Flying high with 4-way Highflyer action

Highflyer wines is an effort by Somerston wine company to showcase various vineyards in their region and bring out the best of each site. It’s headed up by winemaker, Craig Becker and David Zurowski who heads up the marketing – both are industry veterans in their own right.

2009 Grenache Blanc:
W.E.P. Rating:  90%

Technical Data:

  • Varietal Composition: 100% Grenache Blanc from Somerston Vineyards in Napa Valley
  • Vineyards: Somerston Vineyards are due east of Rutherford, high in the eastern mountains of Napa Valley. The 1,680 acre ranch is planted between 900 and 2,400 feet above sea-level. Highflyer Grenache Blanc comes from a small 2.7-acre block at an elevation of 1,100 feet, planted in fractured shale soils.
  • 468 cases
  • Fermented in 100% stainless steel – aged 5% in neutral French oak and 95% in stainless steel barrels for 8 months
  • 14.5% alcohol
  • TA: 0.69 G/100 ml
  • pH: 3.49
  • Price: $19

Nose: Kiwi, lemon zest, banana peel, some nice minerality, and spice.

Taste: Killer balance of acids, fruit and finish. Definitly get nice flavors of lemon, lime, kiwi, grapefruit and orange peel. Nice acids that some ripping in across the mid palate give way to a finish that both lingers well and cleans the palate for the next bite of food. A very food friendly wine that would play well with either spiced, shrimp scampi or marinated chicken.

2008 Pinot Noir:
W.E.P. Rating: 95%

Technical Data:

  • Varietal Composition: 100% Pinot Noir from Doctor’s Vineyards in Santa Lucia Highlands
  • Vineyards: Doctor’s Vineyard is in the heart of the Santa Lucia Highlands. This remarkably managed property has well-drained soils of sandy loam and gravel. Highflyer sourced three clones from three small vineyard blocks to complete the 2008 Pinot Noir blend: 828 (richness), Calera (brightness) and Swan (texture). Each of these blocks are planted between 500 and 900 feet above sea level.
  • 425 cases
  • Aged for 11 months in French oak, 20% new
  • 14% alcohol by volume
  • TA: 0.63 G/100 ml
  • pH: 3.56
  • Price: $38

Nose: Golden raisins, cranberry, green peppercorn, clay, plums, cherries and spice.

Taste: Nice flavors of dried cranberries, raisins, prunes, black peppercorn. Good mid palate transistion into nerds sour candy with cranberries, cedar and smoke. This is a lighter style Pinot that’s not quite as heavy on the Oak as I’ve seen from other Pinot’s. Bold yet elegant flavors blend into a dry finish that hangs out nicely and is very food friendly.

2007 Centerline Red Blend:
W.E.P. Rating: 85%

Technical Data:

  • Varietal Composition: 92% of the blend comes from Somerston Vineyards in Napa Valley: 45% Syrah, 19% Zinfandel, 15% Petit Syrah, 14% Tempranillo and 7% Grenache; 8% Syrah from Vivio Vineyard in Bennett Valley
  • Vineyards: Somerston (Napa Valley) is due east of Rutherford, in the mountains between Lake Hennessy and Lake Berryessa. It is isolated, undiscovered and an extraordinary place for wine. The cool nights, late morning fog and warm afternoon temperatures offer slow and even ripening. The focus is low yields that produce intensely concentrated berries. Vivio Vineyards is located on the south side of Mount Taylor in Bennett Valley, at approximately 800 feet. This twelve-acre, low vigor site is planted with three clones of Syrah (470, 877 and 174) as well as a small amount of Viognier, all on 420A rootstock. The vines are blessed with the cool ocean breezes, fog and a long growing season that result in low-yielding concentrated fruit.
  • Alcohol: 14.9%
  • Price: $28

Nose: Nicely peppered cherries with cola, allspice, black plums, raspberries, tobacco and cocoa.

Taste: Nice balance of peppercorns, black fruits, bubble gum, raspberries and cherries with melted dark chocolate. Nice fruit and tannins on the mid palate, however, the finish – like the syrah is just a smidgen too hot. Even after a 2-hour decant time, the finish of the wonderful fruit and spice gets too hot for my full recommendation.

2007 Vivo Syrah:
W.E.P. Rating: 75%

Technical Data:

  • Varietal Composition: 100% Syrah, Vivio Vineyard in Sonoma Valley and Somerston Vineyard in Napa Valley
  • Vineyards: Vivio Vineyard (Bennett Valley) is located in the northern part of the Sonoma Valley. The vineyard is blessed with cool ocean breezes, light fog and a long growing season. Its reddish clay loam and fractured volcanic rock soils seem ideal for growing Syrah. Somerston (Napa Valley) is due east of Rutherford, in the mountains between Lake Hennessy and Lake Berryessa. It is isolated, undiscovered and an extraordinary place for wine. The cool nights, late morning fog and warm afternoon temperatures offer slow and even ripening. The focus is low yields that produce intensely concentrated berries.
  • 165 cases
  • 15.3% alcohol
  • TA: 6.8 g/l
  • pH: 3.75
  • Price: $48

Nose: Pencil lead-laced blueberry pie crust. Plumsauce, dark chocolate, spice, currant and veal.

Taste: Deep blueberry, elderberry, peppercorns, pencil lead and baked bit crust. I get some very nice, rich fruit layers going across the mid palate. Notes of leather, coffeebeans, plum sauce and root beer with good tannis are here, however, the heat from the 15.3% alcohol creep up too high for me to really enjoy the finish. The finish tries to be nice but gets a quick beat-down by the alcohol.

On the web: http://www.highflyerwines.com/