After a tour of the vineyards and winery, Birgitta Togni led me through a tasting of various cuvees and vintages as she and Lisa described winemaking practices at the domaine.
All of the hand-harvested grapes, which are generally picked with sugar levels at around 25 brix, are brought into the winery and de-stemmed. After a 3 day cold soak, the must is inoculated and the fermentation will commence in stainless steel tanks, with temperatures reaching a warm 85-90 degrees Fahrenheit. Fermentation generally takes between 10-12 days, with 2 daily pump overs (done by hand of course).
When fermentation is complete, the wine is pressed, and then racked several times off its gross lees before being placed into French oak barriques (Nadalie, Taransaud) for a period of 20 months. Malo-lactic fermentation takes place in barrel, rather than in tank, as the Tognis believe that in that manner the wine flavors become more integrated. The press wine and free run juices are always aged separately, only to be re-blended just prior to bottling. The wines are never filtered or fined.
Here is list of the wines that I tasted with Birgitta Togni:
2007 Philip Togni Tanbark Hill Cabernet Sauvignon $40
2006 Philip Togni Tanbark Hill Cabernet Sauvignon $52
The Tanbark Hill cuvee is produced from a single plot of younger vines on the domaine. Both the 2006 and the 2007 vintages are composed of 100% free-run Cabernet Sauvignon. With its softer and more supple structure, this elegant red does not require as extensive ageing as the Cabernet lineup below.
2007 Philip Togni Cabernet Sauvignon $90
2005 Philip Togni Cabernet Sauvignon $95
The vineyard source and winemaking have been discussed above.
1999 Philip Togni Cabernet Sauvignon –Library Release $115
1998 Philip Togni Cabernet Sauvignon –Library Release $130
1991 Philip Togni Cabernet Sauvignon –Library Release $250
The Tognis also hold back a portion of their annual production and release such wines 10+ years down the road. On this particular day I had the good fortune to taste the three vintages above. Suffice to say that these wines have stood the test of time magnificently. In particular the 1991 was an absolute treasure. The more primary black currant fruit notes characteristic of ripe cabernet sauvignon have taken one step back to reveal nuances of black tea, dried herbs and cigar box.
Just as we finished tasting our last still red wine, Philip Togni dropped in just in time to introduce us to perhaps the most unusual dessert wine currently being produced in California..
2004 Philip Togni Ca’ Togni Sweet Wine (375ml) $55
Ca’ Togni is something truly special. Inspired by Constantia, the famous dessert wine from South Africa produced during the 18-19th centuries, this sweet red wine made from Black Hamburgh is harvested late in the season when the grapes have begun to shrivel and sugars become especially concentrated. This process is also known as “passerillage”. At 14.2% abv, it is wonderful lightly chilled and on its own at end a great meal, or it can be accompanied with chocolate truffles and a selection of blue and aged cheeses. Annually, only about 1 barrel of this unusual wine is produced.
What a fantastic way to top off our visit and tour of Spring Mountain. We will certainly be back up in these parts again soon..perhaps later in the spring (Stuart Smith recommends a picnic in the vineyards overlooking the valley)!
Good bye Spring Mountain..Next stop..Argentina!!