We arrived at Bailiwick late in our tasting and wished we’d gotten there earlier. Founded in 2009, Bailiwick operates on the Siduri model: buy terrific grapes and turn them into great wine. Current production is 2,000 cases per year, so don’t expect to find this in your corner liquor store. Bailiwick Wines offers a plethora of pinots.
Bailiwick is a partnership between Paul and Bryan Vais. It’s no coincidence that they have the same last name — they are brothers. Here’s their story from the company website:
We come from a family of great cooks, … our family traditions have always been great meals complemented by classic California wines … . We are natives of the San Francisco Bay Area, yet we’ve lived and traveled abroad, gaining an appreciation for Old World food and wine traditions beyond what we enjoy here in California. Those traditions and experiences shaped our passion for wines that complement well prepared meals, rather than overpower them.
The wines we produce are personal; they are what we choose for our own table. We revel in wines that reward close inspection, that seem to make time slow down as your senses flood with subtle attributes of aroma and taste. Crafted to harmonize with food, our wines lead to memorable fusions of aroma, flavor, friends, time and place.
Bailiwick Wines Offers A Plethora of Pinots
Bailiwick’s 2010 Russian River Valley cuvee ($28, a major bargain, 350 cases produced) is a lighter Russian River Valley pinot. This one needs to breathe to bring out the nose. Decanting and/or patience will reward you with aromas of cherries and baking spices. A pronounced cherry flavor with well-structured tannins mean this is drinkable now.
Their 2010 Michaud Vineyard ($44, Chalone ava, 120 cases) is a big one. This one, like the Russian River Valley cuvee, needs to breathe and could probably use another year in the bottle. Once it opens up, you’ll find cherry and herb aromas followed by black cherry and earthy notes.
Up in the neighborhood of Belden Barns, the Silver Pines Vineyard sits atop Sonoma Mountain. Bailiwick offers their 2010 grapes ($44, 140 cases produced). The wine opens with cinnamon aromas and black cherry. More black cherries on the palate with hints of tannin and oak notes. This wine also needs some time to open up (decanting is advised) and could probably stand another year in the bottle.
Bailiwick’s 2011 Foray Anderson Valley ($28, another major bargain, 75 cases produced). This wine’s grapes came from the Roma’s vineyard high above Boonville. It’s reminiscent of the Santa Rita Hills and Santa Maria Valley, a characteristic we call “desert.” There are dusty cherry aromas followed by bing cherry flavors with hints of toast and caramel. You won’t have to wait for this one. Pour it and drink.
The fifth (‼) offering from Bailiwick was their 2011 Sonoma Coast cuvee ($28, yet another major bargain, 700 cases produced). This wine is also ready to drink out of the bottle right now, although we recommend pouring it into a glass. Our tasting notes say, “quite pleasant.” More cherries with herbal notes. Delicious.
Quality and variety — what more could we want? Nothing at all, as it happens.