There are many tasks in winemaking that are very important in the making of great wines. Of course, there is all the work done in the vineyard during the year and determining when to harvest the fruit. Then there are the decisions of fermentation parameters. How hot of a fermentation you might consider best and how to achieve the best extraction from the skins to create a wine of great power, elegance, and creamy mouthwatering texture. The use of new French oak for aging to allow flavors from the barrel and gentle oxidation to soften tannins.
Once all those things have been addressed and the wines are aging in barrels the most important thing is quality control and barrel topping to maintain the quality. During this time, it is possible to not only monitor the quality with analysis but to smell and taste to know how the wines are evolving.
I believe this is one of the most special times of year and is what makes Euclid stand out from the rest. At Euclid our production is small enough that we can composite sample every barrel of each blend for analysis. Then, smell every single barrel, taste every single barrel, composite sample 250 milliliters to taste the actual blend of the barrels. Each barrel can bring something different to the wine and with this technique we can understand what that might be.
We strive to make a wine of consistent quality and style from vintage to vintage. This is how we learn more and more about how to do that.
By the way, it is truly a joy to do! Red teeth and all! Bring your toothbrush.
Euclid Wine Feature by People of Wine Country
The greatest thing about the wine business is that is has multiple seasons: prep for harvest; harvest; fermentation; aging in barrels; blending; tasting; prepping for bottling; bottling; boom-boom-boom it’s 40 years later, where did the time go?” Mike says with a smile. “Each one of those seasons presents an opportunity to show how great you can be. Mother nature creates circumstances that are somewhat out of your control, but you have to make them in your control. People have an opportunity to rise to the occasion, but something has to occur first. They are at their best at the worst possible time. If that event does not occur, their potential to be at their best does not exist. My favorite day is the worst day I made better – one that when you go home for the day you say, ‘I kicked its ass’! That will only come from employees that work WITH you… Basically, when the shit hit the fan, I tried to get out in front, but my employees were elbowing ME to get out of the way.” Meet Mike and Lucas Farmer - the father and son duo for the brand @euclidwines. They are truly salt-of-the-earth men. The stories they shared expressed a profound respect for others, motivated by a solid work ethic and desire to do what is right. Mike’s dad stopped working in 1957 and his mom supported him and his sisters. “She taught me how to be self-reliant. I used to watch my younger sisters for entire summers while my mom worked in the city.” He says. Mike takes a sip of wine, reflects a moment, and says, “I’ve always been around people who think out of the box, and that’s a great thing, but I’m the guy who has to put it IN the damn box. That’s my job. I’m not necessarily a great idea man, but I know the wine we want to make, the style, who we want to be, and we do a great job at that.” [caption id="attachment_1527" align="aligncenter" width="1080"] Lucas Farmer - Napa Valley Winemaker[/caption] When Lucas was young, he didn’t want to have anything to do with the wine business; but eventually, his mind and heart started to shift. “I started to think that it was kinda cool and noticed peers going into it. I began to give it more of an opportunity. When I would go taste, I started asking more questions and showing more interest.” He says. In 2003, Lucas took a trip to New Zealand, right after high school, and found a property that was available for sale. “It was about 100k US and included a vineyard, winery, and tasting room. It wasn’t a great property for grape growing, but it got my wheels turning.” Lucas was 19 at the time and did not have the money to back that, so he asked his dad. Mike did not want to relocate, or make Pinot, so that idea fell by the wayside…for the time being… “About 8 years later, I started to tell my dad that we should do this together. I was working in the restaurant business at the time, I just bought a house, and my friends were asking me what I wanted to do.” And without hesitation, Lucas said, “I want to make wine with my dad.” Lucas always used to say that, not necessarily believing it was going to happen, but in 2008, the market crashed, and the wine industry felt the impact of that event. Mike approached Lucas and said, “If we are going to do this, now is the time – fruit costs are low and barrel prices are down. When it’s time to sell the wine, there is no telling where the market will be.” So, they pulled the trigger and started @euclidwines! “We made 112 cases to start in 2009.” Lucas said. They were off and running. “In 2010, they brought on a Syrah, and an additional Cabernet in 2013.” “What I love most about my dad is his understanding and the way he works. He wants you to be successful with him. Anything major that I’ve ever done in my life, he was always there to consult with. I’m so lucky. Life would be really different if he wasn’t around. I have a real respect for what he has accomplished, and the way people look up to him.” Lucas says with a reverence in his voice. Mike worked as a Assistant Winemaker at Opus One for 21 years. His footprint and influence there are unquestionable. The respect that he has garnered from his employees over the years stems from his deep humility and unwavering leadership skills. Mike told me that, “Common sense lies within your experience.” “I had an employee one time who wanted to learn everything. As harvest was approaching, he told me to tell him everything. After about 2 weeks, he said, ‘Don’t I do anything right?’ ‘Of course you do’, I said, ‘but you asked for that’. Sometimes you realize a piece of the foundation is missing when the question is asked. You look back and see what part of the puzzle may be missing and you teach that one. We don’t want to teach you everything, we want to teach you what is next so you can deduce an answer on your own. We don’t want people to follow steps, we want people to create a procedure and realize, on their own, when things are not going right.” Mike was coming home one day after he told Opus One that he would give them another 9 months. “We were beginning to release @euclidwines at that time and I knew we were going to have to make more wine.” He says with a smile. “I knew we were going to have to make more wine, so my wife could maintain the life that she was accustomed to.” Mike and Lucas share a joyful smile together. Mike says, “In 1972, my wife told all of the family that we were going to live together. About 20 min. later, my soon-to-be mother-in-law pulled me aside and said, ‘So…do you think you can keep my daughter in the style of life that she is accustomed to?’ I said, ‘Well, I’ve been working since I was 15, but I haven’t worked in 6 months, I guess I better go out and get a job’. And that’s what I did. Sarah is the reason that we first moved to Napa Valley, her folks live here. I was a foreman in a chemical company before the wine industry.” “One day, while I was at Opus One, Tim Mondavi and I were coming out of a tasting of a blend. I was walking with him, and Tim looks at me and says, ‘You know Mike, you are the reason we’ve been so successful.’ Mike pauses for a moment. “I looked out and saw all of my employees running around in an organized way, and I turned to him and said, ‘No, it’s not me, Tim, it’s them.’” Mike and Tim continued their walk to discuss this. After some time, Tim acquiesced and said, “You are the best manager of people that I have ever seen.” “As we walked out the door, one of the guys that I worked with was driving a forklift. Tim was very gracious and said, ‘How are you doing Fernando?’ Honest to God, he replied, ‘We’re great Tim, we have Mike.’ I couldn’t take the compliment; I didn’t feel comfortable in that way. But I do thank God. It’s a very subtle way of feeling good about who you are and what you do.” Stay connected to Mike and Lucas @euclidwines. Their best is yet to come… www.peopleofwinecountry.com
I am often asked my opinion on this. Older vintage wines certainly can benefit from a gentle decant and a short amount of time before drinking (30 minutes). Younger vintage wines in most cases will benefit from a vigorous decanting (swirl a bit in the decanter). One way to test your preference would be to decant just half the bottle, then taste side by side to see what you prefer. The decanting gives us a look into the future of the wine as it ages. It also allows us to enjoy the wine in its youth.
Discussion of fermentation
Fall 2019 Wine Allocations
New Wine Releases
At Euclid Wines, we strive to make wines of long life and are delicious upon release. Our current offering of the 16 Vintage Syrah and our 16 Tandem Cabernet are good examples of that.
We are believers in decanting wines as well before consuming. Please see our guideline for decanting in the Q & A section above. We are also offering a vertical of our Tandem Cabernet 2013, 2014, and 2015 2 bottles each from the library so you can see how the wines from the southern part of Napa age in the bottle.
Our wonderful 2016 Sierra Foothills Syrah is a wine that has good intensity, good acidity, a smooth elegance with a long fresh finish of orange zest. It is a mouthwatering luscious wine that will age well and is ready to drink now. Aged 24 months in once-used French oak barrels.
The wine has aromas of lavender, baked blackberry pie, cocoa powder, brown sugar, and wild cherry and flavors of coffee candy, candied bacon, toffee, and orange zest.
The fruit comes from the Renner vineyard near Murphys in the Sierra Foothills above the Melones Reservoir.
121 Cases produced.
The 2016 Vintage of our Tandem Cabernet is our fourth from the McKenzie-Mueller Vineyard in the Carneros region of the Napa Valley. This is a velvety wine with good intensity, great structure, good balance, and firm tannins. It is a long persistent wine with a dark deep color. Aged for 24 months in 60 % New French oak barrels and 40% once-used French oak.
The wine has aromas of black licorice, sage, orange zest, coconut, cigar box and flavors of mocha, dark chocolate, molasses, and a persistent orange zest finish.
210 Cases produced
As a committed allocation member, you have been given priority access to these offerings, and enjoy preferred shipping rates, opportunities to visit the vineyard, extended library tastings, and dinners. If you would like to add on or edit your order please see the instructions below, respond to this email, or give us a call. For current members, using the login below, select "Allocation List" in red on the left-hand side. Then select the "Edit Allocation" button to make your choices. This is also an easy way to check your credit card or shipping address. 9/20 Last day for order modification 9/21 Credit cards will be charged 10/1 Wines will be shipped As always, if you have any questions or technical difficulties, simply reply to this email or call Mike on his cell - 707-260-4751.
Vertical Syrah Tasting Notes 2010-2016
On Monday, July 22nd, we invited over a number of friends and family to experience a vertical tasting of our Syrah, including the 2016 vintage. From 2010-2016, each wine presented to the tasters offered an array of notes and aromas.
|Aroma||Plum Cinnamon Cherry Cola Black Olive Meaty Anise||Cola, Floral, Black Licorice Pomegranate Cassis Caramel Mint||Cherry Caramel Pineapple Bacony Elder Flower||Blackberry Pie Black Pepper Cocoa Powder Earthy Cola Coffee w/ Cream||Toffee Cotton Candy Mango Blackberry Orange Zest||Blackberry Cherry Graham Cracker Cocoa Powder||Crème Brûlée Crust Molasses Cola Chocolate|
|Taste||Black pepper Cranberry Slight Smoke Red Cherries Coffee||Dried Plum Dried Herbs Green Olive Dried Apricot||Coca Cola Milk Chocolate Blueberry Walnut Cheesecake Black Cherries||Plum Blackberry Cola Graham Cracker Cocoa Powder||Dark Fruit Peppery Rasberry Orange Zest Finish||Cherry Cola Slight Smoke Caramel Brown Sugar Toasty Marshmellow||Graham Cracker Milk Chocolate BlackBerry Jam Brown Sugar Richness|
|Balance||Concentrated Full Body Good Acidity Soft Mouthfeel Great Balance Seamless||Mouthwatering Good Acidity + Concentration Dense + Fat Creamy||Elegant Grainy Tannins Lush + Ripe||Grainy Tannin Good Balance Round Texture Lucious / Rich||Great Richness Lucious Enticing Long Finish||Juicy Lucious Concentrated Great Richness w/ Good Acidity Fresh Wonderful||Great Balance Lucious Juicy Rich Mouthfeel|
I cannot stress how much oak barrels impact our winemaking. I was lucky enough to manage a cooper evaluation program for 21 years. Each barrel maker has a unique style and impact on the wine being aged in it. The program was the most involved I have experienced in my almost 40 years. Barrels were hand selected from each cooper (individual barrel maker) and the same wine was aged for around 15 months. We then sampled and tasted the wines blind. They all brought something different to the wine. Some brought a silky texture and mouthfeel and others brought flavors of caramel, chocolate, vanilla, coconut, tropical flavors, black and white pepper and combinations of all of those.
During the aging in barrels as well there is a slow maturation of the tannins in the wine from the penetration of oxygen through the staves softening the wine. Some barrels are wonderful as a single entity but generally, the blend of them is the most complex. I have learned so much over those years. Our barrel program at Euclid uses 60 to 70% new barrels for our Cabernets from 4 to 6 different coopers each year. Lucas and I taste each and every barrel during our monthly Quality Control. I look forward to that day each month. We offer (if the timing is right) to taste our barrel trial with our allocation clients.
Too much rain? Quite often people see wet winters as a possible sign of a lesser quality vintage. Some people also consider drought years to be the best years. It always depends on the micro climate in the area the vineyard is in. If the vineyard is in the mountains on a hillside or on the valley floor. Each one requires a different technique to control the vigor of the vine. Controlling vigor on the valley floor can start with the use of cover crops in the rows to compete with the vine for the water in the soil.
During a wet season, the cover crop can be left in the rows for a longer period and just mowed. For a moderate season, you can mow one row and till the other. In a year with less rainfall where the vine might struggle you can till all the rows limiting the stress on the vine. Drought years can have their issues as well. Controlling vine vigor and vine stress is an important thing.
Opus One. Heard of it?
Maybe you only know it as a Jay-Z lyric, but Opus One helped put Napa Valley’s Cabernet Sauvignon on the world wine map. First created in 1979, it was a joint venture of California’s Robert Mondavi and Baron Philippe de Rothschild, owner of Chateau Mouton Rothschild which produced the first-growth Bordeaux of the same name. Opus One was, at the time, the most expensive wine produced in California – retailing for $50. Opus One now retails for $235 per bottle.
Alas, the Opus One folks did not send along samples. But Opus One’s former cellarmaster, Mike Farmer, did. (Thanks, also, to Susan at WineGlass Marketing.) When Mike retired from his position, he and his son Lucas created Euclid Wines – drawing on his 30-plus years of experience in the wine business.
For those unfamiliar with what a “cellarmaster” does (and this included me until writing this review!) – this individual is the person who’s in charge of all aspects of production at a winery from when the containers of grapes come rolling in the door to when the cases of bottled wine go rolling out. A winemaker draws up the strategy to create a wine. The cellarmaster executes that strategy.
This father-son duo said they wanted to make a Cabernet Sauvignon as their signature wine. They currently produce a premium Cabernet (which is 97 percent Cabernet with 3 percent Syrah to round out the blend) and a 100 percent Syrah, both produced from grapes grown on Howell Mountain in Napa County.
The geometrical-sounding name of the winery is Mike Farmer’s middle name, passed down from his grandfather, Euclid Doucette. Farmer describes his grandfather as “a man of intensity, integrity and true to his word,” and he tried to model his wines after the emotions stemming from that familial respect.
There are fewer more direct examples of the market’s invisible hand than wine price points. High-end wine demands high-end prices because people are willing to shell out the cash. As any marketing student will tell you, there are plenty of ways to make wine more desirable aside from actually making a superior product – fancy packaging, slick marketing, using adult film stars to garner positive reviews and other tricks of the trade.
The Euclid 2010 Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon retails for $85, and this is one of the few wines I’ve tried where I thought, “You know, this really tastes like an $85 bottle of wine.” This cabernet is exceptionally well crafted and offers some of the most interesting aromatics I’ve sniffed.
My notes say “peaches, cotton candy, crème brulee perfumed sweetness.” Needless to say, these aren’t words that pop up in my reviews of reds very often. The flavor is exceptionally well-balanced, full of vanilla, dark fruit and super-balanced tannin. The finish was lasting, gorgeous lushness. I grilled a couple of good steaks, which I put next to some grilled beets with goat cheese and dill and it was transcendently good.
The Euclid Cab is a fabulous wine and it’s a shame it goes so quickly. I had the last half-glass in the quiet of the Man Cave while mellowing out after the Sweet Partner in Crime had retired for the evening. The wine tasted like Dobie Gray’s “Drift Away” sounds at the end of a hard day.
The Euclid 2010 Sierra Foothills Syrah is not quite as pricey as its sister Cab. The retail on this bottle is $40. Syrah is generally a couple of orders of magnitude fruitier and deeper than Cabernet Sauvignon, so I didn’t expect the same sort of subtlety we’d experienced. Even with that notion … wow, what a contrast in style between these wines.
Returning to the previous metaphor, if the Cabernet is a mellow ’70’s tune, the Syrah is A Tribe Called Quest’s “Low End Theory.” Good lawrd, I don’t know that I’ve ever experienced anything quite like this wine. The nose is typical Syrah – plums, violets and spice – although it’s really well balanced and quite pretty.
The mouthfeel is rich, thick and fruity … and then the bottom absolutely drops out of this inky, tannic monster. Imagine the warming feel of a good bourbon or scotch and convert that sensation to the fullness and depth of tannin and you’ve got this Syrah’s finish. I could feel blackness filling my chest as I drank this down. While it’s not the drying, mouth puckering tannin that it could be, it feels like a dark depth charge. Boom.
I decided to do some lamb chops as a pairing with this – and about halfway through the meal, the Sweet Partner in Crime says, “I just can’t do it. It’s too big.” Caught between the richness of the wine, the marbling of the chops and the savory nature of the fennel and caper relish I’d done as a side, the SPinC overloaded. (My Uncle Alan, in contrast, would have been in absolute heaven.) I got through my glass and, upon seeing myself in the bathroom mirror later, noticed that a single glass of the Euclid was sufficient to blacken my teeth.
We didn’t get through the whole bottle. I put a VacuVin on it and sampled it over the next couple of days. After a day, it hadn’t opened up much. After two days, some of the lighter, more vanilla aspects of the nose started to come through – even though the body was still enormous. I think it still needs more time. Make sure you decant it for at least a couple of hours before you drink it. My half-hour wasn’t enough. If you like wines this powerful, snag a couple of bottles to hold for a few years.