Thursday, May 28, 2009

Serendipity at Lynmar Estate

The world of wine often graces me with the most wonderful and memorable moments.  It’s not always the wines, but the people.  Involvement with wine stirs a passion and zest for life not found in other industries.  I experienced one of those days last week when I stepped into the tasting room at Lynmar Estate in Sonoma Valley.  Typically, at most estates, you belly up to the bar, and methodically and joyfully, work your way through the portfolio taking as many notes as possible. Upon being greeted at Lynmar, which was founded by Lynn Fritz in 1990, I was immediately escorted to the patio under the beautiful California blue canopy.  I found a nicely positioned bench overlooking the meticulously manicured garden and vineyards.  Hospitality and culinary coordinator, Stacy Sheridan, graciously and enthusiastically served a lovely flight of white wines followed by another of red. This is the grand cru of work environments.

Many estates in Napa or Sonoma wine country have gloriously magnificent tasting facilities.  Unfortunately, the wines don’t always equal the show.  This is not the case at Lynmar. 

Lynmar winemaker and former winemaker at Flowers Vineyards and Winery, Hugh Chappelle (photo-left), incorporates a philosophy that allows the Pinot Noir and Chardonnay wines to reflect the unique terroir of the vineyards.  Elegance and harmony are trademarks of Chappelle produced wines. Despite a busy schedule, Hugh courteously stopped at my bench to offer his greetings and invite me back for a more in-depth tour.  This guy is also a lover of great olive oil.

Sustainability, biodynamic and organic farming practices are a devoted religion in this cool climate at Lynmar.  Therefore, any discussion of Lynmar must mention the head gardener, Michael Presley, the Kolbe Bryant or Lebron James of gardening.  Michael’s goal is to sustain all life needs within one mile of Lynmar (currently it’s ten).  This is hard for me to fathom given my sustainability universe is five continents and three oceans.

After listening to this articulate and passionate evangelist of biodynamic and organic farming discuss flax, white mulberry, living seed banks, compost-making chickens with orange egg yolks, vinegar, the mega outdoor pizza oven (I missed the party the night before), and the Laguna de Santa Rosa (the watershed habitat for a host of creatures), you are truly inspired and feeling better about the future of our plant.  Yet, Michael isn’t trying to change the whole world, only his.

This holistic attention to detail is part of the woven fabric of the Lynmar success and is essential to maintaining consistent quality from year to year, regardless of nature’s challenges.  Now, how about some wine?

Not many in California can produce a Chablis-styled Chardonnay.  The 2006 La Sereinite Chardonnay, named after the river flowing through the Chablis appellation in France, expresses minerality not often found in California Chardonnay.  The citrus, apricot and white peach presents refreshing acidity and length.

The 2006 Russian River Chardonnay illustrates how a top winemaker can produce a quality wine in a challenging growing season.  The higher humidity required careful and arduous fruit selection, which produced a floral and creamy lemon aroma with hints of apple and pear.  Despite the humidity, nice levels of acidity were maintained.

As with children, I don’t often pick favorite wines.  They each have there own uniqueness and qualities.  Then again, there’s the Quail Hill Vineyard Chardonnay, a signature vineyard at Lynmar that also produces Pinot Noir.  The 2005 shows Chardonnay elegance from a cool, long growing season and outstanding Chardonnay vintage.  This is an extraordinarily complex wine, but I will be brief.  Lemon, melon and grapefruit harmonically embrace the brightness and minerality.  During the recent Memorial Day weekend, a bottle was enjoyed during a magnificent sunset overlooking a 60-mile wide span of the Pacific Ocean in Laguna Beach—then, sadly, there was an empty bottle—what a shame.

The Lynmar Pinot Noirs begin with the 2006 Russian River Valley, which is composed of the Quail Hill Vineyard and sourced fruit from local growers.  Violets, cranberry, and black and red baked cherries marries terroir-based earthiness and acidity.  This is no Syrah “wannabe” Pinot Noir.

Now, the 2006 Quail Hill Vineyard Pinot Noir is what this regal varietal is all about. Those red fruits of cherry, cranberry, strawberry and raspberry combine nicely with the earthiness, graphite and integrated toast.  The wine should continue to develop through at least 2012.

The 2005 Five Sisters Pinot Noir is a blend of the finest five barrels from the estate and top source growers.  The name stems from the bond of Lynn Fritz’s five daughters.  The vineyards represented are: Hawk Hill (largest component), Jack Hill, Ferguson, Terra de Promissio, and Quail Hill.  The wine is bright, silky, structured, rich, and concentrated. This wine is simply terrific.

The 2007 Terra de Promissio, which is one of a group of wines available only to Lynmar Estate Advocates Club members, offers a glimpse at the highly proclaimed, slow-ripening 2007 vintage.  The dark fruits and typical baking spice highlight a wine of intensity and balance.

For more information and where to purchase, check out

With my anticipated 20-30 minute Lynmar tasting before lunch turning into a thankfully serendipitous two hours, a Moroccan lamb sandwich and a glass of Dehlinger Pinot Noir awaited my arrival at Underwood Bar & Bistro in nearby Graton.

Coming soon is Merry Edwards Winery!




CJ said...

I thought that I was there as I read your account of your visit to Lynmar Estate. I signed up today to receive feeds.

Bill Sanders said...

Many thanks and enjoy a wonderful bottle of wine this weekend.