Thursday, April 2, 2009

Aver Family

Aver Family vineyards is an 8 acre estate off Watsonville Road in the Uvas Valley, near to Sycamore Creek and Jason/Stephens. It was part of a larger estate that had been supplying Cabernet Sauvignon and Petite Sirah to David Bruce, until the Avers purchased it in 2005.

John Aver immediately began with a major overhaul of the vineyard. The old "California sprawl" trellising was replaced by a modern VSP system. Some of the older vines were removed, others were grafted over to Grenache. There are currently 5.5 acres of vines of varying ages, roughly evenly split into Cabernet Sauvignon, Petite Sirah, Grenache and Syrah, with an additional acre yet to be planted. The farming is organic; although it's still in a transition phase the family intend to apply for official certification.

The wines are made at Crushpad's facility in San Francisco. 2006 is the first vintage; just 150 cases were produced, all from estate fruit. The plan is to gradually increase production to around 1,000 cases.

2006 'Homage' Syrah 25 cases, $35
Blended with 5% Petite Sirah and matured in 50% new French oak, this dark wine has a faintly smoky, coffee nose. On the palate there's bitter chocolate and good black fruit with nice acidity.

2006 'Heritage' Cabernet Sauvignon 100 cases, $44
On the nose there's very bright fruit; blackberries and a little heat from the 15% alcohol. A big wine with flavours of blackcurrant, brambles and spice. Nice balance and a long finish with chocolate notes.

2006 'Blessings' Petite Sirah 25 cases, $55
John Aver says he expects the Petite Sirah to be his flagship wine. As I've said before, the key with Petite Sirah is to keep the tannins in control, and he's managed to do that. It's got a nice nose of dark berry fruit and a smoky hint. Rich, concentrated flavours of blueberries with some smoke and spice. The tannins are clearly present but aren't overpowering. This does seem like a wine that would age well.

Overall an excellent maiden release for yet another new Santa Clara Valley winery. Future vintages will include a Grenache as well as a Durrell vineyard Chardonnay.