Monday, September 13, 2010

Landmark Vineyards: A John Deere Legacy

by Rob Bralow, Wine Post Editor

It's a tough life I lead. Seriously, sometimes the work I do is incredibly difficult and tedious, but someone has to do it. Like when I had to meet with the proprietor of Landmark Vineyards, Mary Calhoun and her daughter Damaris for lunch at Seasonal Restaurant and Weinbar. Mary and her husband, Michael Deere Colhoun, run the business of Landmark while Damaris, who has recently taken a part in the family business, is the Eastern Regional Sales Manager.

Both Mary and Damaris were lovely people, although perhaps a bit higher bred than myself. When we got to talking about their yearly vacations to Austria I knew I was a little bit out of my depths. What really engaged me was the family story about Landmark.

The winery was originally founded in 1974 in Windsor, Sonoma County. As Windsor began to be taken over by urban sprawl, the proprietor at the time moved the winery to a piece of land at the base of Sugarloaf Mountain in the Sonoma Valley. The proprietor at the time was Damaris Deere Ford, Michael Deere Colhoun's mother. Damaris was the great great granddaughter of the man who created the steel plow, Mr. John Deere. With such strong agricultural roots, Damaris convinced her son, Michael and his wife Mary to move from the east coast and join her as partners in the winery.

The wines that they are making are really excellent quality. Here are the wines I tasted below:

2007 Overlook Chardonnay - A nice soft fruited wine. There is a lot of good yellow apple and lemon citrus in the wine, which is especially expressive because of the happy absence of too much oak.

2008 Overlook Chardonnay - The current vintage on the market, this wine is a very different style from the 2007 Overlook. The wine has much more malolactic fermentation done, giving the wine a creamy and ripe sensation. The acid is not as noticeable and the flavors are more baked apple and pear.

2007 Damaris Reserve Chardonnay - Named for the first Damaris, this is a special wine. The flavor has a spicy note to it, somewhere between white spice and an almost almond flavor. Definitely some honeysuckle and tropical citrus fruits as well. A very impressive wine.

2007 Lorenzo Vineyard Chardonnay - A dry farmed vineyard in the Russian River Valley, here is a wine that is very expressive of where it comes from. There is a crispness to the wine of lemon citrus and some orange rind, with mineral notes and a slightly yeasty finish.

2008 Grand Detour Pinot Noir - Wow. Here is Pinot Noir. This wine is Sonoma Coast AVA and is sublime. A delicate floral aroma, with bright fresh red berries and a light minerality, a perfect drink and pairing wine. I wanted more when I tasted it, much much more...

2008 Steel Plow Syrah - This is an extremely young Syrah. The color was a violet and ruby, and there was a depth of rich bright red fruit. Definite structured and peppery, I want to taste this wine again after it has had some age.

Sometimes I just do not know how I get out of bed in the morning.

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