Sanctuary Wine Review – Lovely Looking, Pleasant Tasting

When Chicago Splash journalists and interns gathered recently, they had the chance to taste three Sanctuary wines. On what was a very eclectic afternoon there was a play reading (an initial reading of a play written by one of their own) sampling of savory treats and wine tasting.  The three Sanctuary wines included in the tasting were: Cabernet Sauvignon 2005, Pinot Noir 2006, and Zinfandel 2005. The wines were greatly enjoyed.

Sanctuary Cabernet 2005

The tasters began with the Cabernet  Sauvignon 2005.  As they were tasting, they thought  that the wine would be most enjoyable when opened half an hour before a meal is served and then allowed to sit a bit after the wine is poured. This is a great wine to serve with red meat.  It is strong and hearty, full bodied, and though it starts heavy, it mellows and has a smooth follow through which lingers on your tongue.  In addition to being an enjoyable dinner wine, it is good with desserts, especially chocolate.

Sanctuary Label

Interesting addition information from the website says that
“Winemaker Dennis Martin sourced this Cabernet fruit from Usibelli Vineyards, a small, family-owned operation located in the Rutherford region, the widest part of the Napa Valley floor. Their vineyard is notable for two distinct blocks of roughly equal size; one planted back in 1985, and a newer one planted in 1999. The wine is a result of vinifying these blocks separately, then blending them together depending on their characteristics.
Tasting Notes: The nose displays aromas of cherry fruit with gingerbread and liquorice spice followed by toasty oak. On the palate it is concentrated and rich with well integrated tannins, elegant oak and dominant flavours of black cherry, vanilla and clove spice.
Producer: Sanctuary
Method of Production: The handpicked grapes (the older vine fruit was kept separate to that from the younger vines) were destemmed, crushed and fermented in small vats for seven to ten days, with pumping over three times daily. Total time in contact with the skins was three weeks, after which the wine was pressed off. Following malolactic conversion, the wine was transferred to French oak barrels (70% new) for 25 months' ageing. The final cuvée was blended, fined with egg white and bottled.”

Sanctuary Pinot Noir 2006

The group went on to try the Pinot Noir 2006 and enjoyed the light flavors of loganberry, blackberry and interesting citrus fruit flavors, with clove overtones.  This was thought to be spicier than the Cab they tasted.   

Some believed it would be very good with hearty cheese and heavy fish, salmon grilled or roasted (not poached) and nice with marinara sauce.  It was also mentioned that it would be a very nice wine when sitting, relaxing and sipping.

Pukeko-Like the pukeko, Sanctuary wines have energy

On its website its philosophy is explained as “Sanctuary’s brand symbol, the pukeko, is a vibrant and lively bird with a distinctive, cheeky personality. At our Waihopai Valley vineyard, the pukeko has made its home amongst the indigenous plants and wildlife of our treasured wetland. Like the pukeko, Sanctuary wines have energy, character and flair. Ideal for immediate enjoyment, they are wines that offer excellent value in an approachable style.

Winemakers Notes-
Sanctuary Pinot Noir is made in a soft, fruit-led style designed for easy drinking.
Bouquet: Rich bouquet of dark cherries and dark chocolate, with hints of French oak
Palate: Generous fruit on the palate including summer fruit. Well balanced with attractive tannin structure and oak influence.

The grapes for this wine underwent stainless steel fermentation on skins, with a regular pump-over regime. After pressing, malolactic fermentation was completed in tank before the wine was allowed to mature in French oak barriques and puncheons. A wide selection of barrel age and cooper has added to the wine’s complexity and palate structure.

Suggested food Matches- an excellent accompaniment to game and lighter meats including pork, rabbit, lamb and duck and also compliments mushroom dishes.

This wine is excellent drinking now, but it will also reward up to three years cellaring.”

Sanctuary Zinfandel 2005

Tasting the Zinfandel 2005, the Chicago Splash tasters enjoyed the chocolate, raspberry nose, and the deep ruby/garnet color.  They liked it with the spicy flavors of our snacks.  It was rich full bodied, smooth and mellow but “you know it’s there”. One comment was,  “ It beats the usual zinfandels I get”.  It is pleasant
on the tongue. It mellows as it breathes, and makes you feel great.

Website tells all saying, “ the winemaker is Dennis Martin at
Mariah Vineyard, Mendocino Ridge, Mendocino County. The Mariah
Vineyard at 2600 feet in the Mendocino Ridge appellation is
unique in all the world. On the rugged North Coast, there is
no vineyard that reaches to the sky higher than this. Scattered
across mountaintops, just above the fog line, the extraordinary
vineyards known as Islands In The Sky™ are warmed each day
before cooling maritime breezes are drawn westward to rest the
grapes each night. The sparse soils and daily dance of
temperature swings bring intensity and rich, complex flavors
to the concentrated berries. Each season meanders quietly
on the ridgetop, the struggle unseen, until Harvest brings fruit
down from the mountain, to craft an exquisite wine that now
will be featured in our Sanctuary vineyard series wines, celebrating
special winegrowing locations throughout California. Winemaking
& seasonal influences the mountain-top location of the Mariah
Vineyard means this is extreme winegrowing, on the edge in
every growing season. The meticulous farming practices of our
grower partners Dan & Vicki Dooling have evolved to the point
that miracles are routine and just an expected result when harvest
rolls around each fall.

The Wine’s appealing aromas of raspberry, white pepper, black licorice and allspice combine with sage and an exotic aroma of mandarin orange in this highly focused Zinfandel. Full bodied yet elegant and not overpowering flavors of blackberry, black licorice and black pepper combine with toasty oak notes of fresh vanilla and roasted chestnuts. Tannins are meaningful, yet mild, with a long, lingering finish and the expected touch of dark chocolate identifiable with the Mariah Vineyard over many vintages.”

The Sanctuary Zinfandel 2005 was delicious

Chicago Splash Magazine wine tasting participants agreed they would enjoy any or all of these wines in the future and would make an effort to locate them locally or order online.

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