Sat 18 Feb 2012
Stone Edge Farm, set in the verdant foothills of Sonoma Mountain, is a collaboration between Mac McQuown, who helped finance Chalone Winery in what seems like a whole different era, and perennial winemaker Jeff Baker. The two were partners in the old Carmenet Winery, launched in 1980. (The Chalone Wine Group sold the Carmenet brand in 2002 to what was then Beringer Blass Wine Estates; it’s now a cheap label for Fred Franzia’s Bronco Wine Co. What a fall was there.) Stone Edge produces two limited edition cabernet sauvignon-based wines — Stone Edge and Surround — from the five-acre Stone Edge vineyard, planted in 1996, and the higher-elevation two-acre Mt. Pisgah vineyard planted in 1998, seen in the accompanying image. Both vineyards are certified organic by the nonprofit CCOF and are managed by well-known organic viticulturist (and winemaker) Phil Coturri. These are, frankly, splendid cabernets that while receiving considerable aging in new French oak barrels manage to achieve enviable harmony and balance between the forces of power and elegance. They’re definitely Worth a Search.
These were samples for review. Image of Mt. Pisgah Vineyard from stoneedgefarm.com.
The Stone Edge Farm Cabernet Sauvignon 2007, Sonoma Valley, blends 81 percent cabernet sauvignon with 19 percent merlot. The wine aged 26 months in all-new French oak barrels. Boy, this is a wild, smoldering, unfettered wine that seethes with notes of ripe, spicy black currants, plums and mulberries drenched in cedar and black olives, lavender and graphite. The wine is dense with dusty fine-grained tannins and firmly bolstered by oak that feels sanded and burnished to a gleam, ever-present, assuredly, yet suave and understated; black and blue fruit flavors are permeated by these elements, as well vibrant acidity and a relentless yet somehow effortless cast of graphite and iron-like minerality. The finish is long, packed with woody spice and scintillating minerals and intriguing notes of caraway, dried thyme and dill seed. 14.3 percent alcohol. Production was 600 cases. Drink now through 2017 to ’19. Excellent. About $60.
The combination of grapes in the Surround Cabernet Sauvignon 2007, Sonoma Valley, is 86 percent cabernet sauvignon and 14 percent merlot; aged, like its cousin, for 26 months, it take 70 percent new French oak barrels rather than all-new. And rather than the grapes being all from Stone Edge and Mt. Pisgah, there are contributions from two other vineyards managed by Phil Coturri, one high in the Mayacamas range. Surround ’07 is a remarkably ripe, fleshy, spicy, earthy and minerally wine; its aromas and flavors of black currants and black cherries unfold to notes of mint and blueberries, a hint of red currants, elements of leather and moss and a fascinating smoky-eucalyptus-caraway edge. Dusty tannins, polished oak and resonant acidity provide enveloping structure, while the texture is more spare than opulent. 14.4 percent alcohol. Production was 780 cases. Drink now through 2016 to ’18. Were I supervising a restaurant wine list, I would try to snag a couple of cases if this wine to offer at a fairly reasonable price with steaks and chops. Excellent. About $30.