Last Friday I had the pleasure of meeting the Cellar No. 8 marketing team and tasting through the current releases along with brand winemaker, Paul Rydquist. After a great lunch at Catelli’s in Geyserville (awesome heirloom tomato salad!) we settled down to business which included the tastings.
For those who have not been to Asti Winery, home of Cellar No. 8 and Souverain, in the Alexander Valley, I’ll explain a bit about the brand. Asti Winery was originally called Italian Swiss Colony and was founded in 1881 by a group of Italian and Swiss immigrants. Over the years, they became most famous for a wine called Tipo Chianti, an Italian style blend of red varieties which they grew on the property here. Asti is home to the world’s first tasting room and the world’s largest underground tank (or at least it was in the early 1900s). After Prohibition the winery took off again and played host to around 250,000 visitors per year (2nd only to Disneyland in CA) during the 50s and 60s. This popularity prompted the architects of Highway 101 to give the winery its own exit called Asti which is still our main entrance today and is marked by a historical marker. Stop in if you happen to be traveling in CA on 101! Anyway with all that history the people of Asti Winery decided that it needed a brand and the company couldn’t agree more so Cellar No. 8 was born, inspired by one of our older cellar buildings here on site called No. 8.
Cellar No. 8 has two labels; the white label which is nationally distributed and the black label which is only sold through the tasting room and a small number of off-site stores. We went through the entire gambit on Friday; both black and white labels, and below are my notes and personalities of the wine.
Cellar No. 8 California Pinot Gris 2009 (White Label)
Stone and Chalk with a hint of Zesty and Fruity
A pale lemon colored core accented by a nose filled with lemons and white flowers brought together by undertones of wet chalk. Off-dry with moderately high acid and medium alcohol, the palate flavors mirror the aromas on the nose with candied Meyer lemons, jasmine, and wet slate. Crisp, refreshing, and to the point this is an easy drinker.
Cellar No. 8 California Chardonnay 2009 (White Label)
Medium gold core with lemon highlights. Moderate aromas of caramel, brown spices, and melted butter with hints of green apple fill the nose while the palate is off-dry with moderately high acid and medium plus alcohol. The flavors in the mouth move more towards tropical fruits supported by spice and light toast with a moderately long finish.
Cellar No. 8 Sauvignon Blanc 2009 (Black Label)
Zesty and Fruity with a bit of Fresh and Grassy
Pale lemon green core with aromas of Passion Fruit, Pink grapefruit, and guava this wine is much less grassy than some other Sauv Blancs from New World origins. Dry with high acid and moderate alcohol the flavors on the palate show bits of lime zest, grapefruit, guava, and a long finish. One of my favorite summer wines!
Cellar No. 8 Sonoma County Chardonnay 2008 (Black Label)
Buttery Beauty all the way
A moderately deep gold core sets the tone for this wine which is echoed in the intense nose displaying cloves, toast, butter, and ripe pineapple notes. The palate is dry with moderately high acid and alcohol, low oak tannins and a long finish with flavors of baking spices, butter, and toast. The new oak influence is lovely and intense.
Cellar No. 8 Syrah Rose 2008 (Black Label)
Zesty and Fruity
The color is a beautiful shade of deep rose with aromas on the nose of cherries, strawberries, and hints of lemon. A dry palate with moderately high acid and alcohol complete with a bit of structure from low tannin levels make this wine a great choice for summer dining when you need something besides a white wine. The berry flavors continue in the mouth to a moderately long and refreshing finish.
Cellar No. 8 California Pinot Noir 2008 (White Label)
Zesty and Fruity
The medium ruby core and lovely cherry and strawberry nose make this Pinot easy to approach. The palate is dry with moderate acid and medium-low soft tannins. The lighter style and fruity palate is complemented by a hint of spice on the moderate finish.
Cellar No. 8 California Merlot 2008 (White Label)
Power Punch with a Zesty and Fruity side
A deep ruby core and a nose screaming of bing cherry with a hint of dried herbs starts this wine off on the right foot. Dry with moderate acid and moderately high alcohol, it also has flavors of red cherries, cola, cloves, toast, and dried thyme on the finish
Cellar No. 8 California Zinfandel 2008 (White Label)
Elegant and Floral
Aromas of black mission figs, black cherries, and vanilla fill the nose of this deep ruby colored wine. The palate is dry with medium acid and moderately high alcohol with intense characters of brown baking spices, vanilla, cherries, and figs with pomegranates and a moderately long finish.
Cellar No. 8 California Cabernet Sauvignon 2008 (White Label)
This wine started it all and still keeps going with a deep ruby core and moderately intense aromas of blackberries, black cherries, spices, and toast. The palate is dry with moderately high acid and alcohol supported by moderately high, ripe tannins. Flavors in the mouth move towards dark fruits, cloves, and oak toast with a long finish.
Cellar No. 8 Dry Creek Zinfandel 2007 (Black Label)
This deeply colored wine shows off aromas of Black cherry, cinnamon, spices, vanilla, and red rose. A dry palate with moderately high acid and high alcohol is supported by moderately high, ripe tannins and flavors of bramble fruits, black cloves, and toasted spices. A long smooth finish hinting at strawberries caps the wine off.
Cellar No. 8 Andrea’s Blend 2006 (Black Label)
Named for the man that started Asti Winery, Andrea’s Blend, is the new take on the old favorite red blend that started the colony. A deep ruby core and aromas of blackberries, cloves, and toast highlight the nose. The palate is dry with moderate acid and high alcohol with flavors of figs, spices, and wild blackberries with a long finish. Smooth, ripe tannins make it a wine to pair with red meats and robust cheeses.
Cellar No. 8 Petit Sirah 2006 (Black Label)
This is, hands down, my favorite Petit Sirah to date (and I’d say that even if I didn’t work at the winery that made it)! The opaque ruby color is marked by intense blackberry aromas reminiscent of blackberry pie. The dry palate has moderate acid but high alcohol and high strong tannins. The theme of blackberries continues on to the palate mingling with French oak toast and hints of brown spices on the moderately long finish. Enjoy at your own risk!! J
Feel free to stop by anytime to try any of these wines and in the interest of full disclosure (if you haven’t picked it up already) these are tasting notes for wines produced at the winery at which I work.