Bricks Wine Advent Calendar 2017: Day 13

13 12 2017

By Dan Steeves

We are now officially into the second half of the Bricks Wine Advent Calendar! It’s been a fun ride so far with some fantastic wines, which for the most part (10 of 12 bottles) have all been from Old World wine regions. Tonight, we go back to the New World (perhaps New World wines will have a larger influence in the second half of the calendar?) with a wine from Sonoma County, California: the 2015 Schug Carneros Estate Winery Pinot Noir.

Day 13 wine was not an unlucky one!

Los Carneros AVA (commonly referred to as just Carneros) spans across the southern part of both Sonoma and Napa counties just north of San Pablo Bay. The region has low hills and relatively low elevation and is known for its moderate climate that is heavily influenced by cool winds blowing in from the Bay. The stress from the cool, windy conditions draws out the growing season which promotes crisp acidity and flavour development in the fruit and makes it an ideal location for growing Chardonnay and Pinot Noir and for sparkling wine production. The region is so well suited for sparkling wine production that a number of famous Champagne houses (Moet & Chandon – Domaine Chandon, Taittinger – Domaine Carneros, and GH Mumm – Mumm Napa) have set up operations in Carneros for producing high quality sparkling wines.

The Schug Winery is a family run operation, started by Walter Schug and his wife Gertrud in 1980, and is now headed by their son Alex Schug although all of their children are involved in the operation. Walter and Gertrud moved to California from Germany in 1961 to start working in the developing California wine industry. In 1966 a position working with the northern California portfolio for E&J Gallo allowed Walter to forge relationships with hundreds of growers in the region and gain insight to the prime vineyards in Napa and Sonoma. This experience was sought by Joseph Phelps in 1973 and Walter started a 10 year tenure as VP and winemaker for the new winery (next time you see a bottle of Insignia or Backus vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon, you now know who was behind it). In 1980, Joseph Phelps ceased production of Pinot Noir but made an arrangement with Walter that he could continue to produce it under his own private label while still the winemaker at Joseph Phelps. A few years later, Schug went out on his own, and in 1989 purchased land in the Carneros appellation and started the Carneros Estate which runs today.


2015 Schug Carneros Pinot Noir – WS Tribute Vintage – Remembering founder Walter Schug who passed away in 2015.

The 2015 Schug Carneros Pinot Noir has a medium ruby colour and a pronounced nose of cherry, raspberry, bramble, and cranberry along with nutmeg, vanilla, and slight smoky and medicinal aromas. The wine shows its cool climate upbringing with its crisp and earthy aromas, and it is a delight to take in all the scents. On the palate, the wine attacks immediately with a spicy character and nicely balanced crisp acidity and silky tannins. Flavours of dark cherry, cranberry, currant, leaf, tree bark, and clove persist with a rather long finish. I am a big fan of cool climate New World Pinot Noir and this wine most certainly does not disappoint! At the $30 price point it offers tremendous value for a highly regarded region like Carneros and a winery with deep roots in the development of the regional wine industry.

90 Points


“Bliss” by Charles O’Rear 1996

P.S.  If you’ve ever used a PC, there should be a 100% chance you recognize the above picture. The picture of a relaxing green field with the rolling hills on a beautiful sunny blue sky day, which was a default background for Windows XP. The photo, aptly named “Bliss”, was taken on film in 1996 by Charles O’Rear while driving through Carneros. There are no vines in the picture, as they were all ripped out a few years prior due to a Phylloxera outbreak, but this area is now once again under vine.



Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: