|Course||Pairing / Description||Wine|
|Hors D' Oeuvres||
Smoked Salmon & Dill Canapé (Pumpernickel Toast Points and Cream Cheese)
Chilled Florida Rock Shrimp & Thai Basil Spring Roll (Sweet Chili and Garlic Aioli with Scallion and Sesame Seed)
How do you succinctly explain this wine’s highly effective combination of minerality of the region with the freshness of style? First, an earlier than normal harvest of these grapes grown in what is probably the coolest vineyard AVA in Sonoma County, Carneros, so the mineral component of the gravelly soil is allowed to show through the fruit; and then, it was the earliest ever bottling of the Chardonnay “304”, which preserves the freshness of the fermentation. The 2016 Neyers 304 Chardonnay is fermented and aged in Grade 304 stainless steel - hence the name - and a portion in a concrete tank which adds richness. The fermentation process includes their unique approach to continuous yeast lees contact. The finished wine is crisp, fresh and texturally rich and complex. It earned 93 points from Wine Enthusiast in October 2017.
|Neyers 304 Chardonnay 2016
Oven Roasted Butternut Squash Bisque (Crispy Harissa Spiced Julienne Sweet Potato Sticks and Crème Fraiche)
The Neyers Carneros District Chardonnay comes from “Shot-Wente selection” grapes grown on three vineyards: the Jim and Del Yamakawa Ranch on Watmaugh Road; the Sangiacomo Family Green Acres Vineyard parcel on Hwy 121 planted in 1994; the Donnell sisters El Novillero Vineyard at the intersection of Highways 121 and 116, in the hills at the western-most boundary of the Carneros AVA. All three vineyards are in the cool-weather area of Carneros, close to the San Francisco Bay, so ripening is slow and natural fruit acidity is high, making for a wine both fresh and long-lived. “Shot-Wente” is an heirloom Chardonnay selection. It developed naturally in the Wente Brothers Livermore Valley vine nursery in the early 1930’s. The clusters are smaller than normal for Chardonnay, as are the individual grapes, giving them increased skin surface relative to the juice. That enhanced ratio makes the wine especially flavorful, so despite the small yields, the selection was popular with California winemakers in the 50’s, 60’s, and 70’s. It is now making a comeback in popularity as it has shown a resistance to several new diseases that afflict vines that were developed through clonal breeding. The grapes are whole-cluster pressed and fermentation was carried out in a mixture of new and used French oak barrels, using native, wild yeast, and periodic lees stirring. Malolactic fermentation also occurs naturally, without the addition of an artificial starter. The additional contact with the yeast lees after barrel fermentation results in a lovely aroma that the French call “Noisette” after the hazelnut character it resembles. The 2015 Carneros Chardonnay is smooth and luscious and is enormously attractive, especially in its youth.
|Neyers Carneros Chardonnay 2015
Potato Gnocchi, San Marzanno Pomodoro & Lamb Meatballs (Parmesan and Chevre Cheese, Fresh Basil and Roasted Pine Nuts)
The tale behind this wine dates back to Bruce Neyers’ first California trip with Daniel Brunier, owner and winemaker of Domaine Vieux Télégraphe, the Châteauneuf du Pape that many refer to as the most legendary wine of the southern Rhône. They travel together frequently and Daniel loves America and things American, including the wines of California. During a trip 15 years ago they spent a day traveling through the Central Valley. Daniel was amazed at the endless sea of vineyards and was especially taken by what was obviously a significant amount of old vines. “You should find some old vineyards planted to historical southern Rhône varieties,” he said, “And I’ll help you make a traditional Rhône-style wine from them.” The search took several years, but it paid off in 2007 with a block of 130 year-old Carignan vines in Oakley. They had already discovered some Grenache from Borden Ranch, along with Mourvèdre from Sonoma County and Syrah from Santa Lucia Highlands. All four wines were made as separate varietals at the Neyers Sage Canyon winery, but when blended together they knew they had something special. The whole was far greater than the sum of its parts. One drawback, however, was that they had no opportunity to label the finished wine as a variety, or even as a regional blend, coming as it did from four separate regions in northern California. Instead, they opted to name it after the location of their winery which is in the Sage Canyon area of the Napa Valley. The Neyers 2015 Sage Canyon is a blend of these four wines (45% Carignan - Oakley (vines are 140 years-old), 25% Grenache - Borden Ranch, Lodi, 15% Mourvèdre - Sonoma County and 15% Syrah - Santa Lucia Highlands) each produced using the traditional Rhône process of “Pigeage” where all of the grapes are crushed by foot, not by machine. Each wine ferments separately and when complete they drain and press the tank, rack the new wine to used 60-gallon French oak barrels, then let the wine age on the lees for a year before blending. They then bottle, unfined and unfiltered. The finished wine is complex and old-worldly. There’s earth and mineral along with some wildly exotic fruit, and an attractive soft finish. They’ve regularly heard it referred to as the best example of an old-world blend made today in California and they think it’s at least that.
|Neyers Sage Canyon Red Blend 2015
Hanger Steak & Wine Braised Oyster & Shitake Mushrooms (Wine Reduction, Brandied Carrot Threads and Sesame Roasted Long Beans)
When Neyers was ready to plant Cabernet Sauvignon on their Conn Valley Ranch in 1984, they dug more than 20 test holes on the property. The exposed 8 feet depth of soil from each of them was analyzed by the best soil chemist in the area. He directed them to plant Merlot on all of the land below 600 feet elevation because above 600 feet, the soil changed dramatically and became much more suitable for Cabernet Sauvignon. Once onto higher ground, the clay/loam/gravel soil was given over to rocky land rich with Basalt. Cabernet Sauvignon is a vigorous grape variety and the rocky hillside soil retards its vigor, which is much better for the wine. The Neyers Ranch Cabernet Sauvignon vineyard in the hills of Conn Valley is one of the rare 10% in the Napa Valley capable of producing great Cabernet Sauvignon. This happened through careful planning though, not simply the good fortune of being in the Napa Valley. The project they began in 1984 with the purchase of their home ranch has now exceeded their wildest expectations. It only took 30 years. This wine earned 94 points from Wine Enthusiast in September 2017.
|Neyers Ranch Cabernet Sauvignon 2014
Dark Chocolate & Caramelized Cocoa Nib Covered Cheesecake (Clove Scented Molasses and Red Wine “Caramel” Whipped Cream, Blackberries and Salty Sweet Crispy Churro Shreds)
Bruce Neyers met Markus Bokisch in 1990 when he was a recent UC Davis graduate. In 2005 he began a vineyard management company in Lodi and Neyers started to buy grapes from two of his vineyards in the Sierra Foothill AVAs of Clements Hills and Borden Ranch. Both areas are in western Calaveras County at the base of the mountains. They stand out for the remarkable soil combinations that developed from the geological activity that formed the Sierra Nevada Range. The vineyard sits on an outcropping of quartz, a unique phenomenon that is important to the development of the vines, their maturation and the flavors they develop over time. Additionally, the vineyard is planted to a non-clonal selection of Zinfandel so the clusters are small, as are the berries. Ripening is even because of the cool evening breeze that develops as a natural part of the west to east movement of air pulled up by the sudden rise in elevation. The Neyers 2016 Vista Luna Zinfandel has an alcohol level well below 14%, yet the wine is made from fully ripened fruit. The wine is 100% “Heirloom” Zinfandel, fermented using native wild yeast and aged 10 months in neutral 60 gallon French oak barrels. It was bottled in July without fining or filtration.
|Neyers Vista Luna Zinfandel 2016