#Wine: The Side Gig

June 12, 2013 at 8:44 pm

You might have noticed that I have been a bit MIA the last couple of months.  Now I realize that I said that I would be more devoted to my vino bloggie-blog this year and I was…but then life got in the way.  I work a pretty busy day job, as many of you know, conducting applied research for cancer drug development at a large biotech.  I do all of the wine stuff on the side, which includes ambassador positions, education, consulting, and other writing gigs.

All of that adds up to a pretty fun and busy life, not to mention fantastic quality time with the Lady, of which and whom, I absolutely adore.   Recently my side-life got even busier (but healthier), by getting pulled into triathlons by my bro in-law.  I competed in my first USAT sanctioned adult race earlier this year, throwing up a 03:45:02 time in what many people consider to be the most difficult Olympic length triathlon, at Wildflower 2013.  Whew…that’s a lot of moving parts!  But OK enough whining, let’s talk about other people with side gigs, namely, insanely talented winemakers that produce wine under their own, tiny production labels.

Kale Anderson - courtesy Pahlmeyer

 Kale Anderson is a rather quiet, young winemaker, who’s actions with wines tend to speak much louder than himself.  He has rocketed up the ladder of wine, with significant stints at (a personal favorite) Terra Valentine, then Cliff Lede & Poetry, and now as Director of Winemaking at the highly esteemed Pahlmeyer.  With all of these accolades, particularly in the realm of fantastic, bold, and balanced Cabs, it might come as a surprise that Kale has gone a different route for his own label, Kale Wines (FBWL).  Yet, once you open Anderson up and get the quietly passionate man to discuss his wines, you find out that he has a deep appreciation for Rhone varietals and French dry rosé.  Indeed, when one works your day job making fantastic Bordeaux and Burgundian varietals, why not head off after a long 12+ hour day and make wines that charge your palate in a different, and yet familiar and most personally delicious fashion?

Kale Sonoma County Kick Ranch Vineyard Home Run Cuvée

Kale Wines throws down tremendously good wines, fully focused around Syrah. My family and I had a fortunate opportunity to sit down for a private picnic tasting with Anderson earlier this year, courtesy of the his label.  The three reds are just stunning…balanced, bigger, yet filled with great smooth mouthfeel, deep and dark fruit complexity, all balanced by the more savory herbs and secondary notes.  Each of the three are a true triumph of terroir and price point.  I can’t (obviously) say enough about these wines and yet…they’re his side job!  The dry rosé features very bright and juicy acidity, balanced with red fruit and citrus.  It was a rather delightful tasting, and we left loaded down with newly purchased wine.

Damien Georis - courtesy Georis Winery

Damien Georis is a man that I’ve written about a number of times over the years.  I first met him a few years ago when he became head winemaker at one of of favorite wineries of all time, Georis Winery (WL) (surprisingly…no relation). For the last 8 years, Georis has been making some of his own delicious vin under the label Madeleine Wines, named for his dearly loved grandmother. Inspired by his beloved Loire Valley, he fashions medium-bodied, distinctly elegant, complex, and balanced reds from Cabernet Franc and whites from Chenin Blanc. Earlier this year, we had a chance to again catch up with Georis and his delightful girlfriend Kierstyn Bachmann-Berlin at the Georis Winery sister Corkscrew Café, courtesy of Damien.

Both of the wines that we tried were wonderful representations of their varietal, each also garnering a WKBadgefor their high quality.  The bright acidity in both wines, balanced with their savory components, fruit flavors, and minerality just force them to happily scream for some accompanying food.

Madeleine Wines - Damien Georis

After five years of tasting these wines I can almost structure the wines’ aromas and flavors in my mind, Georis’ talent at extracting a sense of place and style from these grapes each year is truly phenomenal.  I anxiously await trying his wines each year, all done during extra time after his day (and night) job at Georis Winery.  His wines are delicious.

The takeaway?  Side gigs can be healthy, successful, and fun; but perhaps most importantly: a necessary complement to your daily life.  Cheers!

Kale Wines (FB, WL):

Kale Sonoma County Rosé 2011

Kale Russian River Valley Samantha’s Vineyard Syrah 2008

 Kale Mendocino County Alder Springs Vineyard Spirit Rock Syrah 2009

Color: Deeper violet core, medium violet edges.

Nose: Super good, meaty and tobacco-spiced nose, with violet florals and dark black fruit.

Palate: Very cool and smooth mouthfeel here, with juicy black and red fruit. It is very balanced, with spiced toast and cherry tobacco out into the long finish, showing great acidity and tannin: OldWorldWK.

 Kale Sonoma County Kick Ranch Vineyard Home Run Cuvée 2009

Color: Darker ruby core, with light ruby edges.

Nose: Dried, sweet tobacco, with juicy and ripe blackberry and sweeter toast near the rim.

Palate: Very good mouthfeel here again from this winemaker, with juicy and ripe black cherry. This is all followed by a flinty and minerally, black fruited, earthy and toasted finish. Also shows a good, fine grip: OldWorldWK.

Madeleine Wines (WL):

 Madeleine Monterey L’Arsouille Chenin Blanc 2011

Color: Lighter straw yellow in color, with clear edges.

Nose: Big and bright Meyer lemon here, complemented by a briny minerality, and more floral notes of peach blossoms and fruit.

Palate: Very good, with great complexity for this varietal in the New World. It is light-bodied, with a zesty acidity that refreshes all of that pitted and citrus from the noise with the same seaside saline minerality. A wonderful expression of Chenin Blanc: OldWorldWK.

 Madeleine Paicines Chapitre V – La Pianiste Cabernet Franc 2009

Color: Darker violet and garnet here, with ruby highlights and edges.

Nose: Very good and complex here, with fresh garden herbs and spices of anise, lavender, and rosemary. Then black olive comes in, followed by deep and ripe, yet still bright, cherry and earthier black fruit.

Palate: Also very good here, with great balance between the earthy and savory flavors, complex ripe fruit, silky tannin, and juicier acidity. All of those herbs are present here as well, showing off clove tobacco and cigar box, along with the raspberry, black cherry, and black and red currant fruit. It finishes very long and with great acidity, showing some earth and cigar box again here, as well. An outstanding effort: AwesomeWK.

Ward Kadel - @drXeNo is the founder of Vinopanion wine blog, the West Coast Ambassador & Staff Blogger for WineLog.net and Le Wine Buff for Bordeaux.com (CIVB). He will try any and all wines and tends to write about the parts of his life that include wine...like virtually all of it! He and his wife grew up in Napa and Sonoma and they still live in the Napa Valley. View Ward's WineLog and check out the wines he's recommended with his WKBadges. Follow him on Twitter and Like Vinopanion on Facebook. Contact him: "Ward at WineLog.net". Ward happily accepts samples but does not guarantee a review, positive or negative.

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