Fred Scherrer & His Wines 03-29-13By
As VINO regulars well know by now, we are HUGE fans of winemaker Fred Scherrer & his wines. Fred epitomizes the concept of artisan, handcrafted & boutique, as he is essentially a one man show.
Interestingly, we have found over the years, it is hard to find a winemaker/winery who excels at 1 grape variety…..much less Fred excelling at 5 or 6! Yes, his are wines to search out for…..AND they do get better with age…..even his Zinfandels.
I find it so remarkable that Fred & his truly superb wines are relatively under the radar screen by most of the wine media. For me these are some of the VERY best wines out of California today……which a tasting of 4 older of his wines recently in VINO, resounding reminded me.
2006 Scherrer Chardonnay “Helfer Vineyard”
We have been waiting a LONG time for this wine to open up & show its real personality. We thankfully got a brief glimpse on this night. Although still tight, we marveled at the amazing youth it still has from beginning to end. Preceeding this wine in the line-up was the 2006 Greenock Cabernet Sauvignon; 2006 Revolver Wine Co. “The Fury” & the 2006 Leeuwin Estate Chardonnay “Art Series”. ALL 3 were very highly rated wines….BUT on this night got completely dwarfed by this Scherrer Chardonnay. I make it a point to try not to compare wine to wine….but in this case the difference was just so huge. It was NOT even close. I believe there was somewhere between 100 to 125 cases produced, but it is well worth seeking out. I can’t wait to see where it goes in the next 10 years.
2001 Scherrer Chardonnay “Fort Ross” Reserve
I was SO blown away by these 3 Scherrer wines I immediately sent an email to Fred that night…..AND called him the next morning. In that conversation, I noted that THIS 2001 Chardonnay is the most intense, concentrated wine I remember having from him! Fort Ross is a single vineyard out on the Sonoma Coast which Fred worked with for a few years. He only made 1 barrel (22 to 25 cases) of this particular bottling. 12 years old & still a baby!!!!!……..brilliant…..with superb seamlessness, balance, class AND without any sense of gaudiness, pretention or over done-ness. A SENSATIONAL wine.
2003 Scherrer Zinfandel “Shale Terrace”
The nose was glorious! I have never had a Zinfandel that smelled so glorious, compelling & captivating like this before. Just plain gorgeous! On the palate the wine was still so remarkably youthful & vibrant, yet so balanced, delicious & suave. The Shale Terrace botttling, I believe is VERY different in character to his “Old & Mature” bottling, eventhough they both come from the same, “Scherrer Vineyard” in Alexander Valley. Now….THIS wine will also show you why I chased getting Fred’s wine to Hawaii for so many years.
2001 Scherrer Zinfandel “Shale Terrace”
It becamse very obvious, this “Shale Terrace” bottling says something VERY different from his “Old & Mature Vines” bottling we typically see, when tasting this 2001 last night, March 28, 2013. I was completely mesmerized & spellbound. That doesn’t happen too often…..especially with Zinfandel. I kept trying to identify what I was smelling….when a fellow taster, noted peach & peach skins…..and that is truly what it was. From the cornucopia of different fruit & exotic spice, what jumped out was peach/nectarine/apricot! The wine was luscious,compelling, exotic, round, incredibly well textured still with a VERY vibrant, youthful & vigorous core. OMG…..at 12 years old!!!!! True, the alcohol poked out some (14.5), probably because it was tasted amongst a star studded line-up of Old World wines. I have to say, however, it stood out in the crowd. Superb wine!!!! & one I will always remember…..it was that good!
Over the years, we have found that Fred Scherrer is, without a doubt, one of those VERY special winemakers who makes wines that truly stand out because of purity, elegance, delicious-ness & balance. I am always so perplexed why wine lovers aren’t pounding down the doors to get these wines. I think it is probably because Fred & his wines do not get HIGH scores & accolades. Yet, when one asks wine professionals in the know, his names pops up frequently…..kind of like an insider’s scoop. Another confusing hitch might be caused by the myriad of various bottling & small lots Fred makes in any given vintage, which changes year to year depending on what the vintage brings.
In an effort to better understand what to buy & why, here is the bottom line from my experience with the Scherrer wines…….
1) APPELLATION WINES. With Pinot Noir (& sometimes with Syrah & Cabernet) Fred bottles appellation wines…ie Russian River, Sonoma Coast, Sonoma Valley (Alexander Valley with Cab and Russian River with his Syrah). He feels these wines speak of their appellation. These wines typically are more accessible & delicious right out of gates. This by no means reflects on their age-ability.
2) SINGLE VINEYARD. Usually Fred’s single vineyard wines, although pure, elegant & balanced, need some bottle age to really show their peacock tail (which believe me……they will at some point!!) From first hand experience, I can tell you older Scherrer wines are some of the VERY best I have ever had out of California, as the 3 featured above clearly reminded me. The crazy thing for me is that I would readily buy any of one of his single vineyard wines in place of the BIG, MEGA-media rated names, one for one…..much less the 2 (or 3) to 1 ratio these wines are……because of their very FAIR prices.
3) POETICALLY NAMED. which includes Zinfandoodle, Big Brother & once & awhile “Reserve”. While these names speak to Fred of what the wines want to say, it can be confusing to the general public. My advice is, to do some homework, read his website, ’cause these are wines, like the rest of his portfolio, you will not want to miss out on.
There is thankfully so much talk & a move towards In Pursuit of Balance. Fred & his wines have always really been about that AND I believe they clearly showcase that….whether they are Cabernet, Syrah, Zin or Chardonnay or PINK……appellation or single vineyard….young or old. These are absolutely terrific wines, well worth searching our for.
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