friends of a different kind. Six months out of the year, we play host to these charming vineyard guests you see above. A huge part of the organic farming cycle, the sheep join us each year to munch on the tall spring grass and fertilize the growing vines. With the herd of sheep, Slate plays the role of sheepherder, but really he just wants to be part of the club. If you’re visiting us in the late winter to mid-spring months, keep an eye out!
Tip #3: Say Yes to Treats
While Slate tends to prefer treats of a different kind, he is keen to come when he hears the treat bag open! Our tasting room treat for you is some delicious artisanal chocolates from a local vendor- add a few to your order. You won't regret it.
Working to perfectly bring out the deep flavors of our six Noble Red varietals, add a few to your order. Trust us; you won’t regret it!
Tip #4: Play Games
Slate is a number of things, but playful is his strong suit. Master of the chase, Slate is always up for a quick game of catch the wine cork and can often be found in the vineyard following our ladybugs. We recommend you get in on the action too… Just in a different way!
Our tasting room game, Name That Varietal, puts the fun in wine tasting, asking you to focus on your senses and your palate. Here’s how it works. Our team will lead you through a blind tasting of our six Noble reds but don’t worry, we let you take notes along the way. You’ll write down what you notice about a particular wine, how it smells, what it tastes like. You’ll guess which glass is which varietal, and then we’ll tell you how you did. The great thing about this game is it interrupts the typical wine tasting routine and allows you to really experience which wines are best suited to your palate.
Tip #5: Make Time for a Cat Nap
The best piece of Slate-approved advice? Prioritize relaxation! After you’ve enjoyed your tasting for the day, it’s time to kick your feet up. Read a book, take a stroll, or sit back and enjoy the view. You’re in wine country, after all. The wine is great, and so is the view! We can’t wait to treat you to a great visit to Mendocino wine country!
Just an hour and 45 minutes from the Golden Gate Bridge, the adventure, fun, and incredible scenery of Mendocino County await you! The perfect getaway for the weekend–or just for the day–we have a few thoughts on how you can make your next road trip unlike anything you’ve experienced before. And, we promise we have something for Mendo veterans, too! No matter how many times you visit, you’ll always find something new to do.
1. Breakfast at Yorkville Market
Up first on the list? Breakfast at Yorkville Market. Right away, you’re welcomed into the bucolic splendor of Yorkville, CA—population 317. A charming spot right off of Highway 128, Yorkville Market is the perfect place to get settled and plan your day. Munch on hot and crispy breakfast sandwiches while reading the weekly issue of the Anderson Valley Advertiser (arguably one of the last old fashioned newspapers around). Shop local artisan goods and take a look through their curation of some of our favorite local wines. Spot something familiar? We’re proud to have our Hi-Rollr red featured there. Consider packing a sandwich to-go or grabbing some supplies for a picnic later in the day.
2. Taste All 8 Bordeaux Varietals at Yorkville Cellars
We’re happy to call Yorkville the home of our vineyard estate. The San Francisco Chronicle calls us, “The only winery this side of France that grows all eight Bordeaux varietals,” and we produce single varietal wines out of all of them. We celebrated our 26th Harvest this year and are grateful for the many years we’ve been able to make wines you love.
We offer complimentary tastings as well as the option to upgrade your tasting experience by playing Name That Varietal. This interactive tasting room game puts your knowledge to the taste as you blind taste your way through the six Noble Reds, learning more about which varietals you prefer and why!
We also offer VIP Tasting experiences such as a tour of our organic vineyards or a progressive picnic tasting through our vineyards. Club members and up to 5 guests receive one free VIP experience each year.
3. Play Disc Golf at Anderson Valley Brewing
In the wine business, they say it takes a lot of great beer to make good wine, and that’s why we’re lucky to have these neighbors so close by. Just a short jaunt up the road from us, you’ll find Anderson Valley Brewing Company. Much like us, they appreciate the history of Boontling – the linguistic phenomenon created and spoken by locals in the late 1800s. Their slogan, “Bahl Hornin’,” is a way of saying “cheers” in Boontling. Stop by after your visit with us, grab a few discs, and set out to play their 18-Hole Disc Golf Course right on the brewery grounds. Enjoy beer from the Tap Room as you try your hand sinking a few holes-in-one.
4. See Redwoods at Hendy Wood State Park
These gentle giants are sure to make your list of favorite sites in Northern California. Hendy Woods State Park plays guardian to two groves of redwoods, some of which are taller than 300 feet and older than 1,000 years. Great for swimming in the summertime and canoeing or kayaking in the wintertime and with year-round hiking and camping options, Hendy Woods State Park is the perfect choice for experiencing the range that Mendocino County has to offer.
5. Enjoy Dinner at Wild Fish
This incredible restaurant in Little River, CA often plays host to our winemaker dinners but is a perfect spot to enjoy any time of year. Exceptionally curated, each dish at Wild Fish is sustainably sourced and highlights the best of the local fare. The most distinguishing part of their menu? The freshly caught fish, purchased each morning directly off the boats. Placing a focus on collaboration, quality, and community, owners Liz and Kelvin’s phenomenal restaurant is rivaled only by the equally stunning views just outside the restaurant’s doors.
6. BONUS: Bowling Ball Beach
If you choose to return via Highway 1 or if you cross to the coast after your stop in Boonville, this bonus is a can’t-miss destination. This famous beach is renowned for its mysterious round rocks. Slick and scattered across the beach, these oversized bowling balls are most easily spotted at low-tide. There is much speculation in regards to their origin, but the answer is simply that they are a geological phenomenon. Grains of sand are bound together by mineral cements that ultimately create larger formations. Plain and simple, they’re a natural wonder and a crown jewel of Mendocino County.
We can’t wait to see you in the tasting room and to welcome you to Yorkville, CA!
- Dec. 5, 1933 -
Prohibition (n.) - the prevention by law of the manufacture and sale of alcohol, especially in the US between 1920 and 1933
The Noble Experiment
A fascinating time in American history, Prohibition, or what came to be known as “The Noble Experiment,” began with the passing of the 18th Amendment in 1920 after diligent campaigning by groups such as the Anti-Saloon League & Women’s Christian Temperance Union, among others. By its terms, the 18th Amendment prohibited “the manufacture, sale, or transportation of intoxicating liquors.” Although, it technically never prohibited the consumption of alcohol itself.
So why would someone think prohibition was a good idea in the first place? Lower crime rates, stronger families, and an overall improvement in the nation’s character were at the top of the list for those in favor of prohibition.
The Pitfalls of Prohibition
With breweries and distilleries shut down across the nation, countless jobs were lost and unemployment skyrocketed. While initially, supporters thought banning alcohol would increase the sales of other goods and entertainment venues, in reality, the opposite was true. Countless restaurants closed their doors for good without the revenue from alcohol sales, and movie theaters touted record lows in attendance. And the government? They didn’t make out too well either. Losing roughly $11 billion in excise taxes while spending $300 million to enforce the ban certainly did not paint a positive picture for “the Noble Experiment.”
What else sealed the fate of Prohibition? Crime. Prohibition didn’t just breed gangsters like Al Capone (who personally banked as much as $60 million annually), it made criminals out of average Joes and police officers alike – it all stemmed from how tempting (and lucrative) the bribes were.
So who came to their senses first? FDR won the 1932 presidency on the platform that he would be the president to end prohibition. His motivation? Perhaps his favorite drink – a dirty martini. So after 14 dry years, on December 5, 1933, the 21st Amendment was ratified (“The eighteenth article of amendment to the Constitution of the United States is hereby repealed”) by enough states to become law.
For that, we are all thankful. A little-known fact – that wasn’t quite the end of prohibition. Some states remained dry after the repeal, with Mississippi being the last to end its dry spell in 1966.
Let’s Party Like It’s 1933 | One-Day Half Price Case Sale
For the 10th year in a row, Yorkville Cellars will be rolling out the barrels and making the wine flow again in celebration of the repeal of Prohibition. We invite you to raise your glass with us December 5th to celebrate the repeal of Prohibition after 14 dry years. The 10th Annual Half Price Case Sale also includes shipping on us, just in time for the holiday season.
On Wednesday, Dec. 5, 2018, call us and say the secret passcode: LEGALIZE. We’re here 8am-5pm PST, (707) 894-9177 or (707) 367-2211.
You can also pre-order online before December 5th (as early as Nov. 24th) at yorkvillecellars.com/sale! But please note, deliveries cannot be fulfilled until the 21st Amendment is officially passed on December 5th.
“What America needs now is a drink.” – President Roosevelt
The Location – Mendocino County
Mendocino County, California – part of the North Coast, which includes the four counties north of San Francisco: Napa, Sonoma, Mendocino, and Lake. This ultra-premium growing area that Yorkville Cellars calls home produces just 12% of California’s wine.
The Vineyard – Rennie Organic Vineyard
The soils in the Yorkville Highlands viticultural area (AVA) are rocky hill soils characterized by gravel and old brittle rock. These generally thin soils found on the high benches and land troughs are in stark contrast to the loamy clay soils found in the in the two viticultural areas we look out over: Alexander Valley and Anderson Valley. Our Rennie Organic Vineyard sits at about 1,000 ft elevation with southern exposure. Planted in 1990, we’ve spent the last two decades watching its rocky soils be the perfect environment for some of our beloved Bordeaux varietals.
The Varietal – Malbec
In the late 80s, like virtually all wine drinkers in the U.S., we had never tasted a Malbec. When we planted it, we planned on using it as a blending grape in a Bordeaux wine. We waited patiently for the vines to mature in the vineyard before harvesting our first crop, only to wait again for the wine to mature in-barrel. We finally tasted our own Rennie Vineyard Malbec seven years later. Stunned by its uniqueness, we decided to produce the Malbec and the other Noble Reds as single varietals. Fascinated by its singularity, Malbec quickly became a favorite. Our 2015 Malbec table wine is our 21st consecutive vintage.
We now have three clones of Malbec in our vineyard: FPS #9 (COT clone 180 from France), #595 EV (originated in Cahors), and FPS #4 Bordeaux, each annually certified organic by California Certified Organic Farmers (CCOF).
The Results – “Malbec 4 Ways”
We had never heard of Sweet Malbec, but in 2006, inspired by the luscious juice we tasted while regularly checking Brix during each harvest, we conceived the idea to produce one. Our experiment quickly grabbed the attention of our customers, wine critics, and wine judges, garnering two double-gold medals in consecutive productions. In 2013, we produced our inaugural Sparkling Malbec Brut Rosé, which sold out in four months. This year, we launched our first Vin D’une Nuit Malbec Rosé, which was awarded 94 pts./Gold Medal at the North Coast Wine Challenge!
What started as an exploration of one component of the traditional Bordeaux blend has taken us on a 21-year journey that will undoubtedly continue to grow and evolve. Experience all four Malbecs for yourself at Yorkville Cellars.
Sat. Nov 3rd & Sun. 4th | Malbec & Mushrooms Feast
Enjoy multiple vintages of Malbec from grapes organically farmed in front of the tasting room. A full fare of mushroom dishes featuring fungi foraged in Mendocino's forests will be served: pork, porcini, and pumpkin cassoulet; mushroom mac; onion and chanterelle tart, mushroom medley mousse...and more. $10 /person for the vintage tasting; no charge for wine club members. Complimentary tasting at the bar. On Saturday, local artist Svetlana Artemoff will join us in the tasting room and demonstrate how to create collages with a mushroom theme. (11 AM - 4 PM).
Fri. Nov 9th thru Sun. 11th / “Malbec 4-Ways”
Where else could you find this but Yorkville? Taste our Sparkling Malbec Brut Rose', Malbec table wine, Sweet Malbec, as well as Rose' of Malbec; all from our certified organic vineyard. Served with tasty and tantalizing mushroom themed appetizers and desserts. No reservation necessary; complimentary to all club members and their invited guests. Part of the Mendocino Mushroom Festival - Nov. 6 thru 15th.
Blind Taste Bordeaux-Style Wines in Our Tasting Room Game
So you’ve been drinking wine for some time now. You’ve done a few tastings and you think you know the drill, but what would you say if we changed the rules?
Instead of being presented with a wine first and tasting it second, we’re letting you taste the wine before its identity is revealed. We love this tasting format for its nontraditional approach, but we love it even more for the opportunity it gives you, the wine taster!
Blind tastings aren’t just for sommelier hopefuls; they can be just as helpful for a novice wine drinker as they can for a wine aficionado. For the average wine drinker, blind tastings help remove any preconceived notions about what varietals are better than others (see: The Sideways Effect), and allow you to experience a wine through your own lens and interpretation.
That’s the magic of our beloved tasting room game, Name that Varietal. Here’s the setup: you’re presented with 6 unique wines and a list of the varietals they could be. You taste your way through the line-up, making notes on their characteristics, your opinions, and which varietals you think they might be. At the end of the game, the truth is revealed and your paper is graded. And more often than not, you’ll be surprised at which varietals take your top vote.
So what’s on the menu? You’ll taste each of the six Noble Red grape varietals that originated in the Bordeaux region of France: Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Cabernet Franc, Carmenère, Malbec, Petit Verdot. Each grape is quite similar and genetically part of the same family, yet each contributes in unique ways to the complexity of a Bordeaux blend wine. The Noble Reds are a hallmark of the Yorkville Cellars wine experience, bringing a piece of Bordeaux right to California.
Ready for an example?
Let’s imagine you’re tasting the first wine in the line-up. When you peer at the wine in the glass, you’re seeing a lighter shade of red, almost a ruby red. Aromas of spiced earth, dried herbs, cocoa powder, and bright red fruit jump out of the glass. Once you take a sip and swirl it around your palate, you're noticing the wine is medium-bodied with slightly gritty yet mild tannins and medium acidity, and you’re tasting flavors of strawberry, green pepper, red plum, and chili pepper. The finish is long and luscious. You’re thinking about possibly eating a steak with this wine, but it would pair just as well with a chicken or turkey dish on account of the subtle tannic structure. So the big question: Which Noble Red is in front of you?
See! It’s much harder than you think!
The Noble Red we’re describing here is Cabernet Franc.
Now it’s your turn! If you’re ready to put your taste buds to the test, join us in the tasting room every day of the week, 11 AM - 6 PM. We can’t wait to see how your answers stack up!
Tales from the Past and a Taste of the Future
Reigning over 12th century England during the legends of Robin Hood, the era of Grimm’s Fairy Tales, and the height of the Crusades was King Richard I. While he serves as a symbol of unparalleled bravery, Richard the Lion-Heart also had an affinity for wine, as it paired perfectly with the heat of battle. He liked wine so much in fact, that he gave sovereignty to the town of Saint-Émilion in Bordeaux on the promise that they would taste every barrel of wine before sending the best to his troops. And it was during this time that the Noble Red grapes were planted in Bordeaux: Merlot, Petit Verdot, Malbec, Carménère, and Cabernet Franc, the ancestor of Cabernet Sauvignon.
Flash forward several centuries. The descendants of those same grapes – the Noble Reds that filled the goblets of men dripping in chainmail and readied them for war on sinewy horses – are now rooted in the highland soil here at Yorkville Cellars. And just like Richard I’s comrades in Bordeaux, we taste each one after 21 months of aging, preparing them to meld into a bold Noble Red blend rightfully crowned as our “Richard the Lion-Heart.”
A handsome concoction of deep, vibrant berries, our Richard the Lion-Heart has been winning awards and recognition since we first released it back in 1995. And after all these years of careful creation – 23 to be exact – it’s become clear to us that this Noble Red blend is special because it goes beyond just our 23 years and stretches in both directions of time. Down to the very last molecule, the wine shares a bond with the Middle Ages, but it also has the power to connect us forward – a power you can literally taste in the Richard the Lion-Heart Futures.
Futures are a special tradition in winemaking, because they’re wines you purchase while they're aging in barrels before they’ve been bottled. And whether you’re acquiring futures to commemorate a special year, to collect a favorite wine at its very first opportunity and best price, or to invest in its coming value, futures are an amazing peek into a young vintage. At Yorkville Cellars, we offer futures of the Richard the Lion-Heart, our very own liquid time travel.
Join us on July 21st and 22nd for Anderson Valley’s 6th Annual Barrel Tasting Weekend. In our tasting room, we’ll be featuring barrels of the 2016 Richard the Lion-Heart future and its six Noble Red components. Come taste with us, experience the sensation of history in a glass, and be the first to acquire this remarkable vintage. Thoroughly modern pulled pork sliders and tri-tip sandwiches will enhance your experience!
For wine club members your tasting at Yorkville Cellars will be complimentary, but you can get your event tickets including seventeen other wineries: linked here.
Let's Define Organic
Organic (n.) - relating to or derived from living matter. Certainly a buzzword these days, organic evokes an innovative or trendy connotation. Yet, these basic techniques are actually a return to the traditions of the past. Founder, Edward Wallo, says, “This is not new, or rocket science. It’s merely winegrowing the way it was done for some 7,900 years before petrochemicals came into the picture.”
Yorkville Cellars has been a CCOF certified organic grower for 32 years and was among the first vineyards in the state to be certified. The goal of organic farming? Creating healthy, living soils that produce healthy vines and therefore healthy crops over time. There are a few main facets of this practice.
- Use only natural fertilizers - Ones that contain a spectrum of necessary nutrients rather than concentrated fertilizers, which supercharge certain nutrients more than others. Think about it this way… If you only ate three foods every day, what vitamins and minerals would you be missing?
- Avoid harmful chemicals - The basic truth is there are good bugs and bad bugs. Many commonly used pest controls also kill the good bugs - the ones that pollinate the crops, eat the bad bugs and contribute to the overall health of the vineyards. Farms that do use chemicals often do so to consistently grow the same crops each year on the same piece of land.
- Take care of the dirt - Not only does healthy soil yield vibrant, complex grapes, healthy soil is key to producing delectable vintages year after year. By planting cover crops like fava beans, winter peas, and oats after harvest, the soil’s nutrients are restored and prepared for the next growing season.
Bring in the Sheep
Growing organically and without herbicides, weed control is expensive, time-consuming, and challenging. That’s where these guys pictured up above come in. Uniquely qualified for the job, we love hosting the sheep for six months out of the year. Each winter, our neighbor Kevin (raised as a sheepherder in Wales), runs his sheep to our vineyards to munch on the tall early spring grass! We appreciate their free fertilizer and so do the vines. These "assistant winemakers" are a big part of organic farming.
With two main vineyards on the estate, each farmed organically, we are currently tending to 30 acres. Randle Hill Vineyard sits behind the tasting room and yields Sauvignon Blanc and Semillon, while our Rennie Vineyard runs along Highways 128 in front of the tasting room and is planted to all six of the main red grapes originating in Bordeaux, France: Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Cabernet Franc, Malbec, Carmenère, and Petit Verdot. These are otherwise called, “The Noble Reds.” Dating back to 1986, we’ve cultivated vineyards that yield incredible fruit; in large part, this stems directly from our farming practices. We are proud recipients of the prestigious “Masters of Organic” Award.
So the big question… Why does organic matter?
Aside from the sustainability component of organic farming, which is a driving factor in our decision to farm this way for many years now, the truth is in the wine itself. How exciting, how rewarding it is to taste a vintage that is not only flavorful, complex, and aromatic, but one that can only really be described as vibrant and alive.
Ready to put our word to the test? Stop by our tasting room any day between 11 AM - 6 PM. We’d love to talk more about what makes our vineyards and our wines noteworthy.