Right off the bat Mendocino County vintner Jim Kimmel of Kimmel Vineyards explained that he’s not related to celebrity Jimmy Kimmel, but yes, these two are email friends and have common friends. Jimmy sent Jim an email three years ago to the effect of, “Hi, my name is also Jimmy Kimmel, I host a late night show on ABC…” and they’ve been communicating off and on ever since.
Jim warned us that he had more stories like that one to share, and would most likely tell plenty while a group of us wine writers enjoyed a beautifully paired 4-course meal prepared by Chef Laura Scollan at West, the fine restaurant inside the Hotel Angeleno.
The next story was about Kimmel’s parents who bought the Kimwood ranch in 1963 with 1,100 acres. They raised cattle back then where his vineyards are today. Kimmel noted that they actually use less water now then they did with cattle, back then water was delivered via overhead sprinklers, now its all done with drip irrigation.
In 1986 Kimmel’s dad looked for something else to use his land for besides cows – as they would routinely get out, onto the street, at midnight. And though they grew up in Sonoma the family didn’t have wine interests – yet.
Fast forward to 2007 and Kimmel had used LinkedIn to find out who was in the wine business, found a consultant, and scheduled a meeting for the very next day. When the two met Kimmel said, “Turn around, I want to see if you have wings…because I need an angel.” Turned out the consultant had worked with Don Sebastiani first and helped to get Kimmel going.
By 2010 Kimmel was doing a few hundred cases but not using all of the grapes he was growing – then and still today Kimmel sells some of his juice to Kendall Jackson. Kimmel has since tried lower price point wines and works very hard with his family to get into stores. As he’s a smaller winery the competition in California is fierce so he has had more success being the only Mendocino wine for out-of-state retailers.
He doesn’t have his own facilities to make wine on the ranch. Yet. But you can purchase Kimmel online NOW.
My aromas and flavors separated ;
2013 Illuminate Sauvignon Blanc
Color: soft, pale, yellow diamond.
Meyer lemon, pineapple, kiwi, ice wine, wet pebbles; lovely viscosity, bright lemon, lemon hard candy, green apple, acid softens into a perfect balance.
2012 Four Blocks Mendocino Chardonnay
Color: 14k gold, nice darker ribbon.
Fresh cut apples, popcorn, lemon zest; pink grapefruit, butter, nice mouthfeel, slightly grassy. Yummy with Tortellini and Clams!
2012 Kimmel Mendocino Chardonnay (Sunset Magazine Gold Medal winner)
Color: Palest gold (coordinated with our fish)
Sweet white peach, fresh cut grass, sandalwood; clean fruit, apples, cream and acid are nicely balanced, long finish.
2013 Four Blocks Mendocino Merlot (and a small percentage of Cabernet Franc and Malbec
Color: Deep ruby with a garnet edge.
Ripe plum, sliced fig, a dusting of cocoa, green peppercorns; brighter fruit on the palate, peppery, medium length, I’d give this one some time in cellar.
2010 Kimmel Mendocino Merlot (100% Merlot)
Color: Dark red/crimson, with a browner edge, opaque.
Blackberry, blueberry, black pepper, dark chocolate, cigar; remarkably balanced, good fruit and spice, balanced through to the finish. This was a favorite of the group.
2012 Kimmel Mendocino Merlot
Color: Dark magenta with a purple ribbon edge.
Dark juicy fruits, moistened bark, milk chocolate; definitely tastes younger than the 2010 but may be more complex with ripe red and blue fruit flavors of that just need to be rounded with age.
2010 Kimmel Mendocino Cabernet Franc
Color: Dark garnet, pale brown edge.
Dark fruit, cracked black peppercorns, s bit of chocolate fudge; dark spicy fruit, tannic, long palate drying finish. Favorite of the tasting.
We were also sent home with a bottle of their 2012 Illuminate Red Blend (Merlot-based blend) to review:
Color: Purple, opaque.
Plum, prune, earth, very dark chocolate; same flavors in the mouth with the addition of black olive, with firm tannins, would like to see some age on this one.
Premier Cru Collection – First Class Provenance
While the luncheon (see the menu below) and the wines were great on their own, we also had the benefit of having our wines served in elegant Premier Cru handmade wineglasses. Yes, the wine glass is just as important to improving your wine experience as is the wine, the food and the company. Trust me. The stems on these glasses were so thin and delicate I first only felt confident holding them by the base. After learning that they were lead-free, and therefore stronger, I grew more confident holding them by their lovely stems.
Paul LaRussa, founder and chief designer at Premier Cru Collection said that too many people “in certain ways live in a throwaway society. This (stemware) elevates the fine wine experience. Handmade and lead free (they are) more durable stemware than you would expect by the elegance and thin stem.” The glasses can be used outdoors, have even been knocked over on granite counter top and they survived – but I wouldn’t try this at home.
LaRussa believes that “Light stemware allows weight of the wine to be highlighted.”
The company builds large custom wine cellars that LaRussa said are highly artistic. It is LaRussa’s vision to bring those that appreciate a handmade cellar a handmade tabletop to go with it. Wine is handmade so this stemware “completes the cycle.” Their 200-year old German factory makes the stemware and a French company makes their corkscrews.
The tagline of the company is, “Essence of the Fine Wine Experience…”
To see the glasses go to the website and click the online boutique: www.pcwinecellars.com/boutique Stemware is currently being used locally at Ysabel restaurant to drink from and K & L for purchase.
LEMON GARLIC CLAMS, CHORIZO CRUMBLE
WARM POTATO & OLIVE SALAD, BABY SPINACH
GRAIN MUSTARD VELOUTÉ
VEAL MARSALA SPRING PEA RISOTTO, RAINBOW CARROTS
GRILLED SKIRT STEAK
CRISPY FINGERLING POTATOES, CHIMICHURRI SAUCE
From Kimmel Vineyards Website
“…as we usher in a new era on the Ranch, we are working even harder to maintain a healthy ecological balance through sustainable farming practices. Our commitment to the land has carried us from cattle ranching to the vineyards. Our practices permeate every area of our operations out to the unplanted habitat acres and extending to the people who work in our vineyards. We continue to look for ways to improve our practices including solar, water, and wind power opportunities. All that we do and plan to do is with the sole purpose of producing the best possible grapes and absolutely delicious wine for you!”
Kimmel Vineyards is located in Potter Valley, Mendocino County, California. Established as Kimwood Ranch in 1963, the property is approximately 1100 acres with the vineyards at an elevation of about 1000 feet. The first Chardonnay vines were planted in 1986. The Merlot vineyard was planted in 1997. Recent grafting with Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc, Petite Verdot and Malbec will provide for future Bordeaux blends.
Winemaker: Bruce Regalia
Eve Bushman has been reading, writing, taking coursework and tasting wine for over 20 years. She has obtained a Level Two Intermediate Certification from the Wine and Spirits Education Trust, has been the subject of a 60-minute Wine Immersion video, authored “Wine Etiquette for Everyone” and recently served as a guest judge for the L.A. International Wine Competition. You can email Eve@EveWine101.com to ask a question about wine or spirits that may be answered in a future column. You can also seek her marketing advice via Eve@EveBushmanConsulting.com