Wine writer Jim Rawe features our 2009 Mossback Cabernet Sauvignon in today’s Off the Vine column in the Bradenton Herald:
Take a tour of just about any winery and you will learn just how important both the local surroundings and the community are to the daily operations, as well as to the finished product that is released from each vintage. The 2009 Mossback Chalk Hill Cabernet Sauvignon is no exception. This wine is a blend of 77 percent Cabernet Sauvignon and 23 percent Merlot produced from Russian River Valley fruit that comes from the heart of Sonoma County, Calif.
This Mossback Cabernet has the aroma of chocolate-covered cherries with overtones of freshly crushed black pepper, followed by the flavor of ripe blackberry with a somewhat earthy finish. Interestingly enough, the term “Mossback” used to refer to a person who worked in the vineyards from sunrise to sunset, and the wineries proprietors — John and Lane Giguiere — make wines to this day that encompass this same hard-working philosophy.
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When two shiny new red Kabota four-wheelers are parked in front of the winery, pure instinct compels a joy ride. Ok, joy ride is a little strong. These new vehicles are a far cry from the glossy magazine pictures of sleek, dirt-crusted racing bikes performing wheelies in the desert. Picture an oversized golf cart, with seat belts, driven by two elderly winery owners on a tour of their property in the Dunnigan Hills.
150 acres of the Matchbook ranch are undeveloped rolling hills. Current plans are to plant as much as possible into grapevines in spring 2013. The Kabota heist was to find out how much of the property is plantable. The discovery: about half. What looks like rolling hills from the road is actually a view across the top of the hills. The draws that run through the property carve steep canyons 100 feet deep at the eastern edge of the ranch. The view from the bottom of these canyons is quite spectacular. In late summer, the walls of golden grass topped by clear, blue sky give sudden insight into the University of California colors. The soil at the low point is heavy clay, the grass is thick and a small stream bed has developed at the center. The landscape completely changes at the top. The grass is thin, in some areas bald; the soil is mostly red gravel with outcroppings of sizable rocks. Not a lot is growing at the top. And that is where the vineyards will be planted.
This part of Matchbook ranch has not been farmed for over 20 years. The soil has been compacted from years of grazing livestock; new streams and watersheds have formed a natural path through the estate. 80 acres of hilltops surround the winery and while we love the view of the soft dry hills against the rugged Coast Range Mountains, we need the chardonnay for our expanding winery. The stream beds and canyon walls will be left alone to continue forming new wetlands. Groundwork begins in October.