I like discovering young wineries working their own infant vineyards as wine makers unveil unique styling and a reliance on their own maturing vines that are not yet naturally producing lower yields with more intense and concentrated fruit. While it can take years to release the untold treasures embodied in newly planted land, it is absolutely possible to capture and present a house style early on. When those style characteristics include restraint, flavor purity, solid acidity, consistency, and honest varietal interpretation, I stand at attention as I did tasting through the recent releases from Loomis Family Vineyards.
During a recent dinner at a favorite BYOB spot, I had our group taste through the portfolio of one remarkable rosé, a Grenache Blanc, and a red Rhone varietal blend. The names of these wines are Air, Snow, and Ember respectively and the blended varietals include Grenache Blanc and Viognier for Snow, and Grenache Noir, Syrah, Mourvedre, and Counoise in Air and Ember. With this first release of Ember, second vintage of Snow, and the third production of the rosé, Loomis Vineyards confirmed a house style that delivers old world varietal representation, doses of acidity that make the wines excellent food complements, serious concentration without anything resembling over-ripeness, and complex aromatics that present themselves over time in the glass. For California jammy fruit fans, beware; Loomis produces anything but fat, soft, round California wines. They are special exceptions to the Napa fruit parade, offering bright, clean and pure old world flavors that are chasing their own identity that can only be found in their own patch of earth in this southeast corner of Napa Valley. I wrote about Loomis Family Vineyards enthusiastically last year after swooning over their first Grenache Blanc release. Here are my notes on the current release:
2009 Air: Rich, dark pink, peach skin coloring. Light and elegant attack with steely, stone-like flavors. A nose of melon rind, stewed strawberries, and muted floral aromas are present. The mouth feel is surprisingly rich and full considering the restrained elegance at first blush, and it is finished with a big streak of well married acidity. A very long finish lets this amalgamation of flavor and textures persist for a very long time. It is absolutely the most compelling wine of the three for drinking now. This is a very, very special old world style rosé from California.
2009 Snow: Bright, racy citrus and melon on the nose with a medium richness, bracing acidity, and long finish. The wine is interesting because it has excellent construction and balance beginning to end, but the aromatics and flavor dimensions are muted. It is second best to last year’s release, and I wonder if the wine will eventually open up (it has plenty of time ahead of itself for safe cellaring) and show the multitude of aromas and flavor components found in last year’s version of this wine. I am going to wait to see how this wine progresses over the next couple of years, and drink one more bottle nearer term since it serves as an excellent foil to rich finny and shellfish as is.
2008 Ember: A fair amount of alcohol and jam on the nose. Serious pepper spice. These aromatics hint at a massive glass of wine and I wondered if I was about to witness a violation of the restraint and balance I was falling for in these wines. I was not disappointed and the wine coated our palates with a silky feel, again supported with the Loomis tell-tale dose of acidity and long finish. The wine does have a big tannic bite and I bet that will melt away nicely over the next ten years and reveal the velvet fruit core as the wine becomes more fit to drink. I would choose to cellar this wine for at least three years. I like this wine for its construction and elegance that hint at future greatness.
I strongly recommend these wines. especially the rosé for immediate pleasure. You can buy them direct from Loomis Family Vineyards here. The program is young, but the style definition is classic and exciting.
Full disclosure: The wines tasted here were provided as free samples