Fall 2016 Release

Dear Friends,
 

Greetings from the depths of the 2016 harvest.  After a measured start, picking Pinot Noir and Chardonnay at a leisurely pace, we are really in the thick of it now as our fermentation space is ready to burst at the seams.  With our harvest interns toiling away all day to the steady beat of an air pump, sucking wine from the bottom of a fermenter and spraying it back on top, we have a rare moment to sneak away and check in with you, our friends and fans.
 

So much has happened since we officially launched TIMBRE last year at our 10-year anniversary party.  In some ways, that seems like a lifetime ago, as we have gone on the adventures of reintroducing our wines to people who have known La Fenetre for years.  We’ve continued to tweak our labels and develop new concepts for our wines in the pursuit of more clearly expressing ourselves and our vision for this winery.  The response has been unbelievable so far and it seems like we’re really starting to hit our stride.  If you haven’t tasted our wines since the label change, take this Fall Release opportunity to pick up some of the 2014s, which are seriously jamming.
 

If you missed us at the Santa Barbara County Celebration of Harvest tasting in Solvang and our winery party on October 9th, come visit us sometime at the winery for a private tasting (please call or email ahead).  Also, help us spread the word to your wine-loving friends and enemies, and get with us on our TIMBRE social media, as our La Fenetre accounts will have very little activity going forward.  Holler at us @TimbreWinery on Facebook and Instagram.
 

Without further ado (and because we have to get back to the crush pad), we present our newest release of 2014 TIMBRE wines.  Check out the store for individual tasting notes and information about each of the new wines… Cheers!

2016 Harvest Party Success!

2016harvestparty

A big thanks to all who came out to our second annual TIMBRE Winery Harvest Party and Tasting at the winery.  We had a great time catching up with old friends and getting to know new ones.  It’s always a treat to pour our wines for friends and fans on our home turf, where the wine is actually produced.  The party capped off a fantastic Celebration of Harvest weekend, put on by the Santa Barbara County Vintners Association.

If you missed this one, we hope you can make it next time – we always pour the new juice, plus some special library selections.

2016harvestparty_spread

Summer 2016 Release

Dear Friends,

With harvest less than a month away, we are now in the third release since re-branding as TIMBRE WINERY (we say TAM●ber, but TIM●ber is an alternate pronunciation). If you missed the memo, you can always go back and check our website for the what, why, how, etc. For those getting up to speed, we have been phasing out La Fenetre and A Cote and should be completely re-branded by the end of the year! That means that you – members of our mailing list – will be among the first to gain access to our newest wines and also have access to library bottlings of La Fenetre. This summer release includes wines from our 2014 and 2015 vintage tours.

 
The 2015 harvest started off with a bang right in the middle of summer. We literally began crushing grapes in July, and by the end of August we had the Dr. Klapper in tank, cold fermenting away. The outstanding quality of the 2015 vintage is, at this point, apparent… Slightly off dry, and with a burst of palate cleansing acidity, this wine is the perfect pairing for summer fare, but I would also suggest saving a few bottles for your Thanksgiving wine-pairing pleasure.

 
2014 was the third in a string of drought vintages and the early harvest produced wines with intensity, high toned aromatics, and spice. The wines are nuanced and extremely complex, and will surely please your local sommelier! The 2014 offerings in this release include 3 wines, the first being the TIMBRE Pinot Noir bottling Supergroup (the new incarnation of our old ‘Santa Maria Valley’ bottling). Also included is The Rhythm from one of our favorite spots in Santa Maria, Riverbench. Mostly old vine Martini clone with a touch of Pommard, this aromatic wine is named for songs like Hendrix’s Voodoo Child with its insane beat, catchy tune, and sexy lead. Finally, a Cabernet Sauvignon which happens to be kosher… just 24 cases produced from French Camp in Paso Robles.

 
– Josh & Alex –

Winery Tasting Upgrade

Without a traditional tasting room, we have been offering tastings at the winery by appointment for the last few years.  Since we brought Rob Wyngard on as our Assistant Winemaker and Tastings Manager, we have gotten the opportunity to connect personally with many more of our supporters, which has been a great experience.

 
While perhaps not for those expecting a hand-carved tasting bar and picturesque vineyard views, a tasting at our winery is always an informative and educational experience.  Spending time in an actual wine cellar, seeing how wine is made, from the beginning to the end of the process, has been eye-opening for many of our visitors.

 
But, as great a response as we have gotten so far, we wanted to up our game for new visitors, and encourage those of you who have already visited to come back for a new experience.  To that end, we are in the process of creating a dedicated tasting space at the winery, so that after taking the cellar tour, seeing how the process works (and, perhaps, tasting some wine out of barrel), there will be a comfortable place to relax and taste our latest releases and library selections.

 
As you can see, the renovations are underway, so we look forward to hosting you in the near future!

 
Tasting Space

Spring 2016 Release

Dear Friends

 

It has been a great start to 2016, and this spring we are excited to release the second set of TIMBRE (we say TAM●ber, but TIM●ber is an alternate pronunciation) wines. In our last release letter, we talked about the motivation for the rebrand and how the concept of TIMBRE really expresses our ethos as a winery.  If you missed that, you can always go back and check it out on the website.  For those getting up to speed, we will be phasing out La Fenetre and A Cote over the next 12-18 months as our new TIMBRE wines take their place.  As always, you – members of our mailing list – will be among the first to gain access to our newest wines. This spring release includes wines from our 2013, 2014, and 2015 vintage tours, as well as a throwback 3-pack for nostalgic fans.

 
The 2015 harvest started off with a bang right in the middle of summer. We literally began crushing grapes in July, and by the second week of August, started to bring in the first Pinot Noir. A saignée rose from those early picks of Pinot Noir is the first wine in this release and it will pair well with your favorite summer tunes on a sultry afternoon. A scant 96 cases was produced of the Opening Act so get your tickets before they are all sold out. This wine certainly bodes well for the outstanding quality of the 2015 vintage.

 
Two Thousand Fourteen gave us another dry vintage, and a very early one at that… a strange vintage which couples intensity with aromatics and spicy wines that seem to favor nuance over power. Think Nina Simone’s ‘Sinnerman’ with its repeating piano riffs and haunting vocals, relying on skillful execution rather than outright belting to make its mark. The 2014 offerings in this release include a Chardonnay and Pinot Noir, still named A Cote, but in a new TIMBRE outfit. These will be the last wines planned for the A Cote name – a bridge between the old and the new.
Finally, we move on to 2013, which was a great year, and, as you have probably enjoyed one of our Pinot Noir or Chardonnay numbers, you know that you can just feel its ridiculously sweet vibe. Of our two 2013 wines in this release, one is a Pinot Noir called Supergroup –  the new incarnation of our old ‘Santa Maria Valley’ bottling. And, fittingly, the last of our 2013 releases is our very first dessert wine, Encore, a late harvest Viognier from the Riverbench vineyard in Santa Maria. The long, dry vintage led to beautiful, shriveling clusters with just a touch of botrytis… perfect for a dessert wine, and not bad as a name for a funk band.

 
As a bonus, we’re offering a 3-pack re-release of greatest hits – a collection of Pinot Noir tracks from the 2010 vintage. Included are our Bien Nacido, Presqu’ile, and Rita’s Crown bottlings, all coming into their own and showing that California Pinot Noir can seriously improve with some bottle age. The wines come packed in a collectible wood box, a necessity for any fan, or a beautiful gift option.

 
With this new release, we are diving into the future head on. Without you, our loyal friends and supporters, we would be nowhere. Share some wine with your crew, tell them to join the club, and as always, thank you for taking the journey with us. Start with some Opening Act, and finish with an Encore and, of course, read on for individual tasting notes and information about each of the new wines!

 
-Josh & Alex-

Fall 2015 Release & New Winery Name

Timbre Bottles

Dear Friends,

 

As another harvest draws to a close—the earliest in the history of Santa Barbara County, as far as we know—we are celebrating our 10th anniversary as a winery. For the 10th anniversary release, we have some major changes, chief among them is our new name… TIMBRE (we say TAM●ber, but TIM●ber is an alternate pronunciation). Over the next year, we will be phasing out the “La Fenêtre” brand, so that all wines that used to be La Fenêtre or A Côté, will now be bottled under the TIMBRE label.

 

When we started La Fenêtre, balanced wines from California were few and far between, so we came up with a name and label design inspired by our benchmark for balanced wines: Burgundy. Having a French name and Burgundy-inspired labels allowed us to provide information about the style of wine we were producing at our fledgling winery. A lot has changed in 10 years – we have constantly been refining and improving our winemaking, and the California wine industry has changed around us, accepting and embracing balanced, food-friendly wines. So, while it was a difficult decision to move away from the La Fenêtre name, we ultimately feel that TIMBRE is a more relevant expression of our winemaking.

 

Why TIMBRE? TIMBRE is often referred to as the “color” of music. It’s how two voices (or instruments) can express their individuality, even when singing (or playing) the same note at the same volume. When you hear Ella Fitzgerald, Robert Plant, or Amy Winehouse, you know who is singing, even if it’s a song you’ve never heard before. What makes a voice (or instrument) unique and recognizable is its TIMBRE. We found a strong parallel between this musical concept and winemaking. We source fruit from some of the best vineyards in Santa Barbara County and across the Central Coast, but we don’t own any of them. Other wineries can source from many of the same sites, so what makes our wines unique? There are, of course, many factors from the picking decisions to the fermentation, to the oak, to the decisions on when to rack, when to bottle, etc. But even beyond these identifiable elements, there are intangible, indescribable elements, and collectively, those make up the TIMBRE of our wines.

 

As a terroir-driven winery, we strive to make wines that are expressive of the places and times from which they came, but inevitably, as the winemakers, we are channeling these vineyard sites through our own experiences and adding our own mark, our TIMBRE, on the resulting wines.

 

“La Fenêtre” was a reference to the fact that winemaking is our art form. That underlying ethos of winemaking-as-art has not changed. What has changed is the way we convey that feeling, both to ourselves, and to you. We had a strong desire to relate our ethos to something that was more relevant to our lives and to the lives of our friends, customers, and supporters. A musical analogy seemed like the perfect fit, as music is an art form that is universally enjoyed and understood, almost without exception. Over the past decade, our winery had outgrown its original persona, including the name and packaging that went along with it. “La Fenetre” will always be a formative part of our history as a winery, but TIMBRE is our future, and we are so excited to share it with you.

 

Along with the name change, we have gone back to the drawing board to design new labels that really express the TIMBRE concept. The labels carry proprietary names that evoke the vineyard’s persona, and a unique, stylized sound wave graces each label. Additionally, our new logo is a tuning fork. Just as a tuning fork is used to make an instrument play the perfect note, a winemaker uses his or her talents to ‘tune’ a vineyard, expressing just the right nuance, style, expression. Individual tasting notes and information about each of the new wines will be available in separate posts. In the meantime, check out the shop to find information and get a first look all of the new wines… Cheers!

 

– Josh & Alex –

 

p.s. Please place your order by November 6th to receive 15% off your purchase. If ordering online, use the code FALL2015TW at checkout to receive the discount. Wines will be shipped/delivered after November 6th via temperature controlled truck. If you would like to place an order by phone, please call Rob at 619.313.3240.

Wall Street Journal Article

In case you didn’t have a chance to read the print edition, Lettie Teague just wrote an article on Reasonably Priced Domestic Pinot Noir, in which she had some very nice things to say about our own 2012 Á Côté Pinot Noir.

If you haven’t had a bottle recently, grab a few from our store now, as we are down to the last few cases.  It’s also a great opportunity to pick up some of the 2013 Á Côté Pinot Noir, as we are discounting them both to $22 for the next month, in order to match the price quoted in the article.

Enjoy!

Summer 2015 Release

Dear Friends,
 

The summer is upon us and, while we are still dealing with drought conditions on the Central Coast, we are fortunate to have not yet felt any negative effects in our winemaking. Dry weather means low chance of undesired vineyard conditions like mildew and other forms of rot and disease. Dry soils also mean a vine that naturally struggles making for more concentrated, interesting fruit, and hopefully better wines to boot! What seems to be a slightly lower set than the last few vintages means that, at least at this point, we are looking at a stellar vintage in 2015.
 

As we prepare for the next bottling and the approaching harvest, it is always a pleasure to take a moment and savor the memory of harvests past and the release of a new vintage is the easiest window to those memories. Wineries are uniquely able to create a perfect representation of a growing season, of a time in our respective lives, and to revisit those times through each bottle we produce. In the enjoyment of each wine, we recall its vintage, and the aspects of that year that made its wines unique.
 

Of course, this release includes the wine that has become synonymous with our Summer Release, a new classic, now in its fifth vintage: the 2014 Dr. Klapper Riesling. Additionally, this release includes some of our smallest production wines ever.  With fewer than 50 cases of each, we will be selling these wines exclusively to our wine club and mailing list!
 

For our fifth Riesling, I have to say, we have crafted a stunner. Slightly drier than its previous incarnations, the 2014 is again a classic representation of the varietal, benefitting from the cool climate of the Santa Maria Valley, but also from the warm California sun. The 2014 vintage was generally warm and dry, which led to an extremely early bud break, and subsequently, an extremely early harvest. Luckily, the cool climate of Santa Maria tempered the vintage to produce wines of classic quality, and deep intensity.
 

The other vintage we recall in this release is 2013. Also a dry growing season, but slightly cooler, the 2013 harvest was actually later than average, and the varieties we offer include a Pinot Noir from Riverbench in Santa Maria, a Cabernet Sauvignon from French Camp in Paso Robles, and a Paso Robles Bordeaux-style Red Blend made from Cabernet Sauvignon (French Camp Vineyard), Cabernet Franc (Margarita Vineyard), and Petit Verdot (Margarita Vineyard). I will highlight the 2013 Bordeaux varieties in that they are different from any wine I have ever made: tannic and brooding with intense character and structure. And at production quantities of 36 cases of Cabernet Sauvignon, and 42 cases of the Blend, they are in quite a short supply.
 

-Joshua Klapper-
 

p.s. Please place your order by July 15th to receive 15% off your purchase. If ordering online, use the code SUMMER2015LF at checkout to receive the discount. Wines will be shipped/delivered after July 15th via temperature controlled truck. If you would like to place an order by phone, please call me at 310-977-5615.

May Blending [3 of 3]

For the final installment in this series on our annual marathon tasting and blending sessions, I will be writing about our two days of Pinot Noir tastings.  In the previous post, I talked about how we ferment our Chardonnay in the same barrels where they spend their whole lives until bottling, which allows them to develop individual expressions on a barrel-by-barrel basis.  Pinot Noir, on the other hand, is fermented in what is essentially a very large (1.5 ton) bathtub.  So, does that mean that all of the barrels taste the same?  Great question.  The answer is a resounding: no.

Fermentation in a 1.5 Ton Vessel

Fermentation in a 1.5 Ton Vessel

 

So where does the variability come from with Pinot Noir?  Well, unlike Chardonnay, which we pick exclusively from a single block in a single vineyard, with Pinot Noir, we are sourcing fruit from two different AVAs (American Viticultural Area), five different vineyards, multiple clonal selections from most vineyards and multiple picks (read: different levels of ripeness) from most vineyards.  Additionally, with Pinot Noir (and all red wine), we can separate the free run juice (the liquid in the fermentation vessels) from the press juice (the liquid that is inside the berries and must be squeezed out with a wine press).

 

The first Pinot Noirs we tasted were our Sta. Rita Hills Pinots.  While our focus has always been the Santa Maria Valley, this year we were fortunate enough to be able to contract fruit from not one, but two marquis properties in the Sta. Rita Hills: Hilliard Bruce and John Sebastiano.  These wines both showed strong Sta. Rita Hills characteristics, including rich, dark fruit, cherry cola and just a hint of earth, which is typical of Pinot from this part of Santa Barbara County.

 

That afternoon and the following day, we tasted all of our Santa Maria Valley Pinot Noirs: Bien Nacido, Presqu’ile and Riverbench.  It’s on these days, that our decision to focus our winery on the varietal of Pinot Noir is confirmed over and over again.  To taste wines that are from vineyards within a 5 mile radius, made by the same people, using the same techniques, yet developing into such completely different expressions of their terroir, is electrifying.  Particularly exciting for me was just how well our barrels of whole cluster Presqu’ile were tasting.  While most of our Pinot Noir is destemmed before fermentation, we typically ferment some of it as “whole clusters” i.e., the berries are fermented while still on the stems.  When done wrong, this can lead to notes of green pepper as well as overwhelming astringency, but when done right, this type of fermentation adds flavors of earth and savory spice.  While I often like these whole cluster barrels much more than Josh does, in 2014, we agree that these barrels will add a beautiful element to the final wine.

 

I have to admit, I’m a little sad that May is behind us and I will have to wait another year for this ritual.  On the plus side, I’m wearing my white pants every other day, and if you don’t know what I’m talking about, you probably missed the first installment of this post.

May Blending [2 of 3]

In my last post, I wrote about why the month of May is so exciting and pivotal in our winemaking process. In this post, I will go into some details from our barrel tasting sessions to give you a first taste (sorry, just a figurative taste) of the 2014 vintage.

 

The 2014 vintage was unlike any that we have seen before. An early flowering, early budbreak and a consistently warm summer led to the earliest harvest we have ever experienced. Like 2012 and 2013, it was also a vintage with above-average yields (more fruit per vine). Due to the fortunate confluence of events including the larger yields, the early ripeness and a significant cooling during the month of September, we were able to pick fruit at multiple times from each vineyard allowing us to get a range of ripeness levels and flavor development. This variety provided us with one of the most varied May barrel tastings we have ever had. So without further ado, let’s get into it.

 

In past years, we have typically tasted everything in 2 days. This year, we spread the tasting over 3 days, which is not a terrible idea when you are tasting 150 barrels. It also gave our Enologist, Austin, and our Associate Cellar Master, Nolan, a chance to join us for some of the fun. Only Josh and I tasted Bien Nacido Chardonnay, which is how we spent our first day.

 

2014 Bien Nacido Chardonnay barrels laid out for May 2015 tasting/blending

2014 Bien Nacido Chardonnay barrels laid out for May 2015 tasting/blending

 

One of the amazing things about tasting our Chardonnay is that the wines are all fermented and aged in barrel. Fermentation has an immense impact on the way a wine’s chemistry and flavor profile develop, so each barrel really has the potential to become something unique. It’s as if you had 50 “twins,” separated them all at birth, and then interviewed them all 20 years later. They have the same DNA, which ties them all together, but they have spent their formative years in different environments, causing them to express notable individuality.

 

What struck me immediately was that our early picks had absolutely searing acidity and incredibly focused aromatics. I think you’d be hard-pressed to find any wine professional who would taste these barrels and guess that they went through full malolactic fermentation (in barrel, no less!). I also can’t wait to taste these wines 10 years from now with anyone who thinks California whites aren’t ageable, because wines with this kind of structure will age for a long time. Also noteworthy, was just how much we liked the Grande barrels. As a reminder, we get Bien Nacido from “I Block,” which was originally planted in 1973 [check] to very widely spaced rows. In the 1990s [check], new rows of vines were “inter-planted” between the original rows. The new rows were dubbed, “Chico” and the old ones became, “Grande.” In 2014, the Grande barrels, rose above their Chico brothers and sisters in terms of depth, richness and overall complexity, though interestingly, this is not the case every year.

 

In my next installment, I will write about out final days of tasting including Pinot Noir from both the Sta. Rita Hills and the Santa Maria Valley. Stay tuned…