Category Archives: Wine 101

2015 Bordeaux First Impressions

2015: the dawn of a great vintage

Located on the 45th parallel, the northern limit for the world’s great red wine regions, Bordeaux likes sunny summers to produce great vintages. The months of May, June, and July 2015 were among the hottest and driest on record. Water stress, so important for stopping vegetative growth and starting the ripening process, took place early, in July, and brought on a magnificent véraison (colour change) in early August. I have not seen such an early, even véraison since 2009. All our grapes were red by the 15th of August and many of them were already deeply-­‐colored.

Fortunately, the month of August was less hot and more wet, which gave a certain vigor to the vines.


This month of August enabled the grapes, especially the white wine grapes, to “breathe” and retain their freshness. The first grapes were picked at the end August. Their juices were superb and the weather forecast for the next two weeks is looking excellent… We are thus quite confident this will be a great year!!!


The Merlot grapes will be harvested the last ten days of September and the Cabernets the first two weeks of October. These are showing magnificent potential, but we still need six weeks without a major disturbance.

Sweet whitewines

The Sémillon and Sauvignon Blanc grapes are slowly reaching perfect ripeness. As with every vintage, botrytis will call all the shots, but the conditions conducive to its development are all there.

It has been several years since Bordeaux has seen the dawn of such a beautiful vintage…

There are still a few weeks of suspense left before this promise is fulfilled.

Article by Union des Grand Cru Bordeaux


      View From The Vineyard


Preparing For an Early Harvest

“A dry and unusually warm winter has led to a very early progression of vine growth and development.  We are extremely busy getting ready for what will likely be our earliest harvest ever.”  Ron Rosenbrand, SMV Vineyard Manager

By early May, we saw bloom in all grape varieties at SMV, even late ripening Cabernet Sauvignon, setting the crop for an early harvest.  Springtime activity in the vineyards has been non-stop. The spading of vine rows, knock-down of cover crops, tying of canes, tucking of shoots, fertigation, release of hundreds of thousands of beneficial insects and leafing decisions are being as brilliantly choreographed as a George Balanchine ballet.

Managing Water

The 4 year drought, so much on everyone’s mind in California, has us tweaking our already meticulous management of water and finding new ways to be even more efficient. Even in vintages with plentiful rainfall, the shallow soils on Spring Mountain do not retain moisture, so we always follow a judicious irrigation protocol. Because of the drought and reduced availability of ground water, this year we have put a few new implements into our farming toolkit.

First, we began an experiment with Biochar, an organic amendment that is planted in the soil at the base of the grapevine, where it acts like a sponge to retain water and nutrients in the root zone, increasing water use efficiency and soil fertility. We have 230 Cabernet vines amended with Biochar. If we find we irrigate these vines less, we will expand the program to other vineyard blocks next year.

Other water-saving methods we use are pressure bomb readings and visual observations of our vines to determine irrigation needs. All vineyard blocks are drip irrigated with pressure compensating emitters which relate to elevation changes. We have also installed numerous “intra-block bypasses” in vineyard rows where we have determined less irrigation is needed. This essentially shuts off the water to these vines until irrigation is necessary for them. We also have installed drip emitters with lower flow rates for vines that need less water. Both of these practices are saving water and increasing the quality of the grapes that come from these vines.

Great wine starts in the vineyard, and we are doing our part to be responsible with our most essential resource.

assemblageIn the Cellar

First Look at the 2014s

“At this early stage, the 2014 red Bordeaux varieties are quite pretty and vivacious with plush soft tanins. The Malbec and Petit Verdot are simply brilliant and will lend structure and layers of complexity to Elivette.” Susan Doyle, Director of Vineyards and Winemaking

In April the winemaking team tasted all the new 2014 red barrel lots. Tasting over several days, palates with many decades of experience evaluated a multitude of small barrel lots made from SMV’s 135 mountain vineyard blocks. Thoughtful consideration was given to the distinctive qualities of each lot.  After discussion, they were classified either for Elivette, for the SMV Cabernet Sauvignon label, or for neither.  The process is highly selective and some lots do not make the cut

The classified wines represent two base blends of cabernet sauvignon, the foundation for each wine. After the classification, these decisions prompt new tasks in the cellar. The first is racking.  Racking is the process of removing the new wines from barrel, taking them off the fermentation lees (the matter that precipitates after fermentation). The wines are moved to tank, the small lots married into the two base blends, then moved back into French oak barrels. The wines will age in barrel for 6 to 12 months.

fermentation roomLater in the aging process, during the 2nd racking, the addition of complementary varieties such as Merlot, Cabernet Franc, Petit Verdot or Malbec will be made to complete each wine. Depending on the vintage, we generally rack the wines 3 times over the course of 22 months of aging.

While the Bordeaux varieties are just beginning their journey in barrel, other varieties are complete and headed for the bottling line. The 2014 Pinot Noir is big and velvety with abundant blue and black fruit aromas, a reflection of its mountain origin. Those who enjoy Pinots from Santa Lucia Highlands will love this wine. The 2014 whites, Chardonnay and Sauvignon Blanc, were barrel fermented in neutral and 20% new French oak to preserve freshness, followed by several months of lees contact to enhance textural richness on the palate. The inherent acidity of Spring Mountain wines knits the elements into a balanced whole.

The 2014s promise to be delightful upon release, and we can’t wait to show them to you.

Oh, those Exciting 2013s!

“The 2013s are stunning, with plenty of seductiveness, power and oomph. They will last in the bottle and the glass.”  Winemaker Susan Doyle

From the first look, we’ve been impressed with wines from this stellar vintage. Now, as blends are final and the 2013 Elivette and Cabernet Sauvignon move to the bottling line, the excitement we feel is mounting.  Stylistically, 2013 Elivette is structural, with layers of complexity and built for aging. The 2013 Cabernet Sauvignon captures the traditional appeal of Napa Valley’s mountain terroir.

With the imminent release of the 2012s, the impressive wines of 2013 and 2014 waiting in the wings, it is an exciting time for Spring Mountain Vineyard!

Newly Released

2013 Estate Bottled Sauvignon Blanc

Spring Mountain Vineyard Sauvignon Blanc 2013 Very aromatic in the glass, the wine suggests honeysuckle, white peach, pear and tropical fruits.
The entry is full, rich and textured, with abundant fruit balanced by bright acidity. It retains its weight, volume and viscosity through the mid-palate to a fresh and persistent finish. Serve with shellfish or white meats.Estate Bottled – 603 Cases Produced.$40.

2012 Estate Bottled Cabernet Franc “Francisco”

Spring Mountain Vineyard Cabernet Franc 2012 Brilliant ruby in color and engaging aromas of blackberry, black currant and dark chocolate overlay notes of violets, lavender, dried chervil and bay. Underlying aromas of caramel, toffee and leather co-mingle with cigar box and graphite. A broad entry reveals a full-bodied wine, pure in varietal character and nicely supported by mountain tannins and the polishing effects of French oak. Serve with cheese, charcuterie or a savory duck risotto. Decant and enjoy 2015 – 2020.Estate Bottled – 189 Cases Produced.$75

To order or reserve your allocation, call the winery at 707.967.4185 or email
10% Discount on case purchases. Wine Club Member discount is 20%

Upcoming Events

Where to find SMV in the coming months

May 31 – June 8: Auction Napa Valley
Get in on the action with online bidding!
Preview the SMV lot #454 – Rare & Library Magnum Collection – a never-before-offered 6 magnum lot that includes the 1979, 1997 Reserve, 2000, 2005, 2007 and 2010 Elivette.
Anyone can bid in this exclusive online auction, so get in on the excitement!
Auction Napa Valley has been raising funds for the well being of the Napa community since 1981.
Preview Auction Napa Valley Lots

June 13:  33rd annual Vintage Affaire – Atherton, CA
Join SMV’s Lindsay McArdle for a stellar event!
Benefits the Vista Center for the Blind and Visually Impaired
Vintage Affaire Tickets

July 15 – 24: 10th Annual Festival del Sole – Napa Valley
A 10 day celebration of music, dance, theater and Napa Valley’s fine wine and cuisine!

July 23: Festival del Sole Alfresco Lunch at SMV exclusively for Patron Pass holders.
For Events and Tickets
July 18: Taste of Napa – Festival del Sole – Napa Valley
Signature Festival del Sole daytime event with 70 wineries, restaurants, music and more!
Taste of Napa Tickets

August 6 – 9: V Foundation 17th Annual Wine Celebration – Napa Valley
A magical weekend dedicated to finding cures for cancer
Wine Celebration 2015

September 19: Fête Elivette – SAVE THE DATE!
Spring Mountain Vineyard – Miravalle Lawn – St. Helena, CA.
Alfresco Harvest Release Party for the 2012 Elivette!

On Our Summer Table

Petrale Sole with Sauvignon Blanc Sauce and Asparagus

Serves 4Sole with Asparagus

Pan-seared sole and the green goodness of new asparagus really complement the freshness and bright acidity of our 2013 Sauvignon Blanc. Enjoy with a simple arugula and sliced nectarine salad and a crunchy baguette to soak up every drop of sauce. This is a delicious dinner that can be on the table in less than 30 minutes!Ingredients

1 1/2 pounds asparagus (1/2 in. thick)
1 1/4 pound boned, skinned petrale sole fillets (1/4 in. thick)
kosher salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
1/4 cup butter (4 tablespoons)
1 cup dry white wine such as Sauvignon Blanc
3 1/2 tablespoons fresh tarragon, coarsely chopped


Wash and pat dry asparagus. Snap off and discard woody stem ends.
Rinse fish and pat thoroughly dry. Salt and pepper to taste.
Prepare sole and asparagus simultaneously.
For the sole:  Melt 2 tablespoons butter in a large, non-stick skillet over medium high heat.. If your skillet is small, you can cook the fish in 2 batches. When the pan is hot and butter foaming, add the sole filets. Cook 3 minutes, then carefully turn and cook another 2 minutes or until the centers just turn opaque. Remove to a platter and keep warm while you make the sauce.
For the asparagus:  Melt 1 tablespoon butter in a large skillet. Melt over medium high heat. Add the asparagus and toss to coat in the butter. Saute for 4 to 5 minutes until crisp tender. Remove from heat and keep warm.
For the sauce:  In the fish skillet, add the wine with 3 tablespoons tarragon. Bring to a boil over high heat, stirring until the wine is reduced to 1/3 cup, about 2 minutes. Remove from heat and stir in remaining 1 tablespoon butter until blended.
Arrange the sole and asparagus on a serving platter. Spoon sauce over sole fillets. Scatter remaining 1/2 tablespoon tarragon over the sole. Serve immediately with 2013 Sauvignon Blanc.

Visit Us This Summer!

SMV Villa MiravalleWhen your travels bring you to Napa Valley, we hope to see you at SMV where great wine and a friendly welcome await you.

Contact the winery toll free at 877.769.4637, locally at 707.967.4188 or email to make your appointment.

You can book online too:

Wishing you all the pleasures of the Season!
~Your Friends at Spring Mountain Vineyard

View from the Vineyard
Preparing For a Very Early Harvest
In the Cellar
First Look at the 2014s
Newly Released
2013 Sauvignon Blanc
2012 Cabernet Franc
Upcoming Events
May 31 – June 8: Auction Napa Valley
June 13: 33rd annual Vintage Affaire
July 15 – 24: 10th Annual Festival del Sole
July 23: Festival del Sole Alfresco Lunch at SMV
July 18: Taste of Napa – Festival del Sole
August 6 – 9: V Foundation 17th Annual Wine Celebration
September 19: Fête Elivette – SAVE THE DATE!
On Our Summer Table
Petrale Sole with Sauvignon Blanc Sauce and Asparagus
Visit Us

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Spring Mountain Vineyard
2805 Spring Mtn Rd
Saint Helena, California 94574
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I attended the 2015 VinCE Wine Festival held at the amazing property, the Corinthian Hotel, voted the number one hotel in Budapest for 2014.
The VinCE 2015 Wine Conference wasn’t only about tasting fine wines, but it was a master class that  broadened everyone’s knowledge of Hungarian wine and wines from other parts of the world.
There were classes on New Zealand wines, Cohor in France, Cava from Spain, Bordeaux from France, and the USA.
Don’t misunderstand me there were wines presented from other countries at this conference, but the 2015 VinCE Wine Conference was about introducing Hungarian wines to the world.
After the conference a small group of media had the opportunity to visit Wine Country in Hungary which included the Tokaji and Ager wine regions.
The Tokaji wine region consists mainly of the Furmint and Harslevelu grapes. These grapes are the backbone of the great Tokai wines that are made in Hungary. The Tokaji wines are very sweet but well balance ranging in sweetness from 3 to 6 Puttonyos.
What is so amazing about this wine is not the level of sweetness which can range from 120 RS to over 500 RS, but the acidity level that reaches as high as 11 percent which is incredible. These wines are able to achieve an incredibly high acidity level due to the inactive volcanic soil where the grapes are grown.
Some of the top producers in Tokaji are Dobogó Furmint,  Royal Tokaji, Barta Oreg Furmint, and Sauska.


On Febuaray 27th, 2015 I had the opportunity to have lunch with Grand Reserve head wine maker Marcio Ramirez.  Marcio explained the reasons why the Grand Reserve a riverbank series of wines were so special.   Marcio explain that the wines come from 3 very unique rivers beds Rapel, Cachapoal, and Tinguiririca which provides very distinct and different qualities to each wine.  All the Gran Reserva series wines start with the triple Marine Mediterranean advantage.

*  Areas which have a cool breeze close to the coast,

* Areas with a temperature between cold ocean air and warm air current from the valley combine to produce cooling winds.

* Ancient river banks or oil, mineral rich free draining and unfertile.

Marcio has been the wine maker at Concha Y Toro since he graduated from Universidad de Chile in 1997 degree in Oenology, he is a well-traveled and a well educated winemaker spending time in Bordeaux, Napa Valley, Mendoza, Spain St Emilion Pomerol District.   We Tasted through several of the Gran Reserva series.

The Gran Reserva series Sauvignon Blanc 2014, was well rounded on the palate with a long lingering finish.

The Gran Reserva 2013 Chardonnay was golden in color, ripe pineapple fruit, balanced acidity and just a lovely wine.

Gran Reserva 2011 Carmenere displayed a deep ruby color blackberry/ blueberry fruit with a hint of chocolate on the palate, a well structured complex wine.  Also in my opinion the best wine of the luncheon .

The Gran Reserva Malbec 2012 and 13 were deep ruby in color, the fruit comes from the river bed area Tinguiririca which is layered in red clay, I thought it was a very good expression of a very good Malbec.

Last was the Gran Reserva Cabernet Sauvignon  2013 and 14 these wines were very young but the 2014 has signs of being a star because of its complexity and structure, finished with well rounded firm tannin.


Contributing editor Alyssa Alvarez, @Tipsygypsea


I’ve always been a wine-discovery junkie, constantly on the hunt for new grapes, new vintages, new winemakers, and especially new places where vines may never have been planted before. Thanks to ambitious vintners, rising demand from drinkers, a taste shift to lighter wine styles, and yes, even climate change, the number of global hot spots for wine is ever expanding. If you’re still rattling off the names of the old, long-famous regions, you’re way behind the times. In these eight spots, good wine is on its way to becoming great wine, with a few stars leading the way.

Tokaj, Hungary

As Eastern Europe’s class act for wine, the historic Tokaj region is getting a €330 million (&374 million) investment over the next five years to upgrade its vineyards and bolster its reputation. (Under communism, quantity was prized over quality.) Its 5,500 hectares of vineyards, at an 800-foot elevation on volcanic slopes, are devoted primarily to three native white grapes. They include hard-to-pronounce Hárslevelü and flagship furmint, which is the key varietal in the luscious sweet wines associated with the region. The latest craze, though, is a newly available dry version of furmint, Hungary’s alternative to chardonnay and riesling.

Try This Now: 2011 Istvan Szepsy Betsek Furmint ($75). Smoky, citrusy, rich, and complex, it reminds me of a great Alsace riesling.


Thomas Jefferson grew grapes in the state but failed to make great wines. Still, the modern era (starting in the 1970s) has drawn more than 240 determined vintners, including Donald Trump and AOL co-founder Steve Case. In 2014, they sold a total of half a million cases and seem now to be at the tipping point. Of the eight whites (chardonnay, sauvignon blanc, riesling, and several more), the most promising is viognier, but the best wines so far are the Bordeaux-style red blends made from cabernet sauvignon, cabernet franc, merlot, and petit verdot. A couple of top examples wowed even Eric Boissenot, consultant to Bordeaux’s first growths.

Try This Now: 2010 RdV Vineyards Lost Mountain ($95). This complex, spicy, rich, and velvety cabernet/merlot blend rivals a French cru classe.

Yarra Valley, Australia

When you think of an Aussie wine, you may envision a blockbuster shiraz, but the most interesting bottles I tasted on a recent visit to Australia were pinot noirs from this cool, green valley an hour’s drive northeast of Melbourne. Though the area’s 100-plus wineries make only 4 percent of Australia’s wine, this spot is a hotbed of young ambitious winemakers. They’re mainly chasing great pinot noir and chardonnay, the region’s most planted grapes, but on the radar are a lighter style shiraz they label syrah, sauvignon blanc, and even nebbiolo.

Try This Now: 2012 Mac Forbes Yarra Valley Pinot Noir ($40). Forbes’s widely available basic pinot is silky and savory, with tastes of spice and succulent red fruit.

Republic of Georgia

This is the land of qvervi, the pot-bellied clay amphora lined with beeswax and buried in the earth that vintners have traditionally used for fermenting juice from nearly 500 indigenous varieties of grapes. The method and the country’s 8,000-year-old winemaking history have given its reds and whites countercultural appeal. The current wine revival was helped along by a seven-year Russian embargo that forced producers to improve and export. Among the 15 most important varietals, one red (saperavi) and two whites (rkatsiteli, mstvane) have the most global potential.

Try This Now: 2010 Pheasant’s Tears Kakheti Valley Rkatsiteli ($18). Golden amber in color, it’s round, ripe, and fleshy, with notes of apricot and spice.

Southern England

Forget England’s famously damp, chilly anti-wine-grape climate. Global warming and the same chalky soil as France’s Champagne region make its south coast a natural for sparkling wine—66 percent of the 4.5 million bottles produced here are bubbly. As in Champagne, chardonnay and pinot noir are the most planted grapes. Nearly 150 wineries are betting on the future, and so far, I’ve found the best wines come from the South Downs of Sussex.

Try This Now: 2010 Ridgeview Grosvenor Blanc de Blancs Brut ($40) is zippy, lemony, and creamy—a fine aperitif.

Lodi, California

An hour and a half east of Napa Valley, zero-glamour Lodi has a long history of growing and selling grapes to outsiders. Only recently has it fostered its own wineries; now there are about 80. Land is cheap, so wine prices are low. This is red wine country and California’s zinfandel capital, providing grapes for about a third of the state’s premium zins. Vintners here craft some of the boldest examples around. But the adventurous ones are experimenting with some 70 varieties, including Spain’s tempranillo, Portugal’s touriga nacional, and Italy’s barbera and primitivo.,

Try This Now: 2012 L’ Uvaggio di Giacomo Primitivo ($14). This juicy bargain has layers of spice and berry flavors, and is surprisingly complex for the price.

Mt. Etna, Sicily

The 45-degree slopes of a massive, perpetually rumbling volcano in eastern Sicily don’t automatically make me think of vineyards, but in the past decade Mt. Etna has become one of Italy’s most exciting wine regions. Thirty years ago there were five producers; now there are nearly 90 who tend vines at elevations of 2,000 to 3,500 feet. Native grapes carricante for whites and nerello cappuccio (and the even better nerello mascalese) for reds produce the best wines. The high altitude and rocky terroir translate into sultry, salty, highly distinctive wines.

Try This Now: 2011 Tenuta delle Terre Etna Rosso Santo Spirito ($40) is all stony earth and silky sour cherry flavors.

Maule Valley, Chile

This long, narrow country, with some 13 wine regions, has recently planted vineyards in extreme locations: at altitudes of nearly 7,000 feet in the Andes and in the middle of the Atacama desert. But I’m a fan of the little-known Maule region, in the south of the Central Valley, where small-scale vintners discovered a treasure trove of old carignan and pais vines. Though the majority of Maule’s 36 million liters of wine (in 2013) are Chile’s mainstays, cabernet and sauvignon blanc, these old vines offer something truly special.

Bloomberg News is the owner of this article, I’m posting this article to further educate my readers. Cheers