Sunday, May 9, 2010

Two older Santa Clara labels

Here's a couple of interesting older labels from the Santa Clara Valley. They were opened at a recent party by Wes Barton, who has a great knack for finding interesting local wines. I didn't get the chance to take proper notes, but I managed to rescue the empty bottles and remove the labels.

Congress Springs was founded in the 1970s by Daniel Gers. He discovered a derelict vineyard in Saratoga with head pruned Zinfandel vines dating back to before prohibition. Together with his wife Robin they restored the vineyards and launched a successful winery. Around 1990 Daniel sold the winery and it became Savannah-Chanelle winery. The head-pruned Zinfandel vines are still producing today.

Congress Springs was well known for their San Ysidro Chardonnay, which often gained 90+ ratings from Spectator. The wine was still in very good shape despite its age; an amber colour and nice mature flavours.

Fortino was established in 1970 in Santa Clara's Hecker Pass, and is still going 40 years later. They make around 15,000 cases, mainly sold from the tasting rooms and local stores and restaurants.

Ruby Cabernet is a cross developed at UC Davis in the 1930s. The aim was to to produce a vine combining the quality of Cabernet Sauvignon with the heat and drought tolerance of Carignan. An acre was planted at Ridge in the 1950s, and the winery produced a series of rather good Monte Bello Ruby Cabernets from the late 1960s through the mid 1980s, but overall it wasn't a great success and is now mainly planted in the central valley, where around 6,000 acres are grown as a blending grape for bulk wines.

So a 30 year old wine made from an unremarkable grape by an unremarkable winery? It turned out to be surprisingly pleasant, still having a fair amount of fruit left as well as a little tannin. The colour was a nice red brown.

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