Neyers Vineyards Tasting
Neyers fondness for French Chablis led to a search for the right combination of grapes and winemaking techniques to more closely approximate this style of wine. Neyers needed to find Chardonnay fruit grown under especially cold conditions in order to ensure a high level of natural acidity and a lower than normal pH, both necessary to reach the balance essential to this style of wine. And Neyers wanted those grapes to be grown on soils that were rocky, in order to maximize the mineral character in the finished wine.
Two vineyards provided the right stuff. Paul Larson Vineyard in Sonoma Carneros only a few hundred yards from the northern-most reach of the San Francisco Bay and the Trinchero Family Vineyard in the Russian River Valley.
The fruit is harvested by hand, then whole-cluster pressed to yield bright, crisp juice. The fermentation is carried out in stainless steel tanks (made from Stainless Steel 304) with a mix of native and dry-active yeast strains, and the wine is then aged four months on the natural yeast lees to increase flavor, texture and stability. We filter the wine just before bottling, which typically leaves the secondary or malo-lactic fermentation less than 50% complete. The result is a fresh, crisp wine with no external oak flavor to interfere with the attractive lemon-lime component natural to cold climate Chardonnay.
An Old World-Styled Blend, the Sage Canyon Red derives its name from the region where the winery is located. The canyon created by the north face of Pritchard hill was settled in the 1830’s by a group of Ohio pioneers led to California by John Chiles, and in neighboring Chiles Valley they established a modern, self sustaining community with farms, homes, gardens, winemaking, mills and a distillery. The sage they introduced to the area grew wild in the canyon, hence the name we use today.
We draw together fruit from four separate areas of northern California for this wine: Grenache from the Sierra foothills, Carignan from Oakley, Mourvèdre from the southern Sonoma Valley near Glen Ellen, and Syrah from the Santa Lucia Highlands.
The grapes are all processed using traditional Rhône Valley techniques as they are fermented with 100% stem retention and crushed by foot for the first 30 days or so. The tanks are then drained and pressed, and the new wine is aged 8-10 months in used 60-gallon French oak barrels. Carignan makes up 45% of the finished wine, and the vines here are 140 years old, with yields that barely reach 1 ton/acre.
It’s a soft wine, wonderfully attractive in its youth with complex flavors that are attractive across the palate.
Awarded a score of 90 POINTS from Wine Enthusiast.
Left Bank Red is a blend of 50% Cabernet Sauvignon and 50% Merlot. Both vineyards are planted in the gravelly soil at the south end of our Conn Valley Ranch. The soil profile from a recent well drilling has shown the gravel deposit on this section of the vineyard is almost 40 feet deep, and with the combination of nearby sandy-loam and basalt soils, serves as an ideal spot for Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot to mingle. Both parcels are certified organic with CCOF, and we practice modern sustainable farming.
Winemaker Tadeo Borchardt focuses on small yields, grown on vines propagated from heirloom budwood selections. Each vineyard is separately hand-harvested, and each cluster is closely examined on our sorting table before de-stemming. Fermentation is carried out using only native, wild yeast, and the separate wines are aged in a combination of new and used 60-gallon French oak barrels. We bottle the Left Bank Red after 14 months of barrel aging, without fining or filtering the finished wine. The blend is immediately appealing, with its combination of bright raspberry flavors balanced by the charm of the wild cherry component of the Merlot. The gravelly soil provides a subtle hint of minerality, making the wine both complete and complex.
Neyers Vineyards sits in the heart of the Napa Valley but Bruce’s experience with French wine importer Kermit Lynch has had an undeniable influence on our wines. Many of the French producers Bruce works with farm organically, make their wines naturally without use of cultured yeast or laboratory designed malo-lactic starter, and bottle their wines without fining or filtration. We like their results and utilize many of their ideas.
Our barrels are made in France, to our specifications, from wood that we buy in bulk and air dry for three years, two years longer than normal. All of our grapes are picked by hand, into small bins that hold only one-half ton. They are then laboriously hand sorted and inspected at the winery. Grapes that require travel of more than thirty minutes to our winery are delivered in refrigerated trucks.
Meet The Neyers:
Bruce worked at a French wine importing company in the city before moving to Mayacamas Winery in the Napa Valley in 1972. He spent a year in Germany as an apprentice winemaker in 1974, then 17 years at Joseph Phelps Vineyards. In 1991 he left to begin Neyers Vineyards. At the time Bruce and Barbara began the winery, Bruce accepted a position as national sales manager for Berkeley importer Kermit Lynch. Today he divides his time between these two positions.
Barbara followed her academic training and became a teacher but was soon able to pursue her love of food and cooking as a chef and eventually manager at Chez Panisse Restaurant in Berkeley. Bruce and Barbara raised three children on their home vineyard and ranch in the Conn Valley area of the Napa Valley, and now lead the varied and hectic lives of all vignerons; running a small business, growing grapes on their farm, and traveling around the country to oversee the distribution of their wines.
More about Neyers Vineyards: https://www.