While there was no shortage of great wines poured over the inaugural Signature Sonoma Valley event, over 63 to be exact, few were as eagerly anticipated as the ‘one from the cellar’ selections served as the finale of the 2017 ECHELON dinner at Ram’s Gate Winery. Each vintner & grower table host brought one very special bottle to share with their guests, a bottle that had some personal significance or special meaning to them. The lineup of 17 wines that emerged was truly Legendary.
Selections ranged from vintage, post-prohibition era Californian wines and French bottles that influenced stylistic preferences for several winemakers, to personally crafted wines marking celebrated milestones in budding careers. An experienced team of 12 sommeliers could hardly contain their excitement as they carefully decanted these rare offerings for table service.
Master Sommelier and ECHELON emcee, Bob Bath of the Culinary Institute of America, invited several vintners & growers to share the personal stories behind their wine selections. An anticipatory hush fell upon the room as guests were treated to many special yet seldom shared anecdotes from storied careers. Several winemakers paid tribute to 50 year veteran Richard Arrowood for the opportunities and mentorship he has provided the next generation. There was even a rousing chorus of “Happy Birthday” for Ravenswood founder Joel Peterson who happened to be celebrating his 70th birthday that very weekend. There was a palpable sense of community in the room as guests and locals alike went from table to table savoring these special wines and this special moment.
Here are just a few of the evening’s wine selections and the stories behind them. A complete listing of all the amazing ‘One From the Cellar’ wines poured that evening (and throughout the weekend’s events) can be viewed here in the 2017 Signature Sonoma Valley Wine Journal.
2002 Louis Jadot Batard-Montrachet Grand Cru, Cote de Beaune, France
“While on our subterranean Pinot hunt in Burgundy, we stumbled upon this wine. The vineyard manager with his classic beret spoke no English, and we only broken French, but it didn’t matter as the wine needed no explanation – it was the standout of our trip which began the conversations to seek out exquisite California Chardonnay vineyards to produce wines with depth and tension.”
—Kenneth Juhasz, Proprietor-Winemaker
2009 Dane Cellars Los Chamizal Vineyard Zinfandel, Sonoma Valley
“Early in my career I had a chance to try a bottle of Haywood Los Chamizal Vineyard Zinfandel, an amazing bottle of wine different than anything we had ever made, and the memory of that bottle stuck with me. Twenty years later I convinced Peter Haywood to sell me a couple tons of fruit from that very vineyard’s 2009 harvest. The resulting wine was my very first submission to Wine Spectator and I was shocked when it received 92 points in an article on 10 Great Sonoma Zins! I was confident the wine was good but never imagined that…”
—Bart Hansen, Proprietor-Winemaker
THE DONUM ESTATE
1996 Domaine Marquis d’Angerville Clos des Ducs, Volnay Premier Cru, France
“Being based in Carneros I can’t help but feel a special affinity for Volnay and the Cote de Beaune in general, as it is often overlooked in comparison to its neighbors to the north in the Cote de Nuits, yet I think it is equally capable of producing spectacular wines. Similarly, Carneros can sometimes be forgotten, despite the fact that Carneros has been producing spectacular Pinot Noir for at least 40 years and continues to do so today. Clos des Ducs, which most agree should really be recognized as a Grand Cru vineyard, seems to me to be a perfect accompaniment to Carneros Pinot Noir, and at 21 years of age, this should be a truly memorable bottle.”
—Dan Fishman, Winemaker
1990 Arrowood Cabernet Sauvignon, Sonoma County
“My father collected Arrowood Wines, and would pour these wines during special occasions and holiday functions. One Christmas, my father opened an older vintage of Arrowood Cabernet Sauvignon and I had a wow moment. I never knew a wine could taste so good, and in that moment I knew I wanted to make wine and go to work for Richard Arrowood. In 2000, I got a job in the cellar with Richard, and the rest is history.”
—Erich Bradley, Winemaker
STONE EDGE FARM ESTATE VINEYARDS & WINERY
1997 Carmenet Cabernet Sauvignon Reserve, Moon Mountain District
“This is a significant wine from my winemaking past because at 20 years of age it demonstrates the cellar potential of a Bordeaux style wine from what is now the Moon Mountain District appellation. The 1997 season started with heavy early rainfall which caused flooding in some areas, followed by the driest February to June season in recent history. Bud break was early, and a bountiful crop ripened mostly in September and produced voluptuous wines. The bottling was limited because this was the first vintage following the disastrous Cavedale fire which destroyed two-thirds of the Carmenet Vineyard.”
—Jeff Baker, Winemaker
WINERY SIXTEEN 600
2008 Winery Sixteen 600 Estate Zinfandel, Moon Mountain District
“This is the wine that started Sixteen 600, from the front yard of Phil Coturri’s house, high up in the Mayacamas Mountains, in what would eventually become the Moon Mountain District. Phil carved this vineyard from the rocky hillside in 1989 and grafted it from cuttings of Martini Clone Zinfandel from the Monte Rosso Vineyard. This head trained vineyard, farmed organically since inception 27 years ago embodies both the history and future of wine growing in Sonoma Valley.”
—Sam Coturri, Vintner
Signature Sonoma Valley returns April 6-8, 2018. Mark your calendars now to join us for this truly legendary wine experience. Until then, be sure to read our full Signature Sonoma Valley review and to visit our interactive Signature Gallery for more great images from this year’s inaugural event.