Semillon Reserve, 1980. Ventana| Vintage Wine History and Information

by Paul Kalemkiarian Sr | March 1983

It seems the folks at Ventana are primarily research oriented. Starting as grape growers, they supplied fine grapes to small prestigious wineries whose individual winemakers demanded specific requirements. Recognizing the maxim that to make a great wine, you start with a great grape; it followed that you cannot grow a great grape unless you understand how to make a great wine.

The winemaking arm of the vineyard was thus born. They have learnt well. Consistently, every year since 1979, they have won gold, silver, and bronze medals at various county fairs and other competitions. This 1980 Semillon Reserve earned a silver at the 1982 Los Angeles County Fair.

The Ventana Vineyard is located on the West side of the Salinas Valley in Monterey County. Rock and gravel of the Santa Lucia Mountains forms a base for the soil. Cool evening breezes from Monterey Bay drops the temperature, causing one of the coldest growing areas of the world. The quality of the grapes they produce is attributed partly to these two factors.

Their label is unique. It depicts the eternally haunting landscapes of Monterey County. (New scene every year. Baron Philippe… we do it too!)

Semillon as a solo grape in wine is a rarity. Traditionally it is used blended. The famous Graves and Sauternes wines from Bordeaux are the classic examples at both ends of the sweetness spectrum. Thanks to our experimenting spirit in California, a few have attempted and succeeded to make an excellent wine with the 100% grape varietal. In its dry form, the wine tends to be soft, round, and with good body. I consider the Ventana Semillon a classic. It is the best example of what can be done with the grape as a dry wine in the hands of a skilled vintner. (eg. this wine is barrel fermented).

The wine is deep gold in color. It has a ripe, penetrating aroma of the variety. The bouquet shows a hint of the grassiness that identifies the grape. The taste is soft, round, and mellow. It has some oak overtones that blend well with the varietal character of the grape. The body is full, with high glycerol apparent. It has a sweetish hint, but is actually a dry wine. Serve chilled, with pate, fresh fruit, or a light fish course.

Cellaring Notes: Ready to drink.

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