Wine & Spirits 95
"Patrick Campbell sold Laurel Glen to Bettina Sichel after the 2010 vintage. Sichel brought on winemaker Randall Watkins to manage the cellar, and viticulturist Phil Coturri Phil Coturri to introduce organic farming practices to the estate’s sunny plateau on the volcanic eastern flank of Sonoma Mountain. Their first season, 2011, was cool and late—they finished harvest on November 1, and yields on the property averaged around 2 tons per acre. In blending Counterpoint, Watkins selected lots with comparatively soft tannins and fresh, approachable fruit. While this may be a "second wine," it’s in beautiful form in 2011. The cool year comes through as a green edge that feels fresh, the scent of the wine suggesting California hillsides—bay, madrone and redwood. There’s mouthwatering firmness to the tannins, the wine’s structure carrying a mineral sparkle while a beam of black currant shines through the middle, growing brighter with a day or two of air. This is a dynamic and expressive California cabernet. Given the wine's humble price tag and aging potential, laying down a case seems like a great idea. "
"2011 Laurel Glen Counterpoint is filled with scents of tobacco, cherry, herbs and caramel. Silky concentration and ripe red fruit is complicated with spicy oak, olive tapenade and earth. The wine has great freshness and depth, focused minerality and tannins that are firm, round and delicious." ~ Randall Watkins, Winemaker
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Laurel Glen Vineyard was born in 1977 when Patrick Campbell purchased a 3-acre parcel of Cabernet Sauvignon vines on top of Sonoma Mountain. He produced the first wine under the Laurel Glen label in 1981. When Bettina Sichel – the current proprietor of Laurel Glen – bought the property in 2011, the estate comprised a total of 14 acres under vine. The vineyard is broken into nine separate blocks, the oldest of which was planted in 1968 (not including the unique row that dates back to the 1880s). The red sandy soil is of volcanic origin, and the site has an east facing slope at about 1,000 feet elevation above the town of Glen Ellen. It did not take long for this unique vineyard site to gain a reputation for producing some of the best and longest lived Cabernet Sauvignon in the state.
Bettina seeks to elevate the amazing wines from this historic vineyard to new heights. She has converted all of the viticulture to strictly organic practices, and in 2014 the vineyard received CCOF organic certification. She has also hired Master Winemaker David Ramey to guide her decisions in the cellar. One of his best cellar decisions was to hire Randall Watkins as winemaker. The initial results from this new team have been spectacular, producing wines with a bit more suppleness and elegance upon release while compromising nothing in depth and complexity. The hallmarks of Cabernets from this vineyard have always been their great structure and long finishes.