Wine Talk

Snooth User: outthere

Producer alert - Apsara Cellars

Posted by outthere, Feb 10, 2014.

I've posted some notes on this producers wines in the Whatcha drinking thread but figured he deserved his own thread. Robin Akhurst is the winemaker for Envy Wines in Calistoga and asst to Mike Smith of Myraid. I met Robin a couple years ago through Mike and really like him and his approach to winemaking. Nice guy, humble, passionate, hard working. Every time I am at Envy he is on the computer, in the cellar, driving a forklift, stacking barrels, pulling samples, racking, topping for many of the wines produced at Envy who do custom crush along with their home brand.

Fox, I set us up to taste Robins wines as well on Monday when you come up! you'll like them.

The Apsara Spring Release opened today. Just so happened I was at Envy today so Robin pulled me some samples of the Syrahs in this release and some '13s (Syrahs and Cabs) still in barrel. The '12s are supposed to go into bottle next month. Robins Las Madres Syrahs combine both Esther and Hulda blocks and their respective clones.

2012 Apsara Syrah Las Madres - 60 cases - This one saw 30% new oak. Drank out of a beaker so it was hard to coax the nose out of it. In the mouth it was plush meaty blue and black fruit, med+ bodied great freshness and balance with soft embracing tannins.

2012 Apsara Syrah Las Madres Whole Cluster - 50 cases - Grabbed a wine glass for the rest of the tasting. 100% neutral oak. The nose here shows bacon, blueberry, blood and the signature black olive of Las Madres. The mouth was rich blueberry and blackberry with grippy but not enamel stripping tannins. Real nice rendition of the vineyard.

2013 Apsara Cabernet Sauvignon Amoenus Vyd Blossom Creek (Calistoga) - Amoenus is used by Maybach and Turnbull among others. Black Mountain hillside vineyard just up hwy 128 from Tubbs Lane. Robin is going for pure power here and hit the mark nicely. Nose of balck currant, cedar, thyme and graphite. Black currant and blackberry palate, great structure, powerful big tannins. I think he's pretty happy with this one [wink.gif] 

2013 Apsara Kennefick Ranch Cabernet Sauvignon - Rounder with redder fruit profile when compared to the Amoenus. Red and balck currant, spicy star anise, mouth stripping tannic structure. Very Spring Mountainish tannins.

2013 Apsara Las Madres Syrah - This was really young and the nose is a touch reduced. Typical brash Las Madres fruit profile. Needs time to develop though. 

Thanks to Robin for taking time out of his day to deal with me. Great guy. Nice value here with prices under $40 for the Syrah, not sure where the Cabs will release at. Really surprised he does not sell out faster than he does. [welldone.gif]


Reply by EMark, Feb 11, 2014.

Another mailing list that I am now signed up for.  I sure hope these guys are paying you a commission. 

  -- Halcon shipping Feb. 20

  --Rhys shipping Mar. 11

  --Expect Bedrock Spring announcement Feb. 18

  --Expect Ceritas Spring Announcement Feb. 13

It's getting to the point where I don't have to go to a store, anymore.


Reply by outthere, Feb 11, 2014.

EMark, they just released the '12s yesterday. Shot them an email and you'll get allocated for thus release.

No commission, just helping spread the good word amongst friends.

Reply by Richard Foxall, Feb 11, 2014.

Looking forward to tasting with Mike, Robin, et al.  Our guests are pretty new to this, so we'll have to try to be a little low key and remind them it's no sin to spit.  They're definitely not starting at the bottom. 

Emark, you have the same problem I have, and it's not a bad one to have.  Problem is, just as I was allocating for more European bottles, I ran into OT and learned about all these great local producers.  Add that to my fondness for Zins by Talty and Mauritson and the cellar fills up pretty fast.

Reply by EMark, Feb 11, 2014.

Thank you, OT.

Oh, Fox, because of you, I'm wired into Mauritson, also.  Thank you, very much.  I have to say that one of the the things that I really like about them is that they produce a variety of quality wines.  I tried them because of the Zinfandel, but when I visited, I was quite surprised and pleased by a Rose and their Charlie Clay PN--well, OK, as impressed as I could be with a PN, we'll see if Rhys or Ceritas can upgrade me--I am all over their Syrah, my b-i-l loves their Chardonnay, and since receiving a couple bottles of CS, I see that it has received some excellent reviews.

I really should check out Talty.

There is the possibility that we may be up there, late March.

Reply by Richard Foxall, Feb 11, 2014.

Emark, let me know when and we'll go visit some folks.  But don't forget the Mauritson Sauv Blanc.  When I asked some of my favorite winemakers from all over the spectrum what they drank when they weren't drinking their own, two wines came up:  Mike Officer's Carlisle Zins, and that SB.  Not the cheapest SB at $22 ish but also not the most expensive, and it always hits. 

Speaking of keeping an eye on these new ventures:  First time I had that Charlie Clay, I didn't want to like it because it's not fair that someone can make so many wines and make them so well, especially a smaller outfit like Mauritson/Rockpile, but it's really good.  Two big reasons for the quality:  1) The grapes come from the same places that W-S and DuMol get theirs for the appellation wines and 2)Emma Kudritzki, the assistant winemaker, who taught Clay a trick or two, probably from her tenure at Macrostie, a PN specialist.  I hope she stays at Mauritson for a very long time, but if she leaves, follow her--I think she's got lots of talent.  She's very intense and focused and I expect big things.  They give her a lot of room to try things, which probably explains how they can make so many wines successfully, but somebody will get smart and offer her the chance to put her stamp on a winery.  Maybe they'll let her start her own line, but it's going to be hard not to encroach on what they already do.  They also do custom crush and Clay consults at a lot of places, so it's also possible that she'll take on more of that or have more responsibility for their own.  She really gets their style and could probably anticipate Clay's protocols, although she also gets to try things her way with the fruit.

Reply by EMark, Feb 11, 2014.

I'd forgotten the SB, Fox, but I agree.  I bought some on our visit last June.  Interestingly enough, I didn't even taste it that day.  It was impulse.  When I opened it up, sometime last summer, I thought it was great.

Reply by EMark, Feb 12, 2014.

Ok, after taking Mrs. Emark to a Dr.'s appointment we went out to lunch and decided to call it our Valentine's Day Lunch.  We went to the Eureka! hamburger joint in Claremont (really wasn't that close to the Dr.'s office, but that is where Mrs. Emark wanted to go, and Mr. EMark is certainly not going to be stupid about this).  After lunch we walked into the Packing House Wine Merchants a couple doors down.  (Atencion, LingProf:  do you ever go here?)  This is not the kind of place I normally trade because there prices are pretty much list.  However, what do I find in the Syrah section--Apsara 2011 Las Madres Vineyard.  I also picked up Ridge 2011 Lytton Springs (which I have previously had and think it is awesome) and Ridge 2010 Lytton Estate Petite Sirah. 

Here's a tidbit from Mrs. EMark.  I had given no thought to the name "Apsara," but, according to her, and, believe me, I am not going to question it, an Apsara is some sort of sprite from Chinese mythology.  Apparently, she learned this watching the opening ceremony for the Beijing Olympics a couple summers ago.

I guess the SIRWBM ended one day shy of my goal.


Reply by outthere, Feb 12, 2014.

"The name Apsara comes from the Sanskrit word for an angelic dancer whose elegant movements reflect the key elements in our wine, balance, purity and expression."

Thus the dancer on the label. Good snag EMark, the '11 is great. Have one lone bottle remaining. Give it a bit of air and/or follow it over an entire evening or two. Bold but balanced. Here's my last note on it...

2011 Apsara Syrah Las Madres - This was a real nice Syrah. Concentrated Las Madres aromas of black olive, bacon, violet. Rich texture, blueberry and blackberry fruit, soft tannins, a Crozes Hermitage ringer. Many good years ahead for this wine. Have a couple in my cellar that I have been wary to open so young. This one shows it can go now with air but has lots of aging potential.

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