Blog » Sashi Moorman
Willamette Valley Star: Walter Scott
The pinnacle of the range from Erica Landon and Ken Pahlow of Walter Scott rests with their X Novo and Seven Springs Vineyard Chardonnays, though the Pinot Noirs are also among the best in America today. These are Grand Cru-level expressions of Eola-Amity Hills!
Most of the 1983-planted Seven Springs Vineyard was devastated by phylloxera, until 2007, when Raj Parr and Sashi Moorman of Evening Land leased and revitalized the vineyard. Walter Scott is one of the few wineries with access to this site, sourcing less than two acres of Chardonnay from the south ridge.
Pahlow's annual harvest visits to work alongside Dominique Lafon must have left a mark, as his Chardonnays elicit Burgundy's precise form of noble reduction and filigree. Notes of crushed oyster shell, lemon zest, and mouth-watering salinity are at the forefront, but like Comtes Lafon's brilliant whites, these are all about fine-grained texture and balance.
If Walter Scott's Chardonnays are a master class in tension and balance, then the Pinot Noirs stand out for their silken tannin structure and full-bodied, concentrated style. The suave frame and harmony of fruit and earth meld perfectly with the slight whole cluster addition (15%) and modest application of new oak (35%).
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Ode to Burgundy: Evening Land Passetoutgrain
Over the years, very few offers have received glowing reviews quite like Evening Land’s Seven Springs Gamay, but what happens when Sashi Moorman and Rajat Parr tackle the Passetoutgrain Gamay/Pinot Noir blend?
While I'm not shy about my obsession with Cru Beaujolais benchmarks, Passetoutgrain is a much slimmer category (Gamay comprises less than 2.5% of Burgundy plantings). If there were a hierarchy within Burgundian Passetoutgrain, you'd find some familiar names at the top: D'Angerville, Lafarge, and Chevillon, to name a few. Sashi and Raj's regular visits and familiarity with these producers left a significant impression.
The Seven Springs Vineyard in Eola-Amity Hills is often called Oregon's prime slope, and visiting confirmed the historical significance of the wines produced here. 2019 Seven Springs Passetoutgrain has fine-grained, just perceptible tannins, followed by an array of red and blue fruit that's simply unrelenting. Following the same fermentation method used by the aforementioned traditionalists, compounded with organic and biodynamic farming, the breathtaking result shouldn't come as a surprise!
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Worlds Collide: Kimmel's Lillied & Ungilded
It's a rare treat to be able to offer a new American wine project and be present at inception. Years ago, in Potter Valley, Mendocino, walking the Kimmel Vineyard with Sashi Moorman and Jason Kimmel, it became apparent a special combination of minds and terroir was ready to take form. Today, I'm happy to announce our exclusive release of the 2019 Kimmel Lilied and Ungilded!
Kimmel Wines was born to honor low interventionist winemaking, allowing the land and each vintage to be the guiding light. Lilied began as an idea from Sashi Moorman to produce a soulful blend of equal parts Syrah and Cabernet Franc similar in style to the wines by Provençal iconoclast Domaine Trevallon. The wines all go through élevage under the guiding hand of Sashi and his thoughtful team led by John Faulkner. Founded in 1969, Kimmel Ranch is in the far reaches of Mendocino in western Potter Valley. Located at 1,000 feet of elevation, at the entrance of the Mayacamas, the sprawling mountain range gives way to afternoon coastal breezes allowing for cool relief after warm summer days.
Lilied is 50% Cabernet Franc from the Kimmel Vineyard and 50% Syrah from the famed Bien Nacido Vineyard's X Block. A long élevage (First in barrique and then puncheon) was crucial to resolve the firm tannins into silky fineness that dances on the mid-palate. The Cabernet Franc's nervy nature and dark fruit, married with the savage wildness of Syrah, makes for a striking wine you can confidently enjoy now. The cuvée name means "to adorn" and combines the names of Lilian and Edward Kimmel.
Ungilded is 100% Cabernet Franc from the Kimmel Vineyard, inspired by the wines of Clos Rougeard. The fruit is destemmed and fermented without additives, and it starts in an open-top dairy tank to give a greater cap-to-juice ratio. The unadulterated fermentation gives a pure expression of Cabernet Franc (Hence the name, Ungilded). The nervy nature of the Cabernet Franc softens to a lacey texture with classic floral aromatics. These vines were planted in 1980 on Franciscan shale with Saint George rootstock in a California sprawl configuration. Edward and Lilian had the foresight to settle in the far reaches of the California wine region and plant where there were few vines at the time.
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Piedrasassi's Syrah Duo: Bien Nacido & Rim Rock
Santa Barbara's cool-climate wines have growingly become one of my obsessions. For me, the most integral name in the array of labels is Sashi Moorman. His Pinot Noir, Chardonnay, and Gamay are among my favorites, but his first label, Piedrasassi, offers downright delicious and complex reflections of Syrah.
Piedrasassi harnesses savory, bright, and superior aromatics while never shying away from the innately luscious qualities that define California Syrah. These wines nail the roasted meat, violet, and black pepper trifecta at each price point. Though, the single vineyard-designate bottlings from Bien Nacido and Rim Rock best exemplify how California Syrah can continually develop `in the bottle over many years.
Sashi vinifies and ages as naturally as possible, excluding sulfur at fermentation and only utilizing native yeasts. Whole cluster inclusion and aging in larger 500-liter barrels ensure the lively, crushed rock virtues that make Northern Rhone Syrah so unique aren't lost here in Santa Barbara.