Food & Drink Awards 2019

Page 20 LUXlife 2019 Food & Drink Awards The greatest wines in the world come from sites of magic, and these sites are few and far between. They are songs from the earth that defy definition. In the still-point between soil and sand, and water and sun, grapevines rise to match these conditions, perfectly evolved to thrive. From these humble beginnings, the award-winning Vineyard at Limerick Lane Cellars can begin its work. We took a closer look to find out what that entails. Limerick Lane Cellars: Most Authentic Estate Vineyard 2019 - Sonoma County Limerick Lane is an anomaly. Found at the end of a dead-end road, on the wrong side of the valley, making wines that isn’t consistent with their appellation, it defies expectation, definition and common sense. It is also the home of some of the most gorgeous Zinfandel and Syrah, reliably producing rich, powerful, full-bodied wines that are also strikingly fresh, bright and nimble. A product of kismet and serendipity, this genuine winery built on a forgotten vineyard embodies the highest standards of authenticity. In an area renowned for Pinot Noir and Chardonnay, it’s a strange decision to grow and produce world class Zinfandel and Syrah. Sometimes regarded as second- class by wine connoisseurs, especially when compared to their more well- known counterparts, this 30-acre estate sweeps aside the norm in favor of making something right. Taking advantage of what is on offer, namely the Russian River Valley providing more fog, cooler nights and warm days, the choice of making Syrah and Zinfandel in the most organic way possible has proven to be just the right one. The coolness allows the grape to retain its acidity, giving the wines that leave Limerick Lane a clean, bright finish, whilst the warm enough days give rich, ripe fruit. Maintaining a vineyard in authentic manner depends on farming the land carefully. At Limerick Lane, the team choose the path that allows the site to speak as loudly and clearly as possible. Not trying to grow fruit to a predetermined average, but each vine to the best it can possibly be, Limerick Lane can farm organically in almost every respect. The rhythm of the seasons guides the work of both the vineyard and the family. By aiming to grow the healthiest and most balanced vines instead of the prettiest or most uniform vineyard, the wines produced are incredibly expressive. Plants are irrigated as needed, not to a pattern – some years the vines receive no water at all. Herbicides are replaced by shovels to protect plants from collateral damage and working proactively to improve the health of the soil means that there is no need to deplete it with the use of broad scope conventional chemicals. At Limerick Lane, they understand the importance of treating each vine individually and that there is no point creating a script that Mother Nature can knock off course. Mother Nature can play the most terrible jokes on the unsuspecting winemaker, and the recent fires in California could have caused a great deal of damage to an organisation that did not allow for a rapid and extreme change of circumstances. Fortunately, the Estate is safe and secure, with the entire county still as strong as its century old roots. Still vibrant and alive, world class wines can still be produced on a global stage that Limerick Lane Cellars are proud to be a part of. While the team are still assessing the 2019 vintage wines, which were still fermenting or resting in the barrel, owner Jake Bilbro is convinced that no damage was done, despite the loss of power for eight days. Showing their ability to react to potentially disastrous situations, the nimble nature of the business means the team has quickly bounced back and is ready to start again. Once the vines are ready, they are passed to the winemaker, Chris Pittenger. In many respects the end of one process and the beginning of the next is difficult to call.