The Renaissance of Huge Bear & Knights Bridge

Huge Bear WinesDespite the 460+ years that separate modern times from what many scholars consider the end of the Italian Renaissance, we still hear the term “Renaissance Man/Woman” tossed around with great regularity.  Heck, running around learning stuff, spouting verse with a paintbrush in my hand sounds great.  Luck in love aside, I had a chance to share some food and wine with a fascinating man for these modern times and one whom is a true Ren-man: Timothy F. Carl, Ph.D, Co-Founder of both Huge Bear Wines (WineLog, Twitter) and Knights Bridge Winery (WineLog).

Knights Bridge WineryI met up with Tim Carl and Sean Carroll (whom provided for my appearance that night) at the very nice Bin 38 wine bar in San Francisco’s Marina District.  Tim and Sean were already settling in when I arrived and I was immediately drawn to the restrained energy of Tim and his intriguing silver fox appearance.  I’d already gotten the run down from Sean about Tim’s very impressive résumé, where just a brief summary gets one’s cultural radar pinging: part of a now 6th generation California wine growing family, a military man from the Navy, a former chef alongside such luminaries as Gary Danko and Masa Kobayashi, a businessman with McKinsey & Company and a former geneticist with a Ph.D. from the University of Colorado. It’s an almost dizzying array of accomplishments for a man that looks to be only barely pushing 50, not to mention helping raise his family that he often warmly references.  It was with complete shock however, when I found out that Tim was behind the functional discovery of one of the proteins that I work with at my day job, the SNAIL related protein, Slug. It’s not every day that I find such tight coincidences between my own numerous interests!

Huge Bear Wines Winemaker Meredith Cahill-MarslandPerhaps not too surprisingly, coming from a co-founder with such diverse interests, Huge Bear Wines and Knights Bridge Winery are two very different visions of a boutique winery. While both are small production, with estate or extended lease fruit sources, each has their own winemaker and two rather different styles of premium wines. 

Meredith Cahill-Marsland crafts her Huge Bear wines towards a cleaner style of whites, with little to no oak and very bright fruit.  Her 2007 Sonoma County Cabernet, while powerful and filled with depths of fruit, is still balanced and retains an OldWorldWK restraint.  The savory portabello mushrooms and scorched earth that are found in both the nose and palate round out the complexity in these wines.

Jeff Ames - Knights Bridge WineryMeanwhile over at Knights Bridge, winemaker Jeff Ames crafts wines that are more of a hybrid between the Old and New Worlds of wine.  His 2008 Knights Valley West Block Estate Chardonnay displays more baked citrus, light vanilla and toast to round out the white pitted fruits.  His 2007 Knights Valley Estate Cabernet has many of the OldWorldWK elements found in the Huge Bear Cab, yet it also has a richer and plusher black fruited palate, filled with fresh anise and wild blackberry.  I’ve since had the chance to try even more of Ames’ Cabs at the super awesome SF Vintners Market wine tasting events in SF and the quality is expansive across all of his wines.

Despite their separate styles, winemakers and even facilities, you can still find an important similarity between these two wineries: a very passionate focus on handmade, small lot, earth-driven wines.  Tim Carl has found success in yet another part of his varied life…and all of our glasses get to share in the pleasure of it all.

You can find all of the wines listed below that we tasted through that night with Tim, while at Bin 38.  You can find all of these wines to list in your own WineLog, tagged with “HugeBear2010“.  Cheers!

Huge Bear Wines (WineLog, Twitter):

Huge Bear Sonoma County Sauvignon Blanc 2008

Huge Bear Sonoma County Chardonnay 2008

OldWorldWK - WKBadges Huge Bear Wines Sonoma County Cabernet Sauvignon 2007

Color: Dark garnet core with ruby/garnet edges

Nose: Very savory nose here, with meaty portobello mushrooms, scorched earth, blackest of fruit of mainly cassis and then anise kicks in with fresh tobacco

Palate: Quite good, with a fullness, medium fine tannins, great acidity and all of that black fruit from the nose. The savoriness is here as well, with more juicy meat-like flavors along with the portobellos and juicy black olives. Finishes with a juicy, dark black cherry and that spicy tobacco.

Knights Bridge Winery (WineLog):

Knights Bridge Knights Valley West Block Estate Chardonnay 2008

OldWorldWK - WKBadges Knights Bridge Knights Valley Estate Cabernet Sauvignon 2007

Color: Dark garnet with violet lowlights, garnet edges

Nose: Very dusty black fruit here, with anise, spice, light vanilla and an elegant pencil lead and slate minerality

Palate: Medium to full, with great acidity again and a beautiful balance between the medium to coating fine tannins, that acidity and the dusty, anise covered cassis and wilder blackberry fruit. Black cherry and toast poke through a little in the graphite and slate finish. Quite good: OldWorldWK

Vinopanion: Ward Kadel - @drXeNo

View posts by Vinopanion: Ward Kadel - @drXeNo
Ward Kadel - @drXeNo is the founder of Vinopanion wine blog, former West Coast Ambassador & Staff Blogger for and former Le Wine Buff for (CIVB). He will try any and all wines and tends to write about the parts of his life that include virtually all of it! He and his wife grew up in Napa and Sonoma and they still live in the Napa Valley. Check out the wines he's recommended with his WKBadges. Follow him on Twitter, Instagram and Like #Vinopanion on Facebook. Contact him: "Ward at". Ward happily accepts samples but does not guarantee a review, positive or negative.

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