Tasty SOMMary - Verite Winery

When Pierre Sellian invites you to taste 6 of their vintage Verité at Spruce in San Francisco, there’s nothing to say besides “Heck yes I will be there!”

Private room at Spruce San Francisco, with 6 Verite ready to be tasted

Verité, if you have not heard of it before, has quite an amazing story. Winemaker Pierre Sellian, originally from Bordeaux, met up with Jess Jackson of Kendall Jackson estate back in 1994, the two men shared their vision and passion for the future of winemaking, a couple of trips back and forth later, Verité was born. Since its inaugural 1998 vintage, their wines have earned fourteen 100 points score from Robert Parker, divided amongst their 3 separate wine label – La Muse, La Joie and Le Desir. Pierre originally only had 2 labels, with La Muse being a Merlot dominant blend and La Joie being a Cabernet dominant blend. In 2000, they introduce their 3rd label called Le Desir, which focuses on Cabernet Franc, a grape much lesser known in a Bordeaux blend, and rarely seem as the star of a blend. Since then, they completed the trinity of Verité and has capture the awes of fine wine collectors from all over the world.

One unique thing about Verité is that Pierre has a wide range of choices when it comes to grape source. Because Jess Jackson is one of the largest land owners in the California, Pierre gets to choose the best plots from Alexander Valley, Knights Valley and Chalk Hill to put into Verité each year. As a result, each year’s blend is always a little different, and it certainly reflected in the tasting. Each wine today was definitely equipped with its own unique personality.

What a treat!

“I like the mountain and its micro terroir, every 50 yards can be so very different, my winemaking method is not too much different from Champagne region, in the sense that I get to blend from a wide variety of fruit sources into the best expression each year” Pierre explains.

He also talks about his love for Sonoma over Napa, “The Pacific Ocean influences creates a unique climate, the only other place in the world where you see this climate is in Chile, and I love it! Sonoma also has the most diverse range of soil anywhere in the world! The only thing I don’t see in Sonoma is limestone soil, which is very commonly found in St-Emilion Bordeaux where I’m from, but Sonoma has everything else!”

It was obvious that Pierre is a true artist, he told stories after stories of how he studied the grass, soil, climate and aspect of Sonoma before starting the Verité project, and after 20 vintages he is still learning with each harvest. He’s also very particular about the oak program for the wines.  Most wineries buy barrels to age wines, but Jackson Family Estates is one of the very few wineries, that has its own cooperage for barrel. This allows Pierre to carefully monitored and each and step, from sourcing to toasting, it’s a labor of love for him. At no point did he mention or brag about the 100 point scores, points were not the focus, instead he has a vision - he wants to make an elegant, balanced, and pure wine that express its terroir, you can see the passion in his eyes and taste it in his wines.

Pierre Sellian - master of winemaker, passionate and humble

“This might sound strange, I have great passion for oak, but I never want to taste oak in my wine!” Pierre said after he explains his barrel program “I want the oak to be the ghost in the bottle, we know and think it is in there, but we can’t smell it or taste it”

Indeed, his wines were complex, expressive but never overwhelming or oaky. Balance seems to be the key for him, each vintage has very different aromas and taste, they are all made to be extraordinary, and not a cookie cutter wine that’s made to be the same year after year. When asked if he is looking into retirement after 50+ years of winemaking, he smiled and said “No, I’m still young, I’m going to work until I die”

six vintage Verite with detailed info on each wines

Today’s line up –

*2010 Le Desir

Overall this wine have the most expressive aromas, fruity, juicy and complex, very satisfying but not over powered, It kept me going back for more! Love the exotic and floral notes of the Cab Franc, one of the most enjoyable wines from the lineup!

Nose: Medium plus intensity, elegant and silky, lots of exotic floral notes. Fruits of cranberry, plum, raspberry and almost a touch of sweet blueberries with high tone and focused wild strawberries in the background. After the fruit layers the green olive, herbal floral scent starts to appear. It has the classic dusty cherry and violet notes I find in most Cabernet Franc, very varietally correct and finishes with a hint of vanilla, coffee and wet clay minerality on the finish.

Palate: Medium Tannin, High Alcohol, Medium Plus Acid, Long Length and High Complexity

*2008 La Muse

The most powerful wine in the lineup, this will change the way you think of Merlot! It’s dense, full bodied and has so much to give; a long (5+ hours) of decanting is needed, it also has the cellar potential for another 10-15 years! I don’t usually go by Robert Parker’s score for my own tasting, but this bottle has definitely earned its 100 points!

Nose: Sharp, focused and linear nose of black plum, prune, black olive, cassis and current. A blackberry pie next to savoy cured meat plus a side of light smoke in the glass. A muscular nose up front with hints of thyme and bay leaf in the back end.

Palate: High Tannin, High Alcohol, Medium Plus Acid, Medium Plus Length, Complex with huge mouthfeel

2008 La Joie

A well-integrated, mellow and pleasurable wine that’s ready to be enjoyed now.

Nose: Soft expression, elegant and developed fruits with medium intensity, light perfume of herbs and soft spices laced with some chalky minerals on the back end. Fruit is compact and focused with cherry, cranberry and other tart red fruit notes.

Palate: Medium Plus Tannin, Medium Plus Acid, Medium Plus Alcohol, Medium Length and Complexity

2008 Le Desir

Very well compose, starting to peak, easy drinking and enjoyable wine.

Nose: Warm spices, a more rounded reserved overall feel and touch of “wet stone” minerality. It’s medium on intensity with notes of chocolate, very inviting smells of just ripe cherries, cranberry and raspberry with bouquet of floral in the back end

Palate:  Medium Plus Acid, Medium Tannin, Medium Alcohol, Medium Plus Complexity and Length

2000 Le Desir

The most “Bordeaux” like of them all, reminded me of a good aged Right Bank Bordeaux.

Nose: Rocky mineral and herbal with web stony characteristics. Minty, refreshing and reserved.

Palate: Medium Plus Acid, Medium Tannin, Medium Alcohol, Medium Plus Complexity and Medium Finish

1998 La Joie

Very well structured and focused, still lively and very much alive! The 1998 are showing absolutely amazing for being a “difficult vintage” Once again.

Nose: Savory, dried cranberry, red cherries, and dusty strawberries. Lively acidity, still very much alive and have plenty more to give. Not tired at all, great color still in the glass. Lots of spices with leather and earth in the back drop. It’s well balanced with fruit and secondary aromas

Palate: Medium Tannin, Medium Alcohol, Medium Plus Acid, Medium Plus Complex and Long Length

So complex, so different, I would loved to stay there for 4 more hours and see the development of the wines

 ----------Chinese Version----------

如果Pierre Sellian邀請你到舊金山的Spruce餐廳品嚐他們真理酒莊(Verité)的六支酒款,除了「嗯,我一定會到!」之外,還有什麼好說的呢?

真理酒莊背後有一段精彩的的故事。1994年,來自波爾多的釀酒師Pierre Sellian認識了來自康爵酒莊的Jess Jackson,並相互分享對於釀酒的觀點和熱情。幾次討論之後,真理酒莊誕生了!自從1998第一支酒問世後,酒莊從知名酒評家Robert Parker手上贏得了14個100分!他們的酒款分為三個獨立酒標 – La Muse(繆思)、La Joie(喜悅)以及Le Desir(渴望)。Pierre原先只創建了兩款酒標,分別是以梅洛為主的混釀La Muse,以及以卡本內蘇維濃為主的混釀La Joie。2000年,酒莊推出了第三款酒標,也就是被稱為Le Desir的酒款。它以卡本內弗朗為主,這是波爾多混釀較不為人知,也是較少成為主角的品種。從那時起,真理酒莊完成了三巨頭酒款,同時也捕捉了來自全球好酒收藏家的注意。

 真理酒莊還有一個相當獨特的地方:Pierre在葡萄來源有很多的選擇權。因為Jess Jackson是加州最大的地主之一,Pierre能夠從亞歷山大谷(Alexander Valley)、騎士谷(Knights Valley)和粉筆丘(Chalk Hill)獲取最高品質的葡萄,並納入真理酒莊的產品線。因此,每年的混釀都會有一些差異,當然也會反映在風味上。今天要介紹的每個酒款都有專屬的特性。

「我很喜歡這裡的山脈還有微氣候,差50碼就可能有完全不同的呈現。我的釀酒方式和香檳區並沒有太大的不同,而且從某意義上來說,我每年都從大量的葡萄來源中釀製最好的酒款,」Pierre如此表示。

他也談到了相對於納帕谷,他更愛索諾瑪:「我真的非常喜愛太平洋為這個區域創造的獨特氣候!而且索諾瑪還有全球最多樣化的土壤!我唯一沒看到的是石灰岩土壤,但除此之外,這裡什麼都有!」

Pierre無疑是個富有熱忱的釀酒師,他能夠滔滔不絕地講述在創立真理酒莊之前,他是怎麼研究索諾瑪的植被、土壤、氣候和其他各方面。Pierre對於橡木桶也非常講究。大部分的酒莊都需要購買木桶來存放葡萄酒,但康爵酒莊是少數能自製酒桶的酒莊;這讓Pierre能更仔細地監控釀酒過程。他從不誇耀100分的酒,因為在他眼裡,分數都是浮雲~Pierre的目標是釀造出能代表這個區域,帶著優雅、平衡的純正酒款。在和他聊天的過程中,你可以從他的眼神裡讀到滿滿的熱情,也能從酒款裡嚐到他對葡萄酒的真心。

在提到橡木桶的時候,Pierre表示:「雖然我對橡木非常挑剔,但我卻不想在酒裡嚐到橡木的味道。我希望橡木成為酒中幽靈;我們知道它存在,但又無法感覺到它。」而確實,Pierre的酒雖然複雜又有表現力,但卻不過於誇張或有橡木味。平衡對他來說是最重要的:每支酒款都有非常不同的香氣和味道,都是非凡的成果,而不是年復一年的千篇一律。當問到他是否有退休的打算時,他笑著回答:「當然沒有,我還年輕得很呢!我要繼續工作直到生命終結。」

今日酒單 –

*2010 Le Desir –

整體而言這支酒的香氣最濃郁,充滿果香而富含層次,非常令人滿意,讓我一直續杯!我非常喜歡卡本內弗朗的異國風和花香,是酒單中最棒的酒款之一!

嗅聞:強度中等以上,優雅而帶絲滑感,並有大量的異國花香。另外伴隨著蔓越莓、李子、覆盆子和一些甜藍莓的香氣,並在背景中擁有強烈的野莓味,接著會出現綠橄欖和草本花香。我在這支酒裡還聞到了卡本內弗朗的經典積塵櫻桃和紫羅蘭氣息,非常多樣化。最後則有一些香草、咖啡以及潮濕黏土礦物質的味道。

味道:中等單寧感及酸度、高酒精濃度、尾韻深長,且複雜度高。

*2008 La Muse

酒單中最強烈的酒款。它會改變你對梅洛的印象!這支酒酒體飽滿厚重且層次複雜。它需要長時間醒酒(5小時以上),再存放個10-15年也都很美味!我通常不會受Robert Parker的分數影響,但這款酒絕對擔得起100分滿分!

嗅聞:鋒利、集中而深長的黑李、西梅乾、黑橄欖以及黑醋栗的氣味。適合搭配黑莓派和開胃燻肉。一開始有百里香的氣息,最後則有月桂葉味道。

味道:高單寧感、高酒精濃度、中等酸度、尾韻中等、複雜而豐富的口感。

2008 La Joie

一款完美整合、醇厚而美味的酒。現在即可享用。

嗅聞:表現力柔和、優雅而完美的果香。中等強度,帶著些許草本植物和香料氣息,最後伴隨著白堊土礦物質的味道。果香緊湊,以櫻桃、蔓越莓和其他紅色水果香為主。

味道:中等以上單寧感、酸度以及酒精濃度,尾韻中等而富多層次。

2008 Le Desir

完美的組成,是款開啟最佳賞味期的酒。非常容易飲用,也相當美味。

嗅聞:溫暖香料、更圓潤的整體口感,以及一些「濕石頭」的礦物質味道。強度中等並伴隨著巧克力、誘人的恰熟櫻桃、蔓越莓和覆盆子的氣息,最後則有花香。

味道:中等以上酸度、中等單寧感與酒精濃度、中等以上層次感及尾韻。

2000 Le Desir

酒單中最「波爾多」的酒款,讓我想起了波爾多右岸的陳年好酒。

嗅聞:岩石礦物質、草本植物的特性。帶薄荷味、清新而帶陳年感。

味道:中等以上酸度、中等單寧感與酒精濃度、中等以上層次感與中等尾韻。

1998 La Joie

結構完整而集中,是款仍然非常鮮活的好酒!1998年酒款絕對是另一個在「艱難年份」中釀製的美酒。

嗅聞:美味蔓越莓乾、紅櫻桃以及積塵草莓味。酸度鮮活,層次感相當多元。雖然已有一段年份,但色澤還是很漂亮。能聞到大量香料、皮革與泥土味。果香與第二香氣間完美平衡。

味道:中等單寧與酒精濃度,中等以上酸度、層次感與尾韻。

 *Very limited library release for purchase available, first come first serve until sold out

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