Italian Wines versus American Wines – What Makes Them Different – Siduri
For the final of my three part series on my December 2013 California winery tour, we visit Siduri Winery. Siduri has a story shared by many a California producer, here, two self-professed “Texas wine geeks” moved to California to “make a killer Pinot Noir from the best vineyards”.
Adam and Dianna were both working in the food and wine industry when they met in Texas. They shared a passion for Pinot Noir strong enough to fuel a move away from home and family to California’s Sonoma wine country. They spent several years working for smaller, family owned wineries to learn the ins and outs of cultivating grapes and producing wine. In 1994, they launched Siduri Wines.
Today, Siduri produces single vineyard Pinot Noir from 20 different vineyards stretching from Santa Barbara north to Willamette Valley in Oregon. They have relationships with some of the country’s top vineyards and growers, include Pisoni, Van der Kamp and Clos Pepe. They do minimal processing, all of their Pinot’s are unfined and unfiltered. They “believe that great wine is made in the vineyard.” Just as we see in Italy on our cycling wine tours, the folks at Siduri appreciate the role that terroir plays in the production of wines. They produce single vineyard wines, designing each to reflect the unique characteristics of the individual sites.
This focus on terroir is much more common in Italian producers than in US. In Italy, we visit small, family run wineries that are producing wines made from their own vineyards. Many of these families have owned these estates, and cultivated grapes on these lands for generations, passing down an immense amount of experience and knowledge. On a recent tour to our favorite prosecco producer, the owner showed us the oldest single vine on the estate, over 70 years old, planted by her grandfather.
In California, many producers like Siduri are making wines with grapes purchased from growers, and don’t actually own their own vineyards. I was at a recent panel discussion at UNH featuring another California producer, Peter Paul Winery. During the Q&A session, someone questioned their practices of using purchasing grapes, and the reply was a bit defensive. Purchasing grapes from growers has it’s pros and cons; if you are knowledgeable and know what to look for, you can pick from the best. Siduri has the practice of purchasing grapes by the acre, rather than by the ton. That way, they can control the yield, and the farmer is not incentivized to sacrifice quality for quantity. You can hedge your bets during the bad years. However, with vineyards to oversee from California to Oregon, you are not out overseeing the fields daily. You have a lot of science and expertise to guide you, but not the history and experience of hundreds of years.
Here’s a sampling of the MANY wines we tasted at Siduri
2011 Chehalem Mountain Pinot Noir – Willamette Valley, WA
Subtle aroma, cherry, with a bit of spice. Light, earthy, mushrooms.
Fruity, peppery, a bit of minerality. Light, fresh fruit. Nice complexity, well structured.
The 2011 Siduri Van der Kamp Vineyard Pinot Noir just received a 90 point rating from the Wine Advocate and was described this way, “Savory herbs, olives, menthol, game, tar and licorice all take shape in the 2011 Pinot Noir Van Der Kamp Vineyard. An
unrestrained Pinot, the 2011 is laced with wild animal notes throughout. This is another of the more powerful, angular Pinots in the range, but there is no shortage of personality or intrigue.”
Lots of different fruit, cherry, floral, rose.
Antonio Galloni from the Wine Advocate described the wine this way, “ One of the more
promising 2011s, Siduri’s 2011 Pinot Noir Rosella’s shows the freshness of the year in its lip-smacking acidity, although there is more than enough fruit to provide balance. Sweet dark red cherries, flowers and spices come together in this impeccable, refined Pinot.”
Nice cherry, spice and earth.
The 2011 Siduri Garys’ Vineyard Pinot Noir shows avery aromatic nose, with loads of
floral and dried herb scents. On the palate, the wine is mid-weight, with more red rasp-
berry fruits though there are some darker fruit flavors hiding underneath. There are hints of herbs and dried leaves (probably from the use of whole clusters in the ferment) along with some vanilla from the oak. The wine still shows some baby fat, but is certainly a great candidate for the cellar.
2012 Clos Pepe
We enjoyed a barrel sampling of this, as they start bottling in January, 2014.
This vineyard is located in a valley that runs east – west, with lots of wind. The grapes are smaller clusters, with lots of skin, resulting in a higher level of tannins.
Cherry, spice, a nice acidity. Tannins are managed nicely.
In addition, Adam and Dianna have now moved into other varietals, produced under the Novy winery label.
Zippy, with lots of fruit, spice and earth.
2010 Syrah – Sierra Mar Vineyard, Santa Lucia
Earthy fruit, a bit of spice.
2010 Syrah – Simpson Vineyard, Dry Creek
Nice minerality and fruit.
2011 Blanc di Pinot Noir – Willamette Valley
Sauvignon Blanc- like, crisp and tart, citrus
2011 Chardonnay – Rosella’s Vineyard
66% aged in neutral oak, 33% in new oak.
2012 Four Mile Creek White
Blend of Viognier, Sauvignon Blanc and Gewurztraminer
2012 “Oley” Late Harvest Viognier
Sweet dessert wine, grapes stay on vine 6 weeks after regular harvest.