Tasting & Review of Krutz Family Cellars Teaches Good Lessons
Here’s what I learned playing host to friend and winemaker, Patrick Krutz of Krutz Family Cellars, while arranging a day of restaurant visits to some of Atlanta’s best offerings, specifically ONE Midtown Kitchen, Bacchanalia, re*past, and Wisteria.
1. DRINK WHO YOU KNOW
Patrick Krutz is no stranger to Atlanta and the South – he has connections here being that his brother-in-law is local PGA golfer, Matt Kuchar, and that he graduated from Ole Miss. It doesn't hurt he's got a great palette and the goal of making his wines popular in the South he knows and loves.
Wine yearns for context to be further enjoyed. If I randomly pour you a glass and hide the label, you won’t appreciate it as much as if I tell you the winemaker went to the same middle school as you did and now makes award winning wines.
Lesson: If you can't drink the local stuff (Georgia gets better every year – check out Montaluce of Dalonegha, GA for someone who’s already there!), drink from the Georgians and Southerners (or people from your neck of the woods) now working in the wine country.
2. LIKE COOKING, USE THE BEST INGREDIENTS: KRUTZ APPROACH TO WINEMAKING
Patrick's approach gives him the best odds for producing consistently great wines: negotiate contracts to source grapes from some of the finest vineyards in prime growing appellations such as Sleepy Hollow Vineyards/Santa Lucia, Anderson Valley, and Stagecoach Vineyards (his neighbor is Paul Hobbs!)/Napa Valley. Lesson? Find the up and coming winemakers who employ such a strategy.
He experiments slightly with some blending, ages in oak, and then gets out of the way to bring these wines to fruition. The result is a winning formula so far.
3. WINES BRUISE IN A BOTTLE – HANDLE WITH CARE: A TASTING HISTORY
Lesson: Wines that are shipped to your home or tasting location must rest – untouched – for at least a week before opening. At least 1 week minimum.
Wines don't take to travel well. They go through 'bottle-shock' getting tossed and hoisted around from point A to B. I first opened Patrick's wines 3 days after I received them. This was not a wise move. I'd go as far to say that, like milk, grab the wine a couple bottles back from your wine shop.
Thankfully the second tasting occasion at the restaurants used bottles that were well rested and stored before tasting. Aromas previously muted sprang to life. Several new layers of taste emerged and the experience from start to finish was noticeably more engaging. Conversely the notes of heat (alcohol) and sharp wood in the previous tasting were now silent and integrated into the wine.
2006 'SLEEPY HOLLOW' CHARDONNAY
The Chardonnay was my favorite of the wines. There's a tropical kick featuring notes of mango, apricot, pear, and pineapple thanks to a small blend (9%) of Viognier added to the mix. I also tasted vanilla and caramel. It works.
2006 'ANDERSON VALLEY' PINOT NOIR
No surprise that this valley, located less than 100 miles north of San Fran, benefits from a cool coastal climate to produce wallet worthy wines. This pinot features notes of cherries, clove, and strawberries in the nose carried by plums, cedar spice, and vanilla oak layers to deliver a balanced wine all the way to the finish.
2005 'STAGECOACH VINEYARD' CABERNET SAUVIGNON
Look out. Even the bottle has broad shoulders. This cabernet comes from one of the best and most elite vineyards in Napa Valley. Its neighboring winemakers charge top dollar for their wares, but Patrick's wine from the same vineyard tastes just as good at a considerably lower price. It's velvety and lush and everything right in a wine worthy of a big meal.
Keep Patrick Krutz's wines on a short list of what to buy in the months ahead and applaud the wine directors of the restaurants showcasing his wines on their lists. With this winning forumla he and his wines will be around for awhile and hopefully improving each and every year.