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Twomey Cellars More Than Merlot

Twomey Cellars sprang from a dream of owners Raymond Twomey Duncan and family to employ a labor-intensive approach (soutirage traditional) utilized by the classified growths of Bordeaux to produce a Napa Valley Merlot of great distinction. The soutirage traditional is a slow process of decanting the wine from one barrel to another without the use of pumps. The wine is transferred by gravity using specially constructed barrels from France. In 1999, the Duncan family, founders of Silver Oak Cellars, purchased the 150-acre Soda Canyon Ranch in southeastern Napa Valley and planted a vineyard to Merlot. Winemaker Daniel Baron, who had experience working in wineries in Pomerol and St. Emilion, was hired. Sideways jokes aside, the result was a classic and superb Merlot which has received many accolades.

In 2000, the Duncans acquired the 9-acre West Pin Vineyard on Westside Road in the Russian River Valley. Two acres previously planted to the Martini clone in 1989 were used solely in the first two vintages of Twomey Pinot Noir. The remaining 7 acres were planted to a mixture of Pommard and Dijon clones and form the nucleus of the wine since the third vintage in 2004.

Winemaking is very traditional. During fermentation in open-top fermenters, punch downs are carried out every six hours, the wine is pressed in a small basket press, and transferred to French Burgundy barrels where they complete malolactic fermentation. The wine is aged for 16 months (8 months of which is “sur lies”).

2004 Twomey Cellars Russian River Valley Pinot Noir 14.4% alc., 795 cases, $45. Lovely deep garnet color. A Pinot with a nose you could drink featuring Bing cherry, Asian spices and a kiss of oak. The flavor profile is cherry-driven with cola and mocha highlights. Beautifully balanced and elegant.

2005 Twomey Cellars Russian River Valley Pinot Noir 14.7% alc., $50. Sappy aromatic core of spiced cherries and violets with a hit of sweet oak. Similar to the 2004 vintage with cherry-driven flavors and a deft touch of oak. Plenty of grace and splendor. Patty asked for a second glass - enough said.

Twomey Cellars has two tasting rooms which are open Mon-Sat from 9-4. Tasting is $5 including a Twomey tasting glass. Tours are by appointment (tours@twomeycellars.com). The Calistoga tasting room (in the former Stonegate Winery) is located at 1183 Dunaweal Lane and the Healdsburg tasting room is in the former Roshambo Winery on Westside Road at 3000 Westside Road. There is limited retail distribution of Twomey wines. A Napa Valley Sauvignon Blanc is also available. 800-505-4850. The website is www.twomeycellars.com.

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