Monday, May 4, 2009

Kirigin Cellars

Bonesio Winery was founded in 1916 in the Uvas Valley, though vines are believed to have been in place for at least 40 years prior. It was home to the Bonesio family until 1976; the main home is one of the oldest wooden structures in the county. The winery was noted for vintage dated Grignolino as early as the 1940s.

Nikola Kirigin-Chargin comes from a long line of Croatian winemakers. He studied oenology in Zagreb before emigrating to America in 1959. Following a career at San Martin, Almaden, Pirelli-Minetti, and Canadagua Wineries he retired and purchased the Bonesio Winery, renaming it Kirigin Cellars. In 2000, aged 84 he decided to retire properly, and sold the winery to Dhruv Khanna, one of the founders of Covad. Khanna's primary appears to be sports; he has used part of the land to establish the area's first regulation cricket pitch and has since added football (soccer) pitches.

The 30 acre vineyard is planted with several different varieties, including Cabernet Sauvignon and 50 year old Malvasia Bianca. The vines are trellised in the single wire "California Sprawl" system, where the canes are allowed to hang down the sides, shading the fruit. Proponents of the system say this prevents overheating, particularly in areas where the summers can get very hot, but nowadays most premium wineries employ a multi wire "VSP" system.

The winery has a historic plaque, ECV1850, placed by the esoteric Ancient and Honorable Order of E Clampus Vitus.

With the exception of the Estate Reserve all the wines carry the California appellation, even though the fruit is all either estate or sourced locally. Tasting is free; all the wines are generally available to taste with the possible exception of the Reserve. There's also a non vintage "Champagne" that I didn't taste.

2008 Sauvignon Blanc
A light, grapefruit nose and sweet flavours of grapefruit and kiwi. Seems to have some residual sugar. $15

2008 Chardonnay
Lemon nose, pear flavours and a slightly bitter finish. Dry $15

2008 Malvasia Bianca
Made from 50 year old vines, this could easily pass for Gewurztraminer. It has a similar spicy, flowery nose and crisp floral flavours, good acidity and a nice dry finish. My favourite of the wines tasted. $18

NV Estate Red
A blend of 60% Cabernet Sauvignon, 20% Pinot Noir and 20% Zinfandel. Has a light raspberry, fruit punch nose with some coffee. On the palate there's a medley of fruit; raspberry, loganberry and cherry. There's a dry, tannic, almost cardboard-like finish. $15

2006 Pinot Noir
A light cherry nose and rich flavours of bitter cherries. There's a slight hint of oxidation on the finish. $20

2005 Syrah
Plummy and slightly porty with dark fruits and hints of black pepper. Lots of tannin. $20

2005 Cabernet Sauvignon
The nose shows smoke, mint and menthol; on the palate it's chewy and tannic, with more mint and some eucalyptus. $20

2006 Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon, Santa Clara Valley
A smoky slightly oxidized nose. A big, structured wine with good blackberry flavours, but the oxidised note was offputting. $40

2007 Zinfandel
Raspberry on both the nose and the palate. Dry, tannic finish. $20

Vino di Mocca
Imagine one of those 'Ritter Sport' cocoa wafers in liquid form. Sweet, with nutty coffee, cocoa and tobacco notes. $20