CROCKER STARR WINES FROM ST.HELENA
BOUTIQUE WINEMAKER PUTTING OUT HIGH QUALITY WINES
West Hollywood(Spiritsman)8/16/16/–I had not heard of these wines before meeting the winemaker Pam Starr, but if passion and dedication mean anything then they will be around for quite some time. At a winemaker luncheon at AOC in West Hollywood. I tried the new Sauvignon Blanc, the 2013 Casali and the Cabernet Franc. The key here is small case production that is supported by a loyal wine club following for this Oakville operation The 2015 Sauvignon Blanc has been in the planning stage for fifteen years, and with a case production of 1200 cases and a retail price of $34, no surprise it is close to being sold out. The 2015 harvest was high in quality but low in yield following a warm and dry winter. An uneven spring meant similar results with the grapes, battling against the constant drought however resulted in a 75% water capture to help the wines. This wine is juicy and ripe enough to compare favorably with the New Zealand wines that continue to dominate this segment of the market.
Fermentation consisted of 88% barrel and 12% concrete egg. Blender for this wine was associate winemaker David Sheffer. The flagship wine of the whole operation is the 2013 Cabernet Sauvignon which will be released in September, and with only 649 cases being produced, it will sell out quickly even at $120 a bottle. The vines are at least 37 years old, and the small batch fermentation lasts 20 months in mainly French Oak. This is a beautifully balanced wine that has power, balance and elegance.
The 2013 vintage was an early harvest with a long hang time which allows the grapes ample time to develop color and flavor. The result is a wine that felt very classy with its undercurrent of vanilla, rosemary and blackberry pie.
Of the Cabernet Franc’s the 2011 version was the one that stood out, maybe because the growing season is now considered a real winemakers vintage. It was the coldest and wettest growing season in thirty years, and the actual harvesting took only 2 days as opposed to the normal 3-4 weeks, so yields were understandably low. The vines were 19 years old at the time and grapes were 97.5% Franc and 2.5% Malbec .Case production was a measly 559 and this is a wine to get hold of if you can to enjoy the flavors of black raspberry, nutmeg, jasmine tea and a crushed violet and rose potpourri. Even less cases (450) of the 2004 Cabernet Franc were produced from “teenager vines,” i.e. vines that are mere youngsters being about 14 years old, and at a retail price of $80 still an exciting wine to check out.
To sum up, the Crocker Starr portfolio is one that deserves closer scrutiny if you are a collector or just a drinker who appreciates good wine.
Crocker Starr-PO Box 987, Saint Helena, CA 94574
287 S.Robertson Blvd, Beverly Hills, CA 90211