Danville Express

Living - November 23, 2007

The Wine Guy: Finding Serenity

by Gregory Peebles

2005 Brassfield Estate Winery

"High Serenity Ranch" Pinot Grigio

(High Valley Appellation)

(BevMo! - Danville, $12.99)

Located in Clearlake Oaks and nestled in a mountainous valley 1,800 feet above sea level, Brassfield Estate Winery resides in California's newest A.V.A. (American Viticultural Area) - High Valley. Contrary to California's two most famous winemaking valleys, Napa and Sonoma, High Valley has an east-to-west orientation. The region's geology makes for wide-ranging temperature variations and unique soil compositions. Established in August 2005, this appellation is only one mile wide by five miles long.

High Serenity Ranch, purchased by Jerry Brassfield in 1973 and found in High Valley's western half, was once a sprawling 1,600-acre cattle ranch and wildlife preserve. The cattle have now been replaced by grape vines and a modern wine production facility. Thankfully, the myriad of wildlife still remains. Subsequent land purchases have expanded Mr. Brassfield's holdings to 2,500 acres.

Among the 16 varietals found on Brassfield Estate's 250 planted acres is Pinot Grigio. Winemaker Kevin Robinson produced just over 5,000 cases of this wine in '05.

Its colors are pure and straightforward. Bright shades of wheat and straw dominate while being accompanied by the faintest suggestion of pale green.

Without question, the wine's strongest feature is its fantastic array of aromas. The enticing fragrances of exotic fruits, perfume-y wisteria and honeysuckle, earthy flint and wet river stone are wonderful.

Sadly, the palate is one-dimensional and underwhelming. Both its acid level and flavor profile (citrus, green apple and mineral) are extremely understated. Typical of the varietal in this price category, the finish is quite rapid.

Should you wish to give Brassfield Estate's Pinot Grigio a try, my suggestion would be to serve it as a light cocktail. As always, please trust your own palate to be the ultimate judge.

Have comments or questions about wine? Gregory Peebles, wine industry professional and East Bay resident, can be contacted at caledoniawine@sbcglobal.net.

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