Tuesday, December 27, 2022

Yountville's Reinvigorated Goosecross Winery Creates Vineyard-Driven Wines

Dave and Christi Ficeli met while working at the historic California winery, E. & J. Gallo. In 2021, they fufilled their dream of owning their own piece of Napa Valley wine history by acquiring Goosecross winery, which they had been managing since 2013. Since the beginning of their involvement with the winery, the couple was determined to create a special destination that offers memorable, terroir-driven wines. 

Essential to this vision is Goosecross winemaker Bill Nancarrow, a New Zealand native whose illustrious wine career has taken him all over the world. His most recent position prior to Goosecross was being executive winemaker of Duckhorn Wine Company's Napa Valley properties. After rising to the executive ranks, Bill said he wanted to get his hands dirty, drive a tractor, and make wine again. Goosecross gave him that chance. Bill is passionate about selecting vineyard sites, as Yountville has diverse soil profiles in every direction. With the Ficeli's vision and Bill's winemaking skill, Goosecross has blossomed. 

I met Dave and Bill at a recent media dinner in Manhattan at Marta, where I was able to hear about how Goosecross has been transformed into a destination winery focused on sustainable viticulture and complex, balanced wines. They poured a number of wines that we paired with the restaurant's crispy pizzas with a variety of fun toppings - from fresh corn to black truffles. Here are some highlights from the wines we sampled: 

Goosecross 2019 State Lane Vineyard Merlot - State Lane is the vineyard on the Goosecross property which features diverse alluvial soils and temperatures moderated by the San Francisco Bay. This Merlot combines fruit from two distinct blocks, producing a wine with ripe cherry aroma and flavor, bright acid, fine-grained tannins, and a whiff of caramel on the finish. 

2019 Goosecross Holly's Block Cabernet Sauvignon - The vineyard block is named after Christi's grandmother, Holly, and it's a winery favorite. 2019 was a generous year weather-wise, and this is reflected in the rich blackberry jam flavors, silky tannins, and persistent finish. I was delighted by this elegant, plush wine. 

2019 Goosecross State Lane Aeros - The best of the best from the State Lane Vineyard, this wine is blend of 65% Cabernet Sauvignon and 35% Merlot. This is a structured wine with great ageing potential that was still drinking well at its young age. I found plum and blackberry on the nose and palate and enjoyed its rich mouthfeel. The wine is limited to 145 cases.  

Wines may be ordered directly online, but the best way to experience the wines is by visiting them at the welcoming tasting room or on the patio in Napa Valley. Goosecross offers wine tastings, wine and food pairings, and special events. Find out more on the winery's website.  



Naturally Bordeaux Dinner Showcases Sustainability-Minded Chateaux Creating Beautiful Wines

The prestigious wine region of Bordeaux produces many of the most renowned wines in the world, although producing healthy vines in a maritime climate has often led vineyard managers to turn to chemical and pesticide intervention. Happily, for the past 15 years the region has been moving away from these practices. 

Nowhere is that more evident than in the three chateaux participating in the current Naturally Bordeaux campaign -  Chateau Fourcas Hosten, Chateau de la Dauphine, and Chateau Jean Faure. At a media dinner at Clay restaurant in Harlem, representatives from the three wineries were on hand to pour their wines and discuss their environmental programs.These include efforts to regenerate the land in addition to shunning chemical intervention. 

The resulting wines being produced under strict conservationist practices are a testament that delicious, age-worthy wine can be made in an environmentally sensitive way. 

For example, Chateau Fourcas Hosten began a program to be HVE3 certified beginning with the 2017 vintage. HVE (Haute Valeur Environmentale) is a three-tiered program aimed at decreasing negative environmental impact of disease control, managing fertilizer inputs, and improving water management. HVE3 is the highest level of sustainability in this program.  

At Chateau de la Dauphine, a new program brings 200 sheep from the Aspe Valley to live on the organic, biodynamic vineyard for six months. This program contributes to the biodiversty of the vineyard, gives the sheep access to pesticide-free grazing , and provides the vineyard with natural fertilizer and mowing between vines.  

Chateau Jean Faure is a certfied organic vineyard whose 2023 vintage will be certified by Biodyvin, a biodynamic certification organization. Among its efforts to create a healthy,  sustainable winery, the chateau uses organic preparations, natural herbal infusions, as well as horses to pull plows.   

Among the wines poured during the dinner, my favorites included: 

Chateau de la Dauphine Rose 2021, Fronsac - Comprised of Merlot and Cabernet Franc, this rose had crisp acidity, crushed ripe strawberries on the palate, and a hint of baking spice. 

Chateau Fourcas Hosten 2018, Listrac-Medoc - A blend of Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon, Petit Verdot, and Cabernet Franc, this medium-bodied wine had a nose of tart cranberry and basalmic with flavors of ripe black cherry. 

Chateau de la Dauphine 2012, Fronsac - A blend of Merlot and Cabernet Franc, this still-youthful wine was inky dark and offered gorgeous blackberry flavors, wonderful balance, fine tannins, and a long finish. 

Chateau Jean Faure 2010, St. Emilion Grand Cru - A blend of Cabernet Franc, Merlot, and Malbec, this wine had a nose of cherry and forest floor with tart cherry and basalmic notes, fine tannins, and long finish.   

This instructive wine dinner truly proved that organic farming and sustainability can lead to the creation of spectacular wines.  The wines of Chateau de la Dauphine, Chateau Fourcas Hosten, and Chateau Jean Faure are all available in the U.S.  For information on specific wines, I recommend checking www.winesearcher.com.