The Somm Journal

Dec 2015-Jan 2016

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Page 14 of 124

14 { THE SOMM JOURNAL } DECEMBER/JANUARY 2015/2016 { shop talk } Malk 2014 Sauvignon Blanc, Napa Valley ($30) is one of the more complex versions of this variety—these grapes hail from Napa Valley's Oak Knoll District—that I have tasted. Pear blossoms, lychee, spiced white tea and an unctuous mouthfeel create a morning sunlight effect on the palate. "I'm particular about our press pro - grams," Meyer explained about the texture of this wine. "We don't overpress for astringency. We get good yields and press slowly. It's a long, slow process but we start off with the perfect juice that way." Malk 2013 Pinot Noir, Sonoma Coast ($58) comes from the King's Ridge Vineyard in the Fort Ross–Seaview AVA, two ridges away from the Pacific. This wine is fine-tuned and slow to evolve, thanks to lots of sunlight above the fog break, cool breezes off the ocean. The resulting characteristics include graphite, bittersweet dark chocolate, Bergamot tea and cardamom. And then there's plenty of fruit to accompany the layers of savories. Whole berry fermented, cold-soaked in its own juices (left 14 days on skin) and aged in 30% new oak from an array of French cooperages. Malk 2012 Cabernet Sauvignon, Stags Leap District ($80) is born off the two-acre Griffin Vineyard on the estate. It speaks of ripeness and concentration, baker's chocolate and floral tones from jasmine to violet. This red is round, elegant and black cherry juicy, until the dry salted toffee tannins give the tongue a textural hug at the finish. "I do less, which allows the delicate qualities show through," says Meyer. The Malk home is nestled against the Palisades in the Stags Leap District. Malk Family Vineyards A VISIT WITH WINEMAKER ROBBIE MEYER THE EXPANSIVE BACKDROP OF THE PALISADES AND A WOODSY, shaded retreat help define the ambience at Malk Family Vineyards, in the midst of Napa Valley's Stags Leap District. Brian Malk, the boutique producer of an Estate Cabernet Sauvignon from Stag's Leap, a Sonoma Coast Pinot Noir and an Oak Knoll Sauvignon Blanc, continues to display his Staffordshire Bull Terrier on his labels, although his beloved Griffin passed away at the age of 15½. Brian, a native of South Africa, and his wife Nancy, purchased the Stags Leap property in 1997 and started planting in 1998. Winemaker Robbie Meyer grew up in Atlanta and loved working in restaurants—he was a wine steward at the ripe age of 18. When he moved to Northern California, he began work - ing for wineries and set his standards at Peter Michael, Lewis Cellars and then Malk Family Vineyards. He also crafts his own label, Peirson Meyer. The wines are a perfect fit in The SOMM Journal due to their "wow factor," and while I don't personally score wines in this publication, the following releases merit extremely high points and my whole-hearted recommendation. —Meridith May PHOTOS COURTESY OF MALK FAMILY VINEYARDS Proprietor Brian Malk with winemaker Robbie Meyer.

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