Sunday, March 8, 2015

Laird Family Estate Flat Rock Ranch Malbec

Laird Family Estate Napa Valley Flat Rock Ranch Malbec 2011

I was not aware of Laird Family wines until Linda brought home this bottle gifted from co-worker Lizzie, who hails from Northern California and enjoys their wines as one of her favorites.

Ken Laird was a third generation tobacco farmer growing up working the fields as a youngster with his grandmother, great uncles and cousins back in South Central Virginia not far from the North Carolina border. After studying to be a mechanical engineer in New York City, Ken returned to his family farming tradition by moving west and buying seventy acres of prune trees in Napa Valley in 1970.

As the story goes, Ken decided to develop the orchard into a grape vineyard. Knowing nothing about viticulture, he called the vintner and producer Robert Mondavi. After walking the property together, the two men discussed soils, vines, yields, irrigation, and proper pruning. Mondavi agreed to finance Ken replanting the property 50% Gamay and 50% Cabernet Sauvignon, guaranteeing to pay Ken "the highest harvest price paid in the Valley,” for the Cabernet. With that deal, Ken returned to his passion and his family farming heritage.

Today, Laird Family Estates consist of thirty different properties spanning the length and width of Napa Valley, most sourcing fruit for other Napa winemakers, while fruit from one third of the vineyards go into Laird Family Estate labels, including this estate bottled Malbec.

With Ken Laird is daughter Rebecca who serves as General Manager. Winemaking is overseen by Paul Hobbs, consulting winemaker and Julian Gonzalez, winemaker, who since 1994, has worked for Louis M Martini, Chateau Potelle, Vine Cliff, Paul Hobbs Winery, Mi Sueno Winery and Paul Hobbs Consulting.

In 2000, while working at Chateau Potelle he was promoted to cellar master at Vine Cliff, and four year later, to assistant winemaker at Paul Hobbs Winery. In 2007, he was appointed consulting winemaker at Paul Hobbs Consulting.

Laird Family Estate Napa Valley Flat Rock Ranch Malbec 2011

Winemakers notes:  Deep red-violet appearance gives way to a rich bouquet of black current, cigar box, and blackberry. Rich juicy palate with leathery tannins, notes of roasted coffee beans and red plum with just a hint of eucalyptus.

What a pleasant surprise, we were not expecting this complexity and depth of fruit in a Malbec.

Dark garnet colored, medium bodied, black currant and black berry fruits accented by tones of tobacco leaf, leather, expresso and hints of cedar with moderate lingering tannins.

RM 90 points.