Clear light garnet with purple edges. Really really light. Pinot-light. Dusky ripe raspberry fruit and loaded with cassis. Leather and dry earth. Mouth-filling and acidic on the tongue with gobs of classic Barbera peppery briar. Blind, this could easily be a SRH pinot or even something further North and unsophisticated… Santa Cruz Mt pinot or even Mendocino. Really a nice wine, loaded with complex, understated fruit and supremely balanced. Nice, soft tannins–but they mean business. Thin and fairly light in texture, but round and coating.
Interesting bottle, this one. Made by Trappist monks at the New Clairvaux Abbey in Vina, California. Claims winemaking in the area back to 1846 with this particular winery indicating 1890 as it’s zenith. I haven’t really done enough research on this area to validate those claims, but it certainly is a well-made wine, and, as a huge fan and student of the California Mission complex, the dates seem to work. With the exception of Mission San Antonio De Padua, I do not know of an existing mission which has maintained its wine-making operations (and San Antonio does not do anything onsite or by abbots–it is made off-site, possibly even Paso–and labeled for the mission).
Also, let us not confuse ‘mission’ with ‘monastery’. Clairvaux is a true working monastery–not a mission and/or Catholic church. Apples-Oranges, really, but the parallels are impossible to ignore–especially in light of the dates. The label indicates a “Trappist Made Product”, even though the back label endorses Aimee Sunseri of Sunseri Wine Company as the winemaker. Kinda heavy on the oak–which I would consider its only flaw, and obviously more of a yummy flaw than a deterrent. This is nearly the end of my Nocal experiments I purchased on a recent trip up there and blows almost everything else away. I can only think of Shasta Daisy Pinot and Mt. Tehama Syrah as equal-or-better-made wines. This really is quite enjoyable stuff–and interesting.
2012 NEW CLAIRVAUX VINEYARD Barbera Poor Soul’s Block Tehama Co. Callifornia 13.7