|Everything about the winery seems charmed, as if there were some magic at work. Indeed, when Buddhist monks surveyed the area from the air some time ago, they discerned the form of a dragon in the mountain chain and decided on a spot a little north of Camp Meeting Ridge to build their temple, at its head. Camp Meeting Ridge is located at the dragons heart.|
1997 Flowers Sonoma Coast Chardonnay Camp Meeting Ridge: Though Greg and Bree both opined that this lovely golden colored wine is too tight right now, I thought that it opened up nicely and was an excellent choice to accompany the mixed green salad with grilled portabello mushrooms and citrus-white truffle oil vinaigrette. It showed big butter/tropical fruit flavors and aromas, and some maple syrup on the nose with air. Rich and intense, its is smooth but not fat. Theres a very bright future in store for this one.
1996 Flowers Sonoma Coast Pinot Noir Camp Meeting Ridge: We sipped both the 96 and 97 CMR Pinots with Sandras delicious mushroom and English pea risotto. The 96 is a ruby dark garnet thats browning slightly at the edge. It shows BIG smoky sweet black cherry flavors and aromas with tea leaf nuances, all in what Im coming to recognize as the Flowers style. (Will I soon be commenting on "all that Flowers perfume?") This is creamy, lovely and ready to drink now, and was served at the White House in April for the 50th Anniversary of NATO.
1997 Flowers Sonoma Coast Pinot Noir Camp Meeting Ridge: This is another ruby dark garnet, but more purple at the edge, as one would expect from its youth. While it may not be as expressive aromatically, as Bree observed, I found it to have purer fruit on the nose, and cleaner black cherry fruit on the palate. There are plenty more tannins and acidity than the earlier model, and in fact this is one too tight mama right now, and needs cellaring. Greg said it will be "most long lived and elegant," and I have no reason to believe otherwise. Well give mine a minimum of three years in the cellar, when we get our allocation.
The afternoon passed by very leisurely, as the conversation touched on so many aspects of the Flowers experience. Greg had to leave a bit early to continue the work that is never done there, but not before we all relished in a dense, rich chocolate cake that went amazingly well with the Pinots.
At one point, Bree asked Walt to comment on the widespread practice of buying allocated wines from producers such as Flowers, and then "flipping" them for a significant profit. He added that it has been suggested by some commentators on various internet wine forums that such profiteers might be dropped from mailing lists, should their identities be discovered by the wineries.
"Its ("flipping") offensive to me, but we never said wed do that," Walt replied. "Were not in this for the money, were in this for the lifestyle and the dream."
This is the point that Joan, Walt and Greg made again and again. Theyre living a dream on Camp Meeting Ridge, and making it work. Everything about the winery seems charmed, as if there were some magic at work. Indeed, when Buddhist monks surveyed the area from the air some time ago, they discerned the form of a dragon in the mountain chain and decided on a spot a little north of CMR to build their temple, at its head.
Camp Meeting Ridge is located at the dragons heart.
At some point late in the afternoon, Walt decided that we needed another bottle of wine, and disappeared briefly, before returning with a rarity.
1997 Flowers Sonoma Coast Pinot Meunier: This ruby garnet isnt as dark as the Pinots, nor is it available, as only a very small amount was made. Bree commented on "the wonderful smoky nose," but Walt said it wasnt as brilliant as it had been in December." Though not as sharp and focused as the Pinots, I found it to have a nice soft, perfumed quality on the nose and palate, with rich, delicious cherry plum flavors and aromas. It came as no surprise that it opened and improved in the glass.
I asked Walt if there were any plans to make a sparkling wine, since they produced all the appropriate varietals, and he replied in the negative, saying that they had their hands full producing what they did now.
We finally took our leave in the early evening, after taking advantage of yet a few more photo opportunities and thanking Joan and Walt for their immense generosity. We came away feeling that there was something very special taking place there on Camp Meeting Ridge, not only in the hearts and will of those involved, but in the land itself. After only four vintages, they may already be producing benchmark California Pinot Noir and Chardonnay.
Flowers Vineyards and Winery
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