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Great article from our friend Elaine Brown on the Jancis Robinson website, here is a little snippet:

 

‘Green Valley is the most prolific [of the West Sonoma Coast subzones] in styles, wine types, and producers’, Paul Sloan, viticulturist and winemaker of Small Vines, explains. He’s been farming the region since the late 1990s. Even more impressive is that even within the range of styles, a Green Valley signature still shines through. 

 

Our wines reviewed:

 

  • 2013 Chardonnay Sonoma Coast – 16.5 

Natural fruit-spiced warming aromatics and palate. All about the spice moving into a long finish. Fresh clean fruit, creamy Meyer lemon with hints of lime. Lots of presence, and freshness. Will age and develop nicely.

  • 2013 Estate Cuvée Pinot Noir Russian River Valley – 17

Notes of mixed fresh berries, natural spice and pine forest through the finish with a mineral crunch. There is nice density and depth here. This Pinot shows off the sophisticated structure and flavour nuance of the vintage. Will develop nicely.

  • 2012 Sonoma Coast Pinot Noir – 16.5

Chiseled, savoury rose leaf and cream and a saline crunch. Nice flavour concentration, structural tension, and fruit purity. Long mouth-watering finish.

  • 2012 MK Vineyard Pinot Noir – 16+

Savoury with a saline crunch. Notes of dried rose petal, and herbs smudged with spice. Lots of lifting energy, flavour concentration without heaviness, and clean focus. A little more breadth and depth to the palate than the other Small Vines Pinots. This wine wants the most time in bottle to develop.

  • 2012 Estate Cuvée Pinot Noir Russian River Valley – 16+

Savoury red fruit with integrated spice, and a long mineral crunch. A bit muted but opens with air. Nice flavour concentration without heaviness. Mouth-watering acidity with persistent tannin, and an ultra-long finish.

 

To read the article in full, click here (subscription required)

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Smaller, better in Sebastopol

BY PEG MELNIK- October 25, 2014

Small Vines Wines owner Paul Sloan works on special imported tractors from Europe designed to work in his narrowly planted vines. (JOHN BURGESS/ PD)

Small Vines Wines owner Paul Sloan works on special imported tractors from Europe designed to work in his narrowly planted vines. (JOHN BURGESS/ PD)

A mysterious apple tree taught Paul Sloan his first lesson in winemaking when he was 10 years old.

“For whatever reason, that tree with the smallest apples had the flavors that were the most intense,” he said.

Today Sloan and his wife, Kathryn, are the vintners of Small Vines, a Sebastopol brand that is based on the Burgundian model of winemaking and vineyard management. The philosophy embraces the practice of getting smaller yields from higher-density, European-styled spacing of vines.

The Sloans say they reap fewer pounds per vine in order to produce higher quality fruit. It’s a nod to the tasty apple tree Sloan grew up with on his family’s 250-acre ranch in Santa Rosa.

The couple sit beneath a grove of redwoods on their property in Sebastopol. It’s a 12.5-acre spread, and they’re in the midst of building a winery not far from their house, the historic Barlow homestead that dates back to 1897.

The Barlows were prominent apple and berry farmers. Today the family name is well known for its apple processing plant in Sebastopol, which has been transformed into a food and wine haven with wineries, retail shops, artisan studios and restaurants in the mix.

Kathryn, 45, said living in a historic house suits the family, most especially their two children: Dakota, 11, and Savannah, 8.

“Instead of a Queen Anne Victorian, it’s a farmhouse. . . . We’re humble farmers. I live in an old house. I wear my grandmother’s ring and we value traditional winemaking methods.”

Small Vines Wines owners Paul and Kathryn Sloan (JOHN BURGESS/ PD)

Small Vines Wines owners Paul and Kathryn Sloan (JOHN BURGESS/ PD)

It all began with a fascination of pinot noir.

Sloan, 42, was a 19-year old busboy at the Kenwood Restaurant, and then owner Susan Schacher had a daily ritual of reveling in a glass of pinot noir at closing time.

“I said to myself, ‘This pinot noir varietal has to be very special,’ ” he said.

In 1993, Sloan began working for John Ash restaurant in Santa Rosa, and within six months he became assistant wine steward there. “There was a wine library at John Ash, and I was really engaged,” Sloan said. “I devoured the books.”

While working at John Ash, Sloan was offered a taste of a $3,000-plus bottle of Burgundy — the Domaine de la Romanee Conti.

“A man poured me a generous glass and he said, ‘Enjoy this throughout the evening. It may just change your life.’ ”

The pricey Burgundy did just that. “Things just started churning inside me and I wanted to make wines of the highest level of purity and authenticity.”

After working for the late Warren Dutton of Sebastopol’s Dutton Ranch and studying viticulture at Santa Rosa Junior College, Sloan was at a crossroads. He was accepted to study at California Polytechnic State University, but he was eager to begin his brand.

Dutton, who mentored the couple, encouraged them to travel to France, since they wanted to follow the lead of the French. After several research trips, the Sloans founded Small Vines in 1998.

The husband and wife team seems to be the perfect yin-yang for the operation. Sloan covers farming and winemaking, while Kathryn tackles the business side of the operation. Meanwhile, both continue to be adventuresome, which isn’t surprising considering they began their courtship as rock climbers.

“Paul is one big adventurer,” said Kathryn. “Rock climbing, surfing, scuba diving. It’s hard to keep up with this farmer who has a lot of energy.”

Small Vines Wines owners Paul and Kathryn Sloan imported special tractors from Europe designed to work in the narrowly planted vines.

Small Vines Wines owners Paul and Kathryn Sloan imported special tractors from Europe designed to work in the narrowly planted vines.

The Press Democrat online article can be found here:

http://www.pressdemocrat.com/lifestyle/2988469-181/smaller-better-in-sebastopol

We were pleased to welcome writer Elaine Chukan Brown from the fantastic blog, Hawk Wakawaka Wine Reviews, to Small Vines Wines for fruit thinning and wine tasting with our very own Vigneron, Paul Sloan, and co-owner, Kathryn Sloan.

Elaine has become one of the most recognized names in the wine and food blogging world with her wine review blog, Hawk Wakawaka Wine Reviews. She recently has been named by Imbibe Magazine an Imbibe 75 “Person to Watch”, as well as becoming a Best Food Blog Award Finalist by Saveur Magazine. Her amazing work has been recommended several times by The New York Times Diner’s Journal, and in both The Washington Post, and The Los Angeles Times.  Her wine blog has been a finalist in six categories at the Wine Blog Awards including the 2014 Wine Blog Awards Best Overall Wine Blog.

As the morning West Sonoma County fog slowly burned away, we greeted Elaine at our Barlow Homestead Vineyard. Little did she know, we had plans to begin fruit thinning our vineyards that day. With a camera around her neck, pruning shears in one hand and a pencil and notebook in the other, off we walked into our High-Density Pinot Noir Barlow Homestead Vineyard for the first fruit thinning pass of over 25 hand vine care passes.

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Photo Credit: Elaine Chukan Brown

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Photo Credit: Elaine Chukan Brown

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Fruit thinning is a method grape growers use in order to better ripen their grape clusters and ensure a higher quality thus creating a complex wine. They do this by evaluating each vine and meticulously dropping the fruit (cutting excess clusters) and leaving them on the ground below to decompose and provide more nutrients for the vines. Timing is crucial, and this method is best done during the beginning stages of veraison, the signal that harvest is between 45 to 60 days away.

Impeccably low-yields (per vine) are vital to improved wine quality in Pinot Noir- and balanced wines are made more easily and more naturally from balanced vines. Small Vines follows the Grand Cru standards from Burgundy, which allows only two grape clusters per shoot, a maximum of 8 shoots per vine and never more than 16 clusters per vine. At a mere 1-2 pounds per vine- a low-vigor, high-density vineyard balances each vine at lower yields, naturally. These small vines produce tiny cluster that have tiny, thick-skinned berries creating concentration and amazing structure in the wines.

After a thorough explanation and demonstration by Paul Sloan, Elaine grasped the sheers and began cautiously sifting through the vine’s shoots. This process can be very nerve-racking for ANY viticulturist due to the anxiety of “throwing away” perfectly good fruit that looks healthy and beautiful just for the sake of exceptional wine quality.

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Small Vines Wines would like to thank Elaine from Hawk Wakawaka for her visit. We love to share our passion for our vineyards and wines and we welcome all who would love to come learn and taste our hand-crafted Pinot Noir, Chardonnay and Rosé of Pinot Noir. For a tasting and vineyard tour with our vigneron, be sure to set up and schedule an appointment at 707-823-0886 or info@smallvines.com

Photo Credit: Elaine Chukan Brown

scallops_pinot

Bacon-Wrapped Scallops

With Creamy Mascarpone Polenta and Warm Roasted Pepper Salad

6  sea scallops
6  bacon strips
1  clove garlic, peeled and thinly sliced
3  tablespoons olive oil
2  red bell peppers, roasted, peeled, seeded and cut into thick strips
2½ cups chicken stock
½ teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon piment d’Espelette or paprika
¾ cup instant polenta
3 tablespoons mascarpone
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
½ cup dry white wine
4 large basil leaves, torn
Salt to taste

Wrap a strip of bacon around each scallop. Slide rosemary twigs or bamboo skewers into the scallops to secure the bacon and to make the scallops easier to turn when sautéing. Refrigerate until ready to cook.

Toast the garlic in the olive oil until light golden-brown, swirling the pan constantly. Add the peppers and season with salt to taste. Cook just long enough to heat the peppers through, then tip them onto a plate and set aside.

Bring the chicken stock to a boil in a medium-sized saucepan. Season with salt and piment d’Espelette. Whisk in the polenta and cook for 10 minutes, whisking constantly. Remove from heat and fold in the mascarpone. Adjust the seasoning. Set aside, covered, until ready to serve. If the polenta cools, it will stiffen up. If this happens, reheat the polenta over low heat as you vigorously whisk in a little more stock to restore the creamy texture.

Heat the vegetable oil in a large nonstick sauté pan until smoking. Season the scallops (leave them on the skewers) with salt and pepper. Sear the scallops, and then reduce the heat to medium-high once they’ve begun to color around the edges.

Shake the pan gently so the oil gets under the scallops; this helps them sear and color evenly. Flip after 3 minutes and cook for 3 more minutes. Remove the scallops from the pan and keep in a warm place loosely tented with aluminum foil.

Pour the wine into the pan and simmer for 1 minute, scraping any browned bits from the bottom of the pan. Add the peppers, and cook until the wine has fully reduced. Remove from heat and toss in the basil.

Spoon a pool of polenta onto heated plates. Lay a skewer of scallops over the polenta and then pull out the skewer. Serve the warm pepper salad on the side. Serves 2.


 

Pair It

Small Vines Wines Estate Cuvée Russian River Valley Pinot Noir; $50

The scallops call out for an elegantly structured Pinot from the Russian River Valley or Sonoma Coast. The cooler imprint of these regions will impart a smattering of spicy pepper to the wines, subtly accenting the pepper salad without overpowering the delicacy of the scallop. Small Vines’ Vigneron, Paul Sloan, hand selected our best barrels and crafted from obsessively tended vines. This precise Cuvée marries our excellent Estate vineyards together. The 2012 vintage blessed us with perfect weather throughout the farming season. Excellent fruit set resulted in dense clusters requiring meticulous vine-canopy management to organically protect the fruit. Adhering to strict Grand Cru standards, we hand selected each cluster and berry by starting with a framework of no more than 10 buds per vine followed by over twenty hand-work passes through the vineyard. This obsessive attention to detail in the vineyard gave us wines of amazing concentration and structure, with exquisite balance.

Recipe courtesy Charlie Palmer, chef and owner, Dry Creek Kitchen

We recently received this wonderful review from a Pinot Noir lover who hosted a wine and dinner pairing party in Southwest Florida. They reviewed wines from Sea Smoke Estate Vineyards, Peay Vineyards and also our very own Small Vines Wines all from the 2008, 2009 and 2010 vintages. We would like to thank Linda for writing this great review and loving all of these fantastic California wines. Below is her review.

“On May 18, my husband and I, plus 6 of our wine and food loving friends, had a California Pinot Noir vertical wine tasting and dinner.  They were all 2008, 2009, and 2010 vintages as well as some of our favorites!

We started off with 3 years of Sea Smoke Ten, moved up the coast and poured 3 years of Peay Scallop Shelf, then dove right into Russian River Valley with 3 years of Small Vines Wines.  Of course all of the wines were fabulous and they paired beautifully with everything from wild mushroom soup,  seared tuna, salmon in raspberry glaze, to pork tenderloin in blueberry glacé and grilled lamb chops.  I did have to move over to Napa for dessert as we had a Vineyard 29 Aida late harvest Zinfandel that certainly was delicious with my torta de Barozzi.

Everyone raved about our pinots and rightfully so.  We have visited with both you (Small Vines) and Andy Peay (Peay Vineyards) and love your wines.  While we are not big wine collectors ( just a lowly 500 bottle collection) we always purchase a few every year.  Please keep those great wines coming.

I have attached a few pictures.  Some of us in Southwest Florida really love great wine and food!!!!

Linda, Fort Myers, Florida”

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Stephen Tanzer's International Wine Cellar

Our 2012 wine vintage reviews from Josh Raynolds at Stephen Tanzer’s International Wine Cellar are in. For in-depth professional reviews and scores see the PDF link.

Raynolds’ Reviews of 2012 Vintage 

[polldaddy poll=8079482]

“MAKE ROOM IN YOUR CELLAR”
for the 2008 MK Vineyard
95 points-Pinot Report

“SMART BUY.”2008 Russian River
93 points
-Pinot Report

We are so excited to share with you the most recent reveiws of our 2008 wines!

Here is what the current Pinot Report had to say:

Small Vines Wines Just about anyone who’s active in North Coast Pinot Noir production has heard of Paul and Kathryn Sloan. Their vineyard farming and development company, Small Vines Viticulture, has earned the young couple quite a bit of attention for its application and adaptation of Burgundian viticultural techniques and sustainable practices to California vineyards. With the success of their vineyard management, Paul and Kathryn decided to apply what they have learned about growing Sonoma Coast and Russian River Valley Pinot Noir and set out to make their own artisan Pinot Noir. Current Pinot bottlings include regional Russian River Valley and Sonoma Coast Pinots and a vineyard designate from the MK Vineyard. These are delicious Pinots made with care and passion by terrific people.

Small Vines Pinot Noir Russian River Valley 2008 Medium-deep ruby color; deep, intense red cherry, spice and cola aromas; rich, ripe, complex red cherry and berry flavors with spice and cola notes; some oak; silky texture; good structure and balance; long finish. Beautifully rich and ripe Pinot that needs a little time in the glass and tastes great while you wait for it.452 cases made $50 Score: 93 

SmallVines PinotNoir Sonoma Coast  MK Vineyard 2008 Medium-deep ruby color;bit closed but deep and complex aromas of dark cherry and forest floor; deep, rich black cherry flavors with lots of complex earthy, forest floor notes: silky texture; nice oak; some tannin; good structure and balance; long finish. Very complex Pinot. Give it at least an hour of air and serve it with a braised meat dish- beef short ribs would be perfect.  147 cases made $65 Score: 95 
http://www.pinotreport.com/

Ray is a well-respected educator and writer of wine and also a dear friend to Small Vines. We had the opportunity to host his class of oenophiles in the vineyard last year, but this year Ray took the wine to one of his classes on Pinot and it was a hit! “The class loved it.”

You can find Ray’s writeup on his blog at:
http://rjwine.com/blog/2010/08/04/small-vines-russian-river-pinot-noir-2008/ or read below.
 
Small Vines, Russian River Valley, Pinot Noir 2008 This wine is a star. In the nose the fruit has a liqueur-like character, showing off its ripeness. In the mouth there is again that straddling of the Old and New Worlds that Small Vines pulls off vintage after vintage. The structure is there yet the fruit is opulent. The acidity is again a hallmark, taking the flavors in your mouth for a long and pleasurable ride.

This writeup is epitomizes what we strive for at Small Vines. We couldn’t be happier with what we’ve achieved with the ’08 Russian River Pinot and its good to hear our love of it echoing through the industry.
Thanks Ray!

Steve Heimoff, Senior Editor of Wine Enthusiast Magazine, has taken a liking to our wines. He gave our 2008 Sonoma Coast MK Vineyard Pinot Noir 93 points. Read his full write-up below.

We’ll be releasing this wine to our general mailing list on August 17th so keep an eye on your email boxes. Order quickly because there’s only 147 cases!!

Small Vines 2008 MK Vineyard Pinot Noir (Sonoma Coast) Nothing small about this Pinot Noir. It’s almost as good as the 2007, which was terrific. Dry and elegant, it shows massively concentrated cherry, raspberry and cola flavors, with a rich coating of smoky sandalwood. Wonderful now, but the youthful power suggests time in the cellar through 2015 or so. – S.H. (8/1/2010) – 93

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Josh Raynolds writes for Stephen Tanzer’s International Wine Cellar. This is the second time Josh has reviewed our wines and he seems to like our style. Thanks Josh! We always enjoy having you out!

Kathryn andPaul Sloan’s vineyard management company, called Small Vines Viticulture, oversees a number of sites throughout theRussianRiverValleyandSonomaCoast. The Sloan’s began making small quantities of their own pinot noir with the 2006 vintage. They plant their vineyards in a tight 4 by 4 foot spacing or even 4 by 3 fashion after a traditional Burgundy model (as opposed to the more common 8 by 12 foot spacing of many California vineyards) and the vines are cropped for minimal fruit load, which is compensated for by the higher number of vines planted per acre-about double to triple the standard number. This planting regimen requires a serious investment in manpower as most vineyard machinery is designed to work with wider vine spacing.Paul Sloantold me that in the 2008 season, for example, a ton of grapes from vines that they manage cost around $9,000 to farm, which means that anybody willing to make such a substantial investment in their grapes is clearly shooting for the top of the market.

2008 Small Vines Wines Pinot Noir Russian River Valley

($50) Vivid red. Vibrant aromas of raspberry, flowers and Asian spices, with a hint of anise. Sappy red fruit, pepper and spice flavors stain the palate and are lifted by tangy minerality, picking up silky tannins with air. This coats the mouth with flavor but seems weightless. Finishes with resonating notes of minerals and spices and very good clarity.

90

 

2008 Small Vines Wines Pinot Noir MK Vineyard Sonoma Coast

($65) Saturated red. Highly expressive scents of raspberry, Asian spices, blood orange and sexy oak. Youthfully tight on entry but gains sweetness and flesh in the mid-palate, offering lively red berry and cherry flavors, a hint of candied rose and late-arriving tannins. Attractively sweet on the finish, leaving behind spice, red fruit and floral notes. (JR)

92