Disclosure: I received this wine as a media sample from Twisted Oak Winery.
Twisted Oak Winery in Calaveras County has built a rather phenomenal, staid reputation since it’s founding by Jeff and Mary Stai in 2001.Â Stuffy and beautifully constructed wines bearing boring labels such as “*%#&@!” and “Pig Stai” have built their reputation as a very traditional, elitist winery. Indeed, their focus on New World safe haven varietals such as Tempranillo, Verdelho, Grenache and the ever popular Graciano prove that despite their penchant for such hip Iberian Peninsula grape varieties, they still know that winemaking is an incredibly serious and noble endeavor.
[Extracting tongue from cheek] AHEM! Jeff Stai (El Jefe), winemaker and blogger himself, has managed to create some outstanding wines and an even more obsessive following in the wine world.Â It is always incredibly refreshing to find a winery that revels and excels at fashioning wines from underappreciated and less popular grapes.Â To then find that said winery also manages to NEVER take itself seriously?Â Well, that’s just cooler than a bucket o’ chicken!
Twisted Oak is taking a new step in next month, when they release their first limited run, allocated wine, the 2006 Twisted Oak Calaveras County River of Skulls.Â It is a single vineyard wine hailing from Calaveras County, made from old vine MourvÃ¨dre with some Syrah tossed in. It is named for the legend that surrounds the discovery of the Calaveras River.
I was a bit unfair with this wine starting off.Â I’ve developed a bit of a soft spot in my heart recently for wines that feature MourvÃ¨dre, a red grape that is a major component of many Rhone reds from France. I’ve had some great Californian old vine MourvÃ¨dre‘s recently, both at the WineTwo NRO and from the hands of another “staid” winemaker, Kaz.Â I was rather anxious to get my palate on this wine (or wine on my palate…?).
After having some pals decant the wine for us 2.5+ hours ahead of time, I realized that I needn’t have worried!Â This is a very inky blue-toned wine in the glass.Â That dark blue pallete then translates into some great blueberry fruit in the nose followed by some menthol and mint and then some nice herbal characteristics.Â The palate then opens with some young, but good oak that will need some time to integrate with the rest of the fine structure of round grippy tannins and good food-philic acidity.Â Dusty blueberries start the long finish which ends with some more vanilla.Â Great stuff and a 4/5 in my book.Â The hardest part will be waiting the 3-4 years before I crack open another bottle! (Fortunately I bought two more!)