An Adventurous Interpretation of Old World Wines
The Ulterior Motive
We took a risk planting Albariño in Monterey. It was a leap of faith to believe that wine buyers would support a relatively unknown grape native to the western coastal areas of Northern Spain. But, after making wine professionally for many years, I take pleasure in challenging the status quo. Our Albariño is the perfect wine for those of us enjoy exotic foods and unconventional flavors.
Material Of Possible Interest
This is the ninth vintage of Cambiata Albariño. The 2016 growing season was relatively cool and the hillside vines responded well, achieving ripeness in a reasonable amount of time. Cambiata Albariño is fermented cold to capture as much fruit and depth as possible. This wine is made anaerobically from harvest through bottling, which means it never sees oxygen until it reaches your glass.
Our 2016 Albariño is seductively floral and reminiscent of ripe peaches, pears and nectarines. It is dry and crisp, but possesses enough body to be substantial and rich on the palate. The floral qualities and exquisite balance ensure that the wine matches perfectly with hot and spicy food. The crispness is right for most fresh fish and the rich viscosity adroitly lends itself to bold seafood like crustaceans or shellfish.
Wine Spectator 90pts, Wine Enthusiast 91 pts & Editor's Choice
9 straight years of Gold medals at Orange County Wine Competition, Best of Show in 2010
A Site For Sore Eyes
Arroyo Seco Chardonnay fruit is tough to obtain. The vineyard for this wine had been locked up for years by another winery. When the owner adjusted the lot line he traded a portion of the vineyard to his neighbor. Luckily I knew the neighbor and was able to secure a few tons. The property is located on a bluff below the Santa Lucia Mountain range. It features well-draining, granite-based, alluvial soils and enough altitude to be free of any frost worries. From the top of the site you can follow the Salinas River as it winds towards the Monterey Bay or watch the sun as it rises beyond the spectacular rock formations of Pinnacles National Park.
Let’s Get Toasted
We harvested at night to ensure cold fruit at crush. The grapes were whole cluster pressed and the juice was clarified prior to fermentation. We approached the oak component in two different phases. During fermentation we wanted the juice in contact with mildly toasted oak to build structure and aging potential. Post fermentation we switch the wine to heavier toasted oak to add a touch of mellow nutmeg and vanilla. Overall we used about 25% new wood.
This wine captures everything I love about Arroyo Seco Chardonnay. It’s powerful, but not heavy; aromatic rather than perfumey; structured, not acidic; and oaky without being woody. It has the balance and equilibrium I expect from any great Chardonnay. While it drinks well on its own, this is one of those wines that really shines with food.
Gold Medals: San Francisco International Wine Competition, Orange County Wine Competition
AVA: Arroyo Seco
Fermentation & Aging: 100% French oak barrels (25% new)
Old Vines Know Better
The fruit for our 2016 came from one of the oldest Pinot Noir vineyards in the Santa Lucia Highlands. There’s something special about old vines that winemakers and viticulturists just love. Mature vineyards tend to self-regulate and their wines have a concentrated sappiness that is intellectually and hedonistically satisfying. I’ve work with these senior citizens for 12 vintages and love the Pinots they produce.
Let the Fruit Sing
The fruit was hand harvested in the early morning hours and delivered to the winery cold. The grapes were crushed to tank and cold soaked for 48 hours before inoculating with a carefully selected strain of yeast. The grapes were pumped over three times a day and pressed as soon as fermentation was complete. The wine was then settled and aged in 100% French oak barrels (33% new). To preserve the delicacy of the fruit, we racked this Pinot only once prior to bottling.
2016 was a Goldilocks vintage – not too hot, not too cold. It offered the mild growing conditions that bears and Pinot Noir vines love best. Our vineyard ripened on schedule without any sunburn or mold. The flavors were fully developed and the acids were balanced. It was a year that showcased the taste of the site as much as the personality of the variety. This 2014 is ripe and forward with oodles of black cherries topped with spicy clove and smoked paprika. The palate is full and rich and the underlying structure keeps the wine fresh and lively.
Wine Spectator Top Ten "Top Value" Pinot Noir out of over 750 Pinot Noirs tasted
Wine Enthusiast 91 Points
Double Gold Medal: San Francisco Chronicle Wine Competition
Gold Medal: Orange County Wine Competition
Gold Medal: San Francisco International Wine Competition
AVA: Santa Lucia Highlands
Fermentation & Aging: 100% French oak barrels (33% new)
Right Place, Right Time
In case you are not familiar with it, Tannat is a native of Southwest France. Included in its resume are the big, dark, dense reds of the Madiran region north of the Pyrenees, the towering mountain range that separates France from Spain. We planted our small Tannat vineyard in the rocky and well-drained soils of the Santa Lucia Highlands. The cool climate and long growing season of Monterey County conspire to produce ripe berries with firm acids and chalky tannins.
Doing It Old Style
Tannat has an incredible ability to absorb oxygen. Technically speaking, the wine is full of procyanidin tannins, which slow the aging and development process to a crawl. While today’s technology has given winemakers aggressive tools to introduce oxygen, at Cambiata we do it the old-fashion way – extended barrel aging. For our 2012 Tannat it took 28 months before the wine had reached an appropriate balance between fruit and tannin that allowed us to put it into bottle.
We fermented the black juice in small open-top fermenters and pumped over twice a day during fermentation. The wine was then pressed straight to 60 gallon barrels (100% French, 40% new). Our 2012 Tannat is incredibly deep and concentrated with notes of earth, blackberries, saddle leather and licorice. On the palate it is thick and chewy with bold, well-integrated tannins. Big wine. Good wine.
Owner/Winemaker Eric Laumann
Vineyard Rocosa Loma Vineyard
Fermentation & Aging 28 months in 100% French barrels (40% new)
TA = 0.67
pH = 3.65
Alcohol = 14.7
Cases = 348
What The Hell?
Walk past the rows of meticulously manicured Pinot Noir and Chardonnay to the top of the McIntyre Estate Vineyard and you’ll find a single acre of strange-looking vines bearing long, loose clusters of pitch black berries. “What the hell?” you mumble to the wind. “What vintner would have the cajones to plant Dornfelder in the Santa Lucia Highlands?” Turns out, we would. We figured if the grape loves Germany so much, it should thrive in the cold, windy climate of the Salinas Valley.
Dornfelder, related by marriage to Pinot Noir, is the second-most planted red grape in Germany. When grown in the right location and made with labor-intensive, artisan practices, it can produce a rich, age worthy, red wine that offers incredibly juicy aromatics and luscious flavors. Just like our Pinot Noir, the wine was fermented in open top fermenters with frequent punch downs of the cap. It spent approximately 14 months in 100% French oak barrels (40% new) prior to bottling.
On the color chart our 2013 Dornfelder falls somewhere between stygian black and indigo blue. It is aromatically endowed with ripe berries and black fruits. The flavors are intense and juicy with soft tannins tucked well below the thick mid-palate. The rich, luscious profile makes this the perfect accompaniment to beef, pork, lamb, spicy chicken and even grilled salmon.
93 Points and Editors’ Choice in Wine Enthusiast, November 2015
Owner/Winemaker Eric Laumann
Vineyard McIntyre Vineyard
AVA Santa Lucia Highlands
Fermentation & Aging 34 months in 100% French barrels (33% new)
Quick Access Tabs
2016 Cambiata Pinot Noir, Santa Lucia Highlands
2013 Cambiata Dornfelder, Santa Lucia Highlands
2012 Cambiata Tannat, Monterey