Thursday, January 12, 2012

Siduri Winery and Novy Family Wines – An Urban Winery in Santa Rosa California

Continuing the theme this winter of visiting urban wineries, I returned to Santa Rosa to sample a line-up of wines from an urban winery that operates out of a warehouse in a business park. The winery has two labels, Siduri Winery, which only produces Pinot Noir, and Novy Family Wines which is co-owned by family members and specializes in Syrah and Zinfandel.

Siduri Winery

While many wineries associate themselves with Bacchus, the Roman mythical god of wine, the name Siduri is derived from a character in the Epic of Gilgamesh, the Babylonian Goddess of wine, who held the wine of eternal life.

Siduri Winery was founded by two Texans, Adam and Dianna Lee who more than 15 dreamt of moving to California to make the finest Pinot Noir from the best vineyards they could find. In 2004 Siduri celebrated its 10-year anniversary and today with a very small crew they produce over 25 different Pinot Noir wines each year, representing the largest Pinot Noir focus of any California winery. 

Adam and Dianna began their wine-making careers by working together in a small family-owned winery in the Dry Creek Valley. They then launched Siduri Wines in 1994 with their first release. Another important member of the wine making team is the Cellar Master and assistant wine maker, Ryan Zepaltas. A native of Wisconsin, he first worked in a harvest cellar job at La Crema Winery where he learned all the basics of cellar management. After two years at La Crema, he headed to New Zealand to work for famous Sauvignon Blanc producer Villa Maria.  In 2000 Ryan interviewed with Adam and Dianna Lee and then joined the team as Cellar Master and Assistant Winemaker for Siduri.

Today, Siduri produces single vineyard Pinot Noir from 20 different vineyards stretching from Santa Barbara in Souther California all the way north to Oregon’s Willamette Valley. In order to do so they have establish relationships with top tier growers/vineyards including Pisoni, Van der Kamp and Clos Pepe. 

All of their Pinot Noir is produced unfiltered and unfined in an effort to maximize the expression of these very diverse sites. So, like many other urban wineries, they rely on vineyard sources for their grapes. However, whereas most wineries without vineyards buy their grapes by the ton Adam and Dianna purchase their grapes by the acre from low yielding vines and then sort the grapes for themselves ensuring only the best grapes make it into the crush. In addition, they use indigenous yeasts and indigenous malolactic fermentation with a minimal “hands on” approach to winemaking.

In the cellar, they vinifiy each wine separately by block, clone and barrel type in order to maximize the individual components and provide greater complexity to the final blend. This approach also enables more flexibility in crafting a wine using only the best and most harmonious lots.

Novy Family Wines

 While Siduri Winery focuses on Pinot Noir they also own a second label called Novy Family Wines which is a collaboration between Adam and Dianna Lee of Siduri Wines and Dianna’s family of Ennis Texas; her parents Adolph and Rose Marie Novy and her brothers and sisters-in-law, David and Angela Novy, Bryan and Kathy Novy and Steven and Marie Novy. The Novy family roots go back to Czechoslovakia where the name Novy means “new”.

Having already founded Siduri Winery, in 1998 Adam and Dianna along with Dianna’s parents, brother in laws and their wives founded Novy Family Wines. With a focus on Syrah and Zinfandel from many of the same vineyard sources as Siduri, Novy Family Wines quickly established itself as a top producer. In 2005, The Wine Spectator called the Novy Syrahs “Stellar” and named the 2003 Novy Sonoma County Syrah to their prestigious TOP 100 WINES OF THE YEAR. That same year, the San Francisco Chronicle named the 2003 Novy Rosella’s Vineyard Syrah to their TOP 100 WINES OF THE YEAR.

While visiting Siduri Winery and Novy Family Wines I tasted the following wines:

The first wine was the 2010 Novy Russian River Valley Gewürztraminer. This wine displays a classic Gewürz fruit and spice profile (lychee nuts, tropical fruits, and honeydew melon), except that it is a little sweeter than most. Apparently this was due to a stuck fermentation in which the native yeast quit turning the sugar into alcohol and carbon dioxide and thus it left behind a little sugar and yet it maintains good acidity so it isn’t syrupy sweet. While some people might not like this wine’s profile, sometimes it is good to have a bottle such as this for your guests who are non-wine drinkers but might enjoy something sweet or it can pair well with spicy dishes to counterbalance the spicy-heat. So, at only $19.50 a bottle I brought one home.

My second wine and first Pinot was the 2010 Siduri Chehalem Mountain Pinot Noir. This wine has a very distinct pepper profile followed by black cherries. On the palate this wine is extremely dry and the fruit profile is over run by the pepper. I’d have to say “pass” at $30 a bottle.

My second red wine was the 2010 Siduri Keefer Ranch Pinot Noir. Somewhat muted on the nose (though this may have been due to the winter chill in the air) but after swirling it for a while and cupping the glass with my hands I was able to coax out of it what I consider to be a classic California Pinot profile – bright berries, a little dried cinnamon stick, a hint of cola and some earth. On the palate it has refined tannins, noticeable but not overbearing, and the wine has mouth watering acidity that screams out to be paired with food. A really nice wine for $49 a bottle.

My third red wine was the 2010 Siduri Sonatera Pinot Noir. On the nose this wine is earthy along with dried currants, black cherries, forest floor and herbs. On the palate fruit the tannins are supple with a medium to full-bodied mouth feel. Complex and layered, ending with caressing tannins and a long finish. A really nice wine, it sells for only $49 a bottle .

My final Pinot was the 2009 Siduri Sta. Rita Hills Pinot Noir. This wine is more fruit forward and rich than the previous Pinots on the nose and palate with luscious cherries and plums, cocoa and cinnamon. On the palate it has supple tannins, good acidity and a full-mouth feel. This was my favorite in the line-up and yet it sells for only $30 a bottle so I brought one home.

I then transitioned back to Novy Family Wines, the first was the 2007 Novy Stolpman Vineyard Nebbiolo. A bright cherry red wine, light bodied with strawberry preserves and some Asian spice on the nose followed by some earthiness. On the palate it is crisp with mouth watering drying tannins that make your teeth stick to the front of your gums. I don’t come across this varietal very often in my wine country travels so this one is a “must taste” wine and it is at a very fair price of only $19 a bottle.

My next three reds were all Syrahs, each with a very distinct profile.

The first was the 2007 Novy Judge Family Vineyard Syrah from the Bennett Valley. This is a very earthly wine with a hint of burnt rubber on the nose followed by crispy bacon and pepper on the tail end. On the palate I also picked up some blueberries. This wine really isn’t my style of Syrah but I think others might enjoy it more than I did and it sells for only $17 a bottle. Perhaps this wine might fair better if paired with barbequed meat.

My second Syrah was the 2008 Novy Christensen Family Vineyard Syrah. I didn’t care for this wine, it has just WAY too much white pepper that overshadows the fruit. In fact, for a while all I could get out of the nose was pepper but eventually as I kept swirling the glass I was able to coax some blackberries and blueberries out of it followed by an extremely peppery finish on the palate as well. At $25 a bottle, I’d have to say “pass.”

My third and final was the 2008 Novy Simpson Vineyard Syrah. This wine has a lot of black fruit (berries, plums) and cherries as well as some bitter-sweet chocolate and creamy vanilla. The nose is repeated on the palate with a very long blueberry pie and vanilla finish. I liked this one so much I brought a bottle home for $25.

My final wine of the day was the 2010 “Oley” Late Harvest Viognier from the Russian River Valley. Golden yellow, this wine displays honey, brown sugar, crème brulee, and canned pears on the nose. On the palate it has a semi-oily viscosity but it is NOT syrupy as it also has really good acidity. A really delicious wine, it sells for $19.50 (375 ml ‘half-bottle’)

For more information or to visit:

Siduri Wines and Novy Family Wines
980 Airway Court, Suite C
Santa Rosa, CA 95403
Phone: 1-707-578-3882

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