The Reserve Room is Open!
Go Walkabout with the Winemaker!
Walkabouts have returned! Chris will be offering “walkabout” tours on Saturday and Sunday mornings at 10:30 am. Get behind the scenes with what we are doing in the vineyard and what is happening at the winery. The tour will conclude with a private sit down tasting of wines made from the different blocks to illustrate what we have seen in the vineyard. Discover how we utilize different farming methods to influence the wines being made. Also discover how different soils in the vineyard influence the type of wines being made. The walkabout is limited to 10 people, will take about 90 minutes and must be reserved in advance. Wear comfortable shoes and dress appropriately for warm (or wet) weather!
Call (707) 935-7221 or e-mail email@example.com to make a reservation. The cost is $20 per person ($10 for wine club members) and will be billed the day of the tour. 24 hours notice must be given for cancellations.
"Decarda" Tawny Port Release
Loxton featured as Tasting Room of the Week in Wine Country This Week Magazine!
Loxton is featured in Luxury Travel Advisor!
I’ve been getting a number of questions regarding the use of screwcaps and my plans for their future use.
My first wines were made in 1996 and I used premium corks. Over the years they have performed well, but there have been some inconsistencies, both with some failure, but more often with cork taint. These issues have led me to use 3 different cork companies in order to keep up with the best suppliers as the cork industry has progressed. I think that my failure rate is about the industry average of around 1% or so, but there have been some batches on some wines which had significantly higher problem rates. It turns out that I am particularly sensitive to the compound responsible for cork taint (TCA amongst others) and it may be that others who are less sensitive, or tasted in an environment where the wines are less scrutinizes (BBQ’s, parties, etc) would not have found a problem. This lack of consistency and the fact that I don’t have control of the situation has been very frustrating.
I briefly used synthetic corks on my Rose wine, meant to be consumed while still young, but these have issues with the wine oxidizing in the longer term. About 4 years ago I turned to screwcaps for the Rose and in the 4 years since, I’ve had just 1 bottle with an issue. This bottle leaked as the screwcap was improperly applied. Unfortunately, I can only dream about finding 1 off bottle in 4 years if I had been using natural cork. The facts are hard to get though, as it is often more of an emotional issue than scientific fact when it comes to cork versus screwcap. Based upon my experience with my own wines, I expanded use of screwcaps into the Chardonnay program with the ’08 wines and then added Zinfandel, Syrah and Pinot noir. The intent was to give my customers a wine that was consistent from bottle to bottle and with the taste that I indeed and that reflected my grapes, my barrels and my winemaking.
There are certainly issues with using screwcaps. These caps do not allow oxygen to pass and if the wine needs some air then I need to do this here at the winery while the wine is in barrel. This allows me the control where I manage the oxygen exposure rather than hoping that the random amount of oxygen permeating the cork will be the right amount (this oxygen permeability varies by a factor of 100 with high grade corks). This also means that while I normally do not decant wines, I have found that decanting red wines that have been bottled with a screwcap can help them open up and show a little better. Additionally, if the wine has a tendency to reduction (the smell of sulfides) then this is exacerbated with a screwcap. Knowing that I will be using a screwcap means that I need to avoid possible reduction issues caused by stressed yeasts and I need to deal with it if the issue arises. (Hoping that a random amount of oxygen will permeate the cork and stop this reduction is poor winemaking, not a justification for the use of corks rather than screwcaps). There are also technical issues regarding the bottling line methods for reliability of the seal, damage to the seal post bottling, and exclusion of air during bottling and these must all be addressed.
Looking back, I’ve been happy with the decision. It’s a huge relief being behind the tasting bar and opening a bottle of wine and knowing that I won’t be pouring a tainted wine that is going to make me look like a bad winemaker. Add in the fact that opening a bottle is so much easier and quicker when we have a line of people waiting for a new bottle is also a huge plus. Like any method, there will be issues and customers are assured that if there is something wrong, we will stand behind the product just as I always have if the wine were tainted by the cork. Left out of this discussion, though, is consumer perception issues should you take a wine with a screwcap to a dinner party and get a negative reaction. This perception is changing though and the screwcap is not just for cheap wines!
How are they tasting now?
Random notes on Loxton wines I’ve recently tasted.
2001 Chardonnay, Hawk Hill Vineyard, Russian River Valley
(tasted with the growers, Thanksgiving 2011)
Still in excellent condition! Color shows a little development and still has lovely fruit in aroma. The palate shows excellent richness and there is still a surprising amount of life. My first Chardonnay and still drinking really well.
2000 Zinfandel, Stonetree Vineyard, Sonoma County
(from Magnum, tasted after Holiday Open House, Nov. 2011)
Still with good color but has some onion skin browns. Aromas of pepper, licorice and bottle age. Palate shows lots of pepper, good acid balance and some tannin. A little past its peak, but still quite nice, these should be drunk up.
2003 Cabernet sauvignon, Buffalo Bluff Vineyard, North Coast
(tasted late January, 2012)
What a surprise. This is still a huge wine, opaque to the edge in color. Aromatically still a little shy, but shows very ripe Cabernet fruit and not much oak. The palate has excellent richness and viscosity, but it still has lots of fruit tannins. Should age for another 10 years, cork permitting. Needs a big steak and has lots of flavor.