Once again, Artisan Wine Depot brought a new winery to our neighborhood. Neyers Vineyards is a winery to watch. Bruce and Barbara Neyers have been growing grapes for about 20 years. In 2000 they expanded significantly, adding a second location. The Sage Canyon Winery is in (surprise!) the Sage Canyon area east of Rutherford near Lake Hennessey. The winery was completed in 2000 with the first full crush in 2001. The older Conn Valley Ranch vineyards are in the hills east of St. Helena. Those vineyards are mainly devoted to cabernet sauvignon and merlot. The “Neyers Ranch” designation refers to grapes grown in those vineyards. The winery is very up-front about the French influence in the wines. Bruce and Barbara both have strong roots in the food industry. Bruce still works part-time for Kermit Lynch, while Barbara’s resumé features a stint at Chez Panisse.
Clark Evans was our host for the afternoon. The first two wines were chardonnays. The 2012 Carneros (Napa Valley, $30) is oak and butter with a nice citrus overlay. Not to our taste, but fans of this style will love this wine. The 2011 Vendimia vineyard (Sonoma Valley, $42) is lighter with notes of lemon, lime, and peach. Nice and quaffable, but priced out of our range for this style.
Next up were two zinfandels. We tasted them with some reluctance. Ever since Passalacqua decided to shift their focus away from zins and toward cabs, and Zichichi decided to make high-alcohol aperitif-stype zins, we have been skeptical about California zins. But we brought home one bottle of each of these goodies. The 2012 Vista Luna zinfandel (Borden Ranch, $35) is a near-pinot noir experience reminiscent of the zins we drank back in the 1970s. Borden Ranch is located in the Sierra Foothills, home to many fine zinfandel vineyards. The 2011 Del Barba (Contra Costa County, $30) has more spice and zip than the Vista Luna, with strong cherry overtones. We’re looking forward to enjoying these two over the winter months.
Neyers 2010 Conn Valley merlot ($38) is quite flavorful. Based on the aroma I guessed that there was some cab blended in. I was correct. The wine is 15 percent cab which makes it quite flavorful compared to the usual bland merlot.
The 2010 Old Lakeville Road Syrah (Sonoma Coast, $35) has a terrific mouth feel with hints of pepper and spice. A terrific aroma greets you and a lingering finish. Those interested in history should note that the Neyers website offers vintages 2008, 2009, 2010, and 2011 from this vineyard, making for a potentially very interesting vertical.
The 2012 Roberts Road pinot noir (Sonoma Coast, $40) is, ironically, less interesting than the zins. However, we are assured by the tasting notes that this wine needs a few years to develop. While we don’t have the patience (or space in our cellar), this may appeal to some readers.
Last on the list was the 2009 Conn Valley cabernet sauvignon (Napa Valley, $60). At which point I concluded once again that I am just not a cab lover. This wine is about as good as a cab can get — but it’s not for me.
Neyers is a newcomer and was new to us. They are worth watching because they seem to know how to handle good grapes. Their tendency toward French-style wines is not to our taste, but your taste is almost certainly not identical to ours. Give them a try!