After a few days in Sonoma, my wife Karen and I were looking forward to a couple days off from this reporter’s wine writing job on the beautiful Monterey Peninsula. However, I should have known that I’d be longing for some wine sooner rather than later. Limiting myself to one tasting room visit, I actually found the choice pretty easy to make…Wrath!
I’ve tasted and enjoyed the Wrath wines at a few events, most notably the Rhone Rangers Los Angeles tasting in 2013. Wrath didn’t participate in 2014, given the event’s date this year being during harvest [a problem a few of the smaller wineries faced], so I was looking forward to tasting their latest releases.
The Wrath winery is in Soledad, about 40 miles from the Monterey Peninsula. There is a tasting room at the winery, but fortunately, they also have a tasting room in Carmel – for those who know the area it is in the Carmel Plaza right next to the Cheese Shop that has been there seemingly forever.
We sat down with tasting room manager Christopher Whaley and learned a few things about the winery. Although I’ve only been hearing about this winery for a short period of time, it does have a longer history. Planted in the 1970s, it was originally called San Saba Vineyards.
When archaeologist Michael Thomas, son of the founders, took over the operation, he renamed it Wrath [from a line in the Led Zeppelin song “Going to California”]. In its latest vintage, Wrath produces 26 different bottlings totaling only 3500 cases annually of single vineyard designated wine. Another 3,000 cases make up their Ex Anima series that feature minimal winemaking intervention and no new oak. [They also provide custom crush services for other wineries at their facility.] Under the direction of winemaker Sabrine Rodems, the winery produces Sauvignon Blanc, Chardonnay, Pinot Noir, Grenache and Syrah. There are plans to release a small amount of Falanghina, an old Italian white grape varietal that I had never heard of. It will be fermented in above ground amphora known as dolia in two different styles – as a traditional white wine and also as an “orange” wine with extended skin contact.
[Note – in addition to being winemaker for Wrath, Sabrine consults for a couple other wineries, using that revenue to produce wine under her own label Scratch. She also created an organization called Wines of Danger, which is a group of very small wineries that has an annual tasting in San Francisco.]
Christopher tasted us through a few of the wines in the tasting room. We tried:
2013 Sauvignon Blanc, Ex Anima, Monterey [Nice fruit, not too much of the acidity that make some SBs hard to drink.]
2012 Chardonnay, Fermata, Monterey [Fermata means “halted” in Italian. Malolactic fermentation was halted at about the halfway point, giving the wine richness but still leaving it with structure.]
2012 Pinot Noir Swan/828, Monterey [20% whole cluster fermentation gave this wine great structure without overpowering the fruit. “Structure” seemed to be a recurring theme here.]
2012 Pinot Noir Tonore Grapefield [To me, this seemed the more old-world of the Pinots, with forest floor notes along with the fruit.]
2011 Grenache “Destruction Level” Arroyo Seco [Absolutely amazing Grenache. Sadly, there was none left to purchase.]
2011 KW Ranch Syrah [Brought me right back to why I loved their wines at Rhone Rangers.]
Next time you are strolling the streets Carmel, be sure to give this winery a try:
Carmel Tasting Room
Open Mon-Sat 11-6PM Sun 11-5PM. Located in Carmel Plaza, downtown Carmel at the corner of Ocean Ave. and Mission St., ground floor. 831.620.1909
Michael Perlis has been pursuing his passion for wine for more than 25 years. He has had the good fortune of having numerous mentors to show him the way, as well as a wonderful wife who encourages him and shares his interest. After a couple of decades of learning about wine, attending events, visiting wineries and vineyards, and tasting as much wine as he possibly could, he had the amazing luck to meet Eve Bushman. Now, as Contributing Editor for Eve’s Wine 101, he does his best to bring as much information as possible about wine to Eve’s Wine 101 faithful readers. Michael is also Vice President of Eve Bushman Consulting (fka Eve’s Wine 101 Consulting) http://evebushmanconsulting.com/ and President of MCP Financial. Michael can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com.