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Twomey Cellars

Owner(s) Raymond Twomey Duncan
Web site www.twomeycellars.com
 
Link to this site
Twomey Cellars

Raymond Twomey Duncan and Justin Meyer were the original co-owners of Silver Oak Cellars, an iconic California producer of Napa Valley and Alexander Valley Cabernet Sauvignon founded in 1972. Silver Oak Cellars Cabernet Sauvignon soon became America’s most requested Cabernet Sauvignon. What wine lover isn’t aware of the catchy byline of Silver Oak Cellars: “Life is a Cabernet.” Justin Meyer served as president and winemaker at Silver Oak Cellars for almost three decades before selling his half-interest in Silver Oak Cellars to Raymond Duncan in 2001 and retiring (he passed away in 2002).

The Duncan family acquired the Soda Canyon Ranch in southeastern Napa Valley in 1999, a vineyard planted with French clones of Merlot in well-drained volcanic soils. It represented such a superb site, the vineyard offered the opportunity to produce an extraordinary Merlot and Twomey Cellars was born. The name, Twomey, the maiden name of David Duncan’s grandmother, was chosen to reflect the family’s ownership of the new winery. David Duncan, who was to assume the title of President and CEO of Silver Oak Cellars in 2002 and his brother, Tim Duncan, a long time sales manager and currently Exexcutive Vice President of Silver Oak Cellars, are the Managing Partners of Twomey Cellars and were both instrumental in the creation of Twomey Cellars. Twomey Cellars is separate from Silver Oak Cellars, but both are owned by the Duncan family.

A Calistoga winery was acquired to house Twomey Cellars Merlot, and the first release in 2000 was crafted by Daniel Baron, a veteran winemaker (since 1970) who developed his passion for Merlot during the early 1980s while working in Pomerol and St. Emilion. Baron uses a method known as soutirage traditional, considered an ideal process in Pomerol for softening tannins and drawing out the most desirable fruit characteristics. Today, Twomey Cellars also produces a superb Napa Valley Sauvignon Blanc from the former Stonegate Vineyard in Calistoga. The Duncans have added new Sauvignon Blanc plantings as well to their property just east of the winery which is more suitable for white wine than Pinot Noir. The Sauvignon Blanc follows the Sancerre model.

In 2000, the Duncan family secured the 9-acre West Pin Vineyard located on Westside Road near Westside Farms in the Russian River Valley. Several years later, the Duncans acquired the Roshambo Winery facility on Westside Road in Healdsburg, a large, modern complex including a tasting room overlooking the Russian River to the East. The winery was retrofitted for state-of-the-art Pinot Noir production.

The intent at Twomey Cellars is to produce blended appellation-designated Pinot Noirs, unless Twomey owns the vineyard and the vineyard is worthy of designation. Twomey acquired the Monument Tree Vineyard in Anderson Valley in 2010 and now forms the basis of its Anderson Valley Pinot Noir, with Savoy Vineyard and Ferrington Vineyard fruit playing lesser roles. In time, the Anderson Valley Pinot Noir may become a Monument Tree single vineyard Pinot Noir. The exception is the Central Coast appellation bottling which is sourced entirely from the Bien Nacido Vineyard. Since all the fruit comes from this renowned vineyard, beginning in 2009, the Central Coast Pinot Noir is designated Bien Nacido Vineyard. The Duncans were fortunate in that Lane Tanner decided to retire and they were able to acquire her own-rooted Block N rows, some of the first Pinot Noir plantings at Bien Nacido. The Bien Nacido Vineyard Pinot Noir includes Block N and two other blocks in this prestigious vineyard. The Sonoma Coast bottling is anchored by Gap’s Crown Vineyard located in the cool Petaluma Gap region of the Sonoma Coast, and the Russian River Valley Pinot Noir features primarily fruit from the estate WestPin Vineyard in the Middle Reach.

The initial Pinot Noir winemaker at Twomey Cellars was Daniel Baron, but he now concentrates on the Twomey Merlot, but still directs winemaking at the Twomey’s Calistoga and Healdsburg wineries. Australian winemaker, Ben Cane, became the assistant winemaker for the Pinot Noir program at Twomey Cellars, and in 2008, assumed responsibility for the Sauvignon Blanc production as well. Cane has a B.S. in Organic Chemistry and Psychology from the University of Adelaide and a postgraduate diploma in enology from the same school. He has traveled and worked all over the world, including winemaking stints at Arcadian Wines in Santa Barbara County and Domaine Dujac in Morey-St.-Denis. Joe Davis, the owner of Arcadian Wines taught him the credo, “If we are going to make great wine, we have to drink great wine,” and that is exactly what they did. Cane holds true to this credo today.

The style of Pinot Noir at Twomey Cellars is meant to be refined and food-friendly and has evolved over the last ten years. Night harvesting is followed by rigorous sorting. After a 7-day cold soak, indigenous yeast fermentations continue. Generally, 15% whole cluster fermentations are favored and the wines are raised for an average of 15 months sur lie in 35% to 50% new French oak barrels from ten different cooperages.

I recently visited Twomey Cellars in Healdsburg and tasted with David Duncan and Daniel Baron. I re-tasted the four 2009 Twomey Cellars Pinot Noirs at home over a two day period. I was struck by the improvement in the wines compared to the last few vintages, which although solid, lacked charm and interest. The 2009 wines are another story and it is evident that Baron and Cane are dialing it in. The wines also benefited from a relatively uneventful growing season in California with moderate summer temperatures. The 2009 Twomey Cellars Pinot Noirs are currently a bit tight aromatically and benefit from time in the glass. All the wines were aromatically more expressive a day after opening and sitting in the cellar re-corked. They are crisp, juicy and refreshing with plenty of verve and moderately low alcohols with no disagreeable over ripe flavors (like many California Pinot Noirs today). All the wines have moderate reddish-purple color.

Like Silver Oak Cabernet Sauvignon, the Twomey Pinot Noirs are made to be enjoyed shortly after release, but possess the structure and balance to age beautifully. I also tasted barrel samples of single vineyard lots from the promising 2010 vintage, giving me a peek at a future lineup of wines that will show even further refinement and complexity. David and Daniel are very excited about the 2010 vintage and rightfully so. There has been plenty of chatter in the wine press applauding restrained, lighter and more balanced Pinot Noirs, and the Twomey Cellars Pinot Noirs, which exemplify this style, are a clear example of why this genre of California Pinot Noir is becoming de rigeur for pinotaficionados. I, personally, applaud the trend.

Clearly, there is a serious commitment at Twomey Cellars to produce Pinot Noirs to rival their lofty and iconic neighboring wineries on Westside Road. One example is an analytical berry tasting vocabulary they have developed to communicate the status of skin ripeness between field workers and winemakers. Skin, seed and pulp ripeness are critical determinations involved in picking decisions. The field worker can assess the maturity of the skins by chewing on the skins and then relaying their status by communicating with terms that are understood by those at the winery such as “leathery” (unripe) or “shredding” (easily fall apart). Similarly, seeds are evaluated (“turning brown,” for example, would indicate a degree of ripeness) and the pulp is characterized (“liquefied” would mean a certain stage of maturity).

Another example is Silver Oak and Twomey’s commitment to avoiding cork taint. Corks are rigorously tested for TCA, and over the past few years, the incidence of cork taint has been reduced in the company’s wines from 2% to .5%, a small, but significant amount.

Twomey Cellars Pinot Noirs and Merlot are priced at $50 and the Sauvignon Blanc at $25. The annual production at Twomey Cellars is 12,000 cases for all wines. The two tasting rooms, Twomey Calistoga and Twomey Healdsburg, are open daily. The wines are well distributed through finer retailers. Visit the website at www.twomeycellars.com for more information.

Twomey Cellars tasting room is open Monday through Saturday from 9-4. It is located two miles south of Calistoga at the intersection of Highway 29 and Dunaweal Lane (1183 Dunaweal Lane). Tastings, including a Twomey tasting glass, are $5. The phone is 800-505-4850. The Twomey Pinot Noir may be purchased on the website, through the tasting room, as well as through retail distribution (stores that stock Silver Oak).

Reviewed Wines

2011 Twomey Anderson Valley Pinot Noir

13.1% alc., pH 3.52, TA 0.56, $46 (Magnums too, $90). Released April 27, 2013. Sourced from the estate Monument Tree Vineyard and Ferrington Vineyard. · Moderately light reddish-purple hue in the glass. Glorious aromas of fresh black raspberry jam, potpourri and spice. I just love that smell. Really delicious marriage of dark berries and cherries with a subtle mocha note. The ripe fruit really pops, reaching every corner of the mouth, and finishing strong and satisfying. There is an appealing tension and focus to this wine and the satiny texture is captivating. An incredible effort in a difficult vintage and my kudos to winemaker Ben Cane. Still great the following day from a previously opened and re-corked bottle when my family polished it off. A 2013 All American. Reviewed June 23, 2013 ARTICLE »

2011 Twomey Russian River Valley Pinot Noir

13.1% alc., $50 (Magnums too, $100). Middle reach vineyard sources. · Moderately deep reddish-purple color in the glass. Bing cherry, holiday spice and subtle oak all sing in harmony in this terrific wine that does not have quite the bling of the Anderson Valley bottling but it is just as satisfying. The mid palate attack of cherries and cola nearly brings you to your knees and the silky texture is outrageously seductive. Ripe tasting but not over ripe with just the right tension: Russian River Valley Pinot Noir as it should be. Reviewed June 23, 2013 ARTICLE »

2011 Twomey Bien Nacido Vineyard Santa Maria Valley Pinot Noir

12.9% alc., pH 3.48, TA 0.58, $54. Released September 14, 2013. From organically farmed hillside plantings including Block N, one of the original 1972 plantings of the Martini clone on its own roots. Aged 13 months sur lie in 58% new and 42% once-used French oak barrels. · Moderately light reddish-purple color in the glass. A number of aromas jump out of the glass, including black cherry, black currant, baking spice and toasty oak. Sleek and satiny on the palate, with flavors of red cherries, raspberries, pomegranates, cola and vanilla. The modest fruit concentration is buoyed by gossamer tannins and juicy acidity. Score: 89. Reviewed October 11, 2013 ARTICLE »

2010 Twomey Anderson Valley Pinot Noir

13.6% alc., pH 3.48, TA 0.61, 1,853 cases, $46. Sourced from Ferrington, Savoy and Monument Tree vineyards. Aged 15 months sur lies in 45% new and 55% once-used French oak barrels. · Moderately light reddish color in the glass. Muted, but pleasing aromas of fresh strawberries, raspberries, dried rose petals and sandalwood. Delicious core of raspberry flavor elevated by brisk acidity, draped in well-proportioned tannins, underlain with a complimentary note of oak and savory herbs, and finishing with a vivid riff of cherry fruit which lingers for a remarkably long time. A seamless wine that is uncommonly refreshing. Tasted against several very good Anderson Valley Pinot Noirs, this was the clear standout. Re-tasted the next day from a previously opened and re-corked bottle, the wine had become more aromatic and generous in flavor. Irresistable. Reviewed June 24, 2012 ARTICLE »

2010 Twomey Bien Nacido Vineyard Santa Maria Valley Pinot Noir

13.5% alc., pH 3.50, TA 0.63, 1,100 cases, $50. Released September 29, 2012. The backbone of this wine comes from Blocks 1, 7 and 9, all organically farmed hillside plantings. This is the first vintage that grapes were obtained from Block N, one of the original 1972 plantings of own-rooted Martini clone. Aged 15 months sur lies in 35% new and 65% once-used French oak barrels. · Medium reddish-purple color in the glass. Demure aromas of dark red cherries and berries with hints of rose petals, spice and underbrush. Moderately rich with an array of red and black berry flavors supported by svelte tannins and lifted by bright acidity. Elegant and soft in the mouth, with an impressively long, crisp finish. Much more expressive and enjoyable the following day from a previously opened and re-corked bottle showing hi-tone aromas of cherries, exotic woods and spice. Will need the most cellaring of all the 2010 Twomey Pinot Noirs, but will be well worth the wait. Reviewed October 2, 2012 ARTICLE »

2010 Twomey Russian River Valley Pinot Noir

13.6% alc., pH 3.49, TA 0.65, 2,600 cases, $50. Released April 28, 2012. Sourced from the sustainably farmed, estate West Pin Vineyard and sustainably farmed Crinella Vineyard. Aged 15 months sur lie in 50% new and 50% once used French oak barrels. · Moderately light reddish-purple color in the glass. Nicely perfumed with aromas of fresh Bing cherries, blueberries, spice and floral notes. Delicious core of mouthwatering dark cherry and strawberry flavors with cinnamon and other baking spices, and supportive oak in the background. Very silky in the mouth. Vibrant in character due to uplifting acidity, producing a refreshingly bright finish that lasts and lasts. A beautiful, elegant wine of distinct character that is very food-friendly. Still needs time to reach its apogee and will benefit from decanting if you drink now. This wine will convert you to Pinotholicism. Reviewed June 24, 2012 ARTICLE »

2009 Twomey Napa Valley Sauvignon Blanc

13.9% alc., $25, screw cap. Sourced primarily from the estate vineyard surrounding the Twomey winery on Dunaweal Lane just south of Calistoga. Very attractive stately clear bottle. · Clear color in the glass. Aromas of lemon curd, eucalyptus, pineapple and banana. Flavors of golden apple, lemon, Kumquat zest and grass. A delicate wine that is bright with acidity yet slightly creamy on the palate. Put a little chill on this and take it along as a perfect summer picnic companion. Good. Reviewed June 8, 2010 ARTICLE »

2009 Twomey Anderson Valley Pinot Noir

13.6% alc., pH 3.48, TA 0.61, 1,853 cases, $46, released April 28, 2012. Sourced from Ferrington Vineyard, Savoy Vineyard and Monument Tree Vineyard (estate owned). Aged 15 months sur lies in 45% new and 55% once used French oak barrels. · Moderately light reddish-purple color in the glass. Nicely perfumed with an array of red berries, hibiscus and rose petals. Crisp and bright, with vivid flavors of dark red raspberries, cranberries and pomegranates. The fruit really sings on the long finish. Very good (+). Reviewed June 24, 2012 ARTICLE »

2009 Twomey Anderson Valley Pinot Noir

13.8% alc., pH 3.48, TA 0.62, 1,782 cases, $50. Monument Tree (Navarro), Savoy (Philo), and Ferrington (Boonville) vineyards representing different climates. Aged 14 months in 40% French oak barrels. · The nose opens slowly to reveal pleasing aromas of berry tart, baking spice, and toasty oak. On entry, there is a blast of very appealing cherry and raspberry fruit which clings to the lengthy finish. Subtle notes of cinnamon spice, vanilla and oak add interest. Discreet intensity, delicious tasting and noticeably crisp with supple tannins. A beautiful wine. Reviewed April 11, 2011 ARTICLE »

2009 Twomey Bien Nacido Vineyard Santa Maria Valley Pinot Noir

13.9% alc., pH 3.49, TA 0.57, 1,100 cases, $50. Sourced from blocks 1, 7 and 9, all organically farmed. Aged 15 months in 35% new French oak barrels. · Both fruity and savory scents highlighted by aromas of strawberries, raspberries, and fresh cut herbs, with accents of sandalwood and oak vanillin. Strikingly flavorful on the mid palate with generous amounts of layered red fruits flooding the mouth, yet light on its feet with an appealing elegance. Plenty of vim and vigor, smooth as silk, with a lively grip of acidity, and some impressive length on the pleasing finish that makes you want to take another sip. This wine is a love letter from heaven. Reviewed April 11, 2011 ARTICLE »

2009 Twomey Cellars Anderson Valley Pinot Noir

13.8% alc., pH 3.48, TA 0.62, 1,782 cases, $50. Released April 30, 2011. Sourced from Ferrington, Savoy and Monument Tree vineyards. Twomey purchased the Monument Tree Vineyard in 2010. 7-day cold soak, indigenous yeast fermentations, some whole cluster, aged 15 months on the lees in 40% new French oak barrels. · Moderately light reddish-purple color and clear in the glass. Attractive aromas of berry preserves, baking spices, petrichlor and gently toasted oak. A graceful wine with layers of lithe cherry and raspberry fruit that dance on the lengthy finish. Quite drinkable now. Very good (+). Reviewed July 1, 2011 ARTICLE »

2009 Twomey Russian River Valley Pinot Noir

13.6% alc., pH 3.54, TA 0.54, 1,290 cases, $50. Sourced from WestPin Vineyard in the Middle Reach of the Russian River Valley complimented by a small amount of fruit from vineyards in Freestone and Forestville. Aged for 14 months in 50% new French oak barrels. · Brooding perfume of black cherries, ripe strawberries, baking spices, crusty bread and faint toasty oak. Perky and smooth on the palate, with moderately rich flavors of Bing cherry, cola, and oak vanillin. Crisp, with bright acidity on the refreshing and cherry-filled finish. Much better the following day from a previously opened and re-corked bottle. Very good. Reviewed April 11, 2011 ARTICLE »

2009 Twomey Sonoma Coast Pinot Noir

13.6% alc., pH 3.48, TA 0.63, 2,645 cases, $50. Sourced from Gap’s Crown Vineyard and La Cruz Vineyard, both located in the Petaluma Gap. Aged 14 months in 40% new French oak barrels. · Darker fruited and more intense on the nose with a complimentary note of spice, dried rose petals, and oak, opening slowly over time in the glass. The most generously flavored wine in the lineup with a core of juicy cherry pie filling and dark berry flavors accented by notes of dried herbs, vanilla and burnished oak, leaving the crisp flavor of cherry skins in its wake on the finish. A seamless wine with moderately firm tannins and well proportioned acidity. Very good (+). Reviewed April 11, 2011 ARTICLE »

2009 Twomey Sonoma Coast Pinot Noir

13.6% alc., $50. · Moderate reddish-purple color in the glass. Aromas jump out including black cherries, potpourri, spice and charred oak. Medium weight core of fresh dark red and black berries and cherries with well-integrated fine-grain, tawny tannins, and supported by a bright acid spine, finishing with a slightly citrusy, uplifting finish. Very good. Reviewed June 24, 2012 ARTICLE »

2008 Twomey Anderson Valley Pinot Noir

13.7% alc., pH 3.56, $50. Sourced from Ferrington Vineyard, Savoy Vineyard and Monument Tree Vineyard. Whole clusters added to the open-top fermenters. 7-day cold soak. Clones were fermented separately. Juice rested on the skins 5 days post fermentation. Aged 6 months on the lees and 6 months off the lees in 40% new French oak barrels. · Moderately light in color. Restrained aromas of red berries, cedar and barnyard. Light in body with flavors of strawberries, Red Vines, dried cherries and game. Supple tannins and easy drinkability but lacks interest. Good. Reviewed June 8, 2010 ARTICLE »

2008 Twomey Russian River Valley Pinot Noir

14.4% alc., pH 3.62, $50. Sourced from the estate West Pin Vineyard and Crinella Vineyard. Whole clusters were added to open top fermenters. Aged 13 months on the lees in 50% new French oak barrels. · Moderately light in color. Aromas of black cherries, red hots and sawn oak. Tasty cherry cola core without much added nuance. Tannins are restrained and there is lively acidity on the bright finish. This wine is understated but charming. Very good. Reviewed June 8, 2010 ARTICLE »

2008 Twomey Russian River Valley Pinot Noir

14.1% alc., $50. Sourced from the Middle Reach. Aged 13 months sur lie in 50% new French oak barrels. · Terrific, well-spiced cherry aroma. Fruit driven with copious black cherry, black raspberry fruit enhanced by flavors of cherry cola and baking spices. Nicely put together with beautifully married oak. A solid choice. Very good. Reviewed November 24, 2010 ARTICLE »

2008 Twomey Santa Barbara County Pinot Noir

13.4% alc., pH 3.57, $50. Sourced from Bien Nacido Vineyard in the Santa Maria Valley. Whole clusters added to open-top fermenters. 7-day cold soak. Post fermentation maceration. Aged 12 months on the lees in 40% new French oak barrels. · Scents of plums, underbrush and oak char. Middle weight flavors of dark fruits and blueberries with an earthy undertone. Pleasant and easy to drink with a silky mouth feel. Good. Reviewed June 8, 2010 ARTICLE »

2008 Twomey Sonoma Coast Pinot Noir

14.3% alc., pH 3.58, $50. Sourced from four vineyards including McDougall Ranch, Putnam, Gap’s Crown and Rodgers Creek. Whole clusters added to open-top fermenters. 7-day cold soak. Each clone was fermented separately. Aged 13 months on the lees in 40% new French oak barrels. · Moderately dark reddish-purple color in the glass. Lovely aromas of fresh wild berries and plum tart with a hint of smoke and sagebrush. Medium-weighted flavors of strawberries, raspberries and an underbody of citrus. A hint of smoke surfaces in the glass. Lacks mid palate impact and seems awkward, although it improves some in the glass indicating it will benefit from further aging in the bottle. Good. Reviewed June 8, 2010 ARTICLE »

2007 Twomey Cellars Anderson Valley Pinot Noir

14.1% alc., $45. · Moderately light ruby color. Extroverted nose of blackberries, tobacco and violets. Very tasty core of lush black cherry and black berry fruits. The flavors attack in waves and hold on. Velvety smooth with soft tannins and balanced acidity. A seductive wine that perfectly fits the description of an iron fist in a velvet glove. Reviewed June 5, 2009 ARTICLE »

2007 Twomey Cellars Russian River Valley Pinot Noir

14.1% alc., $50, unreleased. This Westside Road winery was founded in 1999 by the Duncan Family, founders of Silver Oak. This Pinot Noir comes from the winery’s West Pin Vineyard planted to a mix of Dijon, Pommard and Martini clones and a vineyard in Forestville planted to Dijon 115 and 777, Pommard, Swan, Calera, Mt. Eden and 420A clones. · Flamboyant and precocious for a 2007 vintage wine. Intense boysenberry and black cherry fruit with almost chewy density that persists on the finish like the memory of a luscious kiss. Plentiful grip and tannins to offset the fruit. Reviewed April 18, 2009 ARTICLE »

2007 Twomey Cellars Russian River Valley Pinot Noir

14.1% alc., $50. · Moderately light in color. Delicate aromas of Bing cherries, roses, freshsawn oak and baking spices. The cherry core is rich and flavorful enhanced with oak spice and buttressed with ample acidity. Raspberries linger on the long and dry finish. The velvety texture is heavenly. A seamless wine with that signature Pinot Noir ephemeral character. Reviewed May 7, 2009 ARTICLE »

2006 Twomey Russian River Valley Pinot Noir

14.2% alc., $48. · Moderately light reddish-purple in color. Attractive scents of crushed plums, Bing Cherry, oak smoke and fresh crusty bread. Dark red cherry fruit on the palate with a hint of raisin and loamy earth. Silky, supple tannins, and a dry, tangy finish. A good drink that will please many. Reviewed November 17, 2008 ARTICLE »

2004 Twomey Cellars Russian River Valley Pinot Noir

14.4% alc., 795 cases, $45. · This Pinot has a lovely mahogany color. It has a nose you could drink with notes of red cherries, rhubarb, herbs and oak. The style is elegant and the mouth feel is luxurious. The finish lingers like what I would imagine to be a multiple orgasm and features sweet Jolly Rancher cherry, cola, spice and toast. Heaven-sent. Reviewed November 7, 2006 ARTICLE »