Friday, March 4, 2011

3/4 Michael Jordan, English Knowles & Gravity Hills Wine!

Michael Jordan Talks With Wine Expert English Knowles About 2009 Gravity Hills "The Sherpa" Zinfandel" & 2009 Gravity Hills "Vertigo" Chenin-Riesling

2009 GRAVITY HILLS "the Sherpa" Zinfandel Why is it called "The Sherpa" ? What is a Sherpa? The Sherpas are an ethnic enclave of about 35,000 Buddhists living in Nepal, but the reason Sherpas are renowned and talked about world-wide is for their elite mountain climbing skills at exceptional altitudes. It was Sherpa Tezning Norgay who led Sir Edmund Hillary on the world's FIRST EVEREST EXPEDITION. Some say the Sherpas are exceptional Himalayan mountain guides because they have a genetic aptitude for living at high altitudes. And if you've ever met a Sherpa, you know they are also incredibly happy, warm, spiritual people.

Gravity Hills Zinfandel was named to honor the Sherpas because it's founding partner, Jean-Noel Formeaux is an avid hiker and treker. But we're all big time outdoor enthusiasts. Our CEO is a fanatical camper. Our winemaker is an obsessed fisherman and hiker. I run marathons and cross country ski. If we had our choice we'd have the office on a mountainside :) But at the very least we can use our wines to celebrate people who truly use the outdoors as their office. (That's why it's in a twist-off you know!!)

Who is the guy on the label climbing up that ice face? It's a great story! The pervious vintages of Sherpa zinfandel had another photo on the label. Then, one day as I was sitting at my desk at the winery, I got a call from someone asking about the photo on the front of the Sherpa Zin. The caller told me: " The photo on the Sherpa Zin is not actually a Sherpa . . . It's a flatlander!" How did he know this? Because the caller was a Sherpa! I talked to this guy, who's name was Norbu, several times, and then met him near his home in San Francisco. Come to find out . . .he's Tezning Norgay's son!!! Norbu promised to help me with the Sherpa Zin and the label. We asked Norbu's brother, Jamling (another son of Tenzing Norgay) to honor us with a photo of himself. Jamling has also summited Everest, and is featured in the IMAX movie "EVEREST".

So, that's who's on the label---Jamling Norgay, son of Tenzing Norgay---climbing up a very steep ice face! But even more than that, he and his brother are really great people. Where is the Sherpa Zinfandel made? Well, despite it's honoree, it's not made in the Himalayas!! I doubt they could ripen Zinfandel at Everest Base camp.

The wine is made from grapes we source on the Central Coast, near Paso Robles. It's an elegant style of Zinfandel that I love. I tell people it's a Zinfandel for Pinot lovers. Not because it's light or wimpy--it's still 14% alcohol, but it's got finesse and beauty and tenderness; it's not overwhelmed by overripe sweetness or American oak. You can finish this wine with dinner--it won't knock you hard in the forehead like a lot of Zinfandels. So you can still get up in the morning and take that hike . . .

2009 Gravity Hills "Vertigo" Chenin-Riesling

Vertigo - Pronunciation [vur-ti-goh].

1. dizzying sensation of tilting within stable surroundings or of being in tilting or spinning surroundings.

The makers of Gravity Hills wines feel that there is no comparable pleasure to drinking a crisp bottle of white wine outdoors on a warm evening. And this particular wine was created precisely for that purpose. We chose Chenin Blanc because we wanted a fiesty wine with some snap and verve. Choosing the Delta region for our grapes made ultimate sense because nowhere else in California does Chenin show such refinement. We added Riesling for it's lovely, elusive perfume and wow, suddenly we had exactly the wine we wanted. You will see that Vertigo Chenin-Riesling is so fresh and quaffable that you will polish off the bottle before you know it. And then, friends, you might think you have vertigo yourself.

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