The Somm Journal

Dec 2015-Jan 2016

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Page 84 of 124

84 { THE SOMM JOURNAL } DECEMBER/JANUARY 2015/2016 { SOMM CAMP preview } In 1972 Lohr planted his first 280 acres of vineyards on his chosen site between Highway 101 and the Arroyo Seco River, starting with 11 varieties. By 1978 he had it whittled down to four varieties, a combination of what grew well and what was selling at the time: Riesling (in the early years, bottled as "Johannisberg Riesling"), Chardonnay, Pinot Blanc (in reality, the Melon grape), and Valdiguié (which J. Lohr successfully sold as "Monterey Gamay" before changing it to "Wildflower Valdiguié"). Lohr recollects, "Our original plantings were all on their own rootstocks, and we are still cultivating some of those blocks today—including a little bit of the Valdiguié. Pinot Blanc did the best, but Riesling was really the grape that always seemed the most natural fit for the area. But the market would eventually move us more towards Chardonnay and Pinot Noir. "In the beginning we didn't do well with Sauvignon Blanc in Arroyo Seco. Recently we've been doing much better with the Musqué clone of the grape, and some new plantings of the true Pinot Blanc (still to be re-introduced into the J. Lohr varietal portfolio, but recently expressed in the J. Lohr 40th Anniversary Pinot Blanc released in 2014 to commemorate this milestone year). "One of our Chardonnay clonal selections, 809 (an ENTAV-INRA®, aka Dijon clone), J. Lohr 2014 Flume Crossing Sauvignon Blanc, Arroyo Seco ($14) From Sauvignon Musqué (with 1.5% Viognier), a pointed, medium-bodied white as close to a "lip stinger" as a non-Piquepoul can get; bursting with flowery, leafy green fragrances, transitioning into grapefruity palate sensations, with a tropical, passionfruit-like lift. J. Lohr 2013 October Night Chardonnay, Arroyo Seco ($25) Dominated by the pungently floral Clone 809 (73%) perfume, a harmo- nious nose of honeyed citrus, peach and toasty, creamy sensation; mod- erately full and upbeat on the palate, with silken, fleshy texturing tautly strummed by edgy natural acidity. J. Lohr 2012 Fog's Reach Pinot Noir, Arroyo Seco–Monterey ($35) Prominently earthy humus and dried sage notes laced with strawberry preserve and red licorice, framed by lavish, toasted oak spices; soft, round entry to fleshy middle, punctuated by zippy acid and mild tannin; the pervasively earthy fruit qualities lingering in the finish. A Trio of Specialty Bottlings from Arroyo Seco is a Musqué. It has done so well for us, we bottle it separately under the October Night label; we produce 4,000 cases of this wine alone. Our Riverstone Chardonnay program is up to 400,000 cases, and comes from blends of Wente (FPS) 04 and 05, with a selection of Dijon clones. "Arroyo Seco Chardonnay gives us good, clean fruit—true Chardonnay character, which marries well with oak. This, by the way, is why we haven't jumped into the 'unoaked' Chardonnay category—our Chardonnay is so dense in flavor it never seems to taste oaky, no matter how much oak we throw at it." Remarking on his brand's steady growth, Lohr tells us, "Production is up to 1.6 mil- lion cases, coming from about 3,700 acres in Monterey, Paso Robles and Napa Valley that we own or manage. We own 900 acres of vineyards in Arroyo Seco alone, and contract at least another 1,000 acres in the area." Jerry Lohr inspects Pinot Noir vines in his Arroyo Seco vineyard. J. Lohr's October Night Chardonnay and Fog's Reach Pinot Noir.

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