Getting stuck in traffic has never put a smile on my face until today; on the drive through Glen Ellen, the road was a mess of trucks, cars and construction crews, because they are moving forward with rebuilding the areas devastated by last year’s fire. Instead of jumbled ruins and burned out cars, there are cleared foundations of clean dirt, neatly bordered with burlap. It is exciting to see definite progress toward reconstruction.
Volunteers near Loxton Cellars recently planted 40,000 donated daffodils that will be visible in a wash of color later this spring. Giving hope a visible sign to offset the stark black hills and fields is a beautiful idea and testament to the community’s determination.
Naked winter vines form intricate intertwining patterns surrounding the simple tasting room, and the staff is casual and outgoing, with a mix of amusing honesty about the wine industry and passion for the latest projects at Loxton Cellars.
Chris Loxton discovered that despite recycling used wine bottles, some still end up in the landfill, so he set out to find a solution. After learning that New Zealand wineries are using glass crushing machines to turn old wine bottles into beach sand consistency, he decided that purchasing one would solve a dual problem: what to do with leftover bottles and how to improve the estate’s clumpy clay soil.
With an Australian winemaker, syrah / shiraz is a natural choice for offering at a Loxton event, and this year’s “Celebrate Syrah” from 11:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. January 27-28 is a lineup of current releases and library tastings.
Shiraz (Sonoma Valley)
This is not a cheap “critter” wine, its tart intensity of cranberry sauce and juicy pomegranates jumps out with lingering sweet cherry pie filling.
2013 Syrah Sonoma Hillside Vineyards (Sonoma County)
Mingling grapes from Kick Ranch in Santa Rosa with Rossi Ranch, the result is a warm summer afternoon of soft, rounded flavors; this is the wine that I took home for a pleasant, well-crafted option with dinner.
2013 Syrah Estate (Sonoma Valley)
Carefully harvested on crisp, dewy mornings from four different upper estate areas, then aged for 21 months in French oak and again while bottled, its gossamer flavors have undercurrents of lichen and moss with freshly picked raspberries.
2012 Syrah Reserve Cuvée Ellen (Sonoma Valley)
Drawn from the front block near Loxton’s signature iron gate, the soil tends to be dryer, producing small, perfectly round berries. Unfortunately, the cuttings from France that produced this wine had to be torn out and replaced when they developed a virus. This is the final year from those vines, with a rough, corduroy tannic structure and mixture of ripe blueberries with dark cherry.
2011 Syrah Rossi Ranch, Library Release (Sonoma Valley)
Aged for 20 months in the barrel, it is a feisty wine with a bite to it of cranberry and tart black olive softened by cedar bark and mocha.
2013 Cabernet Shiraz Grandfather’s Cuvée (Sonoma Valley & County)
The final blend is a 70% cabernet sauvignon with 30% shiraz, which was the result of deliberate experimenting with the blend at 5% increments to find the right combination (to make sure it was unbiased, Chris Loxton used a series of post-it notes to keep track, so there would be no pre-judgment while tasting). Introducing syrah brings color and flavor to merlot and cabernet, reducing the tannins for a more easily drinkable wine. Its sweet and sour combination with hints of walnut, vanilla, and wet straw create an intriguing red blend.