Dunne on Wine

Crew Wine Co. seeks to kick up its lineup

Crew Wine Co. is still devoted to high-value wines representative mostly of one grape, but the Giguiere family is kicking up the lineup with releases that speak more to pedigree, complexity and refinement.

The Dunnigan Hills provide grapes for most of the Crew wines, but the Giguiere family is tapping other regions with track records for doing especially well by particular grape varieties – the Russian River Valley for chardonnay and pinot noir, Chalk Hill in Sonoma County for cabernet sauvignon. Fruit from those appellations is pricey, so some wines under the winery’s Mossback label top out at $25 per bottle.

What’s more, John Giguiere has directed Crew winemaker Dan Cederquist to “ramp up” the richness, density and breadth of their wines, but without pushing grapes to be so ripe that the wines also intensify in alcohol. Cederquist is getting new tools to play with, such as racks with rollers that allow barrels to be rotated as the red wine inside ferments, a relatively rare practice in California.

The first wines to represent the rebooting are the initial releases of The Arsonist under the Matchbook brand. Two are chardonnays, a rich, citric and luscious 2012 released last year but still available ($22), and the about-to-be-released 2013, which is even denser, heavier, more deeply colored and creamier in mouth feel ($22).

The version of The Arsonist that most excites John Giguiere is the dry, juicy, plummy and finely structured 2012 Red Blend, an oddity for California in that 52 percent of its makeup is petit verdot, followed by substantial lots of cabernet sauvignon and merlot. The petit verdot is from the family estate, while the cabernet sauvignon was grown at Chalk Hill and the merlot in Lake County.

“Petit verdot might be the best grape out here in terms of wines for the American market. It has plenty of tannin and color and is broad and rich on the palate,” says John Giguiere.

Crew Wine Co. tasting room, 12300 County Road 92B, Zamora; 11 a.m.-4:30 p.m. daily. The Giguieres schedule a food truck on the grounds two weekends each month. www.crewwines.com.

Mike Dunne

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