Entre Nous released their first wine in 2007 – a Cabernet Sauvignon. This gem of a property in Oakville is planted to 26 acres of vines – most of which is sold to premium wineries. Each year, Kristine Ashe harvests from select blocks and makes about 500 cases of wine. All grapes for their wines are from the estate.
Proprietor Kristine Ashe grew up in Marin County in the San Francisco Bay area and used to take trips up to Napa – where she ultimately fell in love with the lifestyle and the region’s wine. In 2000 she purchased her Oakville Estate – hired well regarded vineyard manager David Abreu – who promptly sectioned the property into smaller blocks to better micro manage the vineyard.
Today the vineyard is carefully managed, fruit is watched closely and dropped throughout the growing season, leaving only the most healthy quality bunches to fully ripen before harvest. The property is organically farmed – even sheep are brought in seasonally to graze the cover crop between the vines.
More recently, much sought after winemaker Phillipe Melka was hired and currently is their winemaker. Phillipe consults for a number of premium producers in Napa. He is well recognized in the industry and was voted American Winemaker of the year in 2005 by Robert Parker in Food & Wine Magazine. Philippe has a geology degree as well as a degree in oenology and agronomy (he knows his Napa terroir very well). He is as detailed in the vineyard as he is with the wine-making.
We first discovered Kristine Ashe at the Taste of Oakville trade tasting – this is a tasting that prominently features Cabernet Sauvignon (it is Oakville after all!) however Kristine Ashe was pouring a Sauvignon blanc and a Rose. By virtue of this – in a nearly all “red” tasting – their wines were certainly attracting some attention.
During a follow-up visit to their estate we tried their current releases. Their wines are crafted in the style that Kristine enjoys – more old world, lower alcohol, built to age and certainly food friendly. The 2010 Sauvignon Blanc shows a clean nose, with notes of white pineapple, floral characteristics and a hint of the tropics (guava, passion fruit).
This wine strikes a nice balance between the more tropical Sauvignon blancs and the more acidic ones. In fact, the winery used their fruit to make both styles using oak and stainless tanks for fermentation and or aging. Eventually they settled on using concrete for fermentation and then oak for the aging. As a result, this wine is neither too tropical in nature or too crisp and lean. The finish lingers with nice intensity for some time showing notes of red apple and orange.
The 2010 Rose is extremely delicate in color in the bottle – showing fainter colors of pink and orange. This wine saw just a kiss of skin before being pressed (usually merely 3-5 hours). As a result of the color we were expecting a fairly light Rose on the palate – not so – and this is a testament to the richness of fruit from this particular terroir. This is a Rose of Cabernet Sauvignon and is a wine they make every year from a dedicated block in their vineyard; this is not an afterthought wine – it is one of their three primary wines made each year – truly a hand crafted Rose.
Aromatically it is pleasing with delicate aromas of strawberry and raspberry. The palate shows nice acidity with flavors that linger for some time on a relatively long finish for a wine of this style. The palate has good depth of character (this wine is aged on the lees).
The 2009 Cabernet Sauvignon was blended with a slight amount of Petit Verdot. This complex nose changes wonderfully in the glass over time – it is an elegant bouquet that starts with floral notes along with with black fruit – black cherry, and blackberry and as it opens deeper notes of earth, leather and smoke show. Also black licorice. It is dark purple in the glass with crimson hue notes. The palate is deliciously soft upon entry but quickly builds in structure – the mid palate strikes a nice balance between fruit, acid and structure. The finish is already well balanced considering the age of this wine and it lingers with dusty tannins and more subtle underlying sweet notes of mocha.
“Entre Nous” in French means “between us” – bringing those together who have both a role in making the wine and those who enjoy drinking it. In addition, “entre nous”, when applied to wine – indicates this is a beverage that is best enjoyed with others!
To join their mailing list and for more information visit: www.entrenouswines.com