Healdsburger 1980, Balverne

 by Paul Kalemkiarian Sr | April 1982

If you start at the Golden Gate Bridge, and travel on the Redwood Highway for 57 miles, you will come upon a 710 acre estate that is claiming its place in this rich vineyard country. The Balverne Winery and Vineyard is a new entry in the wine world. Two hundred fifty acres of vines are plated on this estate. The property was part of Rancho Sotoyome, a Spanish land grant made in 1830 to relatives of Gen­eral Mariano Vallejo. The acreage was acquired at the turn of the century by a wine growing family from Europe. Grapes were planted, and later, apples, prunes and pears. The vineyards were devastated by Prohibition and the property was sold to a Chicago industrialist as a retreat. The lands were not farmed after World War II and lay fallow until Bal­verne planted the present vineyards to Vitis vinfera vines. The Balverne label memorializes the Red Tail Hawk which inhabits the property. Vineyard workers consider the Red Tail a friend because of its dislike for Starlings which prey upon ripening grapes.

Healdsburger is a blended wine. It was named in honor of the town near which the vineyards are located. The “er” suffix is the traditional way of naming a wine in Germany, after the town or village of origin. The wine is made of a 70% Gewurztraminer, 22% Johannisberg Riesling and 8% Scheurebe (Shoy-ray-buh). The latter is a German varietal grape, new to the United States grape industry. The separate pickings of each grape variety is fermented in small lots and aged briefly in Limousin Oak. The blend of the three wines is then made prior to bottling. A rare and refreshing example of blending harmony sometimes missing in the American premium wine scene.

The wine has a straw yellow color. The nose is fruity, flowery and penetrating. It is fresh and dominant in Gewurztraminer aroma, with a definite Riesling edge. When tasted it shows a medium body with a distinct flavor. This is followed in a few seconds with a restrained Gewurztraminer character, and an emergence of the Riesling element. The wine finishes dry, and the 1.8% labeled sugar level is not apparent. Enjoy as an aperitif wine. Serve

with fresh fruit or light creamy cheeses. The ladies will specially like this wine.



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