Preview: Knights Bridge Wine Dinner at Blue Ginger

Monday, April 23, 2012

On Tuesday, April 24th 2012 Blue Ginger in Wellesley, MA is hosting a paired wine dinner featuring Knights Bridge Winery. The event costs $145 inclusive of tax and gratuity. Click here for details and more information.

I sat down with Knights Bridge Managing Director Timothy Carl to preview the wines slated to be poured at the dinner and learn more about the winery. I hadn't heard of Knights Bridge until recently. For some reason, when I first heard the name Knights Bridge I immediately thought of the well-regarded-as-a-value-play Beringer Knights Valley line-up. The Beringer wines are good, but a better comparison for Knights Bridge would be Peter Michael whose vineyards are a stone's throw from Knights Bridge's 120 acre estate north of Calistoga in the slopes of the Mayacamas mountain range.
Tim is one of those guys who lives in many circles. PhD in genetics. Harvard Fellow. Consulting experience at McKinsey and Putnam Associates. Quartermaster in the US Navy. Chef. UC Davis-education in winemaking. The guy loves to learn.

In 2005 he left Boston to return home to northern California and he's now bringing that experience, backed by 6 generations of winemaking, to the relatively new endeavor that is Knights Bridge. Their first officially released vintage was 2006 and they currently produce 1,200 cases.

When I asked him how he plans to get the attention of today's fickle wine consumers he said, "By making the absolute best wine possible." For him, everything comes back to that: Producing the best balanced wines they can.

We started off with a 2009 Pont de Chevalier Sauvignon Blanc. French for Knights Bridge, it's their second label. It was aged in stainless steel and neutral oak barrels (previously used, in this case for Chardonnay). I thought it was golden and sunny yet balanced nicely by racy minerality and acidity. Green apples and lemon zest. Tasty. 120 cases produced, $40. 89/100 WWP: Very Good.

Next up was the 2009 Knights Bridge West Block Chardonnay. This wine was chosen, along with wines from Screaming Eagle, Harlan, Colgin, Staglin, Peter Michael and others, to be poured at a reception at last year's G-8 summit at the Louvre. After tasting the wine I can see why it was included in this illustrious company.

The wine weighs in at 15.5% alcohol but you'd never guess it. Light golden in the glass, it's tremendously round and creamy yet beautifully clean and elegant. Complex aromas and flavors that seemed to change each time I tasted it. Most notable were roasted pear with coconut cream pie in the background. But approached from a different angle when tasted with food, zesty citrus aspects came forward. Quite a wine. 200 cases produced, $65. 93/100 WWP: Outstanding.
Timothy explained that the Knight's Valley AVA is unique in it's ability to produce both great Chardonnay and great Cabernet Sauvignon. This, he said, was due to diurnal temperature swings greater than 50F in the summer along with cooler micro climates where Chardonnay can excel.

The winemaker for both the Chardonnay and the Cabernet Sauvignon is Jeff Ames. Jeff has served as an assistant winemaker to the highly regarded Thomas Rivers Brown and has helped produce wines for Schrader, Maybach, and and Outpost as well as his own label Rudius.

The first Cabernet we tasted was a 2008 Knights Bridge Cabernet Sauvignon produced from mountain fruit from their estate vineyards in Sonoma (the Bridge in Knights Bridge is named for the "bridge" of sorts their property forms between Sonoma and Napa). The wine was aged for 28 months in 100% new French Oak and weighs in at a moderate 14.5% alcohol. The wine snuck up on me a bit. At first it presented itself as a "nice", pleasant, smooth Cab. But it built power on the mid-palate as it rested in my mouth and finished with a brawny, delicious chocolate-laced finish. 300 cases produced, $115. 92/100 WWP: Outstanding.

Next up was the 2008 Knights Bridge Beckstoffer Dr. Crane Cabernet Sauvignon. It was aged for 21 months in 100% new French Oak and is 14.9% alcohol. The Dr. Crane vineyard is just west of Tre Vigne restaurant if you're familiar with the area and is known for its rocky soils which tend to produce wine with small berries and scorched earth characteristics. It was quite a bit more tannic than the Knights Bridge at this stage, but also more complex and powerful. 135 cases produced, $135. 92/100 WWP: Outstanding.
The final wine we tasted was the 2008 Knights Bridge Beckstoffer To Kalon Cabernet Sauvignon (pronoucned "tow-kuh-lawn" and Greek for "highest beauty"). To Kalon is arguably the most sought after vineyard in America - especially amongst those who sell their grapes to other producers. The only domestic wines Wine Spectator has ever rated 100 points came from this vineyard in the form of Schrader's 2007 MM-VII and CCS bottlings.

Also aged for 21 months in 100% new French Oak, the grape clusters were destemmed and cold soaked for 24 hours then fermented on skins in tank. The wine is massive with explosive notes of blackberries, mocha, cinnamon, and chocolate covered espresso beans. Chalky, mouth-filling tannins support a long flavorful finish. Quite spectacular. 110 cases produced, $135. 94/100 WWP: Outstanding.

At last check there was still some availability for the dinner Tuesday night. Give Blue Ginger a call if you're interested in attending: 781-283-5790 x18 
If that doesn't work out for you check out their wines at these (and other) restaurants and retailers in Massachusetts:
  • Flemings
  • L'Espelier
  • Morton's Seaport
  • Radius
  • Bauer Wine & Spirits
  • Gordon's
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