California rendition of classic european varietals
Skylark Wine Company is collaboration between Boulevard Restaurant wine directors John Lancaster and Robert Perkins. John and Robert have run the wine program at the acclaimed Boulevard Restaurant in San Francisco for the past fifteen years. During their tenure at Boulevard, they have built a close friendship, an inventory of wines from around the globe and a palate of tasting wines of the world from vintage to vintage. This partnership has created long-term relationships with the entire scope of the wine industry, from winemakers to vineyard managers to owners. With these relationships, their next logical progression was the realization of a dream: making fine wine from select vineyards in Northern California. While the original plan was simply a barrel, they jumped in with 14 barrels of Syrah from the 2002 harvest. Skylark Wine Company was formed.
“We strive to produce wines that crystallize our passion within each bottle. Because of our relationships with meticulous and respected grape growers, we have been able to produce wines of distinction and character that represent the best of what Northern California vineyards have to offer. We are proud of Skylark and hope to continue share these wines with family and friends, old and new."
2014 SKYLARK PINK BELLY ROSE of GRENACHE
If you haven’t found yourself on the rose train, the time to jump on is now. Trust us, being behind the curve is never good. Forget all those sugary white zinfandel nightmares, that was then – this is now. Dry, clean, refreshing, low alcohol, rose is the absolute summer quaffer. Pink Belly is produced from Grenache Noir grapes farmed for Rose by Kurt Asher at his vineyard in Mendocino. We make it the traditional and old-fashioned way: whole-cluster pressed into a tank, just enough skin contact to achieve that pale, salmon color and then off to its stainless steel home. No wood, no nonsense, ready to go. So, make that backyard table like a Paris bistro in the summer - all pink, all the time.
Pale salmon color. The aromas feature the fruits of summer: cherry, strawberry and watermelon, with an tntriguing floral note of spring flower blossoms. Truly the ultimate summer wine. The palate sensation is of freshly crushed red fruits, with a dollop of sunshine and a snap of refreshing acidity.
450 CASES PRODUCED
2014 SKYLARK PINOT BLANC, ORSI VINEYARD, MENDOCINO
It hardly seems possible that this is our tenth vintage with Bernie Orsi’s Pinot Blanc outside Hopland in Mendocino. There is such a comfort level there now with the experience of time, vintages and Peter Chevalier so expertly managing this vineyard. With a nod to the vagaries of climate change, we know each year we will produce something unique and special. Like a trusted old friend, this Pinot Blanc vineyard always delivers. The 2014 is totally reflective of the vintage: plenty of fruit and texture, full of life, juicy, age-worthy and precocious. The methodology stayed the same: whole-cluster pressed, racked into Mueller stainless steel barrels, stirred once with no malo and no manipulation.
Lemon-lime color profile. Classic Orsi Vineyard Pinot Blanc aromatics of zesty green apple, roasted lemon and citrus, then complicated by pear blossom, peach and key lime pie. The palate shows the beautiful juxtaposition between the fleshiness of the vintage and the natural framing acidity. Juicy and ripe, yet with just the right amount of tanginess to make that second sip unavoidable.
475 CASES PRODUCED
2013 SKYLARK RED BELLY
48% Niemi Vineyard Carignane , Redwood Valley
When we met Alvin Tollini in 2006 and first walked through his 60+ year old heritage Carignane vines in Redwood Valley, we knew then that even before harvesting a single grape we had found something special. This old vine Carignane provides the singularity to Red Belly, our ode to the sun-drenched South of France. 15 months in French cooperage, no new barrels
28% Lawer Vineyard Syrah, Knights Valley Sonoma
The Lawer Vineyard is tucked back in the remote and rugged Knights Valley appellation, just over the Napa county line in Sonoma. It is an amphitheater shaped vineyard planted on volcanic rock to the Rhone clone 887. We farm the top hillside of Block II, where the vineyard gently slopes down to the road below. This is a masculine site, providing fruit with black as night color and powerful, dark fruit characters. This is our seventh bottling of Lawer, all of which received an outstanding rating from Robert Parker in The Wine Advocate.
24% Sawyer Vineyard Grenache, Mendocino
We started working with Charlie Sawyer’s Grenache Vineyard in 2007, which sits above Ukiah at about 1000 feet elevation. With each vintage we’ve been able to better integrate the mountain fruit tannins and emphasize the silk and satin Grenache character this vineyard produces. In 2012, we picked at first light on October 12, then fermented in a small, open top tank with 10% whole clusters. After sixteen days on the skins with alternating punchdowns and pumpovers, it was racked to seasoned French cooperage.
Deep garnet color. High-toned florals of lavender and violet intermixed with the earthy components of sous bois and garrigue. Black cherry, red raspberry and plum lend aromatic complexity. The 2013 is all about suppleness and balance on the palate, with the lush and suave fruit folding into a finish where bakers
FORTY BARRELS 1000 CASES PRODUCED
2009 RODGERS CREEK VINEYARD SYRAH, SONOMA COAST
One of the most challenging and rewarding vineyards we work with is the Sonoma coast site Rodgers Creek. It is perched on a ridge just outside the Petaluma Gap, where ocean breezes roll through vineyards with cool temperatures and salty air. Several sommelier friends have picked this wine blind as Northern Rhone due to its high-toned, floral and peppery aromatics. While the clonal selection does come from Cote Rotie, the fruit is definitely rooted in California. This site has its own uniqueness, which is shown in the magical interplay of fruit and spice.
Opaque in the glass. Textbook RCV high-toned floral notes of lavender, violet, black raspberry and sweet white pepper. At once cerebral and visceral, with the textured fruit juicy and engaging, complimented by the complexities of spices sprinkled throughout.
THIRTEEN BARRELS 325 CASES PRODUCED
2010 GRENACHE, MENDOCINO
There is something so inherently enjoyable about the 2010 Sawyer Vineyard Grenache. It has all those characteristics of Grenache that we love: medium-bodied, juicy and textured, loads of fruit and suave tannins. Looking back, 2010 was a cool, nerve-wracking harvest, in fact the coldest summer in California in fifty years. With high inherent acidity from the cool weather, we waited for flavors to come through in the vineyard before picking on October 22. With very small berries and clusters, we carefully added a small percentage of stems for 19 days on the skins. We then transferred to seasoned French cooperage for twenty months before bottling. The idea was that the ripe fruit and high acidity in time would find commonality, each one complimenting the other. Time on the cork has confirmed this, and we are very excited about the present and future of this vintage.
This expression of Grenache is all about purity, ripeness, elegance and finesse. Aromas of black cherry, violet and bakers chocolate. On the palate, the cherry fruit is ripe and expressive, textured and subtlety viscous, like a creamed cherry flecked with cocoa nibs. Sleek and refined, with structure and ripeness in deft balance.
NINE BARRELS 225 CASES PRODUCED
2012 LAS AVES
The soul and inspiration for ‘Las Aves’ lies in the Priorat region of Spain, where some of the world’s finest Grenache and Carignane are grown. Syrah is alo a very important varietal there, with Bordeaux varietals rounding out the most important red grape plantings. For ‘Las Aves’ we culled out a special lot of Carignane to blend with Syrah, Grenache and Cabernet Sauvignon. The idea was to create a more structured blend than Red Belly, deeply pitched with dark berry fruit and that Mediterranean incense that wafts through the hills of Priorat. Las Aves is an ode to and inspired by that beautiful region and its striking wines.
33% Syrah, 25% Cabernet Sauvignon, 21% Carignane and 21% Grenache.
Ruby hue. Aromatics of crème de cassis, plum, and red raspberry with those subtle Mediterranean savory aromas of rosemary, thyme, lavender and marjoram. The palate echoes the aromatics, with the fine-grained tannins woven into the California fruit extract. The 2012 Las Aves is best right now with an aerative decant and will evolve gracefully for the next decade.
THIRTEEN BARRELS 325 CASES PRODUCED
2012 ‘Alondra’ Chardonnay, Middleridge Ranch, Mendocino
Chardonnay is one varietal that can excel in a variety of different elevage regimes. Visit Chablis and you won’t see much oak. In Puligny-Montrachet you will see plenty of barrels and plenty of new barrels. There are so many factors involved in that ‘do you or don’t you’ decision it is difficult to list them all. What is clear is that Chardonnay is very malleable, and putting a high percentage of new oak on it clearly alters the outcome. Our plan, being in California, has always been to pass on the oak and look for pristine Chardonnay characters in the juice. We believe this philosophy is most successful with our vineyard. Middleridge Ranch lies in a north to south valley just east of Hopland and the Russian River in Mendocino County. With warm days and cool nights, it is an excellent microclimate to grow Chardonnay grapes. This sweet spot of the vineyard was picked at first light on September 15 under ideal conditions. Vinification here remains the same: no oak or malolactic fermentation. The goal remains the same as well, to produce California Chardonnay without heaviness, that delivers aromatic complexity and fruit profile in a clean format.
Penetrating aromas of green apple, lemon custard and subtle tropical fruits of guava and melon. The palate is sleek and detailed, with just enough flesh and mid-palate presence for pinpoint balance with the natural acidity. The fruit gains momentum into an expansive finish, while remaining graceful and elegant.