Saturday, April 28, 2012

Bud Break and Old Vines at Nine Gables Winery – Plymouth, California

After visiting Story Winery, IL Gioiello Winery and taking a brief break for lunch (tip: there is no fine dining in the area, so bring a picnic lunch!), my final stop in the Amador County Wine Country was at Nine Gables Winery. The winery is located on what was once the Old Pieroni Ranch. The Old Vine Mission grapes that surround the winery house and tasting room were originally planted in the early 1900’s. While the Spanish Missionaries first planted Mission vines all over California starting in the late 1700’s, there are currently only 700 acres of the Mission vineyards remaining within California.

Nine Gables Winery is owned and operated by the Notestine family, which they began in 1998 after 23 years of home wine making experience. They produce 1,500 cases of wine per year, but continue to plant more vineyards on their estate. The name of the winery comes from the nine gables (a gable is a triangle formed by a sloping roof) on the house built in 1992 by Jerry and Pam Notestine. Today, Jerry Notestine attends to the vineyards, Pam Notestine manages the tasting room, and their son Ryan Notestine handles the day to day wine operations.

Nine Gables produces a Chardonnay (from grapes sourced from Clarksburg) and two sparkling wines but I decided to pass and go straight to the reds as I was more interested in local wines. While visiting I tasted the following wines:

My first pour was the 2010 Cal-Italia. A 50/50 blend of Sangiovese/Barbera, the wine is light ruby red of medium weight and body and acidity. On the nose I picked up strawberries, raspberries, and a touch of vanilla with a little heat on the finish. This wine sells for $21 a bottle.

My next wine was the 2009 Barbera. This is a big ripe wine with bright cherries, tobacco and  damp earth. Well rounded with a medium length finish. A nice wine for $25 a bottle.

The third sample was the 2009 Grand Cuvee - a crazy blend of Mission Grape, Barbera, Primativo, and Estate Syrah. This is a really BIG and jammy wine with loads of black fruit (black currants, blackberries, plums) and red fruit (cherries, raspberries), milk chocolate, vanilla and spice with a BANG of alcohol at the end – but not in a bad way. In some ways this wine seems to have a lot of complexity and variety but in another it seems a bit awkward and lack focus. Yet it was also curiously unique. This is a wine I’d like to re-taste afresh without having previously so many wines earlier in the day. An interesting wine for $24 a bottle.

The fourth wine was the 2010 Primitivo. This twin of Zinfandel is a big and zesty wine with loads of strawberries, cherries, molasses and damp earth. There is a lot of Zin and Primativo in the foothills making the competition is rather stiff, so it would take something truly unique and outstanding to catch my attention. This wine is just okay and sells for $24 a bottle.

My fifth taste was 2010 Dog Bone Zinfandel. This wine was really funky on the nose and I suspect it had a bit of volatile acidity as it had hints of fresh paint along with a mélange of dried fruit and vanilla. It sells for $25 a bottle and I’d definitely have to say, “pass.”

After the previous disappointing wine, the next was my favorite in the line-up - the 2009 Grand Menage. This wine is a 50/50 blend of Estate Syrah and Petit Sirah. On the nose I picked up dried fruits (dates, raisins, dried plums), wild dusty blackberries, licorice, and vanilla. This wine sells for $25 a bottle and I brought one home.

My final wine was another treat, the 2010 Old Vine Zinfandel. This wine has dried fruits, beef jerky, cherries, raspberry preserves and vanilla on the nose. On the palate it is off-dry, full bodied and silky smooth.  If you are barbequing a steak or ribs with a dry rub using brown sugar (which I love to do) this wine will be a perfect match. So, for $22 a bottle I brought one home.

Nine Gables Winery
22355 Lawrence Road
Fiddletown, CA 95629 
Phone: 1-209-245-3395