The Iconic Wines Project
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Let me be plain. I suspect Birk O’Halloran and Karl Antle like women, and super heroes, and women in superhero outfits. The truth is, I can’t blame them. I like those sorts of things myself–appreciate women celebrating their own awesomeness, spend as much time as possible dressing up in super hero-like outfits, and dream of someone someday deciding I’m worthy of being drawn up as a superhero comic and then actually following through on the idea.
I begin this way because Birk’s and Karl’s rather young project, Iconic Wines, recently sent me wine samples, and their work consistently presents itself with labels focused on their own renditions of female superheroes–a marketing concept after my own heart, clearly.
The two took the leap into wine making, with the help of wine maker Dan Petroski of Massican Wine along side, by traveling to California and sourcing grapes from established vineyards in Sonoma and Mendocino. They began with the release of the now sold out 2010 Heroine Chardonnay last October, and move forward with their own Rose’ version of the rather uncommon Trousseau Gris, which they’ve named Secret Identity.
2010 Heroine Chardonnay, and 2011 Secret Identity Trousseau Gris Rose’
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* 2010 Heroine Chardonnay
The first ever release by Iconic Wine, the 2010 Heroine Chardonnay, utilizes 100% Clone 4 Chardonnay arising from the 4-acre only Michael Mara Vineyard of Sonoma, run by Steve Matthiasson. The site takes up the soil of an old river bed with young vines that even in their early stages have already been regarded by well-known wine makers as showing good potential and quality. Fruit from the vineyard is sourced not only by Iconic’s good men but also by the likes of Abe Schoener of The Scholium Project, and Arnot Roberts for his own single vineyard wine.
For Iconic’s bottling, Birk and Karl choose to do a split harvest paired too with split production. The fruit is selected at two different stages of ripeness two weeks apart. A portion of each harvest is allowed to go through malo-lactic fermentation, while the remainder is not. Then the four pressings are blended to achieve the quality of Chardonnay varietal they are looking for.
The 2010 Heroine shows a classic rich flavor and texture combination offering flavors of fresh and candied citrus–fruit, zest, and blossom–with touches of ripe pear, light spice, and dried sage. The alcohol offers just enough heat and pepper to keep the wine warm in your mouth.
I will admit that I prefer a slightly higher acidity level on a round-palate Chardonnay than the 2010 Heroine has to offer. That said, the flavors and texture here were rich, and well executed. The wine would be beautiful alongside roast chicken breast, but it really got me craving both strawberries and mac & cheese, not to mention a good sit down evening at the end of a long day in superhero makeup. You have no idea how tiring a full day in superhero make up can be.
* 2011 Secret Identity Trousseau Gris Rose’
Trousseau Gris originates from France and was at one time widely planted in California under the name “Gray Riesling.” Today a mere 10 acres of the grape still stand along the North American coast in the Fanucchi Vineyards of the Russian River Valley.
As he describes it, Birk of Iconic is obsessed with Pinot Gris produced with skin contact. Known in Italy as Pinot Grigio Ramato, the extended skin contact on the lightly colored grape imparts a richer texture, along with more developed flavors from the fruit including spice notes, floral elements, and ripe orchard fruit. With Ramato in mind, the Iconic men decided to apply the same process to another Gris–the Fanucchi’s Trousseau. The fruit here comes from 30 year old vines, which is impressive. To produce this Ramato style wine, the juice was allowed to cold soak on skins in steel for 10 days without punch down or pump over. The wine was then pulled off skins and fermented in tank for 10 days before being aged in bottle for 6 months.
Let me say I very much enjoyed Iconic Wine’s current release, and their second wine, the 2011 Secret Identity. A word of warning–at first taste this wine appears pert, spicy, and a little too tart. But, like any good woman that demands your attention up front, she lures you in further as she relaxes and opens, becoming more floral, keeping that spice but integrating it into her warm humor, and approachable, while still sharp intellect… dear god, I’m honestly sitting here wishing I could be described like their Secret Identity wine…. Please don’t tell anyone.
As I said, this Trousseau Gris Rose’ starts tart in the mouth but opens to wonderfully ripe, lightly musky white nectarine, lychee and melon (there is a little sweat on this fruit. It’s sexy.), showcased alongside a honeysuckle nose and palate, light notes of dried oregano, and mace spice, and just a touch of residual sugar in the mouth. The scents are pleasant and balanced, and the structure shows well too, keeping your mouth watering through a medium-long finish.
I loved drinking this as a rose’ on its own, but it would also do very well with grilled chicken and sticky rice.
The Iconic men are also working on very low production Trousseau Gris wine fermented in barrel, instead of tank.
If you’re interested in their Secret Identity it is going on release to their mailing list this week. Find out more via their website: http://www.iconicwine.com/
Thank you to Iconic Wine and Birk O’Halloran for sending me these samples.
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I just read about Petroski last night in Jay McInerny’s book.
Ha! Great timing. I’ll be reviewing Petroski’s wines in a couple of weeks. He’s pretty hands on in helping Iconic’s wines get made too.
All these guys in fact. J.Mac calls them “The Retro Wine Dudes” in The Juice.