Hook & Ladder, “The Tillerman” White, Russian River Valley 2005 ($16/sample provided by the winery)
Hook & Ladder Winery was started by former San Francisco firefighter Cecil De Loach who purchased an old-vine Zinfandel vineyard in the Russian River Valley. This was back in the mid-1970’s when the California wine business was much smaller and single varietal wines were not as popular with Americans as they are today. Flash forward 30+ years and Hook & Ladder has almost 400 acres of vineyards in Sonoma’s sought after AVA for Chardonnay and Pinot Noir. So it’s interesting that it has taken me until now, and a generous wine blogger sampling campaign spearheaded by PR wine blogger Tom Wark, to get me to try one of Hook & Ladder’s wines. I don’t really know why I never picked up a bottle as I’ve seen their wines in the store and the brand name certainly is catchy. At any rate, I’m pleased I did try their white blend, “The Tillerman”, and look forward to finding other wines to buy and blog/podcast here in the future.
The Tillerman is the name used on two blends the winery produces named in honor of the firefighter who steers the fire-truck from the back so the ladder doesn’t collide into buildings as the truck turns. The red version is a blend of Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc and Sangiovese. Hook & Ladder is a bit coy about the blend of the white version only disclosing in the materials that accompanied the samples as a blend, “…of three varietals made from estate grapes.” Since the winery also grows and makes GewÃƒÆ’Ã‚Â¼rztraminer and Chardonnay, I deduced these being in the blend. After tasting the wine, I guessed that the third variety to be either Viognier, Verdejo or possibly Muscat due to the Rhone-blend aroma and flavor profile (think Sablet blanc without the banana). Whatever grapes are in the bottle, I really liked the result (disclosure: after tasting this wine I emailed Michael De Loach who disclosed the varieties and percentages of the blend; since these would likely cause the reader some undue bias, I will not post them… try the wine and comment here what you think it is made from and in what percentage).
Light straw in color with a hint of green. Aromas of peach, lychee and grapefruit. On the palate the ripe peach flavors are joined by apricot and pineapple, finishing dry with nice acidity and some minerality. A delicious food wine and a great value.
Natural cork closure
denise marchant says
We are in Key West, today is August 14 at 5:08 PM, and a lively discusssion about the blend of the Tillerman white is going on. There may be money on the table soon.
So what is it?
What do you think the blend is?
Hint: there are three grapes involved and they could have varietally labeled the wine.
If you get it right, I will confirm… but I will not disclose the secret blend without your guesses. Order another bottle and get back to me 😉