$40 at the winery and only available from the winery.
Running a winery or vineyard has become recently a prestigious endeavor. Actors, sports figures, and even race car drivers have thought that making wine would be easy. However, once they look into matters, they usually let others handle the work and just add their names to the labels - after all - they know acting, race car driving, or basketball: not necessarily how to make wine (Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie have Beaucastel, Kurt Russel and Kate Hudson have Ampelos, Yao Ming has a wine investment group - a corporation, and Mario Andretti has Pepi/Eponymous). It's just simply too much work.
Making fine wine is not easy, yet Norm and Traudl Huber (owners of Huber Cellars) have been doing exactly that, on their own, for over 30 years. Recently, one of the challenges for making wine in California has been the consecutive years of drought (the '13, '14 and '15 vintages), which forces a natural strain on the vines, thereby producing higher quality and more intense wines. However, this can also be costly for wineries. Droughts effect ecosystems in unusual ways - they dry up wells thus forcing wineries to outsource water supplies at an extra cost, and they alter wildlife habitats.
Wildlife can damage as much as 20% of a vineyard (birds, pests, etc). The gopher, for example, is a natural tunneling machine. They establish intricate underground networks and wreak havoc (think Caddyshack). But nature has a fantastic defense against these troublesome little rodents: in the spring, after mommy and daddy have made dozens of cute, little, furry babies - it rains (in a normal year). The rains flood their tunnels; all the cute, little, furry babies drown; the tunnels collapse; and the babies' soaked corpses are buried in natural, muddy graves. It's a form of natural population control. However, when there's a drought, nature's little wicked tsunami doesn't happen and the little babies grow up to be devastating tunneling machines that eat the vines' roots, thereby killing the vines in massive acreage numbers. There are so many of them, even their natural predictors can't keep up and eat them all (rattlesnakes). This has been a troublesome problem for several wineries and yet, the Hubers manages to overcome these issues and continues to produce world class fine wine. The 2010 Pinot Noir Barrel Select, although not from a drought vintage, is a shining example of this. Their Dornfelder, on the other hand, is from the first drought year and it is showing beautifully! Here, we taste the 2010 Huber Cellars' Pinot Noir Barrel Select.
The Barrel Select is a beautifully maturing wine comprised of 100% Dijon clone 667, one of Pinot Noir's power clones! We opened the wine and let it air for an hour. At a glance it still maintains its crimson, ruby red appearance with an almost opaque center. Swirling the Reidel Sommelier Series Burgundy stemware, the complete essence of the wine is presented: rhubarb, cherry, plums, strawberries, and a strong note of ripe cassis. Irresistible, one captures the notes and immediately wants a deeper experience. In the mouth, the large roundness shows off its balanced fruits with integrated acids all nestled in a silky texture. Cheery pie explodes on the tongue followed by strawberry and rhubarb baked tart. Very well made and not showing its age at all. Possibly at its best!