Within the heart of Sonoma County is the beautiful town of Healdsburg and wine growing region of
Among the many distinctive and intriguing
wineries, is Lancaster Estate.
Ted Simpkins is the founder and creator of this magnificent winery. The terroir embodies diverse soils and the
sun drenches the vines perfectly to produce idiosyncratic wines. A marine
influence rushes over the vineyards to which extends the growing season and
allows time-honored Alexander
Valley, which I am absolutely enamored with. Bordeaux
varietals to mature, gain tannins, along with a impartial structure that is
vibrant and perfectly balanced.
It was in 1995 that Lancaster Estate debuted under the Simpkins name and began to produce their rich and distinctive wines. The wineries creates four different
style wines that are produced on this 53 acre estate along with being
micro-farmed vineyard blocks and own the founder’ vision.
The actual winery tasting room and building was designed by Eugene Silva and seamlessly melds into the landscaping. One of the distinguishing landmarks of this estate is the hillside cave. The unique cave is 9,000 square feet of serenity, natural cool air and a peaceful quietness. The cave embodies a unique round tasting room that hubby and I experienced our private tasting. The wall is surrounded by a unique racking system for the many wine bottles to call home. Deeper in the cave is another tasting area for larger parties set up with a luxurious leather chairs and a large wood table.
I first experienced
wines when one of my employees gave me a bottle as a gift. This was over 5 years ago. It was love at first sip. I jumped onto the internet to
learn more and join their wine club called the Guild of Six.
With just this one bottle, I knew I needed to join the club without even
visiting the actual winery. Three
times a year, I receive a present of this elegant wine – okay, not quite a “present”
since my visa is charged, but it is a gift each time we open and enjoy a
Jesse Katz is the gifted wine maker behind this well-designed and highly crafted wine. He earned a degree from Enology degree from
with a minor in chemistry. He mastered
his wine making skills in Fresno
State University Argentina
and Napa. Jesse was recruited from the cult producer
Screaming Eagle in 2010 and has worked with legendary wine makers Andy Ericson,
Paul Hobbs, Hans Vinding-Diers and Robert Foley. Jesse certainly has the pedigree to make phenomenal
wine and he is accomplishing this at Lancaster.
After being a long time club member of
hubby and I finally made an appointment to have a private tour and tasting at
this magnificent winery. We ventured to
Healdsburg for my birthday in June. Lancaster
was one of our excursions for the weekend.
The grounds are simply perfect along with the cave and of course the
wines are among our favorites. We were
treated to a glass of Samantha’s Sauvignon Blanc while our private tour started
with a ride in the estates suburban around the entire estate. Samantha’s Sauvignon is named after one of the Simpkin’s
twin daughters. This wine is aged in
stainless steel Bordeaux size
barrels with a small number of new French Oak barrels to round out the flavor
profile. Immediately you sense floral aromas and tropical notes. A rich and smooth wine that is perfect for
sipping on a warm summer day.
After our mobile tour around the estate, we were treated to a red wine tasting in the small round room within the cave. The walls are surrounded by wine bottles that are uniquely secured to the wall; a striking light hangs over a large wood table where our pre-poured glasses awaited us. We first enjoyed Lancaster Estate Sophia’s Hillside Cuvee and this vintage is named after the other twin daughter of the Simpkins. This
style wine is primarily cabernet sauvignon with a hint of merlot. It embodies aromas of clove, cinnamon and
hints of fresh berry. After the long
finish, you will experience hints of dark chocolate and taste the French oak.
Next was the Lancaster Estate Cabernet Sauvignon or as I always associate as the “purple label” bottle. This is the noble wine of the group with traditional
blending of Cabernet Sauvignon, Malbec, Merlot, Cabernet Franc and Petit
Verdot. It is a rich wine that will
surely be a teeth stainer, in good way. With
a balance of dark fruit, cherries, dark chocolate, cassis and vanilla this wine
is a true winner. Among the other things
I love about this wine is the earthy quality and nutmeg undertones. Robert
Parker gave this wine a 94 rating and deemed it “outstanding”.
Last but not least is the Lancaster Estate Nicole’s Proprietary Red named after Ted’s lovely wife Nicole. This wine is reserved for the wine club members and I am so happy that I am a member of this exclusive club and aptly named the guild. This wine is made from the 18 best barrels from that particular vintage. It has expressions of espresso, clove and dark fruit. The wine has a finely woven minerality and is bottled unfiltered. This wine is simply exceptional.
If you are headed to the Healdsburg area or the
region, put Lancaster Estate on your list of must places to visit. Alexander
takes appointments by making a reservation only. It is a unique wine country experience that
you will be completely impressed by and is quite unforgettable.
Speaking of unforgettable, I thought I would include a simple yet extremely flavorful recipe for Maple Bacon Braised Brussels Sprouts that I discovered on the food network while watching Dinners, Drive ins and Dives. The recipe is courtesy of Brian McDaniel from South of Beale Gastropub in
is on my bucket list and this gastropub is a must visit restaurant. I guarantee that you will be making this
recipe over and over again! Enjoy!
Maple Bacon Braised Brussels Sprouts
4 Cups Brussels Sprouts, cut in half
6 Strips of Applewood Smoked Bacon
6 Strips of Applewood Smoked Bacon
6 Tablespoons butter, cubed
4 Tablespoons maple syrup
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon black pepper
Rinse the brussels sprouts under cold water and dry. Once dry, cut each sprout in half.
Place the bacon strips on a cutting board and cut into 1/2 strips. In a medium saute pan, heat the bacon over medium heat until crips. Strain the bacon out of the pan and place on paper towels. Keep the bacon fat in the pan and add the butter and heat until melted. Once the butter is melted, add the Brussels Sprouts and stir frequently. Saute until the sprouts begin to brown. Add the bacon back to the sprouts and add the maple syrup. Heat until the syrup appears to stick to the Brussels sprouts and a deep caramelization is reached. Season with salt and pepper.