At Tolenas Winery
Amber and I received an invitation to attend the recent Summer release party for Tolenas Winery. Unfortunately, Amber was unwell, so I went by myself.
Tolenas Winery is a new creator in the Suisun Valley. The event was at the Tenbrink Winery. I had visited Tenbrink as part of the Suisun Valley Passport event in 2017. At that event I tasted a red-blend from the owner’s daughter and son-in-law. It is this couple who have now expanded beyond this one wine to launch Tolenas Winery.
It was a warm day, too warm to sit outside in our garden. At the winery mature trees and parasols shaded the garden. This shade, combined with a soft breeze made, for an ideal afternoon to sip wine.
Food was provided, including a peach laden fruit salad.
Most of the wineries in the Suisun Valley focus on red wine. Yet, two of the three wines at the release party were white.
I started with the 2018 Sauvignon Blanc. This wine was cold fermented in stainless steel. Ten percent of the wine aged in neutral French oak.
The nose was classic Sauvignon Blanc. Offering an assault on the nose of mown grass and nettles. Taking a taste and I found the wine to be a less traditional expression of this varietal. There was a soft velvet mouthfeel. The finish was crisp, with notes of apple that lingered long in the mouth. Good acidity that did not dominate. I think the restrained use of oak lifted this wine above most Californian Sauvignon Blanc. The wine sells for $25.
Assuming you did not skip past the Sauvignon Blanc section, you may be wondering why I moved onto a red wine. After all, I did say that two of the three wines were white. The explanation is that Tolenas Winery make a white Pinot Noir. When this grape is in white it is usually in sparkling wine. It is one of the three varieties used in Champagne. Here, the wine is a still white.
“Eclipse” is the name of the Tolenas Pinot Noir. This refers to the solar eclipse of 2017 that coincided with the harvest of the grapes in this wine’s first vintage. Gentle pressue is applied to full clusters. The skins removed after about forty-five minutes. The wine is cold fermented in 100% stainless steel. The result is a wine with the colour of corn.
The nose was subtle with hints of freshly crushed rose petal. A creamy mouthfeel exposed flavours of strawberry. Dusty tannins lightly laced the finish.
This wine won a Gold Medal at the 2019 International Women’s Wine Competition. A deserving win; for here was a wine that was intriguing, complex, and yet easy to drink. It justified the $35 price.
2015 Red Blend
When I visited Tenbrink in 2017 and tasted the newly released red wine from Tolenas it had no name. It still lacks a catchy name; going by the simple “red blend”. The blend is: 50% Petite Sirah, 30% Cabernet Sauvignon, and 20% Tempranillo. The wine aged in 100% neutral oak barrels.
The nose was intense; luxuriant aromas of blackcurrant rushed up from the glass. In contrast, the impression in the mouth was restrained and balanced. Blackberry, raspberry, and candied fruit complemented by good acidity. Well integrated tannins rounded out this wine that is drinking at its prime. The wine retails for $50
The release party’s setting was conducive to slowly savouring the three wines on offer. All three were good. The Pinot Noir was the stand-out. I knew Amber would wish to try it, so I purchased a bottle.