Yesterday James Suckling released his reviews of Sonoma Coast wines and our friends over at Ellman Family Vineyards (EFV) not only made the cut but scored 92 points for their 2009 Alexis Skye Pinot Noir. (Which by the way happens to be my personal favorite out of their collection). This is a very big deal to have a boutique winery receive such a nod; on both a national and international level. We’re so delighted for EFV that we’ve put together this article on their wines detailing a bit more about EFV and the people behind this 92 point wine. Click here to read the review on JamesSuckling.com
Lance and Neil Ellman are the brothers behind Ellman Family Vineyards; Lance and Neil divide their time between their residences in Fort Lauderdale and California. The Ellman’s passion for wine extends over 20 years. Both brothers were born in South Africa and moved to the United States at a young age. Having been born with wanderlust for discovering new and exciting places Lance and Neil traveled most of their lives and were fortunate to be able to experience food and wine from different parts of the world as they were growing up. Neil lived in California in the early 90’s, this allowed him to intimately experience Napa Valley, in which he immediately fell in love and promptly introduced his brother Lance to his newly found love. Eventually, though many friends and connections the Ellman brothers decided to make their own wine. 2012 marks the release of the Ellman’s third vintage. There are four artisan wines in the Ellman Family Vineyards portfolio, two Bordeaux Blends and two Pinot Noirs. Ellman Family Vineyards, is one of Napa Valley’s smallest artisan producers working with specialized winemakers, focusing on their dedicated wine of expertise.
Kian Tavakoli is a consulting winemaker with Ellman Family Vineyards (EFV) focusing on the Bordeaux Blends of the portfolio. Tavakoli started his career as an enologist at Opus One Winery in Oakville in 1992. After four years of honing his Cabernet winemaking skills, he moved on to Clos du Val to head their Cabernet program. During his eight years there, he also worked with varieties like Semillon and Sauvignon Blanc, helping to develop the popular proprietary white Bordeaux blend “Ariadne.” In 2005, Tavakoli shifted his focus to small boutique wine brands and recently joined Ellman Family Vineyards. Under his watchful care the EFV wines will undoubtedly achieve high market recognition, thanks to Tavakoli’s insistence on high-end fruit sourcing and premium craftsmanship.
On the Pinot Noir side, the Ellman’s recruited chemist Chris Nelson. Nelson received his undergraduate degree in Chemistry from Vanderbilt University, then relocated to the West Coast. It was there he realized his love for chemistry was perfectly suited to winemaking. He enrolled at Fresno State, completed a Master’s degree in Enology, and never looked back. Chris honed his winemaking skills while training with the winemakers from Lynmar Winery in Russian River; Dry River Winery in Martinborough, New Zealand; and Araujo Wines in Calistoga. Chris manages the Pinot Noir program at Ellman Family Vineyards and continues to cultivate the excellence of this fantastic grape.
My personal favorites are the Pinot Noirs as I tend to favor California Pinots over all, but these two particular Pinots are something special. Continuing on, I have included the tasting notes and flavor profiles of the new releases which will give you good insight of the 2009 and 2010 wines from Ellman Family Vineyards.
2009 Jemma Napa Valley Proprietary Blend ($79) The core component of the Proprietary Blend is Cabernet Sauvignon from the Beckstoffer Vineyards. With such dynamic fruit playing the major role in this wine, the dark and intense berry flavors are obvious stars. The cooperage lends flavors of coffee and oak, finely structuring the wine with a nice acid. The tannins are forceful, but not drying. The finish is smooth and long only to improve further with age. 150 cases have been produced.
2009 BB Napa Valley ($69) Ellman Family Vineyards newest Bordeaux Blend features a larger concentration of Merlot than the 2009 Jemma. The resulting source of this Napa Valley fruit is a beautiful mix of red raspberries and plums. Aging has served this wine well by birthing it with hints of dark chocolate also resulting in tannins that are intense and weighty. The nose on this Bordeaux Blend can be likened to a raspberry chocolate cake with a fine yet supple structure. A smooth and moderate finish on the end likens to its sibling the 2009 Jemma that will only improve with age. 150 cases have been produced.
2010 Alexis Skye Sonoma Coast Pinot Noir ($49) The 2010 Alexis Skye grapes come from the Gap’s Crown Vineyard in the Sonoma Coast AVA. Situated just a few miles in from the coast and influenced by the coastal fog and cool Pacific ocean air via the Petaluma Gap making the Alexis Skye Pinot Noir classically rich in texture with a dense core of dark blackberry giving way for nice tannins and a smooth finish. The aroma is suggestive of allspice and clove. Cherry cola and sweet oak round out the aroma. 150 cases have produced.
2010 Amanda Russian River Pinot Noir ($55) The 2010 Amanda Russian River Pinot Noir is the first Russian River Valley Pinot for Ellman Family Vineyards. The fruit has been obtained from Amber Ridge, a top class vineyard in the Russian River Valley. The bar has been set high as are the expectations for this vintage. Classically California Pinot, the fruity 2010 Amanda lights up the olfactory senses with a bright red berry jam; strawberry and raspberry. The mouthfeel is unexpectedly full and rich leading the way for a moderately long finish only to be enhanced with age. 150 cases have been produced.
All of the wines whether individual bottles or custom cases can be purchased online via EllmanFamilyVineyards.com. Shipping of wines from Ellman Family Vineyards has been suspended for the summer months due to the heat. Shipping will resume in the cooler weather.