All Columns in Alphabetical Order

Thursday, September 1, 2016

See the World Through Rose Colored Glasses with Judge Palmer's 2014 Rose of Malbec, Blau Vineyard Knights Valley, Sonoma County Recommended by Whom You Know!

Normally when we think pink, we think Hallak, however, when we prefer to view the world through rose-colored glasses, we will now think of Judge Palmer, who make all fine wine enthusiasts proud to be American (or just wish they were...)!  The Judge Palmer Hit Parade on Whom You Know continues with a wine that puts us in the pink:

2014 Rose of Malbec, Blau Vineyard Knights Valley, Sonoma County.
We recommend it!
Previously on Whom You Know, we loved two of their other wines:
The rich ripeness of the deep sophistication of strawberry notes we detected elevated not only our mood but also the taste levels involved in the pure simplicity of crabcakes, crudites, and sliders for summer.  
What would the summer be without a glorious chilled Rose? A delicate Rose carries the first breath of Spring into a languid Summer like a beacon of brilliance on your palate. 

Knights Valley, in Sonoma, lives a protected and proverbial blessed existence: one that we would like you all to experience through your rose wine by Judge Palmer, wherever you choose to sip around the world. Within the shadow of Mt. St. Helena, the loamy and volcanic soil yields grapes that astound the world of oenophiles regularly. This piquant Rose would lend itself to any cocktail hour, with the proper cheese board. Or with grilled asparagus.  Taste the glory of a summer’s day, delight in The Judge and his superb taste in winegrapes as he sips his glass from above with you. We are so incredibly impressed with Judge Palmer, and specifically the business sense and talents of his grandson and his grandson's friend!

2014 Judge Palmer Rosé of Malbec

Blau Vineyard
Knights Valley, Sonoma County

Vineyard: As you drive from Calistoga in Northern Napa across the county line into Sonoma's Knights Valley, the first vines you see belong to Blau Vineyard. Protected from Pacific Ocean influences more than other Sonoma County growing regions, the warmer climate, slightly higher elevation, and volcanic soils here all combine to create a fertile hunting ground for Bordeaux varietal wines that are savory, mineral-driven, and full of character. Malbec is the primary focus for the ageless Bill Blau, and is planted on the prime hillside spots to attract sunshine and drain away excess moisture.

Vintage: The third straight year of drought triggered much stress for vineyard owners, but generally contributed to fantastic quality wines. A warm dry winter caused the vines to start their annual life cycle ahead of schedule, but aside from some wind, the spring was free of major weather. All the grape varieties seemed to ripen at once, and the pace in the winery at crush was hectic, but luckily the cooler than normal August brought us an average size crop of ripe grapes with beautifully balanced acids.

Winemaking: Our Malbec from Blau Vineyard was destemmed into one open-top tank, where it soaked on the skins for a day before a small saignée was done into a stainless steel for a bit of rosé. The rosé fermented with its native yeast and aged sur lie in stainless steel for one year. It underwent a partial malolactic fermentation, and was blended with a small amount of Sauvignon Blanc and filtered before bottling. The result is a uniquely earthy rosé with bright fruit and an intriguing combination of richness and raciness.

Judge Palmer Wine Co. was founded by friends and winemakers Palmer Emmitt and Michael Scorsone. About twelve years ago, Palmer and Michael were introduced through a mutual friend. At this time Michael had been making wine in Napa Valley for several years – after initially graduating from the Culinary Institute of America and working as a chef, he fell in love with wine and moved to Napa Valley to pursue winemaking. Palmer was a wine lover who was working in the film industry in Los Angeles, and meeting Michael and learning more about the winemaking process from him spurred his interest in wine from hobby to obsession and later profession. Palmer took classes at night to become certified as a sommelier and then a few years later moved to wine country to earn his MBA in Wine Business from Sonoma State University.

Upon moving to wine country, Palmer reconnected with Michael and the two began collaborating on the project that would become Judge Palmer. Through Michael’s industry contacts they were able to purchase Cabernet Sauvignon grapes from the premier grape grower in Napa Valley – Andy Beckstoffer – and one of his most prestigious sites, the Beckstoffer Georges III Vineyard, for their first vintage in 2011. In subsequent years, additional vineyard sites in Alexander Valley and Knights Valley, both in Sonoma County, were added so that they could produce Sauvignon Blanc and Malbec wines equaling the quality of the Napa Cabernet.

When it came time to bottle the first wines and name the brand, Michael and Palmer mulled over many possible names but settled on one that combined their deep connection with family and their philosophy on winemaking. Palmer’s grandfather James Palmer had for many years served as a judge in Placerville, California (aka Hangtown, a historic gold rush site), and when Palmer said the words “Judge Palmer” out loud, they looked at each other and knew they had found the name. In addition to the familial inspiration, the brand name and imagery evoke the parallel between the judge’s role in a courtroom and how Michael and Palmer approach winemaking – natural, authentic, transparent and with minimal intervention.

After the first few years of toiling away in the cellar and waiting for the first barrels to mature, the business officially launched in 2015 with the opening of their winery in Healdsburg, California and the release of their first wines. In the short period of time since then, they have grown their wine club substantially and secured distribution in Texas, Florida and Tennessee, with several more states to be added in the coming months. Their current annual production is about 1500 cases, up from just 200 in their first vintage 2011, and they hope to grow to 3000 or so in the coming years – staying small enough to remain true to their vision of small-lot artisan winemaking from uniquely distinct single vineyard sites and maintaining a personal connection to each bottle of wine and each customer.

Palmer and Michael now also produce wine under a second label called “Domenica Amato” named for Michael’s grandmother who was born in Sicily and emigrated to the US from Italy in 1966 along with Michael’s father and grandfather. The Domenica Amato wines are made in extremely small quantities and are sold only to members of the Emmitt-Scorsone Wine Club. Pinot Noir and Chardonnay from the cool climate Sonoma Coast are the main focus for these wines, but the label also allows Michael and Palmer room to experiment with varieties and styles that are apart from the norm. They are meant to be enjoyed with your loved ones around the Sunday dinner table.

Judge Palmer brand motto from back label:
The duty of a judge is to maintain order and ensure that justice is done while remaining fair and impartial. We feel that the role of the winemaker should be the same – an expert yet unbiased observer who allows the vineyard, varietal, and vintage to testify for themselves in the finished wine. Try a bottle with a jury of your peers.

Judge Palmer Mission Statement:
We believe there's a lot of bullshit in the world of wine these days. Our approach is to be honest and straightforward in the way we make our wines and deal with all of our customers and partners – just the way my grandfather the small town judge would've done it.

So you won't find us name-dropping, boasting, embellishing or obfuscating. You might find us pontificating, because we are deeply passionate about our work and feel there is something special about artisan winemaking that can't be accurately described in only a few words.

Our Bordeaux varietal wines come from both sides of the Napa-Sonoma border, featuring vineyards with unique character owned by people that share our values. We try to let each wine be what it wants to be, expressing the virtues of each site without letting our own stylistic bias interfere.
We encourage you to break from the herd mentality, eschew the latest trends, and taste our wines with an open mind – you be the judge. We think the honesty and passion with which we make them will shine through and resonate.

Try a bottle with a jury of your peers.
Palmer Emmitt & Michael Scorsone
Owners - Winemakers - Cellar Rats

Back to TOP