Lula Cellars, a small production premium winery located in Mendocino County’s Anderson Valley, CA had two outstanding 2015 releases—its Rosato and Sauvignon Blanc.
Jeff Hansen is the winemaker who is behind Lula Cellars world class Pinot Noir, Zinfandel, Dry Gewurztraminer, Rosato and Sauvignon Blanc wines that are made with grapes grown in vineyards from Mendocino County, California. His thirty-years of experience certainly shows with the award-winning wines produced since opening in 2010. Lula, was named after Jeff’s maternal grandmother, born in 1879 and lived to the age of 89.
Fortunately, I was able to experience the 2015 Rosato and Sauvignon Blanc, so that is what I’ll discuss along with notes from the winemaker and what I served with the wine.
2015 Mendocino Rosato
Winemaking—This is a blend of Pinot Noir and Zinfandel grapes, which were taken from the take just four hours after crushing. By cold fermenting the juice in separate stainless steel tanks, it maintained the young fruit flavors. The two roses were then blended together and the wine was then aged in another stainless steel tank before bottling.
Vineyards—The Pinot Noir grapes planted in 1999, came from the Peterson Vineyard in the mountain town of Comptche. The Zinfandel juice from dry-farmed Mariah Vineyard in the Mendocino Ridge A.V.A. and planted in 1980.
2015 Vintage—A lighter and early harvest due to warm weather provided early bloom, fruit set, and wines of depth and beauty.
Winemaker Notes—The 2015 Rosato marks our sixth vintage of this dry, fruity Rose It is the perfect “porch wine” to be enjoyed chilled on a warm summer’s day. It is vibrant medium ruby color sparkles and the nose has delightful aromas of cherry and strawberry. This radian Rosato explodes with Bing cherry, currant and ripe plum flavors on the palate. The wine pairs equally well with a simple summer pizza, grilled prawns with lime or a light pasta dish. –Cheers, Jeff Hansen, Winemaker
Cases produced: 300; Alchol: 14.1%; Total Acidity: .53 grams/100 ml; PH 3.42; Bottling date: June 2016; Suggested retail: $20
M. D. Hill Notes—My nose is not as refined as Jeff’s, but I was able to definitely pick up the Bing cherry and plum flavors. I served this with Grilled Scallops and Risotto. Even though it was a little heavier, it paired very well and my guests were pleased. I have no doubt it would pair well with shrimp, pizza, or broiled grouper.
2015 Mariah Vineyard Sauvignon Blanc
Winemaking—This blend consists of 70% of the outstanding Intrave-Inra and 30% aromatic Musque.
The juice was chilled in the tank at 50 degrees for 48 hours, which permitted the gravity to do its job and have sediment fall to the bottom of the tank. Then it was time to siphon the juice off and move to a clean stainless steel tank where a specific cultured yeast was added to start the fermentation. The temperature for the fermentation process was 60 degrees, which is longer than many grapes but ideal for this one in order to maintain the grapes varietal character. After fermentation, the wine was again moved and aged in stainless steel for six months prior to bottling.
Vineyard—Planted in 2010, this dry-farmed vineyard at 2,450 feet, is on the Mendocino Ridge A.V.A. The high elevation and closeness to the coast provides a growing season with warm days and cool nights.
2015 Vintage—Provide a lighter harvest than the three record years before it. Due to the smaller crop size and warm weather, it was an early harvest. The plants bloomed early, fruit set early, and early veraison produced wines of depth and character. The grapes were picked at night and came into the winery quite cold. This in turn, helps to maintain their flavor.
Winemaker Notes—Our 2015 Mariah Vineyard Sauvignon Blanc displays a classic straw (yellow/green) color and exhibits beautiful grapefruit rind and cardamom spice aromas. The flavors of figs and melon coat the palate while perfectly balanced acid makes for a crisp and clean finish. This zesty wine is a wonderful companion for grilled chicken with mango salsa, or enjoy a refreshing chilled sip poolside with a good aged cheese and sourdough bread. –Cheers, Jeff Hansen, Winemaker
Cases produced: 190; Alchol: 13.6%; Bottling date: June 2016; Total Acidity: .60 grams/100 ml; Suggested retail: $22; PH 3.28
M.D. Hill Notes—I could definitely pick up the grapefruit aroma and figs. I served it with some figs stuffed with cream cheese and I did have some Mango sauce and shrimp left that my friend, French Master Chef Hervé Laurent had fixed while visiting, so I duplicated that. His looked better than mine, so I’m using his plate photo. But, this wine paired very well with the shrimp and mango.
Overall, Lula Cellars has a fine assortment of wine fairly priced. I have only tried these two, but look forward to trying one of the Pinot Noirs, Gewurztraminer, and Zinfandel. I encourage you to try them out and let me know what you think.
If you want to visit Lula Cellars, they opened its 22-acre Philo property to the public in October of 2014. Its tasting room provides a unique experience in the Anderson Valley. In addition to frontage along Highway 128 in Philo, it features a pond, 14-acre Pinot Noir vineyard, a small-production winemaking facility, and a 10,000 square foot “Events Area”.
Located at 2800 Guntley Road in Philo (at the corner of Hwy 128 and Guntley Road), the pet-friendly tasting room offers stunning views of the surrounding property and the Pinot Noir growing area known as “The Deep End” on the west end of the Anderson Valley.
Lula Cellars tasting room is open daily, from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. To contact the tasting room, please call 707.895.3737.
Images courtesy of Lula Cellars unless otherwise stated.
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