California winemaking has gone through many phases since the earliest pioneers who shone in the tasting of Paris in 1976. From hugely powerful wines heavily impacted by new oak aging, and the waxing popularity of Pinot Noir and waning appeal of Merlot (thanks, Sideways) to the ABC (anything but Chardonnay) advocates. Today there is a move towards letting the grapes shine, managing alcohol levels, and always looking for the best parcels from which to source grapes.
The new hunt for freshness in the resulting wines is a decided boon for wine lovers who are looking for varietal expression, more acidity, while still wishing for complexity and richness. Mari Wells Coyle is vice president of winemaking and estate operations at ONEHOPE Winery in Napa Valley, and, under her stewardship, the wines are delivering lovely quality of fruit, more balance, and delicious, complex flavors.
But ONEHOPE is more than just a top notch wine producer – the Rutherford winery was founded 15 years ago with the mission to give back. For each purchase, the winery donates 10% of the price to customers’ chosen nonprofits. Today the winery has donated over $8 million. It’s an outstanding achievement that makes drinking well and doing good easy.
Mari was in NYC for a media lunch at Marta, where she walked us through a number of current releases.
Estate 8 Fume Blanc Rutherford 2020 – Rutherford fruit that sees a mix of new and used oak barrel aging produces a luxurious white with floral and herbal aromas, white plum flesh and toffee on the palate, a round mouthfeel and long finish. A very special wine.
Reserve Collection Chardonnay Napa Valley 2020 – Although the vintage was growing during some times of fire, the fruit was clean and so wine could be produced. This had a fresh nose of orange blossom and the citrus continued on the palate along with honeyed toffee notes on the backend. The balance of acidity and richness makes this wine a delight.
Reserve Collection Pinot Noir Russian River 2020 – Lush strawberry jam and dried roses on the nose with dark cherry flavor and well-integrated tannins. A more delicate Pinot Noir that still had satisfying flavors and length.
Reserve Collection Zinfandel Amador 2020 – I was pleased to see that this Zin avoided the heaviness that is often seen from the grape in California. There was an appealing blackberry nose and rich black fruit with a touch of spice on the palate with a full body.
Naturally, the Cabernet Sauvignons were a highly anticipated part of the tasting and they did not disappoint:
Iconic Collection Cabernet Sauvignon Oakville 2017 – Redolent of blackberries on the nose and palate with hints of baking spice and a long finish.
Iconic Collection Cabernet Sauvignon Oakville 2018 – A cooler growing season resulted in a wine with slightly more herbal and rose tones on the nose. The wine delivers black and red fruit on the palate and tight tannins.
Iconic Collection Cabernet Sauvignon Atlas Peak 2019 – This wine from Edcora Vineyard in Atlas Peak is drinking beautifully right now. A longer growing season contributed to delicious ripeness in the fruit – reflected in the ripe black fruit flavors and aromas. The wine is big, rich, but balanced – a terrific reflection of the best of Napa.
ONEHOPE wines are available online here.