A Silver Oak And Twomey Cellars Preview

Twomey Merlot Soda Canyon Vineyard | Photo from Roberto Viernes

Twomey Merlot Soda Canyon Vineyard | Photo from Roberto Viernes

I recently was privileged to attend a preview tasting of the upcoming releases of Silver Oak and Twomey Cellars. These wines are not yet on the market, but will be soon. Silver Oak Winery needs no introduction, and its Cabernet Sauvignon will be released to a thirsty public Aug. 2. The Twomey Cellars program, which was begun to explore the Duncan family’s passion for Sauvignon Blanc, Pinot Noir and Merlot, has surpassed many people’s expectations in terms of quality and style. The Sauvignon Blanc and Pinots will be in Hawaii by the end of May, with the Merlot coming in September.

Here are my notes from the tasting to give you a preview of what to expect when you see them in stores and restaurants.

The 2013 Twomey Sauvignon Blanc ($26) comes from four different estate-owned California vineyards in Calistoga, Santa Rosa, Russian River and Oakville, right next to the Silver Oak winery. It is a blend of three different fermentation techniques. One third is barrel-fermented in oak puncheons, another third is in stainless steel tanks, and the last third is in small, stainless steel drums.

Daniel Baron, director of winemaking at Silver Oak and Twomey Cellars, says the steel drums gives the benefit of controlling temperature, as well as better proportional contact with the lees without any oxidation or wood influence. It is whole-cluster pressed, and about 8 percent of it is from the little-used Sauvignon Musquee clone. It has an explosive aroma with tons of citrus notes, with stronger fruit aromas than the 2012. It is beautifully intense on the palate, with full flavors – loud, even. Baron suggests it with oysters or any shellfish, and I couldn’t agree more.

Twomey produces no less than four Pinot Noirs, each of them a unique expression of the appellation from which they originate. The 2013 Sonoma Coast ($45) version comes from the Cornella vineyard in Forestville and Gap’s Crown. These two vineyards have a myriad of clonal selections, which the owners believe gives the wine even more complexity. It has a nice, mild, not overpowering nose. Bright and easy red fruit show on the midpalate, with a finish showing just a shade of vanilla and very elegant tannins. The 2012 Russian River ($45) is altogether richer, more verbose with warmer and riper red fruits: cherries and strawberries galore. It has a touch more structure and warmth on the finish. It is easily likeable, and perhaps the most ample of the stable. This is sourced from the Westside Road Twomey, Cornella and Bailey vineyards with a good dollop of Dijon, Pommard, 114 and 667 clones. The 2012 Anderson Valley ($45) is the darkest of the lot. The fruit here hails from Monument Tree and Ferrington vineyards, two top sites in Mendocino. Ferrington Vineyard is home to the rare Wadenswil Clone 2A, which give the wine a good backbone of freshness. This is the most floral, with notes of violets and maybe even roses. The fruit is more dark-skinned than red. The structure is solid but not hard. It has beautiful potential. The 2012 Bien Nacido ($45) bottling might have the highest potential, however. The fruit is sourced from the Bien Nacido Vineyards’ old vines, dating back to the early ’70s. Again, the winery prefers a mélange of clones rather than single clones for diversity and complexity – and this wine provides it. Very floral, spiced with cardamom tea nuances, lightly savory with the fruit still reserved in the nose, but it gushes onto the palate. Black and Bing cherries and wild strawberries with a very long finish foretell a bright and shiny future for this wine. The winery served some delec-table salmon grilled over open fire in banana leaves with a chimichurri sauce – a terrific pair.

The 2010 Twomey Merlot ($55) is perhaps the best I have tasted. Did I mention that one of Daniel Baron’s previous winemaking gigs was at Petrus? In any case, this vintage has about 4 percent Cabernet Franc in the blend. The nose is truly explosive, with flowers and fruit: plums, cassis, currants – all fresh and plump. It is medium-bodied with a smooth texture, guiding the palate to notes of dark chocolate and a touch of vanilla. This wine is a great food wine, and at dinner we had some 2009 with spit-roasted lamb – yummy!

Alas, the winery has asked me not to spill the beans yet on the 2010 Silver Oak Alexander Valley Cabernet Sauvignon. It is still an early sample and will not be released until next year.

Isn’t anticipation part of the pleasure?

Roberto Viernes is a master sommelier.

Twitter: @Pinotpusher