NOTES from the Cellar
What Robert Parker, Wine Advocate has to say about Ahlgren Wines, Click
Ahlgren Semillon continues to find
favor as the versatile white wine enjoyable as an aperitif before
meals, and also with shellfish, curries, spicy Asian food, and so on. It
is hard to imagine a better wine/food match than Ahlgren Semillon with
oysters or Dungeness crab, two of our special favorites.
Many have never even heard of
Semillon, even though it is ranked as one of the five noble grapes of
France, and is reputed to be the most planted variety there. It forms
the base wine for the great wines of Sauternes and is the premier white
wine of Bordeaux.
Although Semillon is sometimes
thought of, and made, as a sweet wine, at Ahlgren it is fermented to
dryness in barrels, and then aged on the lees, developing its complex,
distinguishing character. The lees are what falls to the bottom of the
barrel when the yeast has completed its work. The French call aging on
the lees, aging sur lees, and
the we use this method for both of our whites, Semillon and Chardonnay.
When the aging is complete, the wine is gently pumped from the barrel
and prepared for bottling, leaving the lees behind.
There are those who tell us they neither like nor drink white
wines, except that they do like Ahlgren Semillon. We think it is the
complexity and character of our Semillon that appeals to palates that
might otherwise favor the reds.
2007 AHLGREN Chardonnay
Vineyards (Sorry! Sold out!)
Chardonnay received a Silver Medal at the Santa
Cruz Wine Judging. The flavors are reminiscent of the
long line of Ventana Chardonnays produced by Ahlgren Vineyards: butterscotch/pineapple
Well balanced and complex. Rich, crisp
and dry with a long creamy finish.
Unfiltered. 168 cases produced.
AHLGREN Pinot Noir
Santa Cruz Mountains,
Floral, toasty bouquet. Rich fruit with notes of cherry flavors. Mouth
filling, elegant and balanced. Long finish
Aged in French barrels, Unfined and unfiltered. 240
Typical of Ahlgren Pinots, you will find that
they respond enthusiastically, if a wine can possibly show enthusiasm,
when decanted and given air.
Fragrant, rich floral bouquet. Violets? Dark in
color with deep Pinot flavors. Mouth filling. Elegant and balanced.
Aged in French barrels, Unfined and unfiltered. 240 cases
AHLGREN Cabernet Sauvignons
Cruz Mountains, Bates’ Ranch
The Ahlgren Santa Cruz Mountains, Bates’ Ranch Cabernet continues to
impress and receive recognition by consistently
meriting awards. The 2001 received a "Best of Show" and Gold Medal in
the Santa Cruz Wine Judging, 2006, with the 2005 and 2006 vintages
taking Gold & Silver. The only
problem the Ahlgrens have with this wine is keeping it in stock.
Ahlgrens are holding some small supplies of the
2001 Cabs for direct sale from the winery to their fans, which is why these
older wines are available.
We have recently celebrated a significant family birthday, and as part
of the festivities, not all in one sitting, we opened some older wines.
Here is our report:
Ahlgren, Chardonnay, Ventana Vineyards:
The fill was very low, down about two inches and the cork was wet and
just slid out. The wine still had good color, but the flavor was not
1977 Ahlgren, Chardonnay, Ventana Vineyards:
as low as that of the ’76, color just fine, flavors delicious!!. This
may have been the last bottle. We will be searching for another. With
the fills this low, there is no sense in keeping them any longer. Thirty
years for a Chardonnay? Amazing!
1979 Ahlgren Cabernet Sauvignon, Napa Valley, Rutherford,
Adamson/ Tupper Vineyard:
This vineyard was
once a favorite of ours. At one point, we were advised that Joe Heitz
told the owner he would no longer buy any of the grapes unless he got
them all, so Ahlgren was cut out. Sometime later, the vineyard was sold
to El Molino, and we are told the vines were pulled and replaced with
Pinot Noir. A sad act, we would say.
Anyway, ’79 was not a vintage we liked much at the time. The grapes did
not reach the full maturity we really wanted, and the alcohol was only
12.3%, a little light for a Napa Cab. The label description says,
“…elegant … claret style, reflecting the character of the vintage…”
Well, the wine has outgrown its somewhat wimpy beginnings and is full
and deeply flavored. A very pleasant surprise. The cork did not
cooperate and pretty much crumbled, the wine was just lovely.
1978 Ahlgren, Cabernet Sauvignon, Rutherford,
This wine was terrific as well. It has a luminous history, winning a
series of tastings of sixty four California Cabernets conducted back
East over a number of weeks in flights of eight wines. It then went on
to a wine tasting of the top eight of the original sixty four Cal wines
with eight French Bordeaux of similar prices. The dollar was very high
then, and the French selections included such names as Beychevelle, and
Leoville-Las-Cases. Ahlgren won over all the French and over the other
seven California Cabs as well, which included: William Hill, Cakebread,
Shafer. The magic of this tasting was that Terry Robards had been
invited. He was then the wine writer for the New York Times, and he
wrote up the tasting. (We are enclosing a copy of the article.)
1978, Ahlgren Zinfandel, Livermore:
We were impressed
that a Zin would hold up so well. It was delicious, good color, much
We have more of the ’76 Chardonnay, each bottle of which has a low
fill, as did the one we tasted and commented on above. So, we will just
have to open them and check them out. There are also older Bates’ to be
tasted. Work, work, work!!