Our Chardonnay grapes come from a small vineyard in the Santa Cruz Mountains where the soil, slope, and sea breeze contribute to a complex flavor profile. All vintages 2013 and earlier were made from the prized Corton-Charlemagne clone, cultivated in only one place in California. This clone is known for it's deep golden color, and rich mouth feel. All vintages 2014 and later are made from a new clone from the same vineyard, as all the Corton-Charlemagne vines were torn up after the 2013 harvest due to a virus.
Our Chardonnay is usually made in small batches such that one sells out just as the next is released, meaning that usually only one is available for sale at any given time. However, we almost always have one on our weekend tasting list, so stop by and give it a try!
2015 Santa Cruz Mountains Chardonnay
12.4% Alcohol by Volume
After a low temperature fermentation, for preservation of primary fruit characteristics, this wine was aged in a combination of new and once-used French oak. It is 100% malolactically fermented, and aged on the lees with regular batonnage before being fined, and only minimally filtered in order to preserve the flavors from each of these processes.
The result is a rich, golden wine evocative of traditional Burgundian-style Chardonnay, with ripe fruit flavors including pineapple and apricot. The sur lie aging adds a subtle creaminess, while the French oak lends it a delicate smoothness and the slightest aroma of marshmallow and vanilla.
This Chardonnay is light and smooth enough to pair with white fish or crab dishes, but also bold enough for broiled salmon or roasted chicken, and pairs delightfully with a variety of mild cheeses. We recommend serving slightly below room temperature for best expression of flavor.
When we first decided to plant vines, we had our soil and climate analyzed to find the perfect grape variety for our vineyard. As it turned out, the unique combination of rocky soils and bay-influenced weather is ideal for the closely related Cabernet Sauvignon and Cabernet Franc varieties, both of which are well known for their contribution to the classic blends of Bordeaux. And while we could plant other varieties, why bother? It would just take away vineyard space from the Cabernet, and the results wouldn't be as good.
Our Cabernet Franc is planted in the northernmost corner of the vineyard in the highest elevation and poorest soils. From that adversity comes a small yield of exceptional grapes, showing time and time again that character develops from challenge.
2012 Estate Cabernet Franc
13.6% Alcohol by Volume
This was an extremely limited release, given that the vast majority of our 2012 Cabernet Franc grapes went into making a dessert wine. It spent over two years in French oak and has been evolving in the bottle since early 2015.
Aromas of plum, licorice, and pepper make for a strong opening for this wine, matched by a full-bodied mouthfeel full of smoky black fruit and a savory lingering finish.
Firstly, this was an intense year for our vineyard, so feel free to let this bottle breathe. Hit all the right notes by pairing this herbaceous wine with a braised pork with fennel and olives, or if you're looking for something with a little less preparation you can't go wrong with smoked gouda.
2013 Estate Cabernet Franc
13.6% Alcohol by Volume
Although historically used as a blending grape to soften and add its signature spicy aroma to other grape varieties, we have kept Cabernet Franc as the sole grape in this wine. It spent just over two years in new French oak, and is an excellent example of our estate style and vineyard.
This wine is a textbook Cabernet Franc, with rich aromas of baked strawberry, white and black pepper, and a little savory roasted bell pepper mixed in. It has a silky feel now, and if it is anything like our previous vintages, will continue to evolve for many years with a slowly lengthening soft, smoky finish.
Enjoy this wine with grilled beef or salmon, mushrooms, olives or smoked ham. Rosemary-centric roast pork emphasizes the earthiness in the wine and contrasts the strawberry nose, or it makes a simple and fun pairing with a nutty Asiago or Manchego.
2014 ESTATE CABERNET FRANC: Bottle Aging, Not Scheduled for Release
2014 ALEXANDER VALLEY CABERNET FRANC: Scheduled for Bottling Spring 2017
When we first decided to plant vines, we had our soil and climate analyzed to find the perfect grape variety for our vineyard. As it turned out, the unique combinaton of rocky soils and bay-influenced weather is ideal for the closely related Cabernet Sauvignon and Cabernet Franc varieties, both of which are well known for their contribution to the classic blends of Bordeaux. And while we could plant other varieties, why bother? It would just take away vineyard space from the Cabernet, and the results wouldn't be as good.
We actually have two separate vineyards in the East Bay Hills; one of which is visible from the winery and is planted with Cabernet Sauvignon and Cabernet Franc, the other of which, known as the Cinq Chevaux block, is about a half mile further up the hill and is planted with only Cabernet Sauvignon. The grapes from these two blocks have been blended, kept separate, aged the same, or treated differently depending on the year and the grand plans of Mark, our winemaker.
2013 Estate Cabernet Sauvignon
14.1% Alcohol by Volume
Less than 200 cases were produced of our Estate Cabernet in 2013. It was aged in new French oak barrels for just over two years and then bottle aged for several months before release. We released it a little younger than we typically do with our estate wines (we were sold out of everything!), so don't hesitate to lay this one down for a few months- or years!
This wine is bursting with blackberry, currant and plum complemented by ripe, bold tannins that create a decadent mouthfeel and long finish. Though we expect it to peak around 2020, that doesn't mean we don't love it now! Especially with the right pairing. Plus it will sell out long before then, so you have to plan ahead!
This is a hearty wine that deserves a hearty pairing. Try it with braised short ribs or beef tenderloin (especially with a fruit-based sauce, like blackberry!) if you're looking for a full, rich meal that's sure to impress. Or, if you're on the hunt for simpler fare; meatballs, sharp cheddar or aged Gouda make excellent matches.
2013 Estate Cabernet Sauvignon
Cinq Chevaux Block
13.3% Alcohol by Volume
These grapes were vinified in the same style as the above wine, with the only difference being the source of the grapes. Our Cinq Chevaux vineyard is just a half mile away from the winery, but the vines were planted at the same time, are the same clone, are close enough to have the same weather, so the only difference is the soil.
Despite being handled the same way, these two wines have such consistent, and consistently different, flavors, we believe we have isolated some of the notes specific to each site. Cinq Chevaux Cabernets have a more floral, fruity nose, a rich texture that evolves into a coffee-like earthiness, and a cranberry-cherry acidity that speaks to their ageability.
Paprika-seasoned chicken sauteed in brown sugar with mushrooms and onions is an easy match for this wine, or gorgonzola quiche for something a little different.
2014 ESTATE CABERNET SAUVIGNON: Bottle Aging, Not Scheduled for Release
2014 ESTATE CABERNET SAUVIGNON RESERVE: Bottle Aging, Not Scheduled for Release
A unique combination of factors exist in this hillside vineyard in the Santa Cruz Mountains that allows for the production of award-winning Merlot wines year after year. The perfect blend of sun exposure and ocean influence create a long growing season where the fruit ripens slowly with an excellent balance of acid and sugar. The resulting wines are consistently rich in flavor with good acidity and deep color.
2014 Santa Cruz Mountains Merlot
13.5% Alcohol by Volume
This vintage of Merlot , hand made in small batches as always, was barrel aged in new oak for a total of two years. It is our fifth vintage from this award-winning vineyard.
Everyone has that friend that "won't drink Merlot". Well, cover up the label and pour them a glass of this. Rich with ripe cherry, raspberry, blueberry, and a chocolately finish, this wine is much more than a stereotype. A subtle fruit and a friendly texture make it approachable and delicious now, but for a more smoky, layered offering with notes of tobacco and earth, try it in a few more years. This is not your mama's Merlot.
Lamb brings out the depth and earthiness of this wine, while the fruit forward palate and silky mouth feel make a rich pairing with cream-based sauces. Classic cheese pairings include Camembert, Gruyere and Pecorino Toscano.
"Montage" is a Big Dog Vineyards proprietary name we use for our red blends. Our vineyard was originally planted with Cabernet Sauvignon and Cabernet Franc with the intention of possibly blending the two, but we ended up liking both so much separately that we never tried a blend, until 2011 that is. When all was said and done after the 2011 harvest, there was only enough Cabernet Franc to fill 40% of a barrel, and thus was born the first Montage, a 60/40 Cabernet Sauvignon/Cabernet Franc blend.
Since then, we have experimented with a few different blends, staying in the Bordeaux grape family. Each year is a little different, according to what nature gives us, and what we think tastes best.
13.6% Alcohol by Volume
The blend is just a little different for this, the third vintage of our Montage. It is Merlot dominant, echoing the richness and body of a right-bank Bordeaux blend, with our estate Cabernet Sauvignon and Cabernet Franc blended in for heightened acid, structure, and aroma. All three of these wines spent twenty four months in French oak before blending and bottle maturation.
This blend has the soft mouthfeel and fruit and chocolate flavors typical of our Santa Cruz Mountains Merlot, accented by plummy, currant notes from our Cabernet Sauvignon and smoky pepper characteristics of our Cabernet Franc. It was released in February 2017, but will continue to open up for the next several years, hold on to a bottle or two of this one if you can stand to wait.
We love pairing this wine with pork loin for two reasons. Pork is an excellent companion to fruit-based sauces, so you can play up the fruitier aspects of the wine with a balsamic plum reduction, or a cherry glaze. Or, you can see a different, earthier, side of this of this wine's personality with a rosemary or thyme based recipe.
It is said that top quality Pinot Noir only grows in special pockets on the earth where particular combinations of soil and climate coax magic from this delicate grape. The Santa Cruz Mountains contain such a place, and this mountain vineyard garners top awards each year.
Our very first vintage of Pinot Noir was 2013, for which we used a blend of two different clones, Dijon and Pommard. We ended up liking the Pommard a little better, and the 2014 vintage and on are single clone.
2015 Santa Cruz Mountains Pinot Noir
12.0% Alcohol by Volume
With less than sixty cases produced, this wine is as rare as it is wonderful. After a cool fermentation, it spent eighteen months in a combination of new and used French oak to enhance notes of vanilla and spice, but also allow the crisp fruit to shine through.
Subtle aromas of cloves, brown spice and vanilla precede flavors of cranberry, strawberry and raspberry followed by a slight slate-like minerality, giving an overall effect similar to a holiday pastry.
You've probably already guessed from our description that we love this wine with Thanksgiving food! It is a sublime pairing for turkey, pumpkin, cranberry sauce, you name it! But you don't have to wait until November to enjoy it, try it with your favorite roast poultry recipe, or next time you're grilling portabellas.
Our Zinfandel grapes are sourced from a small, family-owned vineyard located in the acclaimed Templeton Gap sub-appellation of Paso Robles. The head-trained forty-five year old vines are now cultivated by third generation growers, and are strictly dry-farmed. This results in a smaller, but more intense, crop.
We are currently sold out of Zinfandel.
NORTH COAST BRUT
12.5% Alcohol by Volume
This is a méthode champenoise sparkling wine, meaning that it is made the same way as Champagne, with a second fermentation taking place in the bottle. The blend is 60% Chardonnay and 40% Pinot Noir, with less than nine grams of sugar added in the dosage making it a brut wine.
The just barely salmon color comes from the Pinot Noir, as do the notes of raspberry and cherry. The Chardonnay shines though with lemon and apple, with faint cream and brioche aromas characteristic of a traditional method sparkling wine. There is just enough fruitiness on the nose to make you think it might be sweet, but it is dry, with refreshing acidity and a mouthwatering finish.
The real question is, what can't you pair with this wine? Triple cream cheese is a no-brainer, as is caviar and blini. But if you're really looking for a treat, there is nothing like a glass of this sparkling stunner with a plate of freshly fried chicken and buttermilk waffles. Serve with maple syrup, honey mustard, or scallion gravy. Thank me later.
Vin Doux Naturels
"Vin Doux Naturel" means naturally sweet wine, and refers to a fortified wine whose sweetness comes from the sugar in the grapes. Similar to the way Port is produced, we make our dessert wine by stopping the fermentation halfway through by adding grape spirits. This preserves some of the sugar from the grapes, and combines it with a heightened alcohol from the brandy. We then barrel age for a few years, allowing for complete integration of the brandy, and introducing new flavors like coffee and hazelnut.
We are currently sold out of dessert wine.