The only thing missing from a tasting of Nick Goldschmidt’s California wines was the winemaker himself.
I wrote Goldschmidt an email with several questions about the wines sampled recently at the Wine ConneXtion, and he quickly responded: “Sorry I am out of the country completing harvest down below the equator. … Sorry for the inconvenience but thanks for the email.”
He’s probably in his native New Zealand, where the harvest runs from February to April. (The California cycle runs from September to November.)
Goldschmidt Vineyards, which Nick launched with his wife Yolyn in 1998 in Healdsburg, Calif., has an international portfolio to go along with its domestic label.
Nick has worked on wine projects throughout the Southern Hemisphere, South America and California, where he still serves as a consultant for an impressive array of Sonoma and Napa wineries: Simi, Clos Du Bois, Buena Vista, Haywood, Garcia, Atlas Peak, William Hill, Guy Farrell and Jakes Fault.
Goldschmidt’s known for crafting big, bold, lush and ageworthy Cabernet Sauvignon from site-specific vineyards in the Anderson Valley (Sonoma County) and Oakvile (Napa Valley). These are basically small-production wines of distinct terroir and character, ranging in price from $15 to $125.
So, until I hear back from Nick, let me share with you my novice impressions on the Goldschmidt Vineyards bottlings tasted. All discounted prices are from the Wine ConneXtion.
* Singing Tree Chardonnay 2014, $14.99 — The Russian River Valley vineyard where grapes are sourced used to be an apple orchard, leaving no doubt as to the crisp, clean, green-apple expressions abundant in the glass and on the palate. Fermented mostly in steel tanks, a touch of oak creates a slightly creamy, caramel finish. Excellent at this price.
* Fidelity Red Blend 2015, $12.99 — The dominant grape is Merlot (80 percent) with the balance Petit Verdot and Cabernet Sauvignon. The dark fruit is ripe and flavorful. An easy drinking, medium-bodied wine for patio parties.
* Fidelity Zinfandel 2014, $14.99 — Here’s a good selection for Easter dinner. The Zinfandel-Petite Sirah blend hits all the dark berry and chocolate high notes that go well with ham or lamb. The dry finish is satisfying.
* Chelsea Merlot 2014, $15.99 — The Goldschmidts have five children, including three daughters who have individual wines named after them. At first taste, I thought Chelsea Merlot was a Cabernet; it has a lot of power, force and grip. It settled down a bit in glass. In my view, cellaring for a few years will lead to an explosion of silky plum and blackberry flavors.
* Katherine Cabernet Sauvignon 2014, $16.99 — Old vine fruit is handpicked from Crazy Creek Vineyard in Alexander Valley, and the wine ages in French, American and Hungarian oak before being combined. This is a broad, 100 percent Cab with lovely complexity throughout the experience. I noted licorice, black cherry, raspberry and mocha flavors with a hint of vanilla. Very appealing, soft finish.
* Hilary Cabernet Sauvignon 2014, $25.99 — Only one “l” in Hilary? Interesting, just like this Charming Creek Vineyard (Oakville) bottling from the heart of Napa Valley. The intense color — violet black — is a grabber, followed by rich blackberry, raspberry and spice-laden aromas and flavors. It’s aged for 20 months before release and still evolving in bottle. There’s a lot of depth here, and I’m figuring this could rest in state for 10 years and only get better.
* Yoeman Cabernet Sauvignon 2012, $42.99 — An exceptional Cabernet Sauvignon of lush fruit and appealing flavors that will turn a grilled steak into a king’s banquet. Two prized vineyards produce the fruit — Yoeman in Alexander Valley and Game Ranch in Napa. It’s harmonious, full-bodied and supple. Good Cabernet elevates the senses, and the blending of unique grapes creates brilliant plum, dark cherry, tobacco, nutty spice and chocolate flavors. Only 500 cases were made. They winery sells this wine for $75.
* Yardstick Cabernet Sauvignon 2014, $22.99 — For the money, I rated this the best of show. It comes from Ruth’s Reach, a small vineyard in Napa Valley where glacial soils are thin and force older vines (average 35 years) to reach deep below the surface for nutrients. It pours well, with a beautiful garnet color. The fruit tastes are concentrated in blackberry, cherry and raspberry. It’s silky smooth and enduring on the finish.