Wine Enthusiast Magazine Reviews June 1, 2016
2013 Black Label Bassi Vineyard Pinot Noir (San Luis Obispo County) This is a heady wine from Mike Sinor, with blackberry and blueberry fruit aromas that are enhanced by clove, nutmeg, cinnamon, candied lilacs and loamy soil scents. Tannic depth and sizzling acidity frame the palate, where grilled black plum and mission fig meet with pencil lead, anise, bay leaf, juniper, cocoa and beef flavors, finishing with a menthol kick. – Matt Kettmann
2013 Black Label Bassi Vineyard Syrah (San Luis Obispo County) Mike Sinor is taking his fans on an experimental ride through his new ocean view vineyard, here presenting a rich take on Syrah. It's lush on the nose with olallieberry and blackberry fruit as well as rich bacon fat, vanilla bean and milk chocolate notes. Concentrated black cherry thrives on the palate alongside caramel and vanilla cream. – Matt Kettmann
2013 White Label Bassi Ranch Chardonnay (San Luis Obispo County) This extreme-coastal vineyard bottling shows fresh, expressive yet diligently restrained aromas of Key-lime pith, scratched tangerine, wet chalk, Meyer lemons and a touch of dairy. Tongue-tingling acidity starts the sip, followed by sea salt, warm Marcona almonds, toasted sunflower seeds, a flinty minerality and citrus oil toward the finish. – Matt Kettmann
2013 White Label Bassi Ranch Pinot Noir (San Luis Obispo County) Though a lighter style from Mike Sinor's estate vineyard, this is still meaty, with black cherry, smoked pork, licorice, purple flowers and flashes of pretty cranberry notes on the edges. The tannins are quite firm right now on the palate, where boisterous boysenberry fruit meets with anise, black rocks, a touch of herbs and tar. – Matt Kettmann
2013 Anniversary Cuvee Syrah (San Luis Obispo County) Full of lavender, lilacs and purple flower aromatics on the nose, this also shows touches of fennel, dill and a complex herbal array. The palate is also consumed by savory herbs and purple-flower flavors, with thyme, dill, graphite and cedar framing the tight elderberry fruit. – Matt Kettmann
This is a question I get when I start talking details about how we do what we do. The way we farm Bassi Vineyard stems more from the desire to have great tasting wine that speaks of place, than from a metaphysical or environmental perspective. We don't lead the discussion with these topics. If people seem to connect with us or our wine and want to know more about how we work, only then do we address our farming methods.
We employ Pacific Vineyard Management Company (Pacific for short) to farm our vineyard. This is the same company who farmed for Domaine Alfred years ago. I meet regularly with Vineyard Manager Scott Williams to review details and make decisions. Although we are not currently planning to get the vineyard organically certified, all farming is done organically.
I first heard the idea of Biodynamics when visiting Domaine Le Flaive http://www.leflaive.fr/en/ in 1996. I was on a Robert Mondavi employee education trip and all I could think of was, “ I am not in the junkyard in Visalia anymore!” We met with Pierre Morey http://www.morey-meursault.fr/ who was managing the domaine at that time. Initially BD sounded like bullshit to me, but I was interested in learning more. When I got back to the Central Coast, I bought a few books on the subject and started to see some logic. Fast forward to my time at Domaine Alfred - I brought it up to Terry the owner and he fell in love with it. It was then that I witnessed firsthand how BD practices could enhance wine quality. We ended up hiring Steve Moore, a BD expert who has been involved with BD since the early 1980’s in Carpinteria, CA, to train me on the hands on aspects. He at one time served as president of the National BD association. He also taught at MIT...yeah, he is a bad ass….
We use BD at Bassi just like we did at Domaine Alfred. Pacific handles all of the day-to-day organic farming while my winery team and I handle the preparation and application of the BD preps. This connection between the winery and the vineyard is invaluable. Because the cellar team is directly applying the BD preps to the vineyard, we gain an intimate knowledge of each block and have a deeper understanding of the vineyard as a whole.
A good example of this practice is BD prep #508 - Horse Tail Herb (see picture). It is very high in sulfur content and helps to suppress mildew. While I have been to BD symposiums and have read stories on people using only this material to fight mildew, for me that is a bit much. We include the Horse Tail Herb prep as a part of our organic mildew suppression program instead of relying on it exclusively. We have found this balance of practices works for us.
While BD is important to us, we won’t be successful as a company if our farming practices don’t translate into fabulous grapes and delicious wine. We farm organically and incorporate BD practices with the intent of increasing quality, not for the sake of being able to say we farm organically and biodynamically. Our true aim is to produce the best wine possible.
At the end of the day, if our business is not successfull we cannot feed our family. Everything we have is on the line (our house, retirement fund, etc.) and hinges on our success or failure. We are not second-generation growers nor are we trust-fund kids. Our family relies on proceeds from our wine business to live. So far, our farming practices have translated into success, the fact that they are good for the environment and enhance the soil is a bonus.
Below is a picture of Steve Moore's stirring machine he built in the late 80's and our back pack sprayer's ready to apply #500